This crossover is no puzzle

by Andy Bryenton

Sometimes a device is so perfect for a task it was never specifically designed for, that it becomes well known as something completely new. Think of Range Rovers becoming the school run ‘taxi’ when they were made to slog across muddy grouse moors, or the utilitarian Volkswagen van being adopted by the hippie counterculture.

Others simply hit all the points needed to succeed a little left of where they were aimed.

That’s the ongoing story of the Polaris Ace, which was initially devised for the North American market as an adventure vehicle — a means to hit the trail with the ease of a dune buggie’s car-like controls, the safety of a roll cage and the small footprint and light weight of a quad bike. In this role it’s certainly been well received. But here in New Zealand there’s another breakout market for this little machine.

As more and more people of retirement age opt for a lifestyle block in the country, there’s more and more call for a middle ground between the big side-by-side workhorse UTVs, which farmers have come to rely on, and the traditional go-anywhere quad. Those in the retirement age bracket may need that extra mobility to go with a smallholding, but find the riding position of a quad to be either uncomfortable or simply unfamiliar. A fear of rolling a quad may also come into the equation for the inexperienced rider.

Enter the Ace, with a full sit-down racing seat, steering wheel, roll cage and side protection. It’s small enough to be nimble, powerful enough to tote tools and equipment, capable on grass, gravel and mud, and represents a nice middle ground between big and small off-road options.

Just the fact that this machine has a low centre of gravity, wide stance on knobbly tyres and a full cage inspires confidence.

That makes getting around a whole lot easier — and it’s seen the Ace take its place as a hard-working four-wheeler even on large commercial farms. If a quad is no longer for you or was never your speed, but a full-sized UTV is overkill for the task at hand, there’s nothing in the market which fills the gap so well.