WHY NOT?! That’s our answer in two words. However you know we never stop at just two word explanations so let’s dive-deep into this question.
From ten thousand feet we’ll say this: It was way past time for a rejuvenation of the 600 snowmobile segment. What completely blows us out of the water is Ski-Doo missing this opportunity. I have to wonder if the development engineers at Polaris didn’t exhale a huge sigh of relief when Ski-Doo levelled the new 600R just two seasons ago. It was strongly rumored Ski-Doo might do the same thing to the 600 class it did to the 800 segment.
Ski-Doo had, at the very least, something to do with Polaris launching a 650. We suspect when Polaris discovered Rotax was readying an 850 for an MY 2017 intro in an effort to re-invent the 800 class, Polaris saw this as a gold-plated opportunity to do the same to the largest volume engine segment in the biz, the 600 class.
WHAT ABOUT RACING?
Let’s get this misconception out of the way. There’s been scuttle Polaris will leave snocross racing as a result of the intro of the 650 Patriot. This is bunk. Polaris will continue to build race sleds; albeit precious few race sleds are built yearly by any OEM as a result of reduced homologation thresholds.
Polaris is not concerned about reshaping race classes to accommodate its new 650. The current 600 engine will continue to see service in limited-build Polaris race sleds.
IS IT REALLY BETTER?
No. The new 650 Patriot is way, way better than any 600 currently offered in the industry. It is faster, more powerful and produces better trail torque and mid-range response. That includes Ski-Doo’s 600R and Arctic Cat’s much loved 600 Dual Stage Injection (DSI) 600.
A very satisfying spin-off benefit of the new 650’s pedigree linkage to the Patriot 850 is the same proprietary engine mounting system that eliminates the use of the universally problematic torque stop. If the new 850 Patriot is smooth then the new 650 is a hot knife through butter. This is the new standard for engine vibration management.
Polaris pretty much took over top place in terms of power and acceleration in the 850 class in MY 2020. A factory authorized re-flash of all first year 2019 850 Patriots ensured everyone got the same power characteristics as the 2020s. I say that to say this: The new Patriot 650 runs oh-so-close to its big brother from launch to 60 per, it’s flat out amazing.
Every one of our riders who’ve experienced the 650 agreed it’s almost too fast when compared to the 850. From 60 per on up, the 850 Patriot holds court past the C-note but understand this: You don’t need a big rear view mirror to keep track of the 650 into three digit territory – you know its there because you can hear it from the seat of your 850.
A completely unlikely spin-off benefit of the new Patriot 650 is vastly reduced fuel consumption compared to the former 600 Liberty Cleanfire twin. We’re talking something in the order of 40-percent at trail speeds.
By some measurements the 650 Patriot’s fuel consumption is in 4-stroke territory. Hmm? Decisively more power on less fuel; what a novel idea.
Polaris is in an enviable position with the new Patriot 650 available in the new MATRYX chassis for 2021. The 600 class was due for a shake-up. The Patriot 650 is doing just that.