Review: Valtra N134 Versu tractor

By: Brent Lilley

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Our NZ friends were impressed at how well thought out the new Valtra N134 Versu TwinTrac is and the amount of features packed in

The Valtra N134 working in a field
The Valtra N134 is a stable, well-balanced, and highly manoeuvrable four-cylinder tractor

The four-cylinder Valtra N series has long been a core offering for the brand. With six models from 105 horsepower (78kW) up to 165hp (123kW), or 200hp (149kW) with boost, this makes it the largest four-cylinder on the market. 

We had the opportunity to spend some time on a new N134 Versu TwinTrac owned by the Carter family who run a beef farm in Coromandel, New Zealand. Currently undertaking a lot of development work on the property, the new Valtra has already clocked up a decent number of hours on a wide range of tasks.

On the day we caught up with it, Logan Carter was clearing land with a grapple on the loader and a Berti mulcher on the rear. Being a Twin Trac reverse steer model, it was proving ideal for the task: running in reverse with the operator positioned right above the mulcher and able to clearly see what was going on – it was fairly impressive to see in action.   

ENGINE

Power for the Valtra N series range is provided by four-cylinder AGCO power engines. The three smaller models use a 4.4 litre engine, while the larger three models, including the N134 that we tested, run a 4.9 litre engine, which delivers 135hp (101kW) and boosts to 145hp (108kW) on power take-off (PTO) work. This is a good, proven reliable power plant that seemed very responsive.

These engines meet Tier Four final emissions standards solely with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) AdBlue only, which is a nice simple system. You’d think that the trade-off would be high AdBlue usage – seemingly not though, with consumption so far sitting at around 350 hours on 100 litres. Equipped with a 45 litre AdBlue tank and an impressive 235 litre fuel tank certainly enables many hours in the seat between fills.

Coupled with the engine is a range of clever technology to maximise power when required, while minimising fuel consumption. High pressure precision common rail injection ensures that exactly the right amount of fuel is used, and with an electronic management system for the engine and turbo helping provide a flat wider torque curve; the 10hp (7.5kW) boost kicks in for PTO and transport work. A low idle speed of just 700rpm when in park also helps save fuel and reduce noise. Eco-mode achieves top speed on the road and lowers the engine speed to 1,600rpm, saving fuel while maintaining the torque on the hills.

Daily checks and servicing are straight forward and easily accessed with the large single piece bonnet open on the left of the machine. The cooling package is also simple to access and opens up on gas struts for easy cleaning. Engine servicing intervals have been pushed out to 600 hours under the correct conditions.

The Valtra 10.1 inch SmartTouch screen is clear and easy to navigate
The 10.1 inch SmartTouch screen is clear and easy to navigate

TRANSMISSION

The transmission has four ranges with five powershifts in each range, a setup which works well. In addition to this, the Valtra N134 tested was also fitted with the optional creeper box, giving another 10 gears in each direction for tasks at slow speeds.

Packed with some clever features that allow you to drive this transmission almost exactly the same as a vario, the clutch isn’t required and the engine can shift up and down through the gears and ranges as required. With the engine rpm set on the hand throttle, the accelerator can be used to change up and down gears. Brake to neutral engages the clutch electronically when the brake is pressed, a feature which is great for loader work or baling. A clever hill hold feature holds the tractor from moving when starting on a hill, ensuring smooth hill starts without roll back. A park brake is integrated into the left reverser, which works well to shuttle between forward and reverse, or into park easily.

Transmission and hydraulic oils are kept separate, which limits the chances of contamination. Both have recommended 1,200 hour service intervals, and while this may increase costs slightly, it is suggested that these can be pushed out to 2,400 hours under the right conditions.

HYDRAULIC AND LINKAGE

The Versu model tested has load sensing hydraulics and as standard has flow rate of 115L/min. This can be increased to 160 or a massive 200L/min as an optional extra. Remotes are controlled electronically and are completely customisable from the touch screen in the cab. With four remotes fitted at the rear, there is an option for a fifth and a mid-mount valve for the loader. A factory top link was fitted and utilises one of the two remotes that can be controlled with buttons on the mudguards, making it extremely easy to hitch up implements. Also factory fitted was a Dromone pick up hitch – another time saver when hitching up implements and helping keep the weight closely coupled to the rear axle. Rear linkage capacity sits at an impressive 7.8 tonne. 

Factory fitted to the front of the machine is a Quicke loader with mechanical self-levelling and third service to operate the grab. The mounts bolt directly to the chassis and are slim enough to make sure there is no restriction of the turning circle. One feature of the loader that really stood out is the ability to adjust the flow, and therefore the speed, of the loader and save it as a profile. This means you can set the loader up specifically for separate tasks and then recall those settings at a later date. Hydraulic assist can be selected and the tractor will increase the engine rpm to suit the hydraulics and ensure they operate smoothly.  

