Polaris Hawkeye

Terry Stevenson checks out the feature-packed Polaris Hawkeye

New on the ATV scene is the Polaris Hawkeye, introduced to the New Zealand market early this year. Based around a 300cc engine and small sized chassis, Polaris places the Hawkeye right in the middle of the market, slightly above the 250cc quads, yet below the 350cc machines.

With all the features you need in a basic ATV, the Hawkeye would make an ideal farmhand quad or perhaps a farmer’s second ATV. Compared to ATVs around it, the Hawkeye is loaded with so many new features that would make any farmer look twice at it.

Weighing in at only 249kg, it’s quite a small quad compared to Polaris’ previous offerings in NZ – yet shares many of its bigger brother’s features. The chassis has a smaller 1168mm wheelbase which offers good manoeuvrability but, with its suspension system, not at the cost of instability. Polaris has clearly spent some time on the styling to come up with something to make it stand out from the bunch. The new Hawkeye looks mean and aggressive – hungry for work.

Sporting an awesome suspension package, the Hawkeye certainly gets along around rough country no problem at all. The Hawkeye’s strength is definitely its superior handling package thanks to Polaris’ use of the MacPherson Strut independent front suspension (178mm travel) and re-designed independent rear suspension (with a healthy 209mm travel) set-up. The suspension system also permits a very favourable ground clearance of 160mm. It remains smooth while driving over multiple ruts and corrugations without bucking the rider off, which means it requires less effort, and therefore strength, to ride it around the farm and, being near the lower end of the engine capacity scale, the Hawkeye may also suit a physically smaller person.

Without widening the wheel track of the ATV, Polaris has extended the wheel hub off-set outwards or, in plain English, the centre hub inside the wheels is now further out than before. This means the movement angles of the drive rods from the central diff are less than before, reducing wear and tear on the universal joints and boots. At the same time, Polaris slightly raised the pivot point of the front section of the rear suspension arm which reduces squat when carrying heavy loads.

An anti-roll torsion bar also helps to keep the Hawkeye stable during hill work and helping retain that stability are low profile ATV tyres, fitted as standard. It feels so stable for a small ATV that it just doesn’t seem to want to roll over at all!

The air/oil cooled 299cc single cylinder engine delivers what feels like above average power for that sized ATV. It’s definitely more than a 250cc quad offers, perhaps as strong as some 350cc machines I have tested. Our test quad was fitted with a good-sized 34mm Mikuni carburetor, although it’s a shame Polaris didn’t go all the way and fit one of their new EFI fuel injection systems to it.

The drive train consists of Polaris’ trademark automatic Variable Transmission (PVT) system, which basically means there is only one speed range and no gears to change through all day long. The system is very quiet and works really well, taking a lot of the fuss out of riding an ATV.

Polaris has an in-built safety feature for reversing. If the rider tries to go too fast in reverse, an interrupter mechanism kicks into the ignition system, preventing high speed reversing. This can be deliberately overridden for a more experienced rider by pressing a yellow button on the left handlebar. On the other handlebar the Hawkeye has an easy switchable on-the-fly 4WD system for the times you ride into boggy paddocks or perhaps towing a small trailer.

I hold a lot of weight to any vehicle which comes standard with braided brake lines. They are far superior to reinforced rubber brake lines, in all conditions, including age. The twin disc front and rear brakes are operated by a single brake lever on the left-hand side of the handlebars or, if you prefer, use the foot pedal which operates on the rear wheels. The Hawkeye has only rear wheel engine braking although, with good brake feel, I didn’t find that was a problem on any steep hill I fronted up to.

The front carrier will accept a maximum safe 32kg load while the rear can take a little over 45kg. Polaris offers a number of accessories for all its products, including the front protection bars and raised rear rail on our test ATV. If you carry tools that you need to keep dry, there is a good waterproof storage space underneath the front carrier where the battery is housed. The basic digital dash is equipped with a speedo (MPH), odometer and trip meter.

On balance, the Hawkeye has an above average suspension package with a mid-sized engine wrapped within a well-handling chassis.

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Engine Type 4-stroke
Displacement 299cc
Carburetion 34mm CVMikuni
Starting Electric w/ recoil backup
Transmission F/N/R
Drive System Automatic PVT
Front Suspension MacPherson strut with 7/17.8, with adjustable Preload in/cm travel
Rear Suspension Fully Independent, progressive rate with anti-roll bar; 20.3cm travel with adjustable Preload
Wheelbase 116.8cm
Dry Weight 249.5kg
Length/Width/Height 182.9/106.7/115.6cm
Fuel Capacity 17L
Ground Clearance 8/20.3 in/cm

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