Valtra’s combination of good gearbox, torquey engine and comfortable ride set it apart from its test rivals. Downsides included our usual Valtra gripe of bad switchgear labelling, but once you know what you’re doing it shouldn’t be a problem. Base price: £70,772.
Valtra’s six-post cabin has hardly changed in over a decade. The dated design and dull plastics will be pretty familiar to any operator of the Finnish-built tractors.
Most of the controls are managed through a bank of switches where the Finns’ labelling is predictably erratic. Very few labels make sense and some buttons, like the one hidden behind the shuttle, have no labels at all. Most of the key information is split between the dash and pillar-mounted screen, the latter being reserved for gearbox information.
The cab is well insulated and, at 73.1dBa, it’s fairly quiet. It’s almost as comfortable as the Deere on the road, too – front axle suspension irons out crumples in the road and the cabin gets mechanical suspension.
The standard-issue Valtra steering wheel is a small, go-kart-style affair. It’s precise and tight-turning but requires plenty of bicep/tricep power to haul it the four-and-three-quarter turns from lock-to-lock.
The little N uses an Agco Power four-pot but, surprisingly for a tractor of this size, the Finns have opted for SCR and AdBlue to keep on top of emissions – a decision that might put off smaller stock farmers.
What Valtra tractors lack in cab-related ergonomics they often make up for in engine performance. This test was no different – the Sisu block delivered the best power and good torque with average fuel consumption, however, AdBlue must be factored into the equation, too.
It churned out 113hp at the shaft and max engine torque of 468Nm came at just 1,440rpm. A small orange dial controls the hand throttle but there are no engine speed memory functions.
Our test N-series had Valtra’s latest HiTech 5 four range, five speed transmission, and a mechanical lever to engage the creeper.
Shifts are controlled through a fixed-position main lever. The first switch on the handstick controls the super-smooth powershifts, while the second deals with range changes.
Flicking a three-stage rocker on the right console sets the tractor to fire through the powershift speeds automatically. The first stage engages Auto 1, while the second is named Auto 2.
Both modes automatically swoop up and down the shift speeds according to engine load. The B-post display indicates which of the two has been selected – Auto 1 is factory-set and non-adjustable, while Auto 2 can be adjusted through a fairly complicated process.
Valtra’s shuttle is an old favourite. It has a park position and swings between its three positions with ease. Top speed is 42kph and there are 11 gears between 4-14kph.
The N-series comes kitted with a Cat III linkage with two adjustable arms and standard stabilisers, and there are external linkage controls on both fenders.
Lift capacity was just short of 9t – massive for a tractor of this size – and it also claimed the longest wheelbase so it probably the best all-rounder of the tractors tested.
Three of the four colour-coded and numbered spools have a float position and flow is adjusted through a dial on the right console. It had a decent maximum hydraulic output, too, which was 95-litres/min and 225bar.
Wrestling a heavy mechanical lever switches between the two pto speeds. 540rpm at the pto comes at 1,940rpm and the 1,000 pto needs 2,100rpm.
It’s activated by a yellow-topped switch and can also be controlled from the fenders. A second switch controls the auto mode, but this only turns the pto switch off – the operator must reactivate it every time.
At 5,945kg, the Valtra is a Sumo-sized small tractor. It also has the longest wheelbase and highest cab but still feels small thanks to the sloping bonnet and good proportions.
Its size should make it a willing tillage tractor, too. There are three-stage switches for both four-wheel drive and diff-lock – it can be on permanently or engaged automatically – but the middle stage of the rocker (for auto) is not labelled.
Hoist-up the one-piece hood for good access to the engine bay. The air filter is easy to get to on the right side. All filter changes are pretty easy to perform.
- Best gearbox on test
- Shuttle with park position
- Front axle and cab suspension
- Torquey engine
- Switchgear labelling
- AdBlue necessary
- Confusing gearbox programming
- External spool position
The other contenders