If you are looking for a great off-road drive, do not expect it from this one. Polaris offers a fantastic range of all-terrain, go-absolutely-anywhere vehicles. The company has a reputation for them - witness the Ranger and RZR side-by-sides and the huge choice of Sportsman quad bikes. But Brutus is different, and it has a different purpose in life.
Brutus is the world's first utility task vehicle to deliver full front-end power take-off (PTO) capability. It does not have full off-road capability, it does not have independent suspension - because it lifts and uses attachments - and it does not have continuously variable transmission.
But it can lift, sweep, scoop, clear snow, shift piles of sand, even mow and will have a blower attachment soon. Because it will constantly be asked to go forwards and backwards, it has hydrostatic drive and a treadle pedal, providing quick and easy forward and reverse travel.
So is it like a tractor with front linkage? No. It is not a rigid axle. Brutus has work-grade suspension. That does limit it, but it can successfully handle the implements offered and will lift up to 204kg on the pallet forks.
Bearing in mind that it is more of a prime mover than an ATV, we take it for a test drive. It is easy to drive. There is a lever to select "Hi" or "Lo", and then you use the treadle pedal. We take it down the lane but on the shortcut to the equestrian centre we have to call for a tow. Slippery conditions land us in a deep rut - but Polaris's rep subsequently negotiated the quagmire without needing help.
The beauty of this beast lies in its front PTO. It is the only machine like it and if you need a vehicle - not your tractor - to sweep the yard, shift pallets around, keep access roads clear of snow and gritted against icy conditions, as well as carry bags of seeds or tools, then this could be the truck for you.
We put the pallet forks on and move some weight around. It's good. Next we put the broom on the front. Hooking up could not be simpler. The Pro-Tach system lets you drive up to an implement and lift. Pop in the pins, connect any hoses and you are away again. It only takes seconds. We are impressed with the angled broom. It has a 1.78m working width and you can rely on Brutus putting its back into sweeping.
The seats are excellent and all the controls are where you would expect them to be. But it is somewhat noisy, especially when you push it uphill. "It takes quite a lot of revving to pick up speed on anything other than the flat and can be reluctant on the hills," notes Braund. Handy adds: "Yes, going uphill, that's when it is really noisy. But it is a nice, smooth ride, even over bumpy ground, and the steering is light."
Despite its compromises, we do see a place for the Brutus. With its strength and four-wheel drive it could be a solution to many jobs in university and college campuses, sports centres, business parks, work depots, airports, racecourses and anywhere with car parks.
Engine: 904cc, 24hp, three-cylinder diesel, indirect injection,
Transmission: Automatic (treadle pedal)
Drive system: On-demand True AWD/ 2WD/VersTrac Turf Mode
Engine braking: Hydrostatic system
Suspension: Front: dual A-Arm providing 15.2cm of travel; rear:
multi-link coil over DeDion suspension providing 15.2cm of travel
Brakes: Four-wheel hydraulic disc with dual-bore front callipers
Power steering: Hydraulic
Tyres: Carlisle All-Trail II, front 25x9-12, rear 25x11-12
Wheels: Stamped steel
Dimensions: (LxWxH) 3.56x1.63x1.88m
Ground clearance: 17.8mm PTO, 2.54mm vehicle
Cargo box: 111x137x29.2cm
Rear cargo box: capacity 567kg
Hitch towing rating: 907kg
Hitch type: Standard/2in receiver
Dry weight: 974kg
Colour: Avalanche grey
Cab: Standard, fully enclosed, with heater, defrost and air-conditioning
Cargo system: Polaris Lock & Ride with integrated box tie downs
Lighting: 55W low/60W high, LED tail lights
Electric cargo bed lift: Standard
List price: From £21,499 + VAT
Tel: Polaris Britain - 0800 915 6720
Tested This Issue
Toro Workman MDE
Toro Workman HDX-D 4WD
Polaris Brutus HD PTO
The Review Panel
Howie Baker, apprentice, Cannington Walled Gardens, Somerset
Sam Braund, grounds worker, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus, Somerset
Matt Handy, senior gardener, Cannington Walled Gardens, Somerset
The vast range of side-by-side utility vehicles available in the UK continues to grow. Many are perfect for racing over the parkland to attend emergencies, transport the vet and his bag to the deer or carry tools and fencing materials to furthest reaches of the estate.
Others are hill climbers, tracking up and down steep slopes with all the requirements for a day's shoot or with chainsaws and kit to attend to a remote area of woodland. Then there are those vehicles best suited to grounds maintenance and golf course tasks. Able to deliver sacks of seed and fertiliser, many also have removable cargo beds and will take top dressers or sprayers out to work.
We look at two of the latest machines from Toro. These Workman vehicles are designed for use in grounds maintenance and especially on turf but are also suitable for parks and garden tasks. One is electric, one is diesel. Which will our testers prefer?
We also look at the Brutus from Polaris. This is a heavyweight player with a front power take-off. It is less off-road than our testers expect. Is it a compromise too far?
Conditions on the day of the test were cool and largely dry, though earlier heavy showers meant the going was soft on much of the golf course and surrounding land.