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On-test: Valtra's latest pocket rocket

Latest N series tractor range has big boots to fill, as the previous generation made up 50 per cent of Valtra’s UK sales. Richard Bradley finds out if its up to scratch with a test drive.

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Valtra proving size doesn't matter #PocketRocket #NSeries

Major updates to cab and styling give the N Series a striking appearance.

With styling and the cab taken from the larger T Series, a host of beefed up components and new engines to meet Stage 4 emissions regulations, Valtra has updated its high powered four cylinder N Series tractor range.


There are six models in the N Series range with power from 105hp-165hp and four specifications available; Hi-Tech, Active, Versu and Direct. Features range from Hi-Tech with a 30 by 30 power shift transmission and open centre hydraulics, to the Direct which gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and armrest control terminal. Active, Versu and Direct models get load sensing hydraulics and separate systems for hydraulic and transmission oil.


Take a look at our test of the updated T Series.


We got our hands on a N174, the largest tractor in the range, in full Direct CVT 50kph specification and put it to work on a mix of pto and transport work.

Engine and Transmission

Wide opening radiators make daily cleaning light work .

The N174 gets a 4.9-litre, four-cylinder AgcoPower engine delivering a maximum 185hp.


To meet Stage 4 emissions, only selective catalytic reduction (SCR) using AdBlue is required.


Keeping daily checks simple servicing points and sight glasses for oil levels are down one side of the tractor, and radiators use gas struts to hinge them open wide.


Accessing the engine is easy; side panels are removed with a persuasive touch and the mudguards can be swivelled and locked out of the way. Maintenance intervals are generous; engine oil is 600 hours, hydraulic 1,200 hours and transmission 2,400 hours.


As far as engine management goes, an engine speed memory function can be set, using the hand throttle to rev the tractor up and holding the memory button.


CVT units are built in-house and feature four ranges which can be changed on the move using the buttons on the transmission lever.


Transmission is relatively straightforward to use and can be controlled through the foot throttle, transmission lever, or via two pre-set cruise speeds. Transmission response is good and speed increases are smooth, however, the short pause without drive when changing between ranges proved embarrassing when trying to keep up with an irate chopper driver.


Park lock is integrated on the forward reverse shuttle, and a shortcut key to access the transmission settings is located underneath it - very useful and time saving when changing between tasks.


Wide angle wipers do an excellent job of keeping views clear.

Climbing into the cab is easy thanks to the wide and shallow steps, handy grab rails and a wide opening door.

Inside the cab there are plenty of storage compartments including a large optional fridge and a big area behind the seat.


There is a lockable toolbox store under the right-hand steps which is claimed to be sealed, despite dust and dirt finding its way in there.


On the whole, views are good thanks to the high seating position and near 360 degrees of glass. However views to the front linkage required peering around the wide bonnet, and views of the pickup hitch were not much better. A camera kit is available to help with this issue and a mirror is fitted as standard to the curved rear window, but opening the window every time you hook a trailer up does tend to upset the climate control.


Our test tractor came with a five post cab with no right hand door. Its transparent roof looks ideal for loader use and comes with an impressive blind matching the roof lining. The tractor also came with an optional front 270 degree and side 180 degree window wipers. The optional electrically adjustable, heated, wide angle mirrors would have been a handy option with the five post cab.


Controls fall to hand and have a quality feel. Display is simple enough to navigate, despite being on the small side.

All primary controls are mounted on the armrest along with the simple display; this would not hurt to be larger allowing more information to be displayed.

The manufacturer offers a larger, seperate display with its guidance system which includes IsoBus connectivity.


The hydraulic joystick uses a rotary dial to change joystick function, very handy when swapping jobs or moving equipment around the yard.


In-cab rear linkage controls are not obvious; labelled AutoControl, a linkage symbol with raise/lower arrows might be a better option. Other than this the controls are well laid out and easy to use.


The three speed pto offers adjustable start-up engagement and auto height disengagement when the linkage is lifted. Mounted on both rear mudguards are controls for pto, linkage, one standard and low flow spool (see hydraulics). There is a similar control up front for the linkage and auxiliary spool.

Hydraulics and Back End

Rearranged couplers much easier to use than on previous N Series.

With strengthened cross-shaft and revised lift geometry, rear linkage offers up to 8.1 tonnes of lift and optional front linkage up to 4.7t lift.


Active, Versu and Direct specifications get a 115 litre per minute pump as standard. Our test machine featured the 160l/min option and had no problem tipping a silage trailer in a matter of seconds. A 200l/min pump is also available.


Adjusting oil flow is done using a rotary dial similar to the hydraulic joystick, with three pre-set functions and three customisable modes allowing the driver to adjust individual flow rates; constant pumping, timed pumping or float. These different set ups are ideal for changing between jobs without having to waste time going through settings.


At the rear, up to five spools can be specified, one of which only offers a low hydraulic flow - with a dedicated in-cab and mudguard switch this is ideal for a hydraulic top link. If power beyond is specified, a further spool is taken off the system.


The hydraulic couplers, previously split into two banks are now all on the left hand side; all other couplers including a handy airline are on the right.


The rear axle features multi-disc braking with an external adjuster to compensate for wear. Front axle braking is not available on N series tractors; however Valtra does offer a heavier duty front axle. The braking system works so that trailer brakes are applied before the tractor’s, which is great until driving the tractor without a trailer for the first time, as the brake pedal has to be pushed to the floor.


Our test tractor came with optional front axle suspension and cab air suspension, which worked well managing 50kph down farmer spec tracks.

FG Verdict

The Finnish manufacturer has obviously been busy with the N series, with updates filtered down from the latest T series, designed to improve operator comfort and make the machine easy to drive.


The new cab is spacious, quiet and well laid out with intuitive controls, making it a tractor you could jump on and drive all day without any major training. Like any modern hi-spec tractor, adjusting settings to get optimum performance does take a little getting used to. Adding shortcut keys, like the one for transmission, to other functions such as hydraulics would make things simpler.


The Valtra N series smashes the perception of a four cylinder lacking torque and stability when dragging weight around. Under the bonnet is a compact power plant which provides some real grunt, while still retaining the manoeuvrable and agile four cylinder frame.


Retail price for a basic N104 Hi-Tech is £66,134, the tractor on test, a full spec’d up N174 Direct would come in at £91,718.

If you want compact grunt without all the tech, list price for a basic N174 Hi-Tech is £77,860.

N174 Direct Specifications



Four-cylinder, 4.9 litre, Stage 4 compliant

Rated power

165hp at 2,100rpm

Max power


Max torque


Rear lift capacity


Front lift capacity


Turning circle



Valtra four range CVT; 0-9kph, 0-18kph, 0-27kph, 0-53kph


£91,718 as tested

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