In recent years, there has been considerable activity within the ultra-compact and compact telehandler/wheel loader market.

By now, almost every manufacturer has a machine or range to cater for that growing customer type and in more recent times, a choice of powertrains too.

Most major manufacturers now offer such models in electric or diesel form. Kramer recently provided us with its ultra-compact KT144 model to spend some time with.

The KT144 on test was equipped with the larger 45hp engine, 30km/h hydrostatic transmission and 41.6l/min hydraulic pump.


In 2021 Kramer introduced the KT144 ultra-compact model to its telehandler portfolio which offers machines with payloads ranging from 1,450kg to 5,500kg. Although now normalised, long lead times throughout 2021/22 left units slow to arrive in dealers’ yards. However, Kramer report that double numbers are now working in the country.

While the KT144 is reasonably new to the market, sister brand Weidemann and parent company, Wacker Neuson, has been offering similar models now for years. What’s more, all three brands including the Kramer KT144 roll off the one production line at the Weidemann factory in Germany.

While the Weidemann T4512 and Wacker Neuson TH412 largely share the same platform, much of the design language and componentry is also brought over to the KT144, but there are differences. The KT144 is structurally heavier built with increased lift capacity and the spec sheet proves that.

Handling heavy silage bales was no challenge.

Specification and options

The unit provided to us was pretty much the all singing all dancing top spec machine bar one or two options. It was equipped with the larger 45hp Yanmar engine (25hp standard), 30km/h (20km standard) hydrostatic transmission and 41.6l/min hydraulics (36.4l/min standard), selectable driving modes, smart handling function, an air seat and electrically operated third service function – described as the typical Irish spec. Other options included locking front differential, low speed control and manual throttle and selectable drive modes.

The KT144 weighs 300kg more than the Weidemann T4512 and is rated to lift 200kg more.

First impressions

The KT144 stands at a smidge under 2m in height and 3m in length (without bucket) and just over 1.5m wide (without bucket). On first impressions, one would wonder how such a compact machine is rated to lift 1,450kg to 4.3m – but it somehow does so with ease. As usual with any of the Kramer products we have tested in the past, the fit and finish was top notch.

Having compared the spec sheets of the KT144 with the models from its sister brands, it weighs 300kg heavier and is rated to lift 200kg (16%) more. According to Kramer the extra weight is partly gained from the heavier chassis, reinforced frame and boom, larger counter weight and larger hydraulic rams. From a structural build perspective, the machine has to be admired.

Multiple headstock options are offered including Kramer’s own offering (manual and hydraulic locking option), Weidemann type, Euro or skid-steer type. Our test machine was fitted with the hydraulic locking Kramer option. It was shod on Mitas 31x15.5-15 tyres which proved a good all round option.

Our unit was fitted with the standard Kramer headstock.

Cab and controls

The cab fitted to the KT144 is hard to find fault with, other than it is verging on the narrow side at 0.65m which is expected of an ultra-compact machine.

The 0.65m wide cab is compact but comfortable and offers good visibility.

To be fair it’s as large and as wide as it physically can be. Having the split door open does help too. Layout and access is good.

The flat floor and 0.42m entry height means it’s one step and you’re seated. The air seat and adjustable steering column leaves driving position easily tweaked to ones needs. Cabin heating is standard while air-con was one of the few options not ticked on our machine. Control layout is clean and simple. Although, if we had to henpeck something inside the cab it would be the joystick size. The KT144 shares its joystick with the rest of the range and therefore it arguably felt a little out of proportion in such a compact environment.

While lowering and tilting the boom simultaneously it can make contact with the steering wheel – the only way to avoid this is to have the steering column completely upright.

Perhaps a slightly reconfigured version of the joystick for the narrow cab would cure this? Nonetheless, it sits in hand nicely. Aside from all the usual boom movements, it is responsible for direction changes, high and low range changes, third service operation and diff-lock.

Depending on the position of the steering column and joystick, it is possible for the two to interfere.

Our machine offered four wheel, front wheel and crab steering options while permanent four wheel steer is standard.

Aside from changing into front wheel steer for road use which is not entirely necessary, we couldn’t see much need for anything other than the four wheel option. Upon exiting the cab, the parking brake automatically engages which is a nice feature on most new machines but not something to become reliant on when swapping and switching to older machines.

For the majority of tasks, we used the Auto driving mode in order to get the most performance out of the machine. However, having tried out Eco it was evident that engine revs were lower which will suit certain tasks.

Although not used to its full potential, the low-speed and manual throttle feature would serve a purpose for attachments such as rotary sweeping brush. An additional M-Drive mode is available whereby working hydraulic flow/ engine speed is set via the hand throttle and forward speed is then controlled via the foot pedal.

