By Peter Hill
ARMCHAIR comfort and gear lever-mounted push-button controls feature on the latest 105-145hp tractors from Austrian manufacturer Steyr.
The contoured multi-function top to the six-speed gear lever gives the tractors combine-like fingertip controls with buttons to pulse up and down the four-speed powershift. Also controlled are pre-select forward and reverse, lift and lower implements and, as an option, the operation of up to four remote spool valves.
Although the controls are not seat-mounted as on some tractors, the concentration of control buttons in this way makes the machines easier to operate, claims Walter Purstinger of Steyr.
"At headlands drivers can keep their left hand on the steering wheel and their right hand on the multi-control gear lever, changing gear and direction and operating implements using just their fingers and thumb," he points out.
The four new tractors, said to be new from the ground up, give Steyr much needed contenders for the key 100hp to 150hp sector. The 115hp machine is powered by a four-cylinder turbo motor, while the 115hp, 125hp and 145hp versions have six-cylinder turbo engines.
Power output is constant between 1900 and 2300rpm. And with 30% torque back-up to peak outputs of 417 to 576Nm, the Valmet-built motors are claimed to have the right power and torque characteristics for heavy draft and pto work.
The new gearbox is a co-development between Steyr and transmissions specialist ZF. It comprises a six-speed manual gearbox and four-speed push-button powershift giving 24 speeds, with forward/reverse pre-select shuttle. Optional creeper gears add another 16 speeds.
A long service life is claimed for the main clutch, a 230mm (9in) diameter, oil-cooled, eight-plate design with spring clamping but hydraulic disengage.
Two-speed, two-range power take-off is standard fare, giving 540/1000rpm at 2100 engine rpm for maximum power and at 1600rpm for economy. All speeds are selected in the cab with rocker-switch modulated engagement.
The hydraulic lift is an electronic system with front hydraulics/pto fitted as optional equipment.
Seated in the cab, drivers find a multi-adjustable seat, a decent area of curved glass, conventional and digital dash displays and a transmission display on the front right-hand cab pillar. A large drop-down compartment, rather like an aircrafts overhead locker, provides useful storage space and there is a flask moulding behind the fold away "dicky" seat.
Steyr and importer Morris, Corfield & Co, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, hope the new tractors will boost UK sales, currently fewer than 150 a year.
"The lack of competitive 100hp to 150hp models has effectively kept us out of the main arable areas but the new tractors should change that," says Norman Duppa of Morris Corfield.
"The tractors carry a premium but should appeal to farmers wanting long-term reliability and good resale values."
Austrian muscle…the 145hp 9145 is the flagship model in Steyrs 9100 tractor range. Series price starts at £48,755 and rises to £62,015.