Polaris Ranger 700 6x6

Bursting with torque and with more muscle than Rambo, Polaris Ranger 700 6x6 is not for the faint-hearted. And where you need traction, you've got it. What's more, it's from all six wheels.

Polaris Ranger 700 6x6 - photo: HW
Polaris Ranger 700 6x6 - photo: HW

"What a great bit of kit," applauds MacPherson, almost breathless with enthusiasm. "There's tonnes of torque - it sails up steep banks in high - it just doesn't hesitate at all. I'd love to have one." He pauses a moment and cautiously adds: "Not for students."

This vehicle has a top speed of 44mph (71km/h) and MacPherson finds it easy to storm up the hillside in excess of 20mph (32km/h).

We've looked at six-wheelers in the past - from John Deere and JCB - but they turned out to be 6x4s and the extra set of wheels are really load carriers to help distribute weight when travelling across turf and other sensitive ground. The Polaris six-wheeler is a true 6x6 - it has monster traction. And if you think that could make the steering lock a bit on the poor side, think again. This machine, even when all-wheel drive is engaged, is capable of some quite tight turns. We reckon it's as manoeuvrable as you would want it to be for a site that needs a 6x6. Turning radius is 4.72m.

The engine braking is also good - once you've the nerve to rev the engine a bit on the descents, as MacPherson explains: "At first I took my foot off the accelerator and found the vehicle free-wheeling - you are in free-wheel mode and looking for the parachute. You've got to have that little bit of confidence to give it a bit of throttle - just a touch of revs - and then it gives you the engine braking you need."

Power, and there's plenty of it, comes from a 683cc Polaris engine. It's a four-valve, four-stroke, twin cylinder, liquid-cooled engine - nice. It's also quite sophisticated, having electronic fuel injection. We take a look at the service points: radiator, brake fluid and battery are all in the front; remove the bench seat and the engine is exposed for maintenance. The dipstick is handy; it's positioned towards the front where we would expect it. But where is the oil filler? It's time to phone a friend. I joke: "Perhaps you pour it down the dipstick tube?"

Jokes have a funny way of becoming reality in a Horticulture Week machinery test. Having converted the Ranger from a dry to a wet-sump machine, the oil filler is now the dipstick tube. "It's okay if you are just topping up," says MacPherson. "But you'd have to have a lot of patience if you were the service engineer".

The lack of an instantly recognisable and quick-to-fill oil filler is the only thing to let this machine down in our test. In every other respect it exceeds our expectations. And we like the way that all the important components are protected or are high up in the engine compartment - away from the mud and rubbish of the work site.

Relatively easy to drive, the Ranger has simple controls. All the instrumentation is identifiable at a glance and there is an illuminated switch to engage all-wheel drive. It's also comfortable. It has independent suspension on the mid-axle and a rigid rear axle, so the machine gives a slinky snake-like movement over bumpy terrain and maintains all-wheel contact with the ground. It also has the advantage that you can just about squeeze three on the bench seat.


Nigel MacPherson, engineering lecturer, Sparsholt College, Winchester

The test took place on the purpose-built ATV training and test course at Sparsholt College, near Winchester, in Hampshire. The course has been carved out into a hillside and presents a variety of features, including steep slopes, hummocks and water splash.

Conditions on the day were cold and wet. Rain during the preceding days meant some areas of the course were muddy.

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