The smart handling function has two predefined settings called Bucket mode and Stacking mode. In bucket mode the telescopic section of the boom retracts inwards automatically while being lowered; Stacking mode sees the attachment lift up and down in a straight line while the boom telescopes in and out automatically.

Engine and transmission

As already outlined, our model had the optional 45hp turbocharged 1.6l three-cylinder engine. To meet Stage V emission standards, it uses EGR, DOC and DPF, while AdBlue is not required. It is a grand little engine and proves easily accessed for maintenance.

The only downside is that it proves noisy on a cold started but after a minute the tune mellows. Our unit was also fitted with the reversible fan.

Under the bonnet, the 1.6l three-cylinder turbo Yanmar motor and cooling pack is neatly laid out.

Being the 45hp model, top speed of the hydrostatic transmission is increased from 20km/h to 30km/h. Low range (tortoise) is from 0-7km/h while high (hare) is from 0-30km/h.

The loader is fitted with Carraro axles of which the front has a 100% locking differential.

Ranges can be switched seamlessly on the move but we would have liked the low range to go from 0-10km/h, that way we could have comfortably carried out the majority of our farm tasks in low.

Being used to a skid steer where forward speed is practically walking space, the additional ability to quickly travel up the road to an out farm was a gift.

In performance terms, it did prove nippy about the yard and the inching pedal leaves it nimble in the tightest of spaces or when momentarily stopped to open/close the shear grab.

The diesel tank holds a total 33l which proves large enough for a machine that is typically yard bound. More importantly, it did prove a miser on fuel. Over 10 hours of mixed work types it averaged just under 2l/hour.

The KT144 measures 1.56m wide while the cab is 0.65m wide.

Hydraulics and handling

As standard the 45hp model comes equipped with the 41.6l/min hydraulic pump over the 36.4l/min unit fitted to the 25hp machine. A powerflow option offering a total 70l/min can be chosen for high demand applications.

Hydraulics are precise and about as responsive as you’d need in an ultra-compact machine.

The most demanding task requiring the third service we threw at the KT144 was working a 4ft 6in shear grab. It got the job done with a little engine rev.

However, we feel as if the smaller pump and engine option wouldn’t be a runner if operating a shear grab, bale slice or similar was going to be a regular task. The auxiliary line pressure release does exactly as it says on the tin.

Lift capacity really surprised us. The KT144 is rated to lift 1,450kg which in our opinion is about as much as anyone would want from a machine of this size. Aside from moving 1t bags, we handled silage bales and the shear grab which we estimate to weigh at least 800kg when full which it did with ease.

The only limiting factor and something to be conscious of when handling loads at height is the loaders stability given its narrow dimensions.

With a lift capacity of 1,450kg and 42l/min hydraulics, it handled the 4ft 6in shear grab okay, however third service flow would begin proving a limiting factor with a sheargrab any larger.


The Kramer KT144 really is the definition of pocket rocket, and is a practical tool overall.

Having tested it on a mixed poultry and dairy farm where a similar dimensioned skid-steer has been working for over 15 years, it proved as manoeuvrable, more capable and in many aspects better suited. It also has the benefit of an enclosed, heated


Although given its nature, visibility of the implement compared nothing on the skid-steer, but was excellent elsewhere. The full LED work light package too really helps visibility during the darkest of evenings.

The in-cab heater was effective at clearing the frost of the windscreen along with the rear window heating. Helped by the high level of optional extras, both driving position and comfort couldn’t be faulted. The build quality was also impressive, especially around the boom pivot and chassis.

Engine power was ample, while hydraulic performance was okay. However, if in the market, we’d be keen to at least consider the 70l/min powerflow option.

Overall, the KT144 is definitely a machine to be considered for confined farms or restricted buildings such as stables or poultry sheds as an alternative to a small tractor and loader, skid-steer or similar.

With height and width under 3m, the KT144 works perfectly inside a poultry house.


  • Manoeuvrability
  • Build quality
  • Performance
  • Dislikes

  • Joystick size
  • Noisy while cold
  • Test Unit Spec

    Model: KT144 ultra-compact

    Engine: 45hp three-cylinder Yanmar turbo

    Transmission: 30km/h Dual range hydrostatic (low = 0-7km/h, high = 0-30km/h). Max lift capacity: 1,450kg

    Max lift height: 4.3m

    Hydraulic output: Gear pump 41.6l/min

    Height: 1.99m

    Width: 1.56m

    Length: 2.97m (without bucket)

    Weight: 3,000kg (spec dependant)

    Fuel capacity: 33l

    Tyres: Mitas 31x15.5-15

    List price for unit reviewed: €56,500 plus VAT