by Jeff Hemmel
Polaris Industries recently reported sales of personal watercraft increased another three percent during the second quarter of 2004, compared to the same period one year ago. Year-to-date numbers were more impressive, with a 16% increase over the comparable period of 2003.
Polaris seized upon the opportunity of the company’s 50th Anniversary “Way Out Weekend” celebration in St. Paul, Minn., to unveil a trio of new-for-2005 PWC. Along with the new introductions, the company also revealed a few details about the remainder of a reduced, five-vehicle lineup the company plans to introduce later this summer, and a new naming system for the PWC line, displaying a trend toward singular names, rather than the numbers displayed in years past to indicate engine size.
All five Polaris PWC models for 2005 are based on the successful MSX hull and deck design.
The new flagship of the Polaris line will be the aggressively designed limited edition Matrix, a derivative of the previous MSX 140 that has been discontinued for 2005. At the Matrix’s core sits the same 1192 cc, two-stroke that powered the MSX 140, although the engine sports traditional carburetion as opposed to the 140’s previous fuel injection. Thanks to a few additional engine tweaks and a refined driveline, the boat’s claimed horsepower has now been bumped up significantly. Polaris says that the addition of triple pipes, triple carbs, a new compression ratio, V-Force reeds, and a billet aluminum head will all combine to give the Matrix 200 horsepower.
Similar to a move Polaris made in past years with both the Octane and the Pro 785, the exhaust will be produced for the OEM by aftermarket firm Factory Pipe.
Company officials claim top speeds will be just above the magic 65 mph target (possibly reaching up to 67 mph) with a 200-pound rider and a full tank of required 92 octane fuel.
Color choices for the Matrix appear centered around a primarily black hull design with red and chrome accents.
The remaining two models shown, the Icon and the Element, appear targeted at the opposite end of the buying spectrum. Again based on the MSX hull and deck design, both craft will utilize the same engine, an 800 cc, 100-hp two-stroke twin sporting a single carburetor. The Icon will be one step above the Element in the company food chain, sporting standard mirrors and reverse. Both items will be available as options for the Element.
Given that the three models previewed were all two-strokes, it’s a safe bet that the MSX 150 and 110 will return in one form or another for 2005. That will give Polaris a reduced number of engine alternatives for the coming year, with just the 800, 1200, and the lone four-stroke. Of note is that any choice of fuel-injected two-stroke has apparently been eliminated from the line all together. Polaris had previously used the FICHT fuel injection system originally developed by OMC. With Bombardier’s purchase of that company several years back, Polaris had been using the system under license from one of its chief competitors. Industry insiders hint that Polaris may soon be going all four-stroke, or that the company may soon partner with Mercury Marine for a fuel-injection system. Polaris currently partners with Mercury on the LE2100 and EX2100 sport boat. psb