Polaris Ranger now seats six

Annual ATV purchases may have fallen back from their peak of 18,230 four years ago, but sales of utility vehicles (also called side-by-sides or farm buggies) are on the rise. That’s the view of US-based specialist ATV manufacturer Polaris, which claims to be the number two seller across Europe.

It reckons the UK side-by-side market reached about 2800 units a year in 2007, a fair proportion of those going on to farms. Polaris, which recently moved its UK HQ to Coleshill, Warwickshire, says its market share jumped 50% last year. It sells through 65 UK dealers.

Its standard side-by-side machine is a the three-seater Ranger with either a 500cc or 700cc petrol engine. Rangers have a top speed of 41mph, on-demand 4WD and independent rear suspensions, so should cope with all but the most extreme on-farm conditions. The cargo area can carry 454kg and the 700cc version will tow close to a tonne.

Prices are £7699 for the smaller-engined model and £8999 for the larger one. Diesel engines are not offered at the moment, but Polaris doesn’t rule them out as a future option.

There is also a new version for 2008 that should appeal to shooting estates and veg farms with lots of workers to ferry about. Called the Ranger Crew, it can seat six adults, as well as having a 340kg payload area and front and rear under-seat storage compartments that hold 45kg and 11kg, respectively. Power comes from a 700cc petrol unit, top speed is 44mph and the Ranger Crew has the same long-travel rear suspension as its three-seater sibling. Price is £8999.

Want to get around the farm and have some fun at the same time? The £8499 (inc VAT) 700cc Polaris RZR is really aimed at the sporting ATV market, hence the swift acceleration and 55mph top speed. But 4WD, 25cm of ground clearance, a rear payload of 136kg and towing capacity of 681kg mean it should be able to do a job of work, too.