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Quads and latterly UTVs have become indispensable on farms, vineyards and orchards, offering the ability to move people or small loads with ease.
But such machines have earned bad press because of fatalities and accidents, a topic Dairy News covers in detail.
Polaris a few years ago launched a different-format machine now favoured in some sectors, and it might offer an alternative for some riders.
Best described as a cross between a quad and a UTV, the Polaris Ace 570 HD has the same footprint as the former but differs in that the rider sits in rather than on the machine and steers with a wheel, has conventional auto pedals for acceleration and braking, and offers the added benefit of a full ROPS structure.
The layout should prove interesting to those unfamiliar with motorcycle riding, farmers or growers who have trouble throwing their leg over, or anyone who needs to travel on difficult terrain, as the low seat position brings with it a much lower centre of gravity. Likewise, the Ace should find a place in orchards where overhanging canopies limit headroom.
Dairy News took one for a test drive.
You get in via full-width doors and get comfortable with the adjustable seat and steering column. The high-back bucket seat, substantial side bolsters and a 3-point seatbelt impart a sense of security. Rider safety is further enhanced by limiting speed if the seatbelt is not locked in position.
Powered by a Polaris ProStar engine delivering 44hp, the 570 is no slowcoach, topping out, where conditions allow, at around 80km/h.
Speed/range selection is by a single, right side lever offering the choice of high, low, neutral, reverse or park lock.
Braking is by disc brakes on each wheel, with the front axle benefitting further from twin-pot callipers.
Like other machines in the Polaris ranges, on-demand true AWD is standard, and sees the machine effectively using 2WD until wheel slip is detected and AWD is engaged. This happens seamlessly and during our test we never looked like getting stuck. But in extreme conditions a diff-lock can be engaged to lock both axles together.
In rough conditions 260mm of ground clearance gives the Ace great ability and 240mm of rear wheel travel keeps the operator comfortable and the wheels planted to the ground. Suspension layout takes the form of a HD double-A arm set-up, with HD front and rear anti-roll bars limiting body roll.
The Ace carries several modifications for the Australasian market including sealed ball joints, driveshaft splines and suspension bushes, which all serve to extend the service life.
First impressions of the Ace are of something different, and it is an option worth considering, showing that some thinking outside the norm by a manufacturer can lead to pulling an ace from up the sleeve to deliver a full house.