Polaris ATV Test Drive Review
Polaris Sportsman and RZR – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Polaris Sportsman RZR Review

ATVs Tested: Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 And Polaris RZR S 800

Price Ex-Showroom Delhi (Approx): Rs. 7.92 lakhs (Polaris Sportsman Touring 500) And Rs. 12.66 lakhs (Polaris RZR S 800)

Polaris ATVs are toyish to look at but boy, they are extremely capable!

Polaris entered the Indian market in 2011 with a wide range of ATVs to offer via the CBU route. The Polaris product portfolio consists of several types of ATVs such as 49cc Outlaw for 6 years and older, electric Ranger EV for utility, Ranger Crew to accommodate six passengers, Sportsman for sports utility and Ranger RZR for pure off-roading. We had two weapons of choice to test the extreme capabilities of Polaris machines on a natural off-road track near Gurgaon. The Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 is a regular 2-UP ATV and the Polaris Ranger RZR S 800 is a Side X Side ATV with a car-like stance. ATVs are always attractive and exciting to look at but do they really live up to our expectations? We take a quick spin to assess their capabilities.

Motor Quest: The first production model of Polaris rolled out in 1954 as a Snowmobile. Polaris introduced the Trailboss in 1985 that was known to be the America’s first All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV). At present, Polaris has the widest range of ATVs in its product portfolio.

Polaris RZR S 800 SidePolaris Sportsman Touring 500 Side

Don’t go by their dimensions! In pictures these ATV would appear small but in flesh they are quite sizeable

ATVs are usually an eye candy to look at with their luring toyish styling and rugged stance. Same is the case with Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 and RZR S 800. The Sportsman has a squarish design language and boasts a substantial presence with its big and chunky tyres and wide stance. It has a headlight cluster in the front along with a small grille and a handle bar integrated single headlight for optimum visibility in the dark. The side profile reveals a high ground clearance of about 286 mm. The rear gets an exposed suspension setup and minimal panels for an optimum departure angle. The Polaris RZR S 800 has the same aggressive design language but with the roll cage and Side x Side configuration it looks more confident.

Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 RearPolaris RZR S 800 Rear

Everything is purpose built yet they look attractive, notice the huge tyres and their tread pattern

The instrument cluster and switch gear of the ATVs are pretty basic and purpose-built. The quality is long lasting though. The Sportsman has a semi-digital instrument cluster that displays speed, fuel gauge, time and the gear engaged. The thumb throttle on the right takes some time to get used to. Once you get a hang of it, it is quite convenient while off-roading. There is a toggle switch just above the thumb throttle that is used to switch between AWD and 2WD modes. On the left there is an engine cut-off switch and headlight toggle switch. Then there is the gear selection lever that emerges from the front right fender. It consists of H (high ratio mode), L (low ratio mode), N (Neutral), R (Reverse) and P (Parking). It takes some effort to engage though.

Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 ErgonomicsPolaris RZR S 800 Interior

The instrument panel and controls are basic but are built to last, interiors are equally rugged

The riding position of the Sportsman is upright with a wide handle bar. The seats are well cushioned and you feel comfortable while riding on rough surfaces as well as smooth tarmac. It is ergonomically sound, everything is within reach and you sit high having a good view all around. The Polaris RZR S 800 has a car-like setup. The cabin is bare basic, where you get the instrument cluster in the centre and few toggle switches for the drivetrain and headlights. Instead of doors, it gets a net and the roll cage is provided for safety so that one doesn’t get hurt if the ATV topples. The steering is contoured that feels good to hold and confident while negotiating obstacles.

Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 ReviewPolaris RZR S 800 Review

The engines are peppy and offer good low end punch to negotiate off-road obstacles easily

The Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 is powered by a high output 498cc, 4-stroke single-cylinder engine coupled with an automatic transmission. The engine cranks up while pressing the brake lever and turning the key when the gear is selected as P. You get a typical single-cylinder petrol engine murmur when it is fired up. The thumb throttle is proactive and makes you feel well connected to the engine. There is a good low end punch in the spirited Sportsman that is useful to tackle most of the obstacles. The high ratio gearing is suited for usual driving conditions and trails at high speeds. The low ratio mode generates healthy low end torque at relatively low speeds to negotiate heavy inclines, slippery conditions, etc.

Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 PerformancePolaris RZR S 800 Performance

Jumping off the bumps is quite easy with the powerful engines and heavy duty suspension

The off-road oriented tyres along with the independent suspension at the rear provide unimaginable ride quality on rough terrains. Of course there is juddering movement while off-roading but the rocks and bumps are soaked very well by the suspension. The handlebar is pretty heavy while maneuvering and needs some effort to operate so you have to be at it all the time to ensure precise handling. There is another variant of the Sportsman that comes with power assisted steering, which is light to use. The well contained body roll needs a special mention here. When you are about to turn the ATV, you think it will roll and you are prepared for it but surprisingly there is minimal body movement.

Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 Off RoadPolaris RZR S 800 Off Road

Polaris ATVs tackle obstacles without breaking a sweat, you will give up but the ATVs won’t

The most amazing part of these ATVs is the way they crawl over terrains without breaking a sweat. Versatile articulation, off-road spec tyres, high ground clearance, tall approach and departure angles, four-wheel drive and low end punch together provide facile performance on almost any terrain. Before switching to AWD mode we tried to tackle some obstacles with the 2WD mode on both the vehicles and it didn’t fail to impress us. It just feels a bit strained when you push it to the limits in 2WD. As soon as you switch to AWD mode, you can feel the difference. AWD is effortless and gives you the confidence to push the vehicle to its limits. Both the Sportsman and RZR are extremely capable off-roaders but it’s the latter which feels a bit safer to drive.

The Polaris RZR S 800 feels more confident while pushing it to the limits

The Polaris RZR S 800 is powered by a 760cc, 4-stroke, twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that is also a high output engine, which is mated to an automatic transmission. It has the regular automatic car setup inside and is very easy to drive. The engine is lively and energetic that produces hefty torque at the low end, so much so that the wheels tend to spin when you provide full throttle on the move. The steering wheel on the RZR S 800 lacks electronic power steering so it also needs a bit effort use but on the move it is relatively light. The RZR feels safer to drive with the roll cage and enclosed seating, hence it is more enjoyable and easy at extreme obstacles.

The Polaris Sportsman Touring 500 tackling a steep descent like it’s no big deal

At the end of the day, good things come at a price and the Polaris ATVs in India come with a hefty price, as these are directly imported via the CBU (Completely Built Unit) route. The entry-level Polaris Outlaw starts at around Rs. 2.80 lakhs and the range topping Polaris Ranger R500 comes at around Rs. 14 lakhs. Also, the ATVs are not road-legal in India so one has to be financially sound and have acres of space to enjoy the ATVs in our country. In the beginning their toyish appearance made us feel doubtful about their performance but one has to experience such vehicles to realise their immense potential of tackling rough-terrains without a hitch. The Polaris ATVs are impressively versatile and built to last.

ATVs are not road legal in India and their hefty price tag is a sore point but if you have that extra moolah and space, Polaris ATVs are exceptionally fun off the road.

The Polaris RZR S 800 has that punch to enjoy powerslides

What’s Cool

* Attractive Design And Styling
* Ergonomics
* Supreme Off-Road Performance

What’s Not So Cool

* Not Road Legal
* CBU Pricing