Zetor Forterra HD woos arable farmers

Zetor’s latest 130-150hp tractor range brings the Czech maker right into the UK mainstream market.

If you were at last summer’s Welsh or Highland shows, you might have spotted a Zetor tractor with an unfamiliar HD badge. In fact it was the 150hp version of the maker’s latest – and almost certainly most important – model, the Forterra HD.

See also: Forterra HD spotted at Welsh Show

For a start, it puts the maker into the popular 120-150hp band which now accounts for 4,000 sales/year and makes up a third of all tractor sales over 60hp.

Even more important, it signals Zetor’s intention to widen its coverage from its traditional largely livestock customer base to one that appeals to arable and livestock producers alike.

There are three Forterra HD models – 130hp, 140hp and 150hp. However, with a price difference of about £800 between each model, it doesn’t take a genius to guess that the top-of-the-range model will be the most popular one.

Forterra HDs at a glance

  • Engines: 4,156cc
  • Power: 130hp, 140hp, 150hp
  • Transmission: 30×30
  • Lift: Rear 8,500kg.
  • Cost (on farm):  £46,400/£47,200/£48,000

How much does it have in common with the Forterra HSX models that were launched in January 2012? Not much, says sales and finance manager Pete Greening – it’s the same engine and transmission and the power outputs overlap, but otherwise it’s a different beast altogether.

It also has a 130mm longer wheelbase that will allow a six-cylinder engine to be dropped in, a move that’s likely to happen at the end of 2015.

What’s new?

Axle suspension is a first for the marque with, three positions on offer – auto, lowered and raised. You can save £2,500 by asking for it to be left off but Zetor UK reckons that 90% of buyers will choose this more comfy option. Cab suspension is standard.

Meanwhile, a new 16-valve engine is fitted, plus a Czech-made rotary pump on the top model. Plus there’s the inevitable intercooler to meet stage 3B and 4A regs plus DPF and AdBlue coming in the middle of the year.

Does this mean that Zetor is heading down the same tech-laden path chosen by most of the big makers? Not really, says the company – the HD will have enough high-tech kit to get the job done quickly and efficiently but it says it isn’t planning to head into Fendt territory. Nor will the dealer need a laptop to calibrate the tractors‘ electronics.

Engines

Until now, Zetor has pretty much stuck with its own engines and that’s the case with the Forterra HDs. However, that policy will be changing, says Zetor UK boss Maros Karabinos, with the new 60-80hp engines for the Major series coming from Deutz. 

The same company will also provide the six-cylinder 150-170hp engines for the Forterra HDs due towards the end of the year.

Why the change? Simply because emissions regs are making engines breathtakingly expensive and only the giant makers like Deutz, Fiat, MB and Sisu can stomach the costs.

Transmission and hydraulics

The 30 x 30 transmission is the same as on the HSX, with five gears, three ranges and a hi-lo. 

Outputs here are higher than on the HSX, with 85 litres/minute going to the hydraulics, 33 for the transmission and 22 for the steering. Rear lift is 8,500kg and the front hitch can carry 3,500kg

Pto and automation

New load-sensing hydraulics are said to give a quicker start up. There are also economy versions of 540 and 1,000pto.

Improvements to make the driver’s life more pleasant include auto cut-out of the pto at a predetermined height, external spool valves that can be set for different time delays and electronic toggle switches for the first time on a Zetor.

Meanwhile, at the back of the tractor, two spool valves that can be operated by a standard joystick should speed up jobs for anyone using as loader.

The HD is also the first Zetor to offer a programmable headland management system.

Cab

Zetor cab

Things have got neater in the cab, with a joystick at the front and then neat groupings of spool valves, SCV dials, hitch controls and 4wd/automation buttons plus the pto lever bringing up the rear. The throttle, meanwhile, has moved to a convenient spot directly by your wrist and above the gearstick with its hi-lo buttons.

On the right hand side is a useful-looking lidded compartment, an odds and sods tray and a passenger seat that is comfortable but made of a curiously sticky material.

The cab may lack the Germanic precision of a Fendt or the corporate regularity of a Deere, but on the basis of a couple of rounds with a plough on a chilly day near Zetor’s factory in the Czech Republic it looked like most things are where they should be.  

Zetor cab

Cost

Some 26-30 Forterra HDS are expected to be sold in 2015. Prices on farm (as opposed to those published) are likely to be £46,400 for the HD130, £47,200 for the HD140 and £48,000 for the top of the range HD 150.  

Sales in Britain will be mostly through Zetor’s 36 UK dealers. These tend to be in livestock or mixed farming areas but the company also has a UK retail arm for farmers or contractors who don’t have a dealer nearby.