Brimming with features, we test drive New Holland’s new T5 Electro Command tractor series. James Rickard reports.
T5 Electro Command is New Hollands answer for customers wanting a high-spec compact four-cylinder.
Taking on the mantel of New Holland’s compact high-spec tractor, the T5 Electro Command Series arrived on the scene last year.
Complimenting lower-spec T5 Utility models, also recently launched, the new Electro Command models come bristling with features filtered down from their bigger brothers.
This includes more power, a front axle suspension option, the use of semi-powershift transmission on all models, new family styling and the option of transmission/loader controls integrated into the armrest.
Three models ranging from 99hp to 117hp make up the T5 Electro Command series.
To see what the new models are all about, we got our hands on the mid T5.110 Electro Command model, fitted with loader and featuring mechanical spools and loader controls, and set about a mix of yard and field work.
Cab feels light and airy with decent sunroof. LCD dash is also featured, which displays all tractor information.
Cab-wise, the predecessor’s six-post frame design is still used offering good access from both sides, proper sized doors, and convenient curved rear quarter windows which provide good visibility and open for some fresh air.
The interior is smart and airy, with the majority of primary controls, including loader joystick, spool levers, linkage control and throttle, falling neatly to hand. Main high/low range change lever, however, can be a stretch when selecting ‘high.’
Thankfully, the eight powershift changes can be made by one of three pairs of buttons; one pair integrated into the range selection lever, one pair integrated into the loader joystick, and one pair residing on the right hand console.
Majority of primary controls fall to hand, and mechanical loader joystick features gear change buttons.
There are also de-clutch buttons located on the rear of the joystick and range chance lever. For a bit of added convenience, a good addition would be direction change/shuttle buttons on the loader joystick.
For direction changes, the left hand shuttle lever always returns to centre after a direction change has been made, with neutral selected via a button on the end of the lever. Until used to it, it can catch you out the first few times, as there is no physical indication as to whether a direction has been selected, only a read-out on the dash. Shuttle aggression can also be altered via a rocker switch to one of three settings.
Featuring several cubby holes, in-cab storage is ok, but could do with a bit more space for a ‘butty’ box if this tractor is to live up to its ‘all-rounder’ credentials.
With a flat power curve between 1,900 and 2,300rpm, a decent lump of punchy power comes courtesy of a 3.4-litre, four-cylinder FPT engine. This is married to the firm’s 16 by 16 semi-powershift Electro Command transmission – essentially a scaled down version of that used in the T6.
The 3.4-litre FPT engine features fold/pull-out radiators for easier cleaning.
The transmission comprises four ranges of four powershift gears, which can be operated manually or in one of two auto modes; field or road.
In-field mode, automatic gear changes are limited to within the lower two groups of four gears (one to four and five to eight). Auto-road mode can be used with the top eight gears (nine to 16) and can change through all eight automatically. In both auto modes, you can limit the number of gears the transmission can make.
Automatic gear changes are determined by engine speed, forward speed and a flywheel damper sensor. This sees the transmission pretty much change gear when you would expect it to; short shifting when un-laden, and holding onto the revs when loaded or climbing a hill, for example.
Residing in a bank of switches (far right), location of switching engine speed memories could do with revising.
Powershift changes are fairly decent but can be inconsistent in quality of change, especially between the mid-two gears of each range.
As for engine management, two engine rev memory settings can be programmed, and toggled between via a rocker switch – ideal for a working speed and a headland speed. The tractor even remembers settings after being keyed off. However, seeing as it could be a regularly used feature, it would be better if this rocker switch was located near the hand throttle, rather than nestled in a bank of switches near the rear of the right hand console.
Thanks to an incorporated parallel linkage, the loader features good visibility over its arms.
Our T5 test machine came fitted with New Holland’s 750TL loader, essentially a re-badged Stoll, fitted by Lynx engineering.
A suspension option provides decent comfort when travelling around the yard and on the road, and grease nipples on the end of each of its pins offer convenient greasing.
Apart from around the tractor’s mid-riff, which sees the SCR canister, diesel tank, diesel exhaust fluid tank, drawbar storage, toolbox and steps all compete for space, visibility is decent all-round helped by a full-width transparent roof window for loader work.
With the loader’s parallel linkage incorporated within its frame, views over the top of the loader arms are good. But as with all modern tractors, sightlines to the loader carriage when hitching up is trickier than it used to be, thanks to bigger bonnets. However, it certainly is not the worst on the market, and you can still just about see the attachment’s brackets when hooking up.
Unfortunately, when the loader is not in use, there is no storage for the multicoupler, and it is a tight fit between the engine's emission equipment and front wheel.
As on our model, the mechanical loader controls are light and provide a really good feel. As an option, you can specify electronic loader controls integrated into the right-hand armrest, which can also double up as front linkage control.
Loader response, thanks to an 84l/min ‘mega’ flow pump option, is good, not the swiftest on the market, but still very good. This helps keep revs down and subsequently fuel use too. Also, the T5’s steering is quite heavy, even with no load up-front, something very noticeable when carrying out loader work.
The loader itself is relatively easy to get on and off, achieved in a matter of seconds after a few practices. However, there is no storage for the multi-coupler, which requires another person to hold it out of the way when reversing away with the tractor.
If fitted with a loader, you need to be fairly flexible to get at the engine oil dipstick, as space between wheels and loader brackets make it almost impossible to close to the dipstick.
Conveniently, radiator cores to fold/pull out for cleaning and a handy flat surface beneath them is there to catch any falling dirt and debris. You can also just about see the coolant level through the bonnet’s grille without having to open it.
Rear end has been tidied up, and IsoBus connectivity is now available as an option.
For servicing ease, all engine filters are located down one side of the engine. Rear oil levels can be easily checked via a sight glass at the rear.
Cab suspension does a fairly good job, which has been improved over its predecessor by moving the suspension mounting points wider apart.
Rear spools have also moved slightly, putting more of them on the left hand side of the tractor for ease of use. In addition, 600mm-wide rear tyres can now be fitted, and the tractor can also be specced as IsoBus compatible allowing monitoring and control of implements.
Ideally suited to a wide variety of tasks, both around the yard and in-field, the new T5 Electro Command is a true all-rounder.
For long-time users of New Holland, the T5 Electro Command Series is by no means a direct replacement for the old T500 or even TL Series machines, now filled by the new T5 Utility Series, but should be seen as a series in its own right. If anything, it is more akin to the old T6000 Series.
Compared to other makes it does have a lot of competition in this compact, high-spec tractor market such as the new John Deere 5R, Massey Ferguson’s 5700 SL Series, Claas’ Arion 400 Series, etc, all of which boast some impressive features. However, it does look like it is up to the challenge.