With the introduction of the ACE back in 2014, Polaris created a new segment in the Off-road market. The ACE was undeniably an innovation; a single-seat unit with “rider-centric design” that featured a 32HP (335cc) power plant and offered the agility of an ATV combined with the security and drive-like features of a UTV.
When we took our “first-look” at the ACE, it was evident that the ACE would have great appeal with the newcomers to the sport of off-roading. In the eyes of a newcomer, the ACE appeared less intimidating than other off-roading vehicles on the market and manifested the “anyone can drive this” mindset. The unit’s non-menacing depiction and confidence-inspiring features are the key influences to the overwhelming popularity of the ACE.
When the ACE 570 was released, it sparked the interest of a whole different breed, the “veterans” of the sport. The ACE 570 now had enough power on tap to be utilized in various off-road applications and suddenly the ACE was no longer viewed as a newcomer unit. Due to the continuing widespread appeal of this platform, Polaris needed to once again respond to its customer base, which demanded even more horsepower.
For model year 2016, Polaris introduces the ACE 900 SP bringing the ACE experience to performance minded customers.
The ACE 900 SP brings big power to the ACE line-up with a 60 horsepower ProStar 900 engine; it’s fundamentally the same engine you will find in the Ranger XP 900 series. However, new clutching and gearing changes were required to ensure the engine performed well for this package. The liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder ProStar 900 EFI engine furnishes smooth power throughout the RPM range and the ETC (Electronic Throttle Control) ensures predictable power at all speeds. Power is delivered to the ground via a robust drivetrain purpose built to handle the unit’s higher horsepower.
With more power comes increased performance and suspension alterations were needed. For optimal control, a new front stabilizer bar was added which helped enhance the unit’s handling. The suspension was also completely re-tuned and you will also find new dual rate springs as part of the unit’s IRS (Independent Rear Suspension). This combined with the vehicle’s 10″ (25.4 cm) ground clearance enable the ACE 900 SP to easily navigate harsh terrain.
TIRES, WHEELS AND BRAKES
The ACE 900 SP sits on a set of 25 in/63.5 cm tires mounted on a set of 12-in cast aluminum rims. The unit is brought to a stop by dual bore hydraulic discs that offers enhanced braking performance.
COCKPIT AND ERGONOMICS
The ACE 900’s trail-capable width (48 in/121.9 cm) makes it easily transportable and offers a work ready 1500 lb./680 kg of towing capacity. The ACE 900 SP features automotive style paint (Stealth Black) with a custom graphic package. The premium SP package (standard) also offers: factory-installed quarter doors and a custom cut and sew high back bucket seat.
Ingress and egress is made easy utilizing the factory-installed quarter doors and the ACE’s sit in and step out design. Once seated, you will find that the high bucket seat is not only comfortable but also adjustable. Combine that with tilt steering and this allows the ACE to provide all day comfort on the trails for a wide variety of people.
The interior cockpit is familiar, as it is identical to the one found in the other members of the Sportsman Ace family. The cockpit provides a straightforward environment, which is well designed with gauges that are clearly legible and all within the driver’s reach. For added creature and safety comforts, the cockpit also features: dual cup holders and automotive style 3-point harness system.
Storage wise, the ACE 900 SP features a high-capacity cargo box and an integrated front storage compartment. Personally I carry a lot of gear when I ride, although the storage provided with the ACE 900 is adequate, I found it somewhat limited for my taste. However this can be easily remedied as Polaris offers a complete line of optional storage options.
We got a chance to shake down the ACE 900 SP at Camp RZR Brimstone, which was held at Brimstone Recreation in Huntsville, Tennessee. Brimstone Recreation, LLC offers over 300 miles of OHV trails and roads with numerous overlooks and culture exploration points of interest. Brimstone also offers outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the untamed wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains while enjoying a wide array of recreational activities such as: ATV & SXS Riding, Hunting, Fishing, River Sports (kayaking and canoeing) and Camping.
Brimstone Recreation was an ideal location as it offered a vast variety of trails from easy going logging roads to the more difficult, ideal for riders looking to be challenged.
The performance minded customers will be happy to learn that the ACE 900 SP is not only fun to drive, but to put it simply, it’s fast. What will really peak their interest however is not the unit’s top speed (63 MPH / 101 KPH), it’s literally how fast the unit will get you to where you want to go! On the easy trails, we found several logging roads where we got to do just that, go somewhere fast! At a dead stop, punching the throttle results in wheel spin and a heart felt power slide. The EPS (Electronic Power Steering) helps to control the unit at higher speeds and the front and rear sway bars assists to keep the unit flat on the corners. However, it should be noted that the ACE 900 SP is a small, light and narrow vehicle with an excessive amount of power on tap. Driving this unit at higher speeds demands not only you’re attention but most of all common sense.
The ACE 900 SP does not just “go fast”; it also has the ability to tackle harsh terrain. We navigated through ruts, washouts and steep climbs without any hesitation feeling fully confident in the unit and the ACE 900 SP delivered. We even traversed some of the more difficult trails (not for the faint of heart) that made you cringe at the idea attempting them with this unit and yet again, ACE 900 SP delivered. We did bottom out on some occasions but the (10.25 in/26 cm) of ground clearance provides ample amount of room to attempt the majority of obstacles we faced.
The ACE 900 SP due to its rider-centric design (unique to all Polaris Ace vehicles), places all major components, including the driver centralized between the four wheels. This results in a lower center of gravity and truly offers a unique ride experience.
SO DID WE LIKE IT?
Our overall experience with the ACE 900 SP was very positive; the unit is comfortable to drive, handles great and has more than enough power to satisfy even the purist adrenaline junkies.
This unit may not appeal to everyone as it does fall into its own segment. However, if you are a performance minded consumer looking for a different ride experience other than an ATV and/or UTV, The ACE 900 SP maybe the unit you have been waiting for.
If you are intrigued by what the ACE 900 SP has to offer, stop by your local Polaris dealer and take one out for a test ride.