Written by: Justin Law, Story Published in The Weekly Times, January 2017
Posted on: 24 Feb 2017
Topic: Product news
AUSTRALIAN farmers can expect To get a first look at McCormick's most powerful tractor at the end of this year.
The X8 comes in three models with power ratings of 264hp, 286hp and 310hp, and went into full production last year after it was officially launched at Agritechnica in Germany in November 2015.
The result of three years' research and development and a reported $110 million investment by Italian parent company Argo, which bought the brand from Case IH in 2000, the X8 is a bold venture to revitalise the brand.
"It's a top-of-the-line tractor for McCormick to restate its position as a main-line competitor to the bigger companies," said Shad Wall, general manager of Clark Equipment, which distributes McCormick in Australia.
Clark Equipment was appointed distributor for the brand in Australia in 2013 and Mr Wall said it had experienced 60 per cent growth year-on-year.
"We're looking to maintain that. I think with Clark Equipment behind it we've put ourselves in a good financial and distribution position to maintain that growth rate," he said.
Mr Wall said the tractor would be competitively priced against the major brands already established in the 300hp market.
"The X8 has been opening up market sectors that we're not exposed to at this point and provides an alternative in high-end, high-horsepower machines," he said.
"The major players hold a great deal of profit in those bigger machines and there is an advantage for the smaller manufacturers to work with smaller margins to bring prices down. So I think it will be quite competitively placed."
The X8 is powered by the same Fiat 6.7-Jitre, six-cylinder engine used in its X7s and is equipped with a variable-geometry turbocharger.
In the three models, which have rated horsepower figures of 258hp, 27Ihp and 30lhp, it produces torque ranging from 1132Nm to 1282Nm.
McCormick is hoping crop farmers love a continuously variable transmission because that's the only transmission option, although it's not a bad one.
Manufactured by ZF, it has programmed ranges to make it behave more like a powershift and can be optioned up from the standard 40km/h to either 50 or 60kmlh.
The hydraulics are split between a steering and remotes with 115 litres per minute going to the front axle and a generous 157 litres - or 212 litres if you pay extra - to up to 10 button operated remotes.
It is also ISObus compatible if you've saved enough money to afford equipment that might take advantage of that, though the cab is quite spacious so there's room for a few extra screens.
Standard gear is a 12-inch tractor management monitor that can display controls for ISObus-connected implements and there's also a guidance option with a dedicated 8.4-inch screen.
The X8 also has strong arms capable of lifting 12 tonnes on the rear linkage or 5 tonnes on the front.
The front axle has suspension and wet disc brakes along with fourwheel- drive engagement and locking differentials. Flotation can be further improved with optional 900/60R42 tyres.
On paper, the X8 looks like good value and if Clark Equipment's promise of competitive pricing comes to fruition, the big brands in the small 300hp market may worry.
The company is waiting for production schedules to finalise an Australian launch, expected to be in the last quarter of this year.