Polaris. Our time at Camp RZR

crankandpiston.com spends an afternoon with Polaris to try some of the most awesome off-road weapons money can buy

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I’ve always been into action-like driving – be it off-road or otherwise – and since ‘big boy buggies’ seem all the rage in Dubai, I’ve been waiting patiently for the chance to have a proper go in one. Said opportunity came recently when Polaris held its second annual ‘Camp RZR’ in the UAE, an event the company uses to launch its latest new products and show what a Polaris – of any size and description – can really do off-road.

After chatting with the Polaris marketing team, it is incredible how the brand has grown in such a short period of time, it now present in more than 100 countries and with a range of ORV RZRs (that’s Off-Road Vehicles, by the way) that covers the entry level 44hp 570, up to the 110hp XP1000. Which come in single, two-seater, and four-seater format I was assured, should ‘scaring the wife’ be on your weekend agenda.

I’m not sure if I can call the Polaris RZR – regardless of horsepower – an off-road buggy, as I believe it is much more than that. I had the chance to try out the earlier RZR 900 a few months back, and had thought the fun peaked there. What Polaris brought to Camp RZR this year was more than I could have imagined.

Polaris Camp RZR-14

Hopping into the two-seater RZR XP1000, it was very tempting to floor it immediately. Polaris has made some big improvements in its new line-up, using a DOHC 999cc ProStar EFI engine that produces 110hp and 70lb ft of torque, and a new high-flow clutch intake system that both provides twice as much airflow and decreases belt temperature. Updated Electric Power Steering gives the vehicle more accuracy through the wheel than the older model, impressive enough in itself given how well the old model handled the dunes to begin with. Regardless of how massive – as I discovered on our drive – these truly can be in the Arabian deserts. Grab it by the scruff of the neck and the XP1000 will reward you: there’s barely anything that stands in its way.

This year Polaris also teamed up with FOX, one of the biggest suspension manufacturers in the world, to build a limited XP1000 Fox Edition, complete with Fox podium internal bypass shocks, lighter weight coilover springs front and rear, anti-sway bars, and – for the first time – an interactive digital display. After our spin in the XP1000, and with most of the sand clogging our ears dislodged, we set out again in the limited edition model. As well as a five-point harness for reduced body movement and extra safety, the FOX model is equipped with the same drivetrain and engine, but offers even more accuracy and stability thanks to the new FOX suspension components. Even at the speeds we managed to hit, which for the sake of drama, I’ll leave to your imagination.

Polaris Camp RZR-5

Should my (at present) small bank balance at some point cover the cost of a toy XP1000, I’d be more than happy. But the FOX edition, after a quick exploratory spin, did leave an impression. With an already impressive base to begin with, the FOX components take performance to another level, and I won’t at all be surprised to see a few of these bouncing around the UAE dunes any time soon.

All that was left as the sun began to dip was a return to RZR camp for ‘show and shine’, where owners exhibit their modified vehicles that normally include both performance and cosmetic modification.  One vehicle that particularly caught my attention was a blacked out, lowered RZR with a modified transmission, and wait for it … a Garrett turbo with a Motec ECU running on racing fuel. One can only imagine what the anti-lag would sound like belting out of that monster.

Oh well. There’s always next year.


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