Farmers Guardian was keen to see how the latest crop of 160hp four-potters fared against each other.
With the promise of higher efficiency, less weight, a smaller footprint and more manoeuvrability, can higher-powered four-cylinder tractor be a useful alternative to a traditional six-cylinder model?
Tractor manufacturers are climbing over each other to offer pint-sized power houses as alternatives to their current larger, six-cylinder models. And to get a grasp of this trend towards engine downsizing, we pitted five of the most powerful four-cylinder tractors available on the market against each other in a group test.
The models chosen were all rated at about 160hp, the current benchmark at the moment, and all made use of electronic engine management to either maintain or boost power outputs. One example tops an astonishing 185hp. And we think it will not be long before farm tractors hit 200hp with four cylinders.
Powershift was also the chosen transmission for each, as it is still by far the most popular gearbox option in this power bracket.
We regularly see examples in the haulage industry, where well over 200hp has been squeezed out of four cylinders as the uptake of smaller engines becomes more prevalent in trucks as manufacturers adopt a ‘more from less’ philosophy. Smaller, lighter motors have the added benefit of allowing increased payloads among trucks.
So what have we assembled? Well, given that Valtra kick-started this trend about 10-12 years ago to meet the demands of Finish rally drivers with farming connections, its N163 was a natural first choice.
Of the remaining tractor choices for this test (see right), there are some notable absences. By sticking with the most popular transmission – powershift - this ruled out Fendt, while the likes of John Deere and Case-IH were left out because at 160hp, they only offer six-cylinder machines. New Holland claims it has a 160hp four-cylinder tractor, but this is only 160hp when boosted – it is only 130hp at rated speed.
Had Kubota’s new M7 series been available, this would have been included too.
In one form or another we have previously evaluated these tractors individually and all have featured in the pages of FG. But it is easy for a tractor to shine when on its own, however, in a group test all its strengths and weaknesses quickly bubble up to the surface.
To see how they compared against their contemporaries, we tasked them with various duties which included draft, pto and haulage work.
It is also worth noting that many of these tractors share major components, for example engines and transmissions, but who uses them the best?
|Model||Claas Arion 550 Cebis||Deutz-Fahr Agrotron 6160.4||Massey Ferguson 6616 Dyna-6||McCormick X7.460 Power Plus||Valtra N163 Versu|
|Engine||4.5-litre, four-cylinder, Deere Power Systems||4.1-litre, four-cylinder, Deutz TCD||4.9-litre, four-cylinder, Agco Power||4.5-litre, four-cylinder, Fiat Powertrain Technologies||4.9-litre, four-cylinder, Agco Power|
|Maximum torque||636Nm at 1,500rpm||672Nm at 1,500rpm||790Nm at 1,500rpm||700Nm at 1,500rpm||700Nm at 1,500rpm|
|Transmission||24 by 24 in four ranges, 36 by 36 with creep||24 by 24 in six ranges, 40 by 40 with creep||24 by 24 in four ranges, 36 by 36 with creep||24 by 24 in six ranges, 40 by 40 with creep||20 by 20 in four ranges, 30 by 30 with creep|
|Pto speeds||540, 540E, 1,000 and 1,000E||540, 540E, 1,000 and 1,000E||540, 540E, 1,000 and 1,000E||540, 540E, 1,000 and 1,000E||540 and 1,000|
|Maximum rear linkage lift capacity||6,900kg||9,200kg||8,100kg||9,300kg||8,200kg|
|Options||Michelin 650/65 R38 rear tyres, 540/65 R28 front tyres, 3,000kg front linkage, transparent sunroof, switchable upper headlights||Continental 520/85 R38 rear tyres, 420/85 R28 front tyres, front axle and cab suspension, power beyond hydraulics||Michelin 650/65 R38 rear tyres, 540/65 R28 front tyres, 3,200kg front linkage, Data Tronic terminal, speed steer||Michelin 600/65 R38 rear tyres, 480/65 R28 front tyres, independent front suspension and cab suspension, solid wheels||Trelleborg 600/65 R38 rear tyres, 480/65 R28 front tyres, 3,500kg front linkage, blue metallic paint, front axle and cab suspension|
|Price as tested||£107,685||£88,225||£103,444||£85,849||£92,530|
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