The Polaris Ranger 570 EFI – Story Clive Strugnell Pic Foley Snr and Jnr.
The best thing to come out of World War 2 for American farmers was the famous Willys Jeep. Thousands of men in the allied forces relied on this famous utility vehicle whilst serving their country on battlefields all over Europe, North Africa and Asia. The original Jeep was probably the most recognizable and useful vehicle in the World from 1935 until the 1950’s.
After the war American farmers realized the potential of the famous Jeep as a utility vehicle on their farms and bought Army surplus stock for as Little as $50 a Jeep! As it turned out the Lightweight, rugged little 4×4 continued service in its country in this capacity after the frantic sounds of battle were Long forgotten.
Progress marches on, and as the 1960’s arrived so did newer, more elaborate workhorse vehicles, and the simplicity of the Little Jeep faded into history, replaced by much more luxurious all-wheel drive vehicles and the now universal farm tool, the pick-up truck.
When quads arrived it didn’t take people who worked in and on the land, and in other off road situations to realize that these Lightweight vehicles offered many advantages over modern high tech 4 x4’s and even “bakkies”. The only thing is that no matter how modified for these kind of applications a quad became, it still couldn’t quite match the original Jeep.
Then came the “side by side“. It isn’t surprising that the invention and development of this new type of utility vehicle took place in America, after all, it was the birthplace of the original perfect off-road utility vehicle.
Polaris, an all American company, were one of the first to realize the need for a lightweight jeep-Like utility vehicle, and introduced their two seater “Ranger“, originally powered by a Japanese Fuji (the same company that owns Subaru) single cylinder motor.
The latest Ranger 570 EFI uses a new in-house 570cc single cylinder fuel injected four-stroke engine designed and built by Polaris. The 570 Ranger we tested fits the role of a utility vehicle perfectly. It is light and in typical American fashion, built like an anvil. Polaris obviously follow the old America adage, “Enough is fine, and too much is perfect“. For instance where other makes would use a 1Omm bolt which would be perfectly adequate, Polaris will use a 12mm one.
On the Ranger everything is functional. There are no frills or extra’s. This is a workhorse. It will go almost anywhere, traction is never an issue, nor is power. The little 570cc motor chugs along without any fuss, and is incredibly torquey and skriks for niks when it comes to rough terrain, dongas, river crossings and in fact anything off-road is quite manageable.
The long travel front suspension, which uses a quality McPherson strut and A-arm with a very sturdy and effective torsion bar, always keeps the Ranger under control, especially as this isn’t a high speed machine. The long travel rear suspension does just as good a job, and looks like it will easily handle a full load in the heavy duty plastic lined load bin, which has a sturdy tailgate and a useful manual tipping mechanism.
The steering is accurate and light enough foreven a small person to operate comfortably. There is room for 3 up front, and it seats the driver and passengers comfortably, if a bit upright, on a workman-like bench seat, and the plastic lined cockpit could even be washed down with a hose pipe.
The one concession to a bit of luxury is the electric switch to select the drive mode, adjustable from four wheel drive in high or low ratio to energy saving two wheel drive through the rear wheels. Safety wise, seatbelts and grab handles are fitted. Dead easy to drive too -fully auto, so select your gear and hit the accelerator – much to his dismay, I gave the editors young son a quick driving lesson, now he’s concerned that the car might make its way out the gate …
It has a very effective tall canopy, with fittings for fabric side screens for weather proofing. It also has a very welcome Lexan or plastic front screen. One nice feature of the Ranger is that there is plenty of room for large people, something lacking in some rival brands.
All in all this is a very effective off-road work-horse, and is a true successor to the original lightweight army jeep. Maybe this was always in the minds of the Polaris development engineers, because it is finished in a typical army green! For your nearest dealer – www.polarissa.co.za
Article was featured in Dirt and Trail – 5 Feb 2015.
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