Cover Story: The McCormick X7.650

By: Mark Fouhy, Photography by: Justin Bennett


Mark Fouhy heads to Matamata to review The McCormick X7.650, a red tractor that gives confidence in terms of reliability

Planespotting is where people spend hours at airports watching planes come and go, trying to catch a glimpse of the newest, biggest, and fastest aeroplanes. In agriculture, I would say the equivalent would be tractor spotters, and I must confess to being part of this select group.

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The McCormick X7.650 ready for action

My latest bit of tractor spotting came courtesy of Agtek, with the opportunity to spend some time with the McCormick X7.650.

The McCormick brand has a long history in agriculture, with the production of its first reaper/harvester dating back to 1831. The McCormick presence working on the land in New Zealand has been through CX/MC/XTX models getting the jobs done on dairy and dry stock farms around the country.

Close to my hometown of Matamata, the McCormick X7.650 was hard at work performing a range of tasks. To see it in action, we opted to get some raking done as well as a direct drilling job, in order to have the tractor perform under a range of conditions.

This allowed us to get a better feel of the transmission, hydraulic controls, and functions. Although we didn’t need to change it, the reversible PTO makes life easier when changing from 540 to 1000 PTO implements.

The four-speed PTO 540/540E/1000/1000E is standard, as you would expect, from a tractor of this size. With raking for the baler and a small paddock to under sow, there were plenty of opportunities to test out the functionality, power, and ease of use of the McCormick.

First impressions

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Sloping one-piece bonnet

Aside from the paint scheme, the McCormick X7.650 has had a revamp from the ground up, with updated modern styling of the cab bonnet and rear guards evident on this model. The cast iron chassis, which cradles the engine and decreases noise and vibration in the cab, is one carryover feature from previous models.

Agtek plans to have the X7.650 P6 available in two main variants: Efficient, like our test machine, or Premium, which ticks more boxes in terms of specifications. McCormick also builds to suit the customer. For example, if you wanted the Efficient spec tractor with front axle suspension, it can be ordered and built for you without the cost of features you don’t require.

Lighting packages are one area where all tractors have made notable improvements over the last few years. Even the Efficient model we tested has four work lights mounted front and rear on the cab, with an additional two belt line work lights on the front. The test tractor also had two beacons fitted ready for road operation.

In the cab

I found the cab roomy and comfortable, with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a tractor of this size aimed at larger farm operators or for use as a multi-purpose tractor in contracting fleets.

The fabric seat was comfortable with tilt and reach adjustment off the steering column to suit different drivers. Although it has a grey plastic look inside of the cab, I wouldn’t really call this a negative, as a wet rag is all you need to tidy up the cab interior, whereas cabs with fabric on the interior just end up full of dust.

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Dual rear mirrors

I also like how the passenger/trainer seat tucks back into the plastic panel out of the way. This also keeps it clean. Creature comforts such as air conditioning and Bluetooth radio for phone connection are standard and within easy reach. The aircon cooled box in the rear left-hand corner of the cab is handy for keeping lunch and drinks cool for long days on the job.

I also liked the two-piece rear wing mirrors, which not only do the job but if one gets broken, it only costs a fraction of the replacement expense of a double mirror unit. Noise level within the cab is minimal with the engine mounted down low in the cast iron chassis. The four-pillar cab provides great visibility forward, rear, and to the sides.

Controls

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Tractor controls are simple to operate

There’s nothing crazy going on in the cab of the McCormick in terms of controls and functions. It’s all simple to master; three mechanical rear remotes are colour-coded to match levers to outlets and an electronic rear remote is also available as an option.

With transmission functions in orange, PTO in yellow, and hydraulics and linkage controls in blue, it’s refreshingly straightforward, making it easy for me to jump in and get on with the planting and raking jobs lined up for our test.

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Comfortable and functional hand controller

Admittedly, the hand controller looks a little different when you first jump in. However, once you start using it, the ergonomics of it in your hand become quite apparent as it’s extremely comfortable with key functions within the palm of your hand.

My only small complaint is not having your hand throttle control built into this unit. Instead, it’s placed further back on the side panel. I’m interested to check out the variable transmission model from McCormick in the future as a comparison.

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Steering column can be easily adjusted

Another feature not common to other brands is the isolator switch, mounted in the cab for convenience rather than around the other side with the battery.

Transmission

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40km/hr road speed

As with many of the components used in the X7.650, McCormick has opted for a high-quality ZF transmission. This transmission is called the P.6 Drive, which is a powershift type system. Four powershifts using pushbutton control through six ranges with robotised range shifting, giving a total of 24 gears.

As well as the hydraulic shuttle on the steering column, there’s a de-clutch button on the right-hand controller. For me, probably the coolest feature on the transmission was the Smart Auto Power Shift (APS). This matches engine and ground speed to load in order to select the best gear for maximum productivity, much the same as a full variable transmission does.

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A good turning circle is ideal for jobs such as raking

Also, like a variable transmission tractor, the P.6 Drive has a dial control to adjust the aggressiveness of the transmission depending on the task at hand (the less aggressive being basically an eco-mode).

