The XCR 800 left the stage back in the early 2000s and the name quietly vanished into Polaris history. Today, the XCR returns in a package we’ll proclaim is fully worthy of the title.
The wannabe racer category has been around since the arrival of the Ski-Doo XRS and Arctic Cat’s RR series.
The new AXYS-based RUSH XCR puts Polaris in the wannabe biz with a bonafide limited production competition race sled, available to the masses.
The new XCR uses the Pro-S chassis, not the Pro-X platform, which means it is relatively low and looks like it might actually be vulnerable to underbody damage.
That being said, the XCR is not marketed as a Polaris Sno-X weapon. It is
specifically targeted at the race discipline its esteemed acronym once dominated: cross-country racing.
Its equipment package includes beefed-up chrome-moly front and rear swing arms and rear “crank”, plus rail doublers and solid racing tires. Special Walker Evans Needle piggyback reservoir, racing shocks with XCR-spec valve codes are not just wannabe pieces but true high performance dampers.
One of the most XCR-like pieces on the sled is a somewhat cobby but legitimately iconic disc brake cooling duct riveted to the hood.
This piece alone speaks volumes about the legendary status of the XCR name. The brake delivers both steak and sizzle with a PRT (Polaris Racing Technology) rotor and pads designed to shed heat and resist fading under racing conditions. There’s a special hardened jackshaft as well.
Under the hood the story is simple: Stock Liberty CleanFire Injected power in either 600 or 800 dimensions is your choice. We suspect the 600s will be gobbled up quickly as they more closely match current sanctioning rules for XC racing.
In today’s EPA mandated emission certification maze, sparking up a new, pure cross country race mill would be overwhelmingly costly. Ski-Doo plays by these same rules with the XRS.
Nonetheless, both the 600 and 800 engines used here are strong performers, particularly the 800 Liberty HO. The engine produces north of 150-hp and spools up like the throttle cable is hooked to your frontal lobe. The word “instantaneous” comes to mind.
The 800’s fuel mileage is surprisingly good considering the output available. The 600 is a little heavier on fuel than we would like, however, clutching from the venerable P-90 derived primary and a TEAM roller secondary is as tight and responsive as any XCR has ever delivered.
In our books, legitimizing the XCR name revolves mostly around handling and rough terrain ride quality. In these two categories the Rush XCR does not just excel – it exceeds expectations, especially our expectations.
The low-slung look of the Pro-S based XCR conjures up images of the mid-90s XCR 440 and this RUSH XCR positively rails the twisties.
The sled’s DNA is calibrated for cross-country forays and in this department we have to say the XCR is completely formidable. You can take this ride deeper toward the apex in twisty, gnarly turns than any sled we’ve ridden. Bloodlines here are good. There’s no lowering of the XCR bar whatsoever.
In terms of ditch banging and rough trail navigation, the XCR is telepathic in its disposition. The sled can be pushed deep, way deep at speed into rollers and junkers that would make mortal pilots cringe.
Even when the XCR bottoms front or rear, it doesn’t kick sideways but rather announces the event with a firm response while staying on your chosen line. The chassis builds confidence in a way you have to experience to appreciate.
There’s no substitute for the kind of power the 800 HO extrudes. It is deeply torquey, overwhelmingly responsive and will stretch your forearms past 100 per. However, the XCR’s defining characteristic is its ability to take all of that available power and get 100-percent of it to ground.
The AXYS XCR has resurfaced in a package that’s fully worthy of its name. This is not just a good sled – this is a great snowmobile that will go down in snowmobiling history with no excuses made about its engine or its ride and handling performance in the most severe terrain.
The XCR is back!