22 December 1995

Super-ATV is most powerful of its type

POLARIS is setting the pace in ATV power with its new Sportsman 500 model (FW, Dec 1). The 500cc liquid-cooled petrol engine produces 32hp, making it the most powerful ATV available, with a margin of almost 7hp over its biggest rivals.

It is also the first production Polaris model to be equipped with shaft drive instead of the chain and sprocket system employed on other Polaris machines.

The drive system is based on a variable speed automatic transmission, with a push-button control for setting two- or four-wheel-drive.

The extra power of the 500cc four-stroke engine became obvious during a hands-on test – its fast acceleration should appeal to those with boy-racer instincts. It is also comfortable to ride thanks to the fully independent rear suspension and the twin McPherson struts at the front. An ability to switch from four- to two-wheel-drive also increases manoeuvrability by reducing the machines turning circle.

Two headlights located under the front rack can each be swivelled to the side, enabling them to be used as spotlights. The top of the main headlight situated above the handlebars has a built in instrument and control panel, which is neatly styled and easy to read.

In spite of increased engine power, the maximum towing capacity approved by Polaris is restricted to 340kg for the Sportsman – which is less than some of its smaller-engined rivals. The front rack holds up to 41kg and a further 82kg can be carried in the rear rack. Price of the Sportsman is £4995.

The Polaris Sportsman is said to be the most powerful ATV available.