Is this the fastest side-by-side ever? It certainly feels like it. When choosing a new utility vehicle it is a case of horses for courses and this one, well, it's a bit of a racehorse. Should you need to speed across land, especially while carrying a passenger and kit, this could be the vehicle for you.
The Polaris Ranger 570 is delivered to us by David Webb Engineering of Wincanton. It looks the business. In Polaris's recognised sage-green livery, it has high ground clearance and typical styling that gives it the perfect looks for countryside work and rural pursuits.
The spec has all the buzzwords: on-demand true all-wheel drive with VersaTrac turf mode, high torque, independent rear suspension, long suspension travel, pulling power. But no power steering.
Braund is itching to begin the test. He swings into the driver's seat. "Comfy," he notes. But he is not keen on the net doors, "I don't think they would stay on long," and he fiddles with the push-buckle catch. With the seat belt in place, Braund turns the key, selects "Hi" range, glances over his shoulder and is gone.
The 570 is powered by a ProStar engine. Purpose built, tuned and designed alongside the vehicle, the engine was developed for the ultimate combination of high power density, fuel efficiency and ease of maintenance. The result is 44hp that should leave side-by-side utility competition in the starting blocks. Polaris boasts there is 22 per cent more power than the 2014 Honda Pioneer 700 and the 570 delivers more torque and rear wheel power.
We catch a glimpse of Braund steaming down the private lane past the golf course, heading out towards the fields, a trail of dust in his wake.
The machine is available agriculturally road legal and fully road legal. For work, it has a 680kg towing capacity and a standard 2in receiver. An additional 453kg payload capacity gives the opportunity to pop more tools and materials in the cargo box. The box has gas-assist dumping.
True all-wheel drive means all four wheels automatically engage when more forward traction is needed in sticky conditions. It reverts back to two-wheel drive when conditions improve. In two-wheel drive, the VersaTrac Turf Mode can be switched on to unlock the rear differential for easier and tighter turns without ripping up grass surfaces.
Braund breezes back into the yard. "Awesome," he exclaims. "The acceleration is pretty quick and it goes very fast. I got it up to 80km/h no problem." So that's the speed test complete. Or is it? Prewett and Huguerre are keen to try it next. They jump in. But it is not going so fast - 15 or perhaps 20km/h at a push. What's wrong?
The Polaris Ranger has a clever safety device. The driver pulls the seat belt, clicks it home and now they are roaring away. "It's got seat belt sensors," explains Prewett on their return. "If you haven't got your seat belt on, it won't go fast. That's a really good feature."
Listening to the machine idling in the yard, it is clear there is motorbike technology somewhere in it. The petrol vehicle chugs away when idling and roars when driven hard. "It's got quite a lot of poke," says Prewett. "On gravel it's easy to dump your foot and spin the back wheels."
Next it's cornering, rough ground tests and hill climbing at the quad bike training centre. Braund is quick to grasp the settings. "It's got three settings - four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive and then a turf setting. It's straightforward to use, with a button on the dash."
The 570 has a full 9in of suspension travel up front and 10in of independent rear suspension travel to give a smooth ride. All four corners can be adjusted to handle increased loads. After many manoeuvres, Huguerre declares: "It's really powerful. The smoothness of the ride is good and it responds well. But because it is very light, you don't always feel so secure."
Prewett adds: "It is smooth. I took it over rough ground that had been ploughed up - cloddy ground - and it worked well." I'm waiting for the "but". Sure enough, he continues: "But it does feel a bit tippy when you turn tightly. It tends to drop on your outside wheel - whoops like - and it is a bit heavy on steering to go into full lock to do a tight turn."
Prewett sums up his thoughts: "It's more of a quad bike with a cage on it. That would be my description of it. It goes quick, very quick."
However, we have some concerns about the amount of plastic on the Polaris, especially when using it on the quad bike course. "The underbody is plastic," Huguerre points out. "I would worry in a rocky place. I can imagine it being damaged if it grounds out."
Prewett explains the issue in greater detail: "If a rock goes into a hole on the underbody plate, the plastic would give, whereas if it had been a steel plate it would roll the rock or you would just skid off. It just depends where you intend driving your vehicle."
Having found that the tailgate will not drop all the way down, we check for maintenance access under the box. Everything seems straightforward - easy to spot the oil filter and dipstick, good access to the drain plug and the air filter is conveniently positioned. The cab has front and rear screens. Polaris Lock & Ride accessories and Pro Fit cab system can add versatility.
So where do we see the Polaris being put to work? Braund is first to answer: "Getting to the bakery quickly. Seriously though, we wouldn't want it in the Walled Garden - it's just not going to happen, it's too noisy. It would make a good rapid-response vehicle though, perhaps getting the vet out to a fallen horse on a racecourse."
Huguerre thinks it should appeal to big estates, national parks and large farms. "Anywhere you need to be quick to check things or to respond to emergencies," he suggests. "This vehicle is for those who need to move quickly and waste no time about it."
Prewett sees it having agricultural and forestry applications. "You could take feed out to the stock on farms and in parkland or carry tools in forests," he says. "It's for transporting stuff and for where you would usually choose a quad bike but need to carry a passenger."
Engine: 44hp ProStar EFI single-cylinder, four-cycle petrol double
Net power: 32.8kW at 6,700rpm
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
Cooling system: Liquid
Fuel tank capacity: 34.1 litres
Transmission: Automatic PVT (Polaris Variable Transmission)
Gear selection: HI-LO range forward, neutral, reverse
Travel speed: 0-50mph (0-80km/h)
Drive system: On-demand true all-wheel drive/two-wheel drive/VersaTrac
Brakes: Front/rear: four-wheel hydraulic disc; parking: rear wheel, hand
Suspension: Front: MacPherson Strut 229mm travel; rear: dual A-Arm IRS
Ground clearance: 254mm
Turning radius: 4m
Dimensions: 2.79x1.47x1.85m (LxWxH)
Towing capacity: 680.4kg
Payload capacity: 453.6kg
Cargo bed: 0.81x1.07x0.29m (WxLxD)
Cargo bed load capacity: 226.8kg
Colour: Sage green
List price: Starting from £7,399 + VAT
Tel: Polaris Britain - 0800 915 6720
Reviewed This Issue
- Kubota RTV-X900
- Polaris Ranger 4x4 570
Sam Braund, grounds worker, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Aymeric Huguerre, senior gardener, Cannington Walled Gardens
Giles Prewett, arboriculture technician, Bridgwater College
Workhorse or racehorse? In this test we look at two very different utility vehicles. Yes, they both have four wheels, powerful engines, tipping cargo boxes and optional cab systems. But one is diesel, one is petrol. One has pure muscle, the other is better at speed. Transmissions are different. Weight is significantly different.
With a team of three testers at hand, we visit the Cannington Landbased Studies Centre of Bridgwater College in Somerset. Our testers come from gardening, grounds care and forestry backgrounds. What will appeal to them? Will it be the strength of carrying 500kg and hauling an additional tonne? Or will it be the ability to race across the terrain at speeds of up to 80km/h?
On the day of the test the weather was hot and sunny. Lack of rain over the previous week meant the ground was dry, even dried out, bumpy, hard and rough. We also used the college's quad bike training facility to check out the vehicles' climbing power and stability.