With the top performance marketplace demonstrating fluid movement toward whatever is biggest and fastest, Polaris could not effectively continue its mission to gain share on Ski-Doo without an 850.
Polaris needed a badder, more powerful engine with some incomparable performance numbers. This would require more than a simple bore and stroke of the current 800 Liberty: A new engine from the motor mounts up was required.
Polaris is quick to point out it was in full development of the Patriot 850 engine at the time Ski-Doo dropped the 850 Rotax two seasons ago. Even though Polaris was working on the new Patriot before the Rotax arrived, we have to think the Polaris engineering department was one of the first buyers to get mitts on an 850 Rotax to ensure the Patriot exceeded Ski-Doo’s benchmark.
Is it better? Without a doubt, this will be the most-asked question this season. Let me fine-tune the question a bit: “Is the 850 Polaris faster than the 850 Ski-Doo?” Clearly, this is an important question given these top performance sleds sell early and command the largest MSRP’s among all other displacement models.
Here’s what we can tell you right now – and we promise to update this info as soon as the snow is down and the ice is thick enough for a head-to-head dig on Kevlar Lake.
The new Polaris feels less edgy and more mellow from idle through engagement to about 6000 RPM compared to the Rotax 850. There is an immediate sense of refinement emanating from the Patriot as a result of its noticeably smoother idle and vibration-free engagement.
Polaris aced this issue – one that most 850 Ski-Doo owners identify as less-than-pleasing. An all-new vibration-isolating motor mounting system gets the credit here. Of particular interest is the removal of the ubiquitous “torque-stop”, used for years to stabilize center-to-center variance.
The torque stop is notorious for transferring engine vibes directly into the chassis, circumventing the engine’s vibration-isolating rubber mounts. This new smoothness naturally gives off a less edgy feel at trail speeds and could nearly be misinterpreted as less powerful feedback.
Frankly, we can’t say conclusively the Ski-Doo is quicker down low. Here’s what we can say: We appreciate the more refined and low vibration feel of the Polaris, hands down, over the Ski-Doo.