To work in reverse, the seat and arm rest swivel 180 degrees and a smaller second steering wheel is used

To work in reverse, the seat and arm rest swivel 180 degrees and a smaller second steering wheel is used

CAB AND SUSPENSION

The new and improved five pillar cab has no door on the right side, but there is a right windscreen wiper that is a handy addition. Plenty of glass offers great visibility in all directions, and the front pillars hide the exhaust and air intake. Overall it is light and airy with plenty of space. Adjustable mirrors give good vision in any blind spots. Located on the right is a good sized battery and tool box, which is easy to access but designed to be out of the way, with steps that are still useable.

Mechanical cab suspension on all four corners of the cab performed well, and there is the added option for air bag cab suspension. Up front the saddle linkage type front suspension works incredibly well, with hydraulic rams mounted to the centre of the chassis. Overall the two work well together, giving a smooth ride across rough ground at speed.

Half a tonne of wheel weights fitted on each rear wheel keep the tractor stable and well ballasted for loader work. Fitted as an optional extra to this machine, the belly guard provides added protection for jobs such as mulching gorse, along with valve guards on the tyres. Particularly impressive about the Valtra range is the number of options available, with the Valtra forestry range having some very useful options also.

CONTROLS

The Valtra controls have received a noticeable upgrade. The right arm rest has been redesigned, with all controls now found here and laid out logically with simple diagrams and within easy reach. The new multi-function SmartTouch lever gives control over transmission power shifts and cruise control. Commonly used buttons are also at your fingertips on the lever and include controls for the rear linkage, two remote valves, two customisable multifunction buttons and a forward reverse toggle switch. In operation, the SmartTouch lever is straightforward and easy to operate, with buttons conveniently able to be operated with your thumb.

The large single piece bonnet opens for easy access to the engine and cooling package

The large single piece bonnet opens for easy access to the engine and cooling package

At the front of the arm rest is the Valtra SmartTouch screen, an easy-to-see nine inch touch screen. The software has been designed to be as intuitive as possible, with many similarities to a smart phone. To access menus, there is a picture of the tractor with icons in the relevant location. These can then be tapped to open the corresponding menu, where everything can be adjusted and customised with a simple tap and swipe. With a lot of technology going on behind the scenes, it is actually a refreshingly simple system, which in practice worked really well and was easy to use.

Profiles for implements being used or the task being performed can be set up, so when you have it set just the way you like it, you can save it for future use. The great thing is that it can always revert to a default, so anybody can operate the tractor without worrying too much about the setup. The screen is also ready to use for guidance, ISOBUS, telemetry and camera inputs, to save having other screens in the cab. A four split screen makes all operations visible.

TWIN TRAC REVERSE DRIVE

Although the Valtra N134 was bought as an all-rounder for the Carters’ beef farm, one of the key jobs it regularly carries out is mulching gorse with a Berti mulcher, so the reverse drive option was a major selling point in the decision to purchasing this Valtra model.

Changing to reverse drive is a relatively simple procedure. With the normal steering wheel tilted forward out of the way, the right side armrest lifts up and the whole seat spins around. Lower the armrest and a smaller second steering wheel slides and tilts in to place. Once you’ve done this a couple of times, it is actually all very simple.

Once in reverse steer it’s similar to drive, as all the controls have spun round with you on the right arm rest and the only difference is a smaller steering wheel. Driving takes a little getting used to –  much like driving a harvester with rear wheel steering, it gives great manoeuvrability and excellent visibility of what is going on, although reversing – although going forwards with the tractor when you are facing backwards is a little niggly with no mirrors (TwinTrac mirrors are available).

Tackling gorse with ease with a Berti Mulcher on the rear (or front – whichever way you look at it
Tackling gorse with ease with a Berti Mulcher on the rear (or front – whichever way you look at it

SUMMARY

Once again with Valtra, we have come away extremely impressed with what the brand has to offer. There are some really clever features and technology packed into this tractor. The engine is tuned and managed to deliver maximum power while minimising fuel consumption, something I’m sure most farmers and contractors will value. The redesigned armrest and controls are easy to use with everything at your fingertips and we found the SmartTouch screen intuitive, simple and logical to navigate through, with a remarkable array of features packed in. The reverse steer is ideal when mulching and it was impressive watching it crunch through some fairly heavy gorse, which reinforces the number one thing with a Valtra: you can customise nearly everything about it to suit your end use and then when using it, you can customise the way it operates to get the maximum out of it.    

SPECS

Engine                                           AGCO Power 4.9 litre, four-cylinder

Power rated/boost                       135/145hp

Max Torque                                   620Nm at 1,500rpm

Fuel/AdBlue capacity                   235/45L

Emissions                                      Tier 4 final with SCR AdBlue

Transmission                                 Five-speed powershift with four ranges, fitted with optional creeper for 30F/30R

Rear Lift Capacity                         7.8 tonne lift capacity

Rear PTO                                       Three-speed

Hydraulics                                     115L/min up to five rear SVCs option up to 200L/min

Weight                                           6.3 tonne unballasted

Length                                           4,656mm

Height                                            2,960mm

Turning Circle                               4.5m

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