An off-road go kart. That’s how simple I can describe the Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS UTV (utility task vehicle) in five words. But you didn’t just click on the link to read those five words. Polaris adventure vehicles are now officially in the Philippines through newly appointed distributor Access Plus (a name associated mostly with Ducati motorcycles).

Driving from Manila on a stormy Thursday to Porac, Pampanga not knowing what to really expect but to "play" outdoors. After all, the invite had a picture of a Polaris UTV in mid air on the sand dunes. Getting there was a challenge as we were set to go out to the lahar beds in Pampanga during a storm.

Polaris out in the wild

Why call it a UTV and not an ATV?

While they seem to do the same thing, a UTV has a side-by-side seat arrangement with safety belts and roll bars with a cargo box at the rear. UTV's also have significantly higher payloads compared to ATVs. We explored the fun and recreational side of the UTV's than utility but these can also be called ROVs (recreational off highway vehicle); more fitting to its use.

Polaris RZR 1000

Polaris RZR XP 1000

The equipment — a two seater recreation vehicle powered by a 999cc 4-stroke DOHC twin cylinder with electronic fuel injection and liquid cooling that pushes out 112 PS and 95 Nm of torque. This is mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) with on-demand true AWD/2WD system and limited slip differential as standard.

Keeping it planted is a double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear trailing arm suspension with long-travel Walker Evans dampers and progressive springs. It rolls on cast aluminum wheels wrapped with 29x9-14 front tires and 29x11-14 rear tires and electronic power steering is standard. Keeping things safe are 4-wheel disc brakes, seatbelts and rollover protection. It also comes with LED headlamps and tail lamps.

RZR XP4 1000

If you plan to take more friends along, there’s the RZR XP4 1000 which comes with an extended wheelbase and two extra seats at the back for additional passengers.

Polaris out in the wild

The Playground

We all set off from Sand Box in Alviera, Porac. A new development which features an expansive trail that runs through open fields into lahar beds and rivers. It’s the dream playground for boys with (off-road) toys. Sand Box was a unique off-road adventure that offers all sorts of terrain you can think of.

Polaris out in the wild

Ride and DRIVE

I started out riding shotgun for the early part of the trip to get a feel of the UTV/ROV aboard a private-owned RZR S 900. We went down the fields to rendezvous with the rest of the pack on Sacobia River lahar beds for a rather splashing run up to a rather challenging and muddy trail. We went further through winding hillside trails and cement roads through the town of Sapang Bato and went further for a warm dip in a rather secluded hot spring formation.

On the way back, it was my turn to hop aboard the driver’s seat of the new RZR XP 1000 which had a little over 45 PS more than the 875 cc powered vehicle I rode on. Firing up the livelier sounding engine send a big smile to my face as I merrily myself strapped in and closed my helmet visor.

Polaris RZR 1000 cockpit

I started a bit slow trying to get a feel of it and not wanting to roll or crash within the first few minutes behind the wheel. The Polaris comes with a roll cage for safety, but you can still hurt yourself if you try to defy the laws of physics and common sense.

Polaris out in the wild

Soon enough the accelerator was wide open as my hands were doing steering corrections through the varying terrain. It was just like driving a go-kart sized rally car that could virtually go anywhere. Point the wheel and gently feed in the throttle and it goes exactly where you want it to go. Get too excited and you’ll find yourself testing the roll bars. Fortunately, I didn’t never got the chance to do so.

Soaked, muddy and sandy but had a lot of fun.

I ended up soaked, muddy and sandy like a little boy let loose inside a playground in the rain. It may have been messy but it was loads of fun and something I’d want to do again!