Last week we spent a couple days with Polaris being introduced to the new Turbo S, and it is quite the animal. In addition to being allowed to smash a couple of them through the Nevada desert for a few hours, we got plenty of one-on-one time with their engineering team to talk tech, and here’s what we learned.
It really is new. The frame of the Turbo S is a stronger, redesigned version from previous models. Polaris attempted to keep accessory mounting locations common wherever possible for re-use of your old add-ons, but this is a new platform.
The roll-cage is now connected to the frame at 8-points as opposed to 6, and features 1-piece radius main hoops for strength. A number of bolted joints have been ditched in favor of welds, and nicely stamped gussets reinforce the corners. The tubing wall thickness is still thinner than what you’d typically see in an aftermarket cage, so we expect these will still get replaced by some owners / racers, but in terms of OEM cages it’s a good one.
Alright, what is “usable travel” already? Here’s the deal…
The Turbo S has 19″ front and 21″ rear of traditional wheel travel, as we all know it today.
Usable travel is a new metric that Polaris has introduced, and is defined by measuring the distance from the bottom of the tires to the bottom of the skid plate when the suspension is at full droop (like when you’re jumping). The Turbo S has 24.8″ of usable travel, meaning that when the tires touch down, the chassis can travel 24.8″ before hitting the ground. This allows for not only wheel travel, but compression of the tires, bump stops, etc to occur without the frame hitting the ground.
The reason Polaris is highlighting this is because their direct competitor, the Can-Am X3, is not set up this way. The X3 XRS actually has about 1/2″ LESS usable travel than the Turbo S, and the additional wheel travel (22″ / 24″ for Can-Am) allows the frame to hit the ground before the suspension fully compresses. In fact, we’re told if you compress an X3 XRS until the frame hits the ground, you’d still have 3-4″ of wheel travel left. That’s not a good thing according to Polaris, and we agree. Our X3 will be getting bigger tires to offset some of that.
The Turbo S’ shocks are controlled by the Dynamix system we’ve all been introduced to already. This is a form of “live valving” that adjusts the compression damping on the fly based on a plethora of vehicle inputs. The system gives you 3 options, easily adjusted via a 3-position rocker switch on the dash, which are Comfort, Sport, & Firm so you can decide the overall feel that you want the vehicle to have. The shocks are not the same on the Turbo S as the previous Dynamix model however. This machine sports 3.0″ IBPs (Internal By-Pass) in the rear and 2.5″ IBPs up front as opposed to the 2.5″ RC2’s found on the 64″ model. We’ll save the details for our full ride review, but… they are awesome.
The control arms and trailing arms have all been beefed-up significantly as well. The front arms are now constructed out of GIANT 0.120″ wall tubing, and the rear trailing arms also utilize a similar tube construction, plated for strength. Double shear connections are used everywhere. These things are tough.
The radius rods? Those are bigger as well.
Stock ground clearance? Also big at 16″.
The short answer here is that other than the engine, everything is better than before…
The clutch housing and belt cooling strategy has been reworked to result in 20% lower belt temperatures than previous models, and drastically longer belt life. To do this, Polaris looked at areas of high heat concentration within the clutch system and targeted those spots. Some changes include directing the incoming air to the secondary as opposed to the primary, and at the engine side of the belt as opposed to the outside. We didn’t have a gauge in our machine to watch belt temps, but we’re confident that the changes are working. We tried HARD to break one on our test drive and it never let go.
The clutches themselves remain largely unchanged from previous turbo models, they’ve just been re-tuned for the bigger tires on the Turbo S (we’ll get there in a minute).
Other drivetrain improvements include stronger axles, a stronger front differential, and stronger carrier bearing.
We don’t have numbers to quantify the improvements on every part, but we were told that their test drivers used to break these parts all the time, but not anymore. Based on how hard we beat on them without a hiccup, we believe it.
While the engine has remained unchanged, Polaris did play with the throttle mapping to pep things up. This could still use a little work in our opinions, but it is very easy to drive. Will we see more horsepower in the future? You’ll have to stick around for that answer.
The Turbo S comes with 32″ tall ITP Coyotes on 15″ cast wheels. These will be available for sale to everyone, but they were developed specifically for this machine in cooperation with Polaris engineering.
The Coyotes are an 8-ply tire and Polaris says they are 250% more puncture resistant than the Bighorns. We don’t know how they measured that, but we smashed them into some big rocks on purpose just to see what would happen, and never managed to hurt one.
Tread life is said to be excellent as well, we’re sold.
Steering assist has been increased by approximately 25% to accommodate the bigger heavier tires, and is dampened to reduce unwanted steering wheel feedback to the driver.
One of the first things you notice when you jump in the new Turbo S is the Sparco steering wheel. It stands apart from the typical OEM wheels we’re used to and we’re happy they’ve stepped up the game here. Considering the wheel is the primary human interface with the vehicle, it gives you an initial high quality feel and gets the Turbo S started on the right foot.
Just behind that wheel is a new set of proper gauges that we feel the RZR platform has desperately needed. Speed and RPM are indicated by large sweeping needles with a multi-mode digital screen in the center.
To the right is Polaris’ Ride Command screen. This is a system we already know but is worth mentioning because it is a cut above anything offered by the competitors currently. Ride command provides built in GPS, GoPro control, bluetooth connectivity, a standard rear backup camera and a host of other features. The machine also comes pre-wired for a forward facing camera, making it an easy add-on. This is a slick unit and something you can’t find elsewhere right now.
Rounding out the interior changes are standard 4-point harnesses, another simple but highly appreciated change.
You know the Turbo S by the wide front grill, and color matched front & rear plastic which give it a premium look compared to previous models. For 2018 the color options will be red & blue, with the blue models having color matched suspension components.
Polaris has also made the switch to LED lighting, including the white strips that outline the front grill. They like to call these the “fangs”. Yeah, they’re cool.
At a quick glance from the outside, the other big change is the shape of the cage, and the addition of an aluminum roof. The roof is a must-have purchase for many owners, so including one that looks cool from the factory is a welcome change and will likely save plenty of people a few hundred bucks.
Though at first glance your reaction to the Turbo S may be “same ole RZR with long travel”, the same ole RZR it is not. This really is a thoroughly revamped machine with improvement efforts aimed in the right places. Our first ride impressions were nothing but positive, so if you’d like to see those head on over and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ll be putting this bad boy head-to-head with project Beast Mode X3 soon to see how it really stacks up, so stay tuned!