Top Tractor 2016: Claas Arion 430 CIS
Jaiden Drought puts the Claas Arion 430 CIS to test and finds out the four-cylinder machine’s stability combined with an excellent PTO performance and electronic loader joystick makes a compelling argument in favour of the tractor.
As one of the wettest winter/spring periods hopefully draws to a close, I find myself, along with many other farmers around the country (with the exception of North Canterbury), over the constant rain.
Something else that draws to a close this month is the Farm Trader Top Tractor Showcase, with the Claas Arion 430 CIS one of the final eight tractors we tested at NZ National Agricultural Fieldays to find our best value for money tractors priced under $100,000 (with a loader).
So, this month, I bring you my opinion of the Claas Arion 430 CIS, while my fellow tractor tester Brent Lilley reports on the Valtra N93, both up there in terms of being the judge’s favourites. Hopefully, over the last four months, we have provided some insight into the world of 80–130hp farmers tractors, testing a selection from both sides of the ditch to show how committed we are to presenting our thoughts on these tractors to help you make informed purchasing decisions.
The Tier 3 DPS 4.5L, four-cylinder engine is equipped with common-rail fuel injection and turbocharged with EGR for the emission control. The Claas Arion 430 CIS tested had a rated output of 115hp plus an additional 10hp boost, thanks to the CPM (Claas Power Management), given it was the CIS version. It performed well on the dyno with a max power of 118.4hp from a rated 125, making a compelling argument in favour of the tractor in terms of value for money.
The high lift bonnet allows you to keep the pesky birds at bay and carry out the daily checks, although the engine oil dipstick is on the right, which is a bit of a niggle for me. The cooling pack opens easily, and more importantly, stays open so you can clean the radiator with ease, and with 500 engine hour service intervals, it is a pretty impressive setup.
The Claas was one of only two tractors in the Farm Trader Top Tractor Showcase to incorporate a factory-fitted joystick. This not only controls the hydraulic side of the equation but also allows for easy shifting of the gears. This is well-placed at the end of the right-hand armrest and certainly falls easily to hand. It gives you 16 gears at the push of a button: four ranges with four powershifts in each range; it is that simple.
To make it even more user-friendly, the main gear lever is also the hand throttle, and the automatic speed matching and the smooth left handle shuttle control means you can drive the Arion most of the time without using your feet.
Claas has two different transmission settings: Field and Transport. Although the names are somewhat self-explanatory, it differs from a driving perspective.
In Field mode, the +/- buttons on the gear lever or the loader joystick allow you to use the gears in that range. A range change can be made by pressing the + button and the range change key. In Transport mode, shift between all ranges and powershift ranges can be achieved at the push of a button, essentially from range 1A to 4D (16 gears) on the move.
The Claas Arion series comes with a standard open centre 98L/min pump, although there is a 60L/min option. Our test machine had the 98L/min pump that allowed enough flow for some serious loader or hydraulic work.
Another great spec feature of the Claas Arion 430 CIS is that it has the option of four rear spool valves, which is due to the factory-fitted loader joystick that gives two electronic spool valves. The two electronic spool valves can be operated from in the cab via an in-cab switch that allows the driver to toggle between two pairs of spools at the rear or the loader boom.The two mechanical spoils are separate and are available all the time.
As the joystick control is electronic, the flow rates can be controlled from the tractors CIS screen on the dash board. The adjustment of the oil flow means the loader speed can be adjusted as can oil flow to two of the rear remotes. Of the two mechanical spools, one has flow control. However, all four have detent and float functions.
The linkage control on the Claas provides plenty of adjustment with the usual lower link sensing for the draft control, maximum height, speed of drop, and working depth adjustments. As a bonus, the linkage also has suspension for demanding linkage work. In terms of the linkage hardware, the Cat 3 ball ends capably lift 5.2T and the upside down assist rams stop the seals from failing prematurely.
The external control for the rear linkage is handy on both rear mudguards. PTO start/stop is also incorporated.
The highlight for me is the electro-hydraulic joystick. Not only does it give precise control of the Claas FL100 loader but it also allows you to have the optional four rear spools. This is a real luxury in this power size and even more so in this price bracket. It excels in loader work, given the transmission can also be controlled.
During our test, it was simply a matter of using the left hand to control the direction and hang on to the steering wheel, while the right-hand joystick took care of most of the tasks we threw at it. The six-pillar cab is easy to access, with wide opening doors, and the curved rear windows top off great all-round visibility.
The Claas is a nice and simple tractor for most people to jump in and operate, with a comfortable seat and plenty of steering column adjustment to suit various driver heights.
The thing I like about the Claas is that although it is simple and well laid out, it still provides a decent level of spec for the price ($94,900)—a top spec loader with internal pipe work, electric joystick, four rear spools, four-speed PTO and the hands-free Bluetooth radio for the hip youngsters. The CIS display is the Claas on-board computer that allows a certain level of customisation. Located on the dash, it is easy to set using a rotary dial and the ESC key. The pretty simple menu makes it straightforward to change settings to suit the task at hand.
Excellent stability with loader was most noticeable in terms of getting a feel for the tractor from the seat. The cab is a nice place to be and is comfortable. However, these days most modern cabs make for a comfortable day at the office.
The Claas was the only one with the electronic joystick, and this was the winning feature for me because I like electronic gizmos. If you don’t like electronic things and are in the ‘it’s just more stuff to go wrong’ camp, then there is still plenty of mechanical operation to be had in the Claas.
In my opnion, the rear linkage could be more user-friendly but that is electronic linkage for you, and apart from that, there is little to complain about. Lifting the bales and loading the trailer turned out to be a walk in the park for the Claas and the combined hydraulic flow proved to be more than ample. If anything, it made things a little too quick, although this is easily adjusted in the CIS screen.
The ability to switch from the loader to the rear spools and to have either controlled electronically is simply done from a switch in the cab.
Claas makes a big deal about the 50:50 weight distribution of their tractors, which you kind of dismiss as clever marketing. However, it is noticeable when you chuck eight un-ballasted tractors together to do loader work. The Claas felt stable, even as steady as the larger six-cylinder tractor and there is a good reason for this.
The Claas had an overall length 700mm shorter than the six-cylinder machine. However, the wheelbase was only 60mm shorter and this is exactly why it felt stable—four-cylinder manoeuvrability with six-cylinder stability. This combined with an excellent PTO performance, four spools, four-speed PTO, and electronic loader joystick, makes a compelling argument in favour of the tractor, given the price.
- Very well spec’d machine for the price
- Integrated armrest mounted electronic joystick
- Performed well on the dyno with 118hp from a 125hp (engine rated machine)
- Fixed front rims—3 x stronger than bolted
- Four-speed PTO
- 98L/min combined oil flow
- Two electric spools when you switch from the loader to the rear spools, giving a total of 4 rear spools
- Pivoting front guards
- Comfortable well laid out cab
- Cat 3 hook ends
- One piece, high lift bonnet
- Engine dipstick is on the right-hand side, which is less likely to be checked daily
- The linkage was up there with the most complex to activate