Review: Case IH Maxxum 135 CVT

By: Jaiden Drought and Harrison Hunkin


The new Case IH Maxxum 135 CVT was put through its paces by Farm Trader’s Jaiden Drought, who popped across the ditch to meet with his partner in crime Harrison Hunkin, to test drive the brand’s latest offering

Both machinery testers were unanimous in declaring that the machine looks good as well as being nimble to handle, making it a great all-round tractor.

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The Maxxum’s four-cylinder models range from 116hp to 145hp plus boost (87kW to 108kW)

There’s no doubt about it; the new Case IH Maxxum – the brand’s latest Australasian arrival – is stunning.  This new ‘European’ look that Case IH is going for is working wonders for us. That old squarish bonnet is gone, replaced with an elegant sloped hood. Hornet eye lights and a flared roofline are also aesthetically pleasing additions.

It’s a facelift adopted from its big brother, the Optum, and you could safely assume such changes will eventually make its way to the Steiger and Quadtrac models as well. But is the beauty only skin-deep?

Engine

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The squarish bonnet is gone, replaced with an elegant sloped hood

While this style update is welcomed, Case IH certainly hasn’t been complacent. This isn’t any old Maxxum dressed up in a fresh new suit.

Our test Maxxum was the 135hp (101kW) CVT variant with the four-cylinder, 4.5-litre FPT under the bonnet. This turbocharged, high-pressure common rail engine will max boost to 169hp (126kW), which for the size of the machine is impressive.

In terms of engine software, the Automatic Productivity Management (APM) is the go-between the engine and the transmission to give maximum torque at the most fuel-efficient setting. Service intervals of 600 hours have always been a strong point of the FPT engines.

The fuel tank capacity is 197 litres with an additional 39.5-litre AdBlue tank to take care of the emissions requirements. Speaking of fuel and emissions, the latest FPT Tier 4 final engines found in new Maxxums are more frugal and cleaner running than ever before. A recent DLG test found the Case IH Maxxum 145 is the most fuel-efficient in its class.

And depending on what tickles your fancy, power-wise, the Maxxum’s four-cylinder models range from 116hp to 145hp plus boost (87kW to 108kW); you’ll also see a six-cylinder engine 150 CVT model arriving soon.

Transmission

Our test model featured the 50km/h CVT transmission, and we enjoyed it. It’s certainly an easy, no-fuss option for farmers who are sick of the old mechanical powershift days. Most people who have driven the previous Maxxum, Puma, or Optum models will be familiar with this CVT transmission.

Mechanically speaking, it uses double-clutch technology to smooth out any range changes so it feels completely seamless. You have three pre-set speeds that you can jump between, all of which can go from 0 to 50 km/hr but are just computer settings over top of the transmission, not actual mechanical range changes.

This allows you to have a working set speed, a headland speed setting and then a road setting. It’s easy to toggle between settings or adjust the set speeds from the joystick, but if this is in the ‘too hard basket’, then just stomp on the accelerator to go faster or hop off it to slow down.

Another great feature many diehard Case IH fans will be familiar with is the split throttle. For the CVT transmission, it sets a minimum and maximum revs and then you use the slider of the actual main transmission control to alter the speed.

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It’s easy to toggle between a working set speed, a headland speed setting and a road setting

This means the tractor engine rpm will only go between the two parameters of the throttle that you’ve set and then the transmission speed itself is set from either pushing the multi-controller joystick forward or back or selecting one of the three pre-set cruise controls on the A-pillar.

However, there’s a new transmission option to go with this sleek new Maxxum. It’s called the Active Drive 8 and features 24 gears, three ranges, eight power shifts in each range, and all coupled into the multi-controller armrest.

Case IH is obviously excited about this range of tractor, as the Maxxum 145 with Active Drive 8 was the machine that took out the prestigious Tractor of the Year award at last year’s EIMA expo. New Zealand and Australia are set to see these tractors in early 2020.
Entry-level Maxxums, however, will still feature the powershift transmission found on current Tier 3 engine Maxxums.

Operator environment

Let’s step inside the new Maxxum cab. Like the outside, the inside also isn’t too shabby.
In classic Case IH style – feel free to upgrade your seat for the red leather option.

However, if red leather doesn’t tickle your fancy then the standard seat will certainly do the trick. It’s the little things that count inside, and one great feature on the standard seat was the sliding headrest, which instead of moving up and down, slides side to side.

The A-pillar is now running the traditional dash (so in front of the driver), much like the Puma and the Magnum range. Honestly, we think this gives much better forward visibility. The Maxxum also has a nice-sized sunroof, so visibility when doing loader work shouldn’t be a problem, but, we’d love to see more manufacturers adopting a seamless panoramic roof similar to that found on some Claas machines.

There are rumours, though, that Case IH is looking to implement something similar in the near future.

The new styling also gives a much-needed refresh of the lighting package. The old version was a little patchy at night compared to some of the competition, however, the new roof styling allows for lights to be angled outwards, giving an ‘almost’ full 360-degree view as well as an LED option.

Another handy feature is the forward-reverse shuttling. This can happen on either the traditional column on the steering wheel or the hand multi-controller – you can switch between either of them on the go because the shuttle leaver automatically comes back to the midpoint, unlike some competitor machines where you have to choose one and stick with it.

Our specific machine wasn’t fitted with the monitor but there’s the new AFS Pro 700 touch screen monitor that acts as the performance monitor for the tractor and the GPS functionality screen and allows different controls to be switched suiting different operators’ preferences.

Hydraulics/PTO/Linkage

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Rear lift capacity is just shy of 7900kg and comes with a 125L hydraulic pump as standard

The new Maxxum offers a four-speed power take-off (PTO) as standard, with both 540 and 1000 and associated economy speeds. Front linkage and PTO options are also available in these tractors to give even greater flexibility.

The front linkage has a lift capacity of 3.1 tonnes, while the rear lift capacity is just shy of 7900kg and comes with a 125-litre hydraulic pump as standard.

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The front linkage has a lift capacity of 3.1 tonnes

Maximum spec’d rigs will get you four rear remotes and three mid-mount remotes. This means you can have a three-function loader plus four remotes at the back and not have to use a diverter valve. For a mid-sized tractor, up to seven valves plus power beyond is very well equipped to handle most tasks.

Verdict

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The 50km/h CVT transmission is an easy, no-fuss option for farmers

Overall, the Maxxum 135 CVT was a great all-round tractor, perfect for the livestock farmer or as a general runabout for a contractor.

With the flexibility of the CVT yet the nimbleness of a small four-cylinder tractor with a tight of turning circle, we can see the latest Maxxum range from Case IH being popular.
Best of all, Case IH can provide a machine for everyone and any taste. Variety is key, and Case IH will deliver in spades.

We can’t wait to get our hands on the big brother, the Maxxum 145 Active Drive 8.
It’s a small, nimble tractor packed with features, frugal on fuel, well-proven engine and extended service intervals. 

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