On test: Valtra T214 Direct

Valtra-T-214-Direct-exterior

From a driver’s point of view, the revamped T-series is a massive improvement over the old model.

The cab is smarter and more comfortable, the controls are better laid out and it has a longer wheelbase, which gives it a smoother ride.

The Sisu engine is also a strong performer. However, the four-range CVT transmission is noisy and a tad crude compared with the other tractors on test.

Cab

At last Valtra has replaced its decades-old cabin with something a bit more modern.

Vital stats

  • Engine 7.4-litre, six-cylinder Agco/Sisu
  • Max power 185hp
  • Transmission CVT
  • Hydraulics 165 litres/min at two valves
  • Max lift 8.3t
  • Entry-level list price £100,321
  • Price as tested £131,064

The five-pillar design of this latest T-series workplace gives the operator better views all round, has a much more comfortable, elevated seating position and seems a good bit quieter – however, it did record a surprisingly high 79dB in the DLG’s tests.

But the Finns could have gone a bit further in our opinion. Granted, the controls are a lot simpler than they were before, but there are still a few badly labelled switches and the pokey little armrest screen hasn’t been replaced either.

True to form, this remains tricky to navigate and until you have fathomed what all the baffling logos stand for, you’ll be at a bit of a loss.

It’s a shame Valtra didn’t go the whole hog and put in something a shade more up to date. But we can’t help wondering if this was more a marketing decision from Agco than a lack of technical ability from Valtra.

Valtra-T-214-Direct-interior

Engine

Likes

  • Spacious and comfortable cab
  • Improved control layout
  • Transmission efficiency
  • Powerful engine

Gripes

  • Four transmission ranges
  • Small, dated screen
  • Engine’s reliance on boost
  • Noisy transmission

Valtra’s Sisu engines always seem to perform well during the DLG’s annual grilling, but this year’s results were a little more mixed.

Look at the headline power figures and all seems well. With its boost function engaged, the 7.4-litre powerplant topped the power tables, recording 212hp, which put it a good 7hp clear of its nearest rival, the Massey.

However, switch this off and power slumped down to a much steadier 185hp, putting it well behind its Agco cousins. So if you’re not doing lots of pto and haulage work, you really won’t see the benefits.

Fuel consumption was also a bit below par, which was possibly due to the fact the Valtra had the largest engine capacity by some margin.

Transmission

The new T-series might have had a fairly radical update to the cab and bodywork, but underneath there are still plenty of remnants hanging around from the old model.

One of those is the four-range variable transmission which, in our opinion at least, is more like a halfway house between a semi-powershift and a CVT.

This is both good and bad. On the plus side, it gives a higher proportion of purely mechanical drive, which means it saps less power. That was shown in the maximum draft power test, where it came top of the group.

But from a driver’s point of view it means you need to shift manually between the ranges, just like you do on the semi-powershift tractor. For the road, you can select an automatic change from C to D, though.

It also manages to make some pretty odd whining and whooshing noises as it goes about its business, which gets tedious after a while.

In the cab, controls have been improved significantly and there is now a thumb-like stick for controlling speeds and range changes, rather than the fiddly buttons that were there before.

Valtra-T-214-Direct-controls

Linkage and hydraulics

Valtra has finally given up on the idea of splitting its spool valves either side of the top link and they are now neatly grouped on the left side.

That means no more clambering over kit or running round from side to side to couple it up.

But in performance terms, the Valtra was a bit below the group average, managing to pump 165 litres/min of oil to two valves. However, this was enough for it to beat both of the CNH tractors.

Rear linkage lift was also a touch under the group average at 8.3t, but it had plenty of travel for getting implements well clear of the ground.


UK verdict

In the past, Valtra has tended to languish at the bottom end of our tractor test league tables, but the Finns’ radical revamp of the T-series has thankfully turned things around.

Now it has a cab that’s up there with the best On the market and its confusing splattering of poorly labelled controls has at last been wrangled into better shape.

The engine – always one of the Valtra’s stronger points – is still a solid performer and with boost it comfortably won the maximum power contest. However, this peak power is available only for road work and pto tasks.

All this sounds pretty positive, but one of the thorns in the Valtra’s side was its slightly clunky transmission. This was a tad old-school compared with the competition and made some odd noises. On the plus side, it was the most efficient at putting power to the ground, due to its high proportion of mechanical drive.

This, plus a price tag that’s comfortably lower than the other Agco tractors, means the Valtra is now a much more serious contender.

Download the PDF of tractor specifications

The scores

Build quality Four stars
Cab/ergonomics Three-and-a-half stars
Engine Four stars
Gearbox 3 stars
Rear linkage Three-and-a-half stars
Hydraulics four stars
Pto Three-and-a-half stars
4wd/diff four stars
Handling Three-and-a-half stars
Driving comfort four stars

Final score

3.7