In its latest announcement Claas launched several new tractors from either end of its range including the latest Xerion 12 which, on closer examination, turns out to be a major step forward for the company.

While the smaller Axos machines were a development of existing models, the two new Xerions are dramatically different from their siblings in the Xerion range.

Same recipe, bigger cake

Claas has kept the Xerion concept of a bolted frame and two steering axles powered by a Mercedes Benz engine, but have otherwise started with a clean sheet of paper to bring these latest giants to life.

There are two models in this range which has been named the Xerion 12 series.

Claas tractor
The Xerion as it first appeared in 1997

The smaller machine, the 12.590, has 585hp on tap while the larger 12.650 offers 653hp. These are remarkable enough figures, yet maximum torque on the 12.650 comes in at 3,100Nm and the hydraulic pump can deliver up to 537L/minute which is claimed to be the largest on the market.

Mercedes Benz has been chosen to supply the power with same 15.6 l OM473 LA six-cylinder in-line engine that is already used in Jaguar harvesters and Lexion combines.

Lexion combine
The new Xerion shares its engine with Claas’ larger combines and forage harvesters

Although it’s unashamedly a sophisticated engine servicing, it is said to be relatively straightforward with an oil change interval of 1,000 operating hours and a maintenance-free Stage V exhaust gas after-treatment system.

CVT as standard

The new Xerion 12 Series is equipped with the latest generation Cmatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which again is said to be maintenance-friendly and durable.

CVT-type transmissions are becoming recognised amongst all the major manufacturers as being the answer to higher power outputs where any inefficiencies can incur a much greater financial penalty.

CVT Claas Xerion
The CVT transmission offers a high road speed – 40km/h on tracks and 50km/h with wheels

Thanks to a tractor’s CANBUS system they can also be better matched to an engine’s optimal power, torque and consumption characteristics as operating performance is constantly monitored and the engine speed and gearing adjusted to maintain maximum efficiency.

Fuel efficiency is only part of the equation according to Claas, there is also the operating characteristics of a CVT to be considered with one of the chief benefits being the gentle starting and deceleration torque.

Xerion 12 series, gentle giants

CVTs split the power transmission between the hydraulic and straight mechanical connection, with the former being used to start off before the effort is gradually passed to the mechanical side as the speed increases.

This characteristic means that implements are protected through the avoidance of peak loads on the frame structures and hitching devices caused by abrupt shifting or engaging and disengaging with the implement in working position.

CVT Xerion 12 series
Starting off with a large implement can put a great of strain on components, especially the clutch. CVT avoids this issue altogether

Hitching up 653hp to what is, in effect, a ground anchor, is going to cause an awful lot of strain on the components involved so this ability of CVTs to avoid subjecting them to shock stresses is a major benefit.

Nevertheless, the Xerion still delivers the full engine torque from the minimum speed of 0.05km/h, an ability that convectional drivelines simply cannot match.

Tracks vs. wheels

Ireland, and even much of the UK, is not quite ready for 650hp tractors, and so these remain markets which might see occasional sales. The real targets regions are, according to Claas, North America, central Western Europe, South America and Australia.

For the UK and Irish markets the tractors are available only as tracked units, for the main sales areas there will be the option of wheeled versions.

Claas Xerion 12
The Terr Trac units can articulate to accommodate uneven terrain

The steering axles, each with two auxiliary steering cylinders and hefty drive wheels, are said to transfer power gently to the drive belts through engaging eight lugs simultaneously.

The two-part frame construction of the tack assembly enables the pair of mid-rollers, which are mounted on their own bogies, to adapt to ground contours independently of the main frame.

Large rubber blocks between the undercarriage and the main frame of the crawler track assembly effectively buffer bumps and vibrations.

50-50 weight split

There are four automatically selected drive modes which, in combination with the multi-pass effect, ensure that power is transferred to the ground while also ensuring maximum soil protection regardless of the steering angle.

The Claas Xerion 12 in its natural setting,
The Claas Xerion 12 in its natural setting (dramatic skies are not necessarily part of the package)

Weight is equally distributed between the two axles which remains constant throughout the working day thanks to the 1,400L fuel tank being centrally mounted.

The steering behaviour is said to be similar to that of standard tractors with steering manoeuvres and turning operations being driver-friendly with minimal track formation on the field surface.

Pampered operator

The cab has been extended by 27cm at the front, making it currently the largest unit in the premium tractor segment, according to Claas.

The cab has four mounting points to give full suspension and four extra comfort footrests can be factory-fitted behind the steering column and on the right-hand A-pillar.

Tractors cab Claas Xerion
The drivers seat can rotate by 40° and comes with a choice of three finishes

The driver’s seat is available in three versions with standard upholstery or optional high-quality cotton or leather upholstery. It may also be rotated by 40° to give the driver a perfect view of attached implements.

The exhaust, along with its aftertreatment system, is fully integrated into the right-hand side of the chassis under the cab. This, in conjunction with the slender steering column, ensures good all-round visibility.

CEMOS carried over to Xerion 12

CEMOS is the onboard digital technology which Claas describes as a “self-learning, dialogue-based operator assistance and process optimisation system”, is also fitted to the Xerion 12 series after its successful use in other Claas CVT-driven models.

Claas tells us that “double-digit percentage improvements in fuel consumption and area output can be achieved by optimising power transmission, drive management and ballasting”.

Xerion 12 series
A lot can change in 26 years, as the latest Xerion demonstrates

In addition, the system incorporates the Terranimo app which, once the operating conditions have been entered, calculates the compaction risk in three soil layers to help the driver optimise the machine settings in favour of greater soil protection.

The Claas Xerion 12 series will be available for purchase from early 2024 onwards.