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Polaris Sportsman Under Scrutiny
by Eilidh MacPherson
Market leaders in their native America and also in Europe, Polaris are now coming close to front-runners in the Australian ATV and UTV markets.
With a range of quads and utilities on offer, it was the Sportsman 400 HO, which I trialled for a week over lambing time.
Having always ridden a manual quad, the automatic model took a wee bit of getting used to. Some foot stamping ensued, while looking for a gear lever when starting up!
Gathering in the last of the scanned singles on Ben Inner, which rises to 2330feet, was a great test for both the Sportsman and me as Marbrack Farm has much boggier ground, with more ditches than at home on Skye.
The On Demand AWD – All Wheel Drive – proved a winner on soft the ground and rough terrain. It automatically engages all wheels when you need more traction and reverts back to 2WD when you don’t.
Using a quad on steep hill terrain always reminds me of a safety video we watched as students. The punch line was – know your tractor, know your ground. I’ve always applied this ditty to riding a quad on the hills and been cautious of a bike’s capabilities, but I felt quite secure on the stable Polaris.
The four-hour outing, accompanied by Nell my Beardie and Richard and Rock on another quad, went almost like clockwork.
On the homeward stretch I bogged the bike twice. The first time I managed, with brute force and past experience to extract the machine from the muddy hole unaided. The second time I had no chance!
So it was with ‘two feet and a heart beat’ that Nell and I finished the rest of the muster, in sweltering heat. I was absolutely sickened when Richard came and pushed a wee yellow button and reversed the Sportsman out immediately, smiling like a Cheshire cat. This ‘magic button’ slowed the revs down, in reverse gear, stopping the wheels from spinning. Needless to say I didn’t have to be rescued again!
Another plus, I found the integrated flat deck and storage compartment very handy. I could drive round the yard with buckets of feeding loaded up on the level shelf to the front, for the various groups of tups, shearlings and ewes, without spilling any feed. There was plenty space inside for all my lambing paraphernlia when touring round the twin fields.
We find sheep farmers tend to buy from the 4-500cc range, while dairy farmers prefer the 3-400 machines. The past couple of years we have seen a move from the ATV’s to the UTV’s on the lower ground farms and by the end of this year we will be selling more UTV’s,” commented Neil McNae, of John H McNae Ltd, Tarbolton, one of 74 dealers across the UK, of which 14 are in Scotland. McNaes have been successfully selling Polaris products across Ayrshire for the past three years.
“Polaris are very proactive,” said Neil, who is the Scottish Represenative on the Dealer Council, “We ran a promotion for a free quad and are also offering 5% off with 0% finance through the NFU.”
The Sportsman 400 retails at £4700 +VAT and the 550 comes in at £5900 +VAT.
“The new Ranger 400cc, two seater, petrol engine is a phenomenal seller with a mix of beef and sheep farmers. Many farmers ordered it with a cab before lambing. It has good ground clearance and retails at £6200 +VAT.
“In previous years we have had a good idea how sales will go but this past year it has been very up and down. The leisure side of the business is dead. People with money are being more cautious than they would have been, but the farming side has not been so badly hit.”