It is always tricky replacing an outgoing model, particularly when the model was a best seller. So how does Claas’ new Atos tractor fare? James Rickard finds out with a test drive.
Claas replaces its best seller, but is the new Atos up to the job?
Replacing its Axos range of tractors, Claas’ new Atos series arrived on the market last year.
Comprising six models; three, three-cylinder machines ranging from 76-97hp (200 series), and three, four-cylinder machines from 88-109hp (300 series), the Atos has some pretty big boots to fill as its predecessor was the manufacturer’s biggest selling tractor range in the UK.
Interestingly, the Atos is actually built by Same Deutz-Fahr (SDF), allowing Claas to expand its Arion and Axion ranges at its tractor factory in Le Mans, France.
Claas says it evaluated several options and potential manufacturing partners, eventually settling on SDF as its product is the closest like-for-like match with the old Axos. In SDF colours, the Atos would be equivalent to Deutz-Fahr’s 5G series models.
To try out the new series, we tasked a top of the range 109hp Atos 350 with various duties, including baling and hauling.
Power for the 350 comes from SDF’s own Farmotion engine. On pto duties with a suitably branded Claas baler, the engine proved to be a smooth runner and a gutsy performer. And although fresh out of the box, it also performed suitably well on haulage duties – it likes to be revved.
For a touch of convenience, the 350 gets an engine memory function, simply set up by getting up to the desired engine speed then pressing and holding a button to save.
While the compact engine bay and slim fitting bonnet does provide good forward views, it also means space round the radiator packs is tight. So tight, the manufacturer has seen fit to provide a small lance which can be coupled to an air line and used to blow out the radiators.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of crevices for debris to collect underneath the radiators. A flat plate underneath the radiators would make cleaning easier.
Our test tractor featured a 30 by 30 speed transmission (20 by 20 and 10 by 10 ‘boxes are optional), comprising high and low ranges with five gears in each. Each gear can then be split three ways.
Splitter changes are smooth, if a little lethargic. A speed matching function would also be greatly appreciated, putting the splitter in the most appropriate shift when changing gears.
Until you realise the capabilities of the transmission, you do seem to be forever changing gears – an hour or two into the job and you soon start ‘block’ changing and skipping gears. Gears one, two and three are fairly slick to engage, but four and five take a bit more finding.
Useful for loader work or any stop-start jobs, such as round baling, the 350 gets Claas’ Smart Stop function, which automatically pulls in the clutch when you press the brakes. It can be turned on or off via a button and automatically turns itself off above speeds of 20kph.
Shuttle aggression can be altered in five steps using a scroll wheel incorporated into the left-hand shuttle lever.
True four wheel braking is also provided on the 350, with brakes located in the front hubs.
This is also a feature of two-wheel drive variants.
A useful feature to keep revs down and hydraulic flow rate up is the firm’s Eco twin pump system.
By combining the flows from two pumps, rated at 55 and 28 litres per minute, it offers a flow rate of 60 litres/minute at the spools at reduced revs.
Pumps are combined by the flick of a switch, but should engine revs exceed 1,850rpm, the system automatically switches back to one pump to provide 55 litres/minute at the spools. In theory, it should lower fuel use for loader operations, for example. It even helps when tipping silage trailers.
Rear spool coupling layout is awkward, positioned either side of the top ink. To make matters worse, the positive bank of spools are positioned on the right-hand side of the top link, so even if you only have one pipe to plug in for a tipping trailer, for example, it requires a stretch.
Also, the lighting socket is positioned a long way from spools and the brake coupling has limited space to get hands around it, so expect grazed knuckles.
Visibility to the Dromone push out hitch is good and dedicated pick up hitch controls make it a doddle to use.
Under the right side of the cab is a handy toolbox and a convenient storage space for the drawbar. However, expect both to get covered in mud from the front tyres.
Cab space is roomy with a decent amount of in-cab storage for a tractor of this size. Steering column features reach and rake adjustment, although it could be handier if the locking lever was a foot pedal.
Particularly impressive is the layout of the Atos’ controls, something which is often overlooked on tractors of this size.
Everything is clearly labelled and positioned in a predictable place – working out the controls takes all of five seconds.
Interior fit and finish is of a high standard and should withstand a decent amount of wear and tear. Despite being made by another manufacturer, it feels Claas, which on the whole is a good thing, apart from the stupid ‘flat’ steering wheel.
The four-post cab offers plenty of all-round visibility. A transparent roof is an option, useful for loader work, and it opens to provide a bit of fresh air.
Air conditioning is standard and there are more vents than you can shake a stick at to get airflow right where you want it.
Only one cab offering is available for the Atos, which puts it at about 2.7-metres tall, depending on tyres. Compared to the low profile option of the previous Axos, which was 2.5m tall, this could be an issue for some.
Despite sounding like one of the musketeers, the Atos successfully builds on the outgoing Axos’ solid reputation, with extra smart touches all adding to an increase in convenience and efficiency. These include engine memory and brake-to-neutral functions, automatic pto, adjustable shuttle aggression and eco hydraulics.
In terms of control and set-up, nothing is too taxing to achieve. Our main grievance is with rear-end layout, which could be a lot more user-friendly.
Being a similar weight and wheelbase compared to the Axos, the Atos is a nimble machine with enough punch, making it suitable for a variety of tasks from the yard to the field. A low profile version might be an idea.
Overall, the Atos is a smart, simple tractor and should be able to hold its own against the vast choice of makes in this power bracket.