For farms looking to the UTV market, petrol options are aplenty, with the diesel side always being somewhat the poor relative for choice.
However, Polaris recently launched a new diesel model in the Lake District, the ideal proving ground for testing its credentials.
Coinciding with the Ranger’s 21st birthday, Polaris has updated its Diesel Ranger UTV offering to include more comfort, power and capacity.
The old Diesel Ranger had been about for four years and, while not an exciting or particularly enjoyable machine to drive, it could be seen as the best of a bad bunch in performance terms, especially when compared to its petrol counterparts.
While the leisure industry almost exclusively opts for petrol power, farms demand a machine which can perform on a drop of cherry, but face limited options.
However, this could be about to change with the latest Diesel Ranger, which the company claims is all new.
The all new statement is not 100 per cent accurate, however, as it is based heavily on the company’s petrol three-seater XP1000, which is no bad thing.
When we drove the XP1000 last year, aside from its impressive performance, the standout features were the quality of the ride and the finish in the cab, both for reducing noise, but also storage space.
INSIDE the cabin, there is 51 litres of storage space available and no less than six cup holders.
Unnecessary you may say, but that is enough space to stop three cans of spray, a bottle of alamycin and a mug of coffee from rolling around, while still having somewhere to store nuts, bolts and other knick-knacks.
On top of this, two well-sized glove boxes offer sealed protection from the elements and a central recess in the dash is handy for holding spanners and twine.
The passenger seat is big enough for two and can be folded up to give Lassie more room on the floor. The company says there is now 13cm more legroom, thanks to the longer chassis, aiding access and egress.
The dash screen provides all the normal information and is easy to read. Extras in the cabin include electric windows, Bluetooth radio and heaters, however, positioned above the engine, enough heat still filters into the cab.
And this is where the diesel has improved, but still could do better. It is nature of the beast that diesel engines are noisier and lumpier than their petrol cousins, and while the new model is strides ahead of its predecessor, its still not as tranquil as the company’s go-go juice models, especially at full chat.
Part of the issue with fully enclosed cabs is they actually trap the noise inside the cabin, unlike open sided models which let the noise dissipate.
However, unlike the raucous racket that met you when stamping on the load pedal in the old model, and not much else, the new model actually picks its feet up pretty well.
THE new diesel uses the same one-piece chassis and cab frame as the big petrol UTV, affording it greater load and towing capacity, uprated suspension and plenty of accessories.
Wheelbase is a healthy 207cm, with 33cm of ground clearance and 27.9cm of suspension travel front and rear, courtesy of a double A-arm setup.
This arrangement makes the UTV feel planted, even on very rough terrain. It was nigh on impossible to get a wheel in the air, no matter how fast or steep a slope we were travelling.
Part of the reason could be the fact it is more than 80kg heavier than the outgoing and petrol models. The skid plate underneath the UTV covers most of the underside, and is said to offer 50 per cent more protection.
Coupled to the axles are 68cm tall tyres, which in conjunction with the suspension, iron out most bumps with all but the biggest tree roots and stones registering any resistance through the surprisingly comfortable, adjustable seat. In fact, the seat is sumptuous and supportive, so a day in the saddle would not be a chore.
Towing capacity is now 1,134kg, while 435kg can be dumped in the tippable loadbed, which is now 25mm taller and wide enough to accommodate a Euro pallet at 1,370mm wide.
THE new engine is in the form of a historically bullet-proof threecylinder Kubota, developing a mind-warping 24.8hp.
The 898cc block has a smaller capacity than the 23.4hp, 1,028cc Kohler engine it replaces, but also produces more torque at 55.2Nm, compared to 50Nm, allowing for swift acceleration at any speed up to the limiter at 65kph.
Polaris says it has learnt the tough life farm UTVs have, so have extended service intervals to 200 hours, raised and enlarged the air intake and filters and better sealed the engine, so much so that after plenty of wading through deep puddles and whizzing along dusty tracks, the engine was still near spotless.
The company’s Polaris variable transmission matches the engine well, providing smooth and swift increase of speed, but also controlled progress when navigating over obstacles. It now offers 26 per cent lower gearing than previous, and features a 55 per cent larger belt to cope with the increased power and torque.
For slowing motion downhill and making the driving experience less strenuous for the operator a host of features are included as standard; engine braking system (EBS), active descent control (ADC) as well as electric power steering and an on-demand allwheel drive system (AWD).
The combination of EBS and ADC makes traversing down gradients a doddle, kicking in when the revs drop off the engine, but it does require a gentle tap of the accelerator every now and then, just to encourage the system to hold the UTV back.
Likewise the brakes are more than ample to bring the unit to a standstill in a controlled manner, even from full tilt. Thanks to the EPS system the turning circle is now 13 per cent tighter and the steering rack is 19 per cent quicker, allowing for more nimble movements.
Power can be directed to the wheels in three combinations, from one-wheel-drive turf mode, which prevents scuffing on pasture, twowheel drive, and the AWD that kicks min when it feels grip is being lost.
THE new Diesel Ranger from Polaris is definitely a step in the right direction from the old model, which we were never very enamoured with.
The new engine should be reliable, has plenty of punch and pulls up to its top speed well and is coupled to a smooth and quiet transmission.
The big decision is, if a cab is needed, considering the cost they incur, we would likely settle on front and rear screens and a roof.
The benefits of being able to fill up on-farm is a big plus point and should go some way to offsetting the purchase prices, starting at £12,999 or £13,499 for tractor-spec homologation.