On test: Can-am’s 72hp petrol-powered farm buggy

Can-AM-defender

Oil-burning farm buggies have got a lot going for them – they keep you dry and warm (ish), they can carry and tow way more than a quad bike and as an added bonus they run on red diesel.

But there’s a payoff. With a fully enclosed cabin the din from their grumbly motors can reach near tinnitus-inducing levels and their often lacklustre power output can leave you cussing every time you point them at a challenging ascent.

There is another way, though. For those that seek power and performance over frugality and convenience there’s now the option of a few high-powered petrol farm buggies, including the recently introduced Can-am Defender HD10.

See also: 6 of the latest pieces of farm machinery at the Balmoral Show

With an eager 1,000cc Rotax v-twin petrol engine under the rear hood, its on-paper performance is more racing buggy than farm runaround. Power is rated at 72hp, torque is 83Nm and although Can-am doesn’t publish an official top speed, it’s capable of well over 50mph.

To see how it measures up on farm, we took to the Welsh hills near Lampeter where to test a machine supplied by recently appointed dealer Dalton’s ATVs.

Does it feel quick?

Oh yes. Planting your foot with the power switch in ‘Work Mode’ sends you careering off like a lunatic, and on loose surfaces it’s easy to spin all four wheels.

Can-AM-defender-interior

The engine in the HD10 is largely the same as the one fitted in the maker’s racing-style Maverick series, so it’s no wonder it goes well. It can be tuned to go even faster, too.

For times when you’d like to keep your precious pastures intact, there are also “Normal” and “Eco” power modes. These calm things down considerably and as an added benefit you’ll use a lot less fuel.

What’s it like for towing?

We didn’t get a chance to try the Defender with any serious weight on board, but the gutsy engine and impressive torque figures mean it should knock most diesel buggies into a cocked hat.

Downhill engine braking could be more of a concern though. According to Can-am, the one-way clutch in the CVT transmission should hold it back when descending, even with a heavy load in tow.

Can-am Defender HD10 specs

  • Can-am Defender HD10 specs
  • Engine: 1,000cc Rotax V-Twin
  • Power: 72hp
  • Top speed: 50mph +
  • Transmission: 2-speed belt-type CVT
  • Towing capacity: 907kg
  • Carrying capacity: 454kg
  • Suspension: Double-wishbone front and rear trailing-arm with coil shocks
  • Price: £13,500

But when we sent it down a moderate slope in low range without a trailer it did run on slightly – this is only likely to be exaggerated when there’s some weight behind it. As a comparison, the Outlander L ATV that we were also trying out did a considerably better job.

Is it comfortable?

The suspension was the biggest surprise. While hurtling towards some hefty ruts at full chat, we were braced to get bucked out of the seats. But the long-travel coil shocks just soaked them up.

When you’re driving around in a sensible fashion it’s also considerably quieter than a diesel machine, but when fully opened up it gets pretty noisy.

The cab is also particularly well thought out, with a couple of removable storage boxes, loads of cup-holders and an adjustable driver’s seat.

Would we buy one?

Tough call. If it was as simple as judging it on its performance alone, it would be easy to opt for the Defender. But at just under £13,500 it’s far from cheap and it’s likely that its resale value will be considerably lower than one of its diesel counterparts.

But the biggest downer is the inconvenience and expense of having to trundle back and forth to the local petrol pumps. The high-revving 1-litre petrol block is far from frugal and if you drive it flat out it’ll put a serious dent in your bank balance.

So, if what you’d really like is a Rage Buggy, but you need to be able to tow a trailer and carry some feed around from time to time, then it could be worth a punt.

Has it got any competition?

Buyers that want even more power also have the option of the new General buggy from Polaris.

This also, has a 1,000cc petrol engine, but it’s been tuned to deliver 100hp – 28hp more than the Defender HD10. This will get it from 0-40mph in 3.6s.

The Polaris is a little more sports orientated than the Can-am with half doors and bucket seats and it has a higher £15,832 price tag.