The Polaris ACE has created a whole new market, providing it’s own unique off-road experience. Polaris’s ACE combines the nimble handling of an ATV with the security and non-intimidating, automotive like driving approach of a UTV. The first ACE featured a 32HP, 335cc power plant. Its design was based on a Sportsman ATV chassis with sit in and step out accessibility, which is very easy to get in and out of. The other major ACE difference is automotive-like controls and a ROPS cage. The UTV-like controls feature a steering wheel, brake/gas pedal, and an automatic PVT transmission.

The entry level Polaris ACE opened the doors to a new breed of ATV’er. While not overly impressive in the power department, it quickly found it’s calling with the older generation as well as many in the first time crowd. After creating an entire new market, and less than a year into it’s public existence, ACE answered to the calls for more power. The Polaris ACE 570 offered an identical chassis with Polaris’s proven 570 power plant from the RZR, Ranger, and Sportsman 570. The 44HP power plant brought an impressive 35% power increase with virtually no increase in overall weight.

The Polaris ACE 570’s power increase was well received by the masses, and its next focus was luxuries. The SP package and ACE 570 SP brought a whole load of premium performance features. The biggest SP benefit was it’s Variable Assist EPS, but it also featured a new high-performance close ratio on-demand AWD system, dual rate rear springs, front and rear stabilizer bars, and a sport tuned exhaust system. The more aesthetically noticeable upgrades included were Factory Installed quarter-doors, a high-performance steering wheel, Automotive style paint with custom graphics and a custom cut and sew seat cover.

Just like the ever-growing UTV market, consumers claimed to want more and more HP. Instead of increasing the HP a little at a time, it appears that Polaris has just gone for it with the 875cc ProStar powered 2016 Polaris ACE 900 SP. The 2016 Polaris ACE 900 SP is the double throw me down, EPS equipped deluxe model ACE with an in incredibly over the top 60HP.

THE RIDE

Right off the bat you realize that the ACE 900 SP is the basically the same ACE we are all familiar with, only with a whole lot more motor. Overall weight is increased by about 85lbs., mostly because the larger twin cylinder ProStar 900 is heavier than the previous single cylinder models. As the 900 fires to life, the deep growl of a big twin lets you know that you’ve graduated from the entry level to something a little more serious.

The 2016 Polaris ACE 900 SP motor is eye opening. Shifting the transmission into gear and stepping on the gas will almost lift the front wheels on it’s own. If you have any sort of bump, and proper throttle control you can actually ride a pretty decent wheelie. The 900’s acceleration is pretty exhilarating as well. Bombing down a dirt road, you can see 60+ in a hurry. One thing to keep in mind, at these types of speeds is that you’re still driving a 48-inch wide, short wheelbase 4×4. Locking up the brakes at 60-65 mph can find the ACE’s rear end coming around you in a hurry.

In most situations, we found the extra HP and Torque was appreciated but maybe not really needed. Longer, steeper hill climbs were the one spot where we felt the power was really necessary. Brimstone trails feature a lot of elevation changes with extremely steep hill climbs, the 900’s over the top power took the hesitation right out of you. We didn’t find a single climb in Brimstone that our ACE 900 SP couldn’t conquer.

Brimstone is also full of super technical, shorter, rocky climbs. While the new ACE is a 900, it still has minimal ground clearance and relatively small (25”) tires. Climbing some of these rutted and obstacle filled climbs required a little finesse and a lot of commitment. On more than one occasion, the excessive HP and slightly jumpy throttle brought the front-end way off the ground. Letting off the throttle, or getting on the brakes brings the wheels back to the dirt, and the ACE still had plenty of power to conquer the trail. These super steep, obstacle filled trail situations might be a spot where a less experienced driver would be better off with the more mild mannered ACE 570.

Cruising around the faster, more open trails on the big bore ACE are a blast. The 900 ACE has tons of midrange torque and it’s always available. You could get that thrown back in the seat, light front end feeling at any speed, by just matting the pedal to the floor. When approaching a water bar, g-out, or other trail obstacle, we found you could set the front with a little brake and then a throttle tap would lighten the frond end for impact.

One thing about an ACE type vehicle compared to an ATV is that once buckled in, you are pretty much along for the ride. With an ATV you can use your legs and arms as additional suspension, where as in an ACE you are strapped in a seat and going to feel everything that isn’t soaked up by the suspension. Power left on tap, can be an asset to making the most of the suspension, but other times the 900’s 60HP might also be a little excessive for a MacPherson strut front end with 8.2” of wheel travel.

THE FUTURE OF ACE

The Polaris ACE is proving to be a really cool new off-road platform, and with models ranging from 32HP to 60HP there is an ACE to suit just about every customer. The one market we expect the ACE to expand into is extreme performance. The 60HP motor in a sub 1000 lb. machine is more than powerful enough for any type of off-road racing situation. The one hold up we see is the limited suspension travel of the MacPherson Strut front end. At 32 or even 44 HP the 8.2” of travel is more than sufficient, but you will be looking for more if your pushing a 60HP machine to it’s limits.

We expect the Polaris ACE platform to evolve into a dual front a-arm offering. If and when Polaris brings us an ACE with a dual an arm front end, the possibilities will be endless. It’s a great machine in a wide variety of elements, and more front travel might just make it the most versatile platform in our industry.

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