With a light weight body, a peppy and rev-friendly 760cc engine and a precise and light steering wheel, the Polaris RZR S 800 is a pocket size rocket and a lot of fun. All my life, I have been more inclined towards track-focused machines than rally cars or 4x4s and my exposure to dirt tracks is limited to Dirt Mountain Biking in my teenage years. But back then, off-roading was a fairly new concept in India and the only proper sports utility vehicle with four wheel drive option available in the Indian market was Maruti Gypsy. Fast forward to 2014, off-roading and rally driving has picked up popularity in the country and Indian buyers now have a wide range of options to choose from including the brilliant line-up of ATVs (All Terrain Vehicle) and side-by-side off-road vehicles from Polaris. We got a chance to ride the Polaris RZR S 800 on a dirt track near Gurgaon and test its off-road capabilities.
Polaris is a US-based adventure sports company which is famous for making ATVs, snowmobiles and utility vehicles designed for military use. The company also owns Victory Motorcycles which was set-up in 1998 and even recently revived the legendary Indian Motorcycles. Polaris entered the Indian market in 2011 and still remains to be the only company to officially sell ATVs in the country. Coming to the RZR S 800, it was once considered to be the most powerful and purposeful side-by-side ATV until the 900s and 1000s with bigger engines came in. With its wide purposeful stance, fat all-terrain wheels protruding out at the four corners and the massive suspensions, the RZR S 800 looks business and is designed to take on the most challenging terrains with ease. Despite the bodywork being kept minimal, the RZR S 800 looks aggressive thanks to the sharp lines, tall roll-cage and the hornet-face twin lamps up front. The body is made up of fibre glass to keep the weight down. With a suspension travel of 12 inches, it sits high above the ground which makes it easy to glide over most of the obstacles, but the centre of gravity is quite low that helps the ATV handle like a charm. The minimalist and utilitarian theme continues inside the cabin too, as it is completely devoid of any frippery. The centre console has only the speedometer with a digital display along with the key slot, 12v socket and toggle buttons for headlight beam and 2WD/4WD mode. Though the seats understandably aren’t fleshy but they are comfortable. The engine is placed behind the seats to give the vehicle a lower centre of gravity and sharp handling. As far as other creature comforts are concerned, the ATV has two cup holders and the height of the steering in adjustable.
As mentioned before, the Polaris RZR S 800 is driven by a 760cc high-output twin cylinder engine that puts out 52bhp. Now combine that with a weight of 456kg, the RZR S 800 gets a great power to weight ratio and can go from 0 to 60kmph in under 5 seconds. The engine is mated to Polaris’ own continuously variable transmission (CVT) optimized for extreme low end torque. In a left hand dive set-up, the gear lever in on the right hand side and comes with Park, Reverse, Neutral and High and Low slots. The toggle switch on the centre console lets you choose between two wheel drive and four wheel drive, and the transition can be made while on the move. It doesn’t have electronic power steering but the handling is very nimble and the steering is very light. The independent suspension system on the ATV with the dual A arm front suspension and a similar dual A arm bolstered by a anti-roll bar at the rear helps the RZR S 800 traverse toughest of the terrains without breaking a sweat.
Though my ride experience with the Polaris RZR S 800 was limited and I would have wanted to take the ATV on a more challenging course with more wet terrain stretches, but nevertheless the drive was engaging and at the end of my stint I didn’t feel stepping out of it. Despite of the roll cage, getting inside the vehicle is very easy. The seats are big enough to hold an average sized person comfortably but they are fixed and can’t be adjusted. The steering wheel’s height can be adjusted on the other hand. The only problem I faced was with the off-set foot pedals which make the seating position a little odd; I struggled with it initially but got comfortable later. The direct unassisted steering is very responsive and gives just the right amount of feedback. It’s very light making the ATV extremely nimble on the tight bends. With the two-wheel drive mode selected on the ATV, applying the full lock on the steering gets the ATV to slide and drift which is a lot of fun if controlled properly. But the 760cc engine is where the ATV really shines as the torque of the unit is just amazing. Giving a little nudge on the pedal, the ATV flies off the line. This side-by-side ATV by Polaris is very popular across the world and is doing pretty well in the country too. Not only individuals, but government agencies like Gujrat Police have placed orders for the RZR S 800. Sadly, the ATV comes to India as a CBU (Completely Built Unit) manufactured in the USA which escalates the price considerably. It is priced at Rs. 13,39,000 (ex-showroom Delhi) and takes about two months to be delivered after the order is placed. None of the ATVs by Polaris is street legal as of yet, but these vehicles are not meant to be driven on public roads. In case you don’t want to buy one just yet, you can head to any one of the 23 Polaris Experience Zones spread all over the country and ride the Polaris ATVs on dirt tracks. Check out the video of the RZR S 800 doing a lap of the Polaris Experience Zone, Dharuherra.
Engine: 760cc, 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, petrol – 53 BHP.
Fuel Tank: 27.4 litres
Transmission: CVT with parking gear, coupled to an On-Demand 4WD/2WD system via shaft.
Suspension: Front – 30.5 cm travel Dual A-Arms. Rear – 30.5cm travel Dual A-Arms with Anti-sway bar.
Brakes: Discs on all four wheels, 2-pot calipers at front.
Wheels: 12-inch aluminium, shod with 9-inch wide all-terrain tyres
Dimensions (LxWxH in mm): 2642 x 1537 x 1790 with a wheelbase of 1960 mm
Ground Clearance: 320 mm
Weight: 464 Kg
Price: Rs. 13,39,000 (ex-showroom Delhi)