Now We’re Talking IQ
Weâ€™re not sure what you expected from Polaris for 2007, but there are some big surprises from the gang at Roseau. ALL Fusion models are gone, name and body work. Completely. Also gone is the one-year old 755cc twin. Nor can you get a 900 short track. And they have two new CleanFire 2-strokes! Say what?
Polaris execs must have done some soul searching to take such drastic measures. Decisions like this do not come cheap. So, what made Polaris #1 for 13 straight years? Things like product quality, grass roots leadership, superior ride and handling, overall performance and good value. Basically, winning performance.
So how do they, in 2007, bring back the magic?
1. Through industry leading ride and handling, namely through the IQ front and rear suspensions, and to a much smaller degree, Rider Select.
2. With class-leading power in the heart of the market; the 600 H.O., the new 700 H.O. and the 4-stroke turbo.
3. Through re-connecting with their customers by listening to what they want in terms of performance, styling, ergonomics, which may be best exemplified with the new RAW RMK models and changes.
4. And finally, by bringing back some incentive to their Snow Check program; offering desirable models only to those loyal customers who commit early. This takes discipline to not leave money on the table, so to speak. Great discipline.
Polaris smartly abandoned what was â€œexcess baggageâ€ and embraced what they had that worked well; the 600 H.O. 2-stroke, the FST Turbo 4-stroke and the RMK (now called IQ) body style. Add to this a 25-pound weight reduction of their new RAW RMK models, an all-new 700cc 2-stroke twin built on the 600 H.O., complete with CleanFire Injection, as is the 600 H.O.
All of the 121â€ performance sleds, what used to be XCs and then Fusions, are now all simply called IQs, bringing fresh styling and performance ergonomics to the heart of their line. The IQs come in your choice of an FST Turbo, a 600 H.O. carbed, 600 H.O. CleanFire Injection (CFI) and a radical new model with the 700 H.O. CFI; the Dragon.
The Dragon maybe should be called the Dragon-slayer, as this little 700 will kick butt on most sleds you encounter. With 4 more HP than an Arctic Cat F7 and the RAW look borrowed from the new RMKs, it pulls hard and blasts across the frozen tundra even harder and faster than the good old Liberty 800. Yes, itâ€™s true, weâ€™ve been on them for many miles and the prototypes are working well. No choke, starts in two pulls, all auto adjust, runs good all the time. Just like the 600 H.O. CFI.. These are the engines weâ€™ve been waiting for from Polaris!
Take note; for 2007, Polaris will be offering this new (700) engine only in the two Dragon models during Snow Check.
We know, all of this may take a few moments to fully set in. Look at the photos and you can tell all of these IQ models have the rounder RMK-lines weâ€™ve seen the past two years. Not only are they lighter and more attractive, they are faster with the added power (4% more HP from the 600 H.O. CFI) and they are far easier to steer; steering effort was one big item on the fix list for 2007, and they indeed do steer much easier.
This new 700 engine is also found in a Dragon RMK. In fact, the entire RMK model line has been simplified with fewer models and track lengths. The RAW aspect of the 2007 deep snow models focuses on the effort to make the sleds look more like mod units and reduce the weight (up to 25 pounds!) and provides sleds that are lighter weight and easier to ride. The 900 engine gets more upgrades, things like crankshaft geometry changes for improved durability and increased stiffness. Big riders and hard core hill climbers still like the thick torque of the 900, but it is a heavier sled that is most noticed when smaller riders are picking their way through the trees.
Changes are also found in the Switchback models, with a new CFI 600 H.O. and shorter tunnels (whole sled, actually) so youâ€™re not hauling a train around behind you.
Past all of these performance models, Polaris has expanded upon their FST 4-stroke engine, the â€œTurboâ€ with almost zero lag when you mash the throttle. This engine is now up to 140 HP for 2007, and is found in a host of new models, all IQ and designed to provide improved fuel economy, less smell, quiet operation and long-term reliability when compared to 2-strokes.
One also has to wonder if Polaris hired some new graphics and color designers, or if maybe they started to listen to somebody else. Whatever the reason, the entire line-up looks fresh and appealing compared to the past few years when their sleds were â€œtoo traditionalâ€ and â€œtoo sterileâ€. We like fresh styling, but have to wonder about the logic of wasting all the space behind the seats that could be utilized for storage and gas. Mountain riders believe â€œless is moreâ€, but the Dragon looks almost unfinished with its strange bracketry, like maybe it is a work in progress, or this was simply the cheap way to do it. Maybe this is a case of â€œbuild what sellsâ€, and function takes a back seat. Sounds like the sexy low windshields of the past twenty years; they sure look good, but they donâ€™t do much in terms of function (other than sell sleds).
What about EPA compliance? All of these new CFI models put them in a great position. With the industry baseline being 150 grams per kW-hour for hydrocarbons (HC) and 400 grams per kW-hour for carbon monoxide (CO), the required 30% reduction (average) gives us individual model targets of 100 grams per kW-H for HC and 275 grams per kW-H for CO.
Only the carbed 550 Fan and carbed 600 H.O. are higher than this; the 550 is at 140 HC and 280 CO; the 600 H.O. is at 150 HC and 285 CO. But with fleet averaging, this is now a moot point. The 600 H.O. CFI is 43% below the target; 85 HC and 230 CO. The new 700 CFI is the same. The 900 CFI is at 85 HC and 235 CO. The big gains are with the FS and FST 4-strokes; the FS comes in at 15 HC and 120 CO, with the turbo at 10 HC and 170 CO! As these numbers demonstrate, Polaris is there. Whew, they had us worried there for a while!
Another intresting thing we noticed about the 2007 models is the varying amounts of fuel capacity; the carbed 600 H.O. models carry 10.8 gallons. The 600 (and 700) H.O. CFI models are up to 11.7 gallons. FS/FST models only have 10.2 gallons (but better fuel economy). Carbed RMKs carry 12 gallons, and CFI RMKs carry slightly less; 11.5 gallons.
But we should take a moment to notice the end of an era. 2007 is the first model year since 1989 that an Indy 500 (Fuji 488) is not in the Polaris line-up. Yes, it almost brings tears to your eyes. This is likely one of the best selling models in snowmobile history, and has been a staple in the line-up for eighteen years. The tooling was worn out and replaced probably four times over that period, and new carbs and ignition kept it viable for far longer than anyone would suspect. Not to worry, the XC 500 SP now takes its place as the low-cost â€œprice pointâ€ liquid cooled sled in the line-up. This Liberty VES 500 makes 100+ HP and is well known among misers and penny pinchers as a solid performer, but it is still sad to see the Fuji 500 fade away into history. Good-bye dear friend. Luckily for Polaris, few will feel the same way about the Fusion.