Reviews

Top Tractor 2016: Valtra N93

One of the eight tractors to be tested in Farm Trader Top Tractor Showcase 2016, the capabilities and features packed into the Valtra N93 leave Brent Lilley pleasantly surprised…

While it may come as a surprise to some that Valtra has been producing tractors since the 1950s (under one name or another), the brand has a strong and loyal following in many parts of the world, particularly Scandinavia and Finland, where the company’s headquarters and main production facility is located. Incredibly well-built to handle the tough cold conditions at the Arctic north, they are equally at home here in New Zealand.

For this reason alone, it was great to have the Valtra N93 included in this year’s Farm Trader Top Tractor Showcase.

Engine

Right from the start, the Valtra sets itself apart from most other tractors tested, with the use of a three-cylinder 3.3-litre engine from AGCO. Dubbed the 33AWI, it has a rated max output of 99hp. The name denotes its 3.3 litres with A (aftermarket exhaust treatment), W (a waste gate), and I (an intercooler). To meet Tier 4 interim emission standards, the engine uses DOC (diesel oxidation catalyst) and EGR (exhaust gas recirculation). This is a simple setup that will appeal to many, as no Adblue is required.

I will admit that I was sceptical of the use of a three-cylinder diesel engine, but other than a distinctly different sound when sitting at its low idle speed of 650rpm, there was little noticeable difference in power output, and it handled the tasks with ease. Our independent dyno test showed it in a slightly different light, with a max output at the PTO shaft sitting at just under 84hp.

In terms of design, daily checks can be carried out with ease. The slim sloping bonnet opens to give clear unimpeded access to the engine, and the radiator pack opens out for easy cleaning. It is good to see a sight glass on the transmission. Service intervals sit at 500 for the engine and 1000 for the transmission, which is right up there with the best.

Valtra _N93_9

Transmission

Valtra’s transmission gives it an edge over the rest. There are five powershift gears in each of the four ranges, giving a 20×20 transmission on the model tested, with a hydraulic forward/reverse. Cleverly, the gears and ranges can be changed up and down with electronic push buttons (that don’t require the clutch). This is essentially a 20-speed full powershift with the benefit of allowing you to change up or down a full range without going through all the gears. This offers excellent operator control and was the best transmission setup from the eight tractors we tested.

Hydraulics/PTO/Linkage

An open centre hydraulic system uses the same oil as the transmission and the gear drive pump has an output of 90L/min; more than adequate for most tasks on a tractor of this size. As standard, the tractor was equipped with three sets of mechanical remote valves, which I’m sure will be enough for most, along with a mid-mount valve for the loader. The only remote has an adjustable flow rate, but it is good to see they are colour-coded to match the levers inside in order to prevent confusion. A two-speed PTO was a slight let-down for me, as it only offers the choice of 540 or 540E, although 1000 can be offered as an option from the factory.

Operating Environment

A six-pillar cab provides plenty of room for the operator. Although some may argue that the ‘B’ pillars hamper visibility, it is not the case for me. I am a fan and was especially impressed with the size and sturdiness of the steel frame doors rather than the large flimsy panes of glass often found on other brands. I like the idea of extendable mudguard flares on the rear wheels and these can be easily adjusted to the width of the tyres. The downside is they are made out of quite flimsy plastic.

Inside the cab, a simple uncluttered dash is well laid out and easy to see. A left-hand reverser (in easy reach to the left of the steering column) cleverly includes a park lock, which locks the brakes and not the transmission. Also worth some praise is the fact that when in park, the tractor drops to a low 650rpm idle to save fuel. To the right of the operator is a panel, which is home to an array of toggle switch buttons and dials that control most of the functions on the tractor.

Valtra _N93_8

Driving Impression

The short sloping bonnet gives the operator impressive visibility. The shorter wheelbase also made the Valtra nimble when working with the loader in a somewhat confined area. The sculpted chassis and pivot front guards also allowed for one of the tightest turning circles of the eight tractors tested.

Although the loader fitted is built by Quicke, it has been Valtra branded and painted to match the tractor and fits well. It offers a euro hitch, multi-coupler and third service as standard. While it is non-self-levelling, it does offer boom suspension, which makes the ride just that little bit more comfortable for the operator.

The verdict

I am guilty of always underestimating the capabilities and features that are packed into a Valtra, and I come away pleasantly surprised. The transmission is hands down the best from the tractors we tested. A 20-speed clutchless powershift with the ability to jump whole ranges when required is a standout on its own. This coupled with a turbine clutch that allows you to stop with brake pedal rounds out an impressive package.

Pros

  • 20×20 speed clutchless powershift transmission.
  • Great forward visibility with a sleek sloping bonnet thanks to a compact three-cylinder engine.
  • Park lock on the left-hand shuttle that locks the brakes and drops the idle to 650rpm.
  • HiTrol turbine clutch. The tractor can be stopped only with the brake pedal.
  • External linkage and PTO buttons on both rear mudguards.
  • Steel frame door with greasable hinges.

Cons

  • Only a two-speed PTO.
  • Have to hit the battery isolator every time the key has been off to start the tractor.

Read the full test in issue #237 of Farm Trader.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend