You don’t always have to strive for maximum performance or aim for a liter of displacement. Most ATV manufacturers have interesting vehicles in the 500/600 cc class that lack nothing. Especially not the fun factor.
Higher, faster, further – today’s times seem to always demand the best performance from us in all respects. Most of the new releases in our scene are all the stronger, stronger and lush. Most manufacturers’ flagships offer around a thousand cubic centimeters of displacement. It wasn’t that long ago that we were also satisfied with less and didn’t really miss anything. Was that due to the lack of alternatives? The 600 and 700 were at the end of the displacement scale. Today they are price breakers and entry-level users into the world of larger ATVs. Anyone who opts for a mid-range ATV will usually get everything they need to have fun in the field and to work. So why reach for the stars when the good is so close? The proverb can mainly be applied to the wallet. No or hardly any compromises in terms of equipment, sophisticated technology and solid engines with no teething problems. Reason enough to look around in this market segment. We had three typical representatives of the current generation under our bum.
All good things come in threes
Without a doubt, Kymco is one of the most popular brands on the scene. For a good three years now, the importer MSA from Weiden in the Upper Palatinate has been offering the 550 MXU. A box office hit! This is certainly due to the massive look of the body, among other things. The Taiwanese woman shows herself in the popular SUV design of modern automobiles with striking, angular wide-span headlights and LED lights in a diamond look. For off-road use, the raised front has been reinforced with extra protection against stone and rubble damage. As befits an operational ATV, the MXU is equipped with independent wheel suspension on both axles and anti-roll bar at the rear. A hill descent aid, stable luggage racks at the front and rear and a trailer coupling are also an integral part of the standard equipment. All-wheel drive, reduction and a front differential lock are of course included. The 550 is actually a 501, which we like to overlook the solid engine.
Polaris made a big hit with the Sportsman. Huge numbers were sold worldwide, with the 500 mid-range model leading the way. No ATV has found more drivers or owners so far. The sportsman has long outgrown the stadium as a pure work tool. The 500 version has long been considered the best in its class, which is where the current 570 builds. The model is characterized by significantly improved ergonomics. Because the chassis is based on the Sportsman XP and offers additional comfort. The front part of the seat and the side parts have been made more than eight centimeters slimmer in the thigh area. In addition, the footboards have deeper heel hollows so that the driver can position his feet a good five centimeters further back, which is very convenient for handling. The heart beats in the chassis as a liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that was introduced with the UTV RZR 570. It has two overhead camshafts and four valves as well as an electronic injection system from the automotive sector. This brings about 20 percent more performance than its predecessor.
The Can-Am Outlander competes directly with the successful Sportsman. Manufacturer BRP claims to offer the most powerful engine in this displacement class. Rotax developed the in-house 570 engine and attached great importance to a good-natured performance development with high torque at the same time. The driver notices this very clearly from the very first few meters. Powerful, good-natured and astonishingly powerful, the engine comes into play and fuels the long chassis of the Outlander L MAX that we tested, a comfortable vehicle that is ideally designed for two-person operation. Thanks to the long wheelbase, it runs very good-naturedly on longer tours and does not tire the driver, who feels comfortable at work. This increases the fun factor and even long distances lose their “horror”.
Our three test candidates are typical representatives of the more modern ATV genre. The attributes described support the currently most popular area of application, namely leisure, hobby and travel or tours. Such uses are of course more fun than working. The three vehicles approach the task differently. With the Kymco, for example, the performance of the single cylinder is used in a fairly moderate and controllable manner. Compared to the two competitors, it is rather sluggish in the pushes. There is good performance, but with 36 HP it has to weigh the vehicle and the driver. The Kymco would therefore be less suitable for sporty ATV use. As already described, the Canadian’s Rotax engine with its two cylinders is much more powerful. Since this model year, BRP has been equipping the Outlander with a shorter, stocky L-gear. This means that more power is available in the terrain and the MAX does not have to shy away from steep ascents. The full torque of the engine with its 48 HP is available for such maneuvers. In the trio, the Polaris sportsman orients himself most closely to the circumstances of a possible work assignment. The engine received a performance boost that also includes the alternator. Just above idle speed, it delivers 40 percent more electrical power. This should ensure that the attachments are supplied with sufficient electricity. The maximum trailer load of 810 kg also leaves a lot of scope for pure work. The tank, which has been increased by almost eleven percent compared to its predecessor, ensures a greater range, which in turn invites touring. 44 horses are also a solid performance in everyday and off-road use.
Welcome to the mud
The conditions on the test day were uninviting. Pampe best describes the situation on the site in the Dutch Heerde. Or are these the best conditions? To be fair, it has to be said that the Outlander with the long wheelbase made it a little easier to tackle than the shorter competitors. A two-seater version of the Polaris is also available. The Can-Am easily pulls its path on the surface that has become the sliding surface. The two-cylinder barely noticed 340 kilos of weight. Tight turns rather. The Kymco delivers the weakest engine in the trio and, at 351 kilos, has the top value in comparison with itself. There are around 320 with the Polaris, which suddenly turns out to be the sportiest ATV in our comparison. Who would have thought that? The Kymco and the Outlander seem a bit more controllable, but this depends best on the gas. The sportsman pushes forward properly but not overwhelmingly. The power delivery is gentle and increases noticeably. Thanks to the lush torque, there is no noticeable drop in performance. This is particularly noticeable in a trail. The single cylinder from Taiwan is easy to dose. In connection with a courageous throttle hand and possibly with 4 × 4, the 550 Kymco was nowhere worth mentioning despite its weight loss. It is the best recommendation for entering or switching to the middle class. It makes it easy for the driver.
Uniformity or individuality
The three ATVs leave a wide variety of impressions. What they all have in common is the upscale equipment and quality. To go into the details of the fittings and to compare them would be pointless. Basically they can all do the same thing and the look is a matter of taste. Needless to say, vehicles from these premium manufacturers hardly show any weakness in terms of delay and workmanship. The Sportsman only smears something off the engine brake. The other two can do better. All three ATVs are vying for customer favor in the same middle class. All three have their own advantages and disadvantages and so the prospect must draw their own conclusions. Kymco is good value for money. For everyone who is looking for a solid and high-quality ATV for a wide range of possible uses. Tours, everyday life and a certain amount of work are the focus of many customers. Comfort and reliability also set a brand in the upper middle class segment. The Polaris is very different from the Kymco. No frills, like LED lights or chrome stuff, just a simple ATV. However, with power steering and a motor that is great to drive. In 4WD mode, you are therefore in control of every obstacle and also the boss on the job thanks to the transport and pulling power. And that with the cheapest price. Can-Am’s Outlander is bigger, heavier, but more powerful. One of the main disciplines is the most fun with this 570 two-cylinder: cruising and driving around on all surfaces. Especially as an L version. We have already had three sleepless nights because we simply cannot choose between the tough Polaris and the cheap Kymco or the strong Can-Am. Maybe another night and a new mud fight will help.
Text: Ralf Wilke, Raymon de Kruijff, Maurice van Oosten
Photos: Arie Bon
Kymco MXU 550i
Engine: single-cylinder 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, displacement: 501 ccm, power: 27 kW / 36.7 PS, fuel supply: electronic injection, starting system: electric, gearbox: CVT variator, L / H / N / R / P, drive : 4 × 4, cardan, suspension: front double A-arms, rear independent suspension, brakes: front 2 hydraulic discs, rear 1 hydraulic disc, tires: front 26 x 8-14, rear 26 x 10-14, dimensions: length 2,240 mm, width 1,260 mm, height 1,430 mm, wheelbase 1,297 mm, ground clearance 280 mm, weight: 351 kg, payload: front 45 kg, rear 85 kg, tank capacity: 16.5 liters, color: black, green, warranty: 2 years
Price: 8,299.00 euros
MSA Motor Sport Accessoires GmbH, Am Forst 17b, 92637 Weiden id Opf., Tel. +49 (0) 961 / 3885-0, www.kymco.de
Polaris Sportsman 570
Engine: single cylinder 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, displacement: 567 ccm, power: 32.4 kW / 44 PS, fuel supply: electronic injection, starting system: electric, gearbox: automatic PVT, P / R / N / L / H, drive: 4 × 4, cardan, suspension: front MacPherson 20.8 cm, rear independent suspension, brakes: front 2 hydraulic discs, rear 1 hydraulic disc, tires: front 26 x 12 – 12, rear 26 x 12 – 12, dimensions: length 2,108 mm, Width 1,219 mm, height 1,219 mm, wheelbase 1,283 mm, ground clearance 279 mm, weight: 323 kg, payload: front 40.8 kg, rear 220 kg, tank capacity: 17 liters, color: white, green, guarantee: 2 years
Price: from 8,790.00 euros
Polaris Germany GmbH, Schöneweibergasse 102, 64347 Griesheim, Tel. +49 (0) 6155/8875810, www.polarisind.de
Can-Am Outlander L MAX 570
Engine: two-cylinder 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, displacement: 570 ccm, power: 35.3 kW / 48 PS, fuel supply: electronic injection, starting system: electric, gearbox: CVT automatic, P / R / N / H / L, drive: 4 × 4, cardan, wheel suspension: front independent wheel suspension, rear independent wheel suspension, brakes: front 2 hydraulic discs, rear encapsulated brake in an oil bath, tires: front 25 x 8 – 12, rear 25 x 10 – 12, dimensions: length 2,310 mm, width 1,168 mm, height 1,330 mm, wheelbase 1,499 mm, ground clearance 267 mm, weight: 336 kg, payload: front 54 kg, rear 109 kg, tank capacity: 20.5 liters, color: Camouflage (Mossy Oak), yellow,
Guarantee: 2 years
Price: from 9,499.00 euros
BRP Germany GmbH, Itterpark 11, 40724 Hilden, Tel. +49 (0) 2103/960680, www.brp.com