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Pocket rocket tractor test: Engine and Maintenance

Comparing how five, 160hp tractors fared against each other
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Claas Arion 550 Cebis

Claas Arion 550 Cebis

Deere Power Systems provides the grunt for the Arion 550, in the guise of a 4.5 litre engine.


And it is the only engine in this group which snubs SCR in favour of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and a variable geometry turbo to meet Stage 3b emissions requirements. On the plus side, it means you do not need AdBlue.


Rated power is 158hp at 2,200rpm, with a maximum of 163hp available. Torque delivery is 636Nm at 1,500rpm, and while it is among good company, you only need to look at the identically powered six-pot Arion 630 to appreciate the compromise made from losing two cylinders. The larger 6.7-litre six musters a higher peak of 689Nm but at a much lower 1,200rpm.


Needless to say, this is an engine which needs to sing for its supper. And unfortunately, some of those notes do spill into the cab.


Cooling pack access is great and there is also a good flat surface beneath the radiators, so any debris can easily be swept away.


Cleverly, to keep fuel usage down, the cooling system employs a Vistronic fan which automatically varies its speed according to cooling demand.

Deutz-Fahr Agrotron 6160.4

Deutz-Fahr Agrotron 6160.4

A steeply sloping bonnet on the 6160.4 conceals a neatly packaged TCD4.1 engine, and a compact cooling package creates the best forward visibility of any in our group.


The Deutz engine has the smallest capacity too, though it delivers a healthy 156hp at 2,100rpm, with peak power rising to a useful 166hp. Torque weighs in at 672Nm, but at a relatively lofty 1,600rpm compared to the others.


This means a narrow working rev range, so you will need to keep this one buzzing, rather than lugging. If revs fall back too far under load, you might find it has less comeback than a faulty boomerang.


If you are good at solving puzzles, then getting into the Deutz’s cooling pack should be simple enough. Once the bonnet is raised, opening the cooling pack requires two spring-loaded locking cones to be pulled outwards to allow the first elements to be tugged forward and down. Release more latches and you can pull the intercooler up and the oil cooler forward.


It is complex, but it is for a very good reason. And without such a design, the cooling pack would be much more conventional and so would the bonnet’s profile.

Massey Ferguson 6616 Dyna-6

Massey Ferguson 6616 Dyna-6

Above 6kph and with pto load, the Fergie’s 4.9-litre Agco Power engine will flex its muscles using automatic power management to lift its 160hp up to 185hp. It is an impressive power level, and only delivered when required.


It is backed up by 677Nm of torque at 1,500rpm, which also gets a boost up to a whopping 790Nm.


This engine is shared by Valtra’s N163. Though in Finnish battle dress it only boosts from 160 to 171hp and is gear-specific for transport duties.


For a four-potter, it is smooth, strong and gutsy. While ploughing and running on a wave of torque, this motor would frequently lug down to 1,100rpm and effortlessly recover, which is more than we can say about Claas and Deutz, whose torque availability seemed to fall off a cliff at the first sign of trouble.


Less pleasing is the deep drone which fills the MF’s cab when the engine is worked at mid-throttle.


A lack of handle on the bonnet makes its release and raising tiresome, but once opened, it reveals a cooling pack with a fixed but fuss-free design. All elements are well spaced and easy to clean.

McCormick X7.460 Power Plus

McCormick X7.460 Power Plus

McCormick’s X7.460 is the new kid on the block and brings a Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) engine to the party complete with SCR and AdBlue.


In standard trim, 4.5-litres of Italian-derived muscle delivers 160hp at its 2,200rpm rated speed, rising to 166hp at 1,900rpm. With

Power Plus electronic engine control automatically delivering extra power and torque for pto and transport work, these figures rise to 170hp and 175hp respectively.


It is a similar story with torque. You get 680Nm straight out of the box, which boosts to 700Nm, with full availability at 1,500rpm. And on the plough, the X7 put in a ballsy performance without needing to be pushed hard.


Surprisingly, its exhaust note is one of the most pleasing of the bunch and the motor remains smooth and willing regardless of throttle position.


Getting under the bonnet is awkward though. You need a small pin-punch type object to release the latch, before easing the bonnet high on its hinges. Cooling pack access is fuss-free though – thumb operated catches are easy to use and two large handles make it easy to separate radiator cores and simplify cleaning.

Valtra N163 Versu

Valtra N163 Versu

Valtra’s N163 Versu gets the same 4.9-litre Agco Power unit as found in the MF. And it also gets the same SCR-based after-treatment package for exhaust emissions.


While its peak power of 171hp is slightly lower than the MF, both share a rated power output of 160hp.


Like its French-built cousin, the Valtra hangs on like a drowning man, with 650Nm of torque boosting to 700Nm – both levels available at 1,500rpm. As you would expect, it is gutsy, strong and eager. Furthermore, it does not suffer the same intrusive low rpm droning noise as the MF.


Daily checks, once the bonnet is raised, are simplified with a hot side/cool side approach which puts engine oil filler, dipstick, filters, coolant expansion tank all on one side. There are removable side panels on the engine, but they do not need removing for daily checks.


The Valtra’s front mudguards can be lifted, as can the Deutz’s, turned and re-positioned independent of front wheel movement, so placing them at an angle makes it easy to slither between the front wheel and engine to reach the dipstick.

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