With the promise of high efficiency, low weight and keen manoeuvrability, Valtra’s 160hp four-cylinder N163 Versu has a lot to offer as a used buy.
Geoff Ashcroft reports.
Valtra’s N163 represents the pinnacle of the Finnish maker’s third generation N-series tractor range. Sitting at the top of a four-cylinder line-up, it arrived on the scene in 2013.
While the range spanned 99-171hp and offered four versions (Hi-Tech, Hi-Tech 5, Versu and Direct), the N163 was only available in Versu and Direct (CVT) specifications.
For this guide we focused on the more popular Versu model, which features a five-speed powershift, with the Direct model selling in fewer numbers. Versu also gets Valtra’s control armrest built into the seat, plus load-sensing hydraulics.
The short wheelbase tractor came in EU Stage 3b guise, bringing a DEF tank alongside its fuel tank.
In addition to choosing the tractor’s colour, there is a lot of specification which can be added, as Lister wilder’s Valtra specialist Dan Sharood explains.
“There are two options for cab suspension, giving softer and firmer ride comfort,” he says. “Grab the rear mudguard and see how the cab moves on its springs to get an idea of stiffness.
“Reverse drive was an option too, as was hydraulic front axle suspension which can be added to 40kph versions, but standard on 50kph tactors.”
He says some early models which were fitted with a loader at the factory were recalled for a reinforced engine sump, so be cautious of a model which was fitted with an after-market loader.
A serial number check through your local Valtra dealer will be able to confirm specification, modifications and warranty claims.
Over its predecessor, the N163 gained an additional 100mm of wheelbase adding to stability. It also has the ability to combine front-end loader and front linkage without compromising on agility.
Agco Power (Sisu) lurks under the bonnet, and this four-valve, 4.9-litre four-pot is a serious bruiser, offering 160hp rated power and a peak of 171hp backed up with 700Nm of torque at 1,500rpm.
It has proved to be a robust power unit, says Mr Sharood.
“We have had no bother with engines and emissions kit on these tractors,” he says.
“Oil changes are needed every 500 hours, and again, if a tractor has been on an extended warranty and service package, it will all be logged with a Valtra dealer, adding to credibility and residual value.”
Keeping temperatures under control is a cooling pack with elements which fold forward, so there is no excuse for not keeping radiators clean.
Daily checks are simplified with a hot side/cool side approach, though the hydraulic tank’s dipstick can be awkward to push back in, often needing a twist to get it properly seated.
Versu delivers a 30 by 30 transmission using a five-speed powershift with a three-gear overlap in each of its four ranges. This gives 20 gears, with the extra 10 speeds being creeper rations.
Other than a mechanical selector lever for creep gears, there is not a gear lever in sight, with the Versu box managed using three push buttons on the armrest.
The buttons allow transmission programming and powershifts are speed-matched when a range change takes place.
The transmission gets its own oil too, so there is no cross-contamination from the hydraulic system.
Up front, factory-fitted front linkage and pto adds to residual values, and functionality, offering a 3.5-tonne lift capacity. Retro-fitting a factory front linkage requires a new front bolster, which means front axle has to come off.
The back of the N163 Versu serves up a Cat III rear linkage with quick release link arms.
Past FG tractor tests have revealed that Valtras do come with long link arms, so check pto distances and be prepared to buy longer shafts if this is your first foray into Valtra ownership.
It is also a messy affair to swap the pto shaft from six to 21 spline, involving circlip pliers and collar seal swaps. And you only get the choice of two pto speeds; 540rpm or 1,000rpm.
Two spools are standard, with any extra being optionally fitted. Oil flows of up to 160 litres are available, with the big capacity pump option.
Pay attention to the standard pin-type stabiliser bars, as they can wear if not kept tight. Auto adjusters are available, and were an option, as is the push-back hitch.
“Pick-up hooks are prone to wear, but they are easily replaced,” he adds.
Easy to check
Mr Sharood also points out it is easy to check brake wear through the threaded bar adjusters which sit above the rear axle.
“If the pedal feels overly long, take a look at the amount of adjustment remaining,” he says.
“Brakes are good though, and very few will have been spec’d with the optional front axle brakes.”
He also warns the rear-mounted screen wash bottle can become brittle from long-term exposure to sunlight, and may also need replacing.
Engine: Agco Power 4.9-litre, four-cylinder turbo, common rail injection
Maximum power: 160hp rated, 171hp maximum
Maximum torque: 700Nm @1,500rpm
Transmission: 30x30 from five powershift splits in four ranges, plus 10-speed creeper; 40kph standard, 50kph optional
Rear lift capacity: 8.2 tonnes
Hydraulic system: 115 litres/minute
Fuel Capacity: 230-litres, and 27-litres DEF
Little has changed in the cab department since Valtra emerged from the forests of Finland. And this is where function wins over form.
Robustness continues to be the name of the game, and heavily framed doors with adjustable opening position and grease nipples on hinges, back-up the Finnish maker’s attention to detail.
Backlit switches, a lever-type hand-throttle on the armrest, an opening side window and an A-post LCD screen add to the functional feel. It is a roomy environment though.
The small screen found on the Gen 3 tractor armrest is at least a colour item.
The no-frills appeal has won it a good reputation, and while the cab is not the most opulent of environments, the tough materials appear to withstand wear and tear.
Step guards have been improved, and you will find a lockable toolbox under the offside step, along with the tractor’s battery.
Some hydraulic controls are replicated on the rear mudguards for convenience, though their rubber surrounds can perish.
Service kit: £273.00 (500-hour)
Starter motor: £328
External switch pad (rear wing): £45.75
Carbon air filter: £124
Pick-up hook: £208
Screen wash bottle: £60.50
Wing mirror glass: £25
Mirror housing: £37.50