Slotting between its Maxxum and Farmall models, Case-IH launched its Luxxum range in 2016, as a replacement for the Farmall U Pro models. But has the concept of a small-sized, high-spec tractor caught on? Simon Henley gets the views of one Derbyshire-based user.
The concept behind the introduction of the three Luxxum models two-years ago, was to meet what Case-IH described as a growing demand for high-specification, low-horsepower (100-120hp) tractors, aimed at mid-sized farmers looking for increased versatility from their tractors.
Traditionally, this is a market sector dominated by more utilitarian machines. The Case IH logic behind separating the new Luxxum from existing Farmall family, was to give the Luxxum an identity which made it stand out from the crowd, so both customers and dealers alike could identify with the Luxxum’s claimed superior specification.
So has it worked? As one of the first in the country to get one, Derbyshire farmer Martin Taylor purchased his Luxxum 120 in April 2017 to replace a McCormick CX105. Mr Taylor, specialises in producing high-quality hay and straw for local livestock producers and horse owners. The workload on his 28.3Ha farm maybe seasonal, but as a one-man band, having a versatile tractor with enough power to handle all the farm’s PTO and haulage work, often while working against the weather, is essential.
He says; “I looked carefully at both the larger Maxxum and lower-spec Farmall models as possible alternatives, but the Farmall did not have the specification I wanted and the Maxxum was too large."
Many of the improvements introduced on the Luxxum models focus around a cab which was inherited from the Farmall U Pro. The seat for example, features Case’s integrated Multi-Controller armrest control, in-place of the U-Pro's traditional gear lever design, offering increased transmission functionality. Other improvements include a windscreen wiper with 200 degrees of rotation, a tilting/telescopic steering wheel and LED lighting.
"I wanted a tractor with a powershift gearbox," says Mr Taylor. "The Luxxum features a fixed hand grip. With one hand, I can operate all the tractor’s primary functions including the forward/reverse shuttle, four-speed powershift, external hydraulics, hydraulic linkage and even the cruise settings. Coming from a basic tractor like the McCormick CX105, the Luxxum 120 is a revelation.
"Another benefit has been dealer support. My local Case IH dealer is Startin Tractors at Twycross. They have been good to deal with, and the quote they gave me to buy the tractor when I expressed an interest was very competitive. By comparison, to buy a John Deere 5R model was almost prohibitively expensive."
Power for all Luxxum models is provided by an FPT Stage 4, four-cylinder, 3.4-litre engine. "The engine has plenty of usable power and is surprisingly frugal," states Mr Taylor. "Fuel consumption typically averages around 10l/hour on the baler, but give it some hammer on the road and that figure will double. AdBlue consumption is virtually negligible.
"It is a well balanced tractor too, and it puts the power down very well. The driving position is perfect for me, although I personally find the action of the brake pedal is quite heavy. There is plenty of stopping power, but if I am holding the tractor on a hill, after a short time my leg begins to ache."
Having conceded the Luxxum's commodious cab provides a comfortable working environment, Mr Taylor is keen to point out a few things which could stand some improvement. The first of these pertain to the location of the handbrake, which is positioned to the left of the driver’s seat. “Unfortunately the close proximity of the passenger seat in relation to the driver's seat, makes fitting an average farmer's hand between the seats a tight squeeze, when it comes to applying the handbrake.
“Another minor gripe, is the plastic shroud/nacelle which surrounds the steering console. At floor level, the opening in the shroud around the foot pedals is quite narrow and wearing a heavy pair of boots can make depressing the clutch a little awkward, as the driver’s foot catches the base of the shroud.”
From a servicing perspective, the compact Luxxum is very accommodating, says Mr Taylor. “The bonnet, which features removable side-panels, opens up to provide ample access to the engine's service points. And a large sight-glass located behind the off-side cab steps clearly shows the oil level in the hydraulic tank, while a second sight glass on the rear axle identifies the back-end oil level.
"There is one modification I have made to this tractor," he admits. "The drawbar which comes with this tractor is big enough for a 200hp tractor, and it weighs a tonne. This makes it very awkward to lift in and out of the factory-installed mounting bracket on the nearside of the engine.
"To overcome this, I built a drawbar bracket using a weight frame from an old International Harvester 84 Series tractor, which I bolted onto the front weight carrier on the front of the Luxxum. Using this, I can comfortably remove the drawbar without the risk of damaging my back. It is a small modification, but it makes a big difference."
With more than 600 hours under its belt, the tractor has not missed a beat so far, says Mr Taylor. "The Luxxum is the ideal tractor for a one-man operation like mine, combining a decent blend of power and technology in a compact chassis. I think the residual value will be better than the McCormick CX 105, but then I do not intend selling it any time soon. It does everything I need it to."