Polaris has replaced its popular RZR 800 series and upgraded it with its new 75-hp ProStar 900 engine, 2015 Polaris RZR S 900. It’s not as powerful as the one in last year’s XP 900 but a sizeable upgrade compared to the old 800 S. It has 40 percent more power and 15 percent more torque over that model. It offers an improved power-to-weight ratio and faster acceleration.
This exact model is the one that got me hooked on Sport Side x Side driving and the quality off-road experience it provides is the reason why many of my friends now own them or have since upgraded the fuller 64 inch wide RZR 900 XP or its replacement: the RZR 1000 XP. With its narrower width and less intimidating power, the “S” remained a very popular choice up here in the north, where wide open sand dunes can be found but simply aren’t the norm. We’ve had the pleasure of riding in a XP graced 900 or 1000 many times and never really felt it was too big of a machine to ride up here in most trails, even some people were telling us couldn’t be conquered with a 64″ Side x Side, but the “S” simply feels better to zip around tight trails with. A four-inch difference doesn’t sound like much but in the woods it can make you a faster traveller than one operating the larger RZR, which leaves absolutely no room for error. Those few extra inches on the XP can of course provide a bit more stability and inspire more confidence but then just a tiny slip might have you tearing up a few front A-arms, or even worst; bend and scrap a costly shock absorber. The “S” simply gives you more room to move and a little more time to react or to re-adjust your trajectory after a small slip-up.
The new 2015 Polaris RZR S 900 sports a 900 ProStar engine, which represents a major step forward in trail-specific engine design. Each is constructed with the vehicle it is intended for in mind, aiming to provide just the right sort of behaviour for each specific Polaris model. If you owned a RZR S 800 and are wondering if this model is worth upgrading to, don’t be fooled by the numbers. Going from an 800 to a 900cc displacement might not sound like it will present a huge difference in power but that is not the case and you will feel like you’ve graduated up to a 1000. The ProStar is simply just a much more efficient, compact, light and technologically advanced motor, that I have had the pleasure of passing a few Can-Am Maverick 1000’s with on the tough LaTuque racetrack.
The ProStar advantages also go much further than just adding more power; you will enjoy better fuel economy, longer maintenance intervals and a more linear feel that seemingly has no weak spots. It truly does what you want, when you want it to. The amount of power is satisfying but the way it feels and stays highly controllable by the driver is key in tight surroundings. It lacks the aggressiveness that could get you in trouble fast in a race-ready XP 1000. The 2015 Polaris RZR S 900 offers the same automatic CVT transmission as the majority of the Polaris line-up, which features on-demand AWD/2WD, with a low gear that was reconfigured to for speeds over 40 mph. The RZR XP 1000 transmission is used to get more power to the ground with optimized gearing to take full advantage of the engine’s power. As usual I tried exaggerating with imperfect sloppy driving behaviour and the vehicle’s handling didn’t feel bothered by that at all. Uncalled for yanking on the steering wheel simply made the vehicle carve even more efficiently, with almost no body roll at all. Seriously, the handling prowess of the 60-inch wide A-Arm equipped RZR S 900 impressed me so that I wasn’t missing the big 1000 XP as much as I thought I would.
It received a lot of the features brought forward last year on the 1000 XP. The cockpit and ergonomics are near identical with the same bolstered buckets seats with a standard driver side seat slider and new ‘Dryseat’ technology to keep occupants dry and comfortable for those long days of fun and enriching nature exploration. The steering wheel is the same and even the cool blue LED floor lighting, as well as blue backlit instrumentation. Factory-installed quarter doors are also a huge upgrade over the side-nets on the old RZR S 800 or XP 900. Not only do they offer a lot better rollover protection but they also tie in to the lines of the body perfectly and make the entire car look much better. I’ve said it many times; points of contact with the machine are absolutely important in off-road vehicle design and the new seats aren’t the only quite noticeable improvement on that front. The steering feels much better and new flow-through tongue seat belts offer easier adjustment and retract. I loved the secure footrests, having enough room for busy elbows and all of the controls work, feel and look just great.
This machine is also made easier to service. The air filter, spark plugs and oil fill are now located under the removable box panel in the cargo box of the vehicle while a panel between the seats houses the dipstick and oil filter, and is accessible without removing the seats. Factory-ready accessory integration is also better now that this vehicle shares almost all of the same connecting points as the 1000. Attach bumpers and rock sliders with the same Lock & Ride Expanding Anchor, a revolutionary piece of hardware that expands as it is inserted into a mounting point.
The 20% faster steering response with an improved 2 turn lock-to-lock steering ratio fit perfectly with my extravagant behaviour aiming to identify the vehicle’s limits in stability, in all sorts of odd situations. I would be descending a pretty steep incline, would steer into the bottom under braking and still the vehicle never even hinted at leaving grasp of the ground. My unit had EPS, which you could do without on the White Lightning model, which helped me push it even further and if the vehicle felt like it wanted to roll I could steer it back onto its four great-looking sturdy 8-ply 27″ GBC Dirt Commander tires, while I found enough torque in the mid-range to transform that two-wheel excursion into a quick little drift. I’m sure that the 2″ longer wheelbase was also helping me predict wheel lift a bit sooner and of course made for a smoother ride all-around.
The 2015 Polaris RZR S 900 suspension can be tuned for exactly the way you ride at any time, without tools right there and then with the twist of each clicker knobs. Its new geometry is designed specifically to tackle the trail but as you come across a big sand pit and feel that the vehicle is biting down too hard when turning, you can crank up the compression and minimize this effect. Then loosen them up to smooth out the rough trail types of terrain, to maybe head on back the same trails more efficiently. It is by far my favourite feature on this vehicle, giving you a performance-based machine that’s ready to be adapted to what I want or need from it at any given time. For more than three decades, FOX’s team of enthusiasts and professional athletes has been improving vehicle performance through a unique commitment to redefining ride dynamics. Podium X shock absorbers are among the best in the industry for performance and durability. The podium X has external compression and rebound damping adjusters, as well as spring preload and crossover location adjustments. The podium X contains a high strength 2-inch bore steel body, and a 5/8” chrome damper shaft that is super finished for low-stiction and long steel life. Not so long ago this kind of quality and high-performance suspension could only be found on high budget machine builds or units modified for racing, now these beautiful shocks come as standard equipment on almost all RZR models.
Polaris utilizes its High-Performance AWD on the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) and 900 Trail models to keep the front wheels pulling stronger and longer maximizing power delivery to the ground in every condition for a more responsive ride. Dual A-Arm Front and Rear Suspension with 12.25 in/31.11 cm front, 13.2 in/33.5 cm rear suspension travel and 12.5 in/31.75 cm of ground clearance. Combine all these facts together and that creates a very capable machine, which sort of makes me wonder why anyone would need an XP.
In conclusion I have to say that I was totally impressed with this entire new S. The freedom experienced in this vehicle in wide open places and extreme ease in tighter trails convinced me that this might very well be the ideal RZR, or even just Side-by-Side, for anyone, regardless of where they ride, eh sorry drive. Too bad that there are still a lot of places restricted to 50 inches; in my opinion we should all decide on one ideal trail width and try to make it universal as much as possible and 60 inches feels like the perfect number to me.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website