Working in the paddock, I found the shuttle smooth to use for turning and reversing on headlands when planting. The APS mode down the road makes moving between jobs easy. The only downside was my not realising it was only a 40km/hr transmission when I’m used to 50km and the baler tractor was able to pull away from me a bit. If you want the tractor for work in horticulture, you can spec a creeper box giving 40 x 40 forward/reverse gears.

Hydraulics

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Sloping one-piece bonnet

In the Efficient specification of the McCormick X7.650, there’s a 123-litre per minute load sensing hydraulic pump. The larger 670-680-690 models have 160-litre per minute pumps as well as larger lift capacity, backend, etc. The lift capacity for these machines is 7.5 tonnes on Cat III linkage. The Aitchison direct drill and Claas twin rotor rake certainly didn’t challenge this.

Optional front linkage, standard on the Premium model, has a 3.5-tonne rating. For mounting implements, you get raise/lower buttons for rear linkage as well as PTO start/stop on rear fenders.

I’d say the Efficient model is the no-frills version of this tractor, although, you still get plenty of high spec features and a single electronic rear remote option or the standard three mechanical rear remotes that still certainly get the job done.

An electronic joystick is fitted and ready to be connected to hydraulics for front hitch or loader control should you require it. McCormick gets factory painted/branded loaders direct from Manip to match these tractors.

Engine

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The McCormick X7.650 at work

Although technology has been making huge leaps and bounds, increasing efficiency with fuel burnt, power produced, and minimal emissions, McCormick has opted for a slightly less technological engine using the Fiat Power Train (FPT) common rail 6.7-litre 24 valve six-cylinder. The reliability of these engines has been well proven and McCormick has re-branded them to Betapower.

As a Tier 3 engine, they don’t require AdBlue. There are a variety of opinions out there around AdBlue, so depending on your preference, you may appreciate the simplicity of these engines or you may prefer the greater fuel efficiency of a new Tier 4B or similar engine.

McCormick calls this model the X7, noting the series .650 being six-cylinder and 50 for the 150hp. The engine should easily be capable of this, as the PowerPlus system should take it up to 165hp. McCormick uses the un-boosted horsepower rating for models, rather than this boosted number. In terms of power, the Claas rake and Aitchison drill really didn’t challenge the McCormick X7.650.

Build quality

No shortcuts have been taken when it comes to the build quality, with reliable components used throughout. Bosch parts are used for the hydraulic remotes, and it has an FPT engine as the power unit running a ZF powershift transmission on Italian manufactured Carroro front axles.

Wheelpower is Michelin 480/65 R28 tyres on the front and 600/65 R38 on the rear. Things are kept straightforward on the Efficient model, with mechanical remotes and semi-active spring/hydraulic cab suspension.

 In cab, function display is limited to dash only, with no large display screen on the armrest. Again, this keeps things simple, with fewer electronics to potentially go wrong. The main trick to operating this model is knowing to hold the linkage control button up for one to two seconds until the light goes out to activate the rear linkage.   

Serviceability

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Updated bonnet styling

Being able to quickly get daily checks done and get under way with work is hugely important and the McCormick excels here. Engine oil can be checked from the ground, and a visual gauge for hydraulic oil can be quickly sighted at the rear of the tractor.

The large one-piece bonnet lifts up out of the way for service access. The radiator cooling pack involves one quick-release lever. It then concertinas out using gas struts and support brackets to open out and allow easy cleaning. It’s actually one of the easiest and best systems I have seen.

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Easy access to radiators

Verdict

Given that the last McCormick I drove really should have been in a museum, I can’t say how the latest X7.650 McCormick compares to previous models, as there’s no comparison! In terms of tractors of a similar size and with similar features, the McCormick X7.650 made a strong impression.

The powershift transmission with auto power shift was probably a key feature, as well as the quality construction throughout; it definitely gives confidence in terms of reliability.

The McCormick brand is making a push to increase its growth in New Zealand, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely of consideration for your next tractor purchase. 

McCormick X7.650 specifications

Engine Betapower 6.7L, turbocharged, 6-cylinder, 24 valve
Emissions Tier III
Transmission ZF Powershift 5 range, 6-speed powershift, with creeper option available
Speed 40km, optional 40x 40 creeper box
Hydraulics
L/min 123L/min load sensing pump
Lift capacity 9300kg rear
Cat  III 
PTO  
Speeds  4-speed 540/540E/1000/1000E 
Dimensions  
Wheelbase  2750mm
Length  5260mm (incl. ballast weights) 
Width  2430mm (minimum) 
Height  2920mm 
Ground clearance 485mm 
Weight  7010kg 
Fuel tank  320L

Pluses

  • APS Auto Power Shift transmission mode
  • Well laid out roomy cab, easy familiarity for operating tractor functions
  • Simple functions, hydraulic remotes
  • Ready for loader or front linkage
  • Quality components used throughout

Minuses

  • Hand throttle position would be more convenient on the hand controller

Watch the McCormick in action

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