Whoops!

Four-wheeled two-seaters leave SUVS in their dust

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - SIDE BY SIDE -

MORE ca­pa­ble than any SUV, the Po­laris Ranger RZR sideby-side ve­hi­cles are more fun than prob­a­bly should be le­gal.

Po­laris has in­tro­duced a new RZR each year since 2008. This year it is adding the nar­row­body sin­gle-cylin­der RZR 570, plus a four-seater for the fam­ily to en­joy.

VALUE

All-ter­rain ve­hi­cles at­tract no im­port duty but there is a 5 per cent im­post on side-by-side ve­hi­cles, de­spite there be­ing no Aus­tralian maker to pro­tect.

The RZR 570 is the new adult-sized en­try level model at $12,995, about the same price as some dirt bikes.

The XP 900 starts at $23,495 for the Xtreme and the up-spec LE is $24,995.

The XP 4 900 LE four-seater is com­ing next month but the price is yet to be con­firmed.

TECH­NOL­OGY

En­gines are a new 567cc sin­gle­cylin­der and a 875cc twin strong enough to pro­pel even four oc­cu­pants up most hills. A new con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion keeps the revs in the op­ti­mum power band. The four-wheel-drive has low and high range and is switch­able to two-wheel drive on the fly.

Both mod­els have in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion with 229mm of travel on the 570 and a whopping 356mm on the 900.

SAFETY

The RZRS come with seat belts and roll-over pro­tec­tion cages and you can op­tion them up with a roof, doors and even sound sys­tems.

The huge brake discs are more than enough to stop a car, let alone a light­weight buggy.

DRIV­ING

Po­laris drove to the mid­dle of the Mo­jave Desert in Cal­i­for­nia to demon­strate the large­ca­pac­ity ma­chines amid boul­ders, sharp gravel tracks and high-speed gritty sand trails with 1.5m whoops that can send driver and ma­chine into a cart­wheel.

Our mis­sion: drive 50km at high speed across this ter­rain to a tav­ern for a chilli-cheese-dog lunch, then back with­out los­ing said lunch.

At about 10km we come upon our first se­ries of whoops — which we don’t see un­til the last sec­ond be­cause the bright late-morn­ing sun bleaches out the white sand. The first re­ac­tion is to slam on the brakes and the ve­hi­cle de­cel­er­ates rapidly.

We hit the first trench way too fast and brace for the ex­pected crunch up front and cor­re­spond­ing bunny hop in the rear. Sur­pris­ingly, it dives in and out with lit­tle fuss.

Our Po­laris in­struc­tor ad­vises us to hit the whoops at speed. We at­tempt the next set with­out hit­ting the brakes and are as­ton­ished at how much bet­ter it han­dles the ob­sta­cle.

We even take on a set of off­set whoops that tilt left and right at dif­fer­ent in­ter­vals — it doesn’t send the buggy into a corkscrew to hell.

The four-seater scrapes over one whoop be­cause of the longer wheel­base. The seats are com­fort­able and the pas­sen­gers have not ex­pe­ri­enced one side­ways head clash all day.

VER­DICT

If you have ac­cess to pri­vate land — it needn’t be the size of the Mo­jave — ditch the ex­pen­sive 4WD and grab one of these bug­gies.

Mark Hinch­liffe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.