FOLLOWING its debut at the Highland Show and backed up by a test drive, there is no doubt that Can-Am Defender side-by-side UTV sets a new benchmark for this class of vehicles.

Made by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), its introduction will shake up the commercial market in Scotland, providing customers with more torque, power and flexibility – that’s especially so when its most popular model is priced at under £10k.

The non-DPS (no power steering) base and DPS packages in the range are powered by the 799cc, 50hp HD8 engine made by BRP’s engine maker, Rotax, which also produces the 1000cc, 72hp HD10 engine, in the bigger XT model.

This certainly looks like a capable workhorse, but in a compact chassis characterised by a short front, with the usual cargo area to the rear. The HD8 DPS on test is the mid-range model and expected to be the main seller.

The DPS designation stands for Dynamic Power Steering and it certainly made living with it easy indeed. It’s also made to handle rough terrain, with a lockable rear differential now allied to the new Visco-Lok auto locking front diff which kicks in when it’s really nasty.

Can-Am’s Pro-Torq continuously variable transmission is common throughout the range and this is enacted using a dash-mounted E-gate style lever, which has the option of Park, reverse, neutral plus high and low forward.

Conveniently, just under the shift lever are push-buttons for both the selectable two/four-wheel-drive and the rear diff lock. The dash is easy to understand and there’s push-button control of the lights and a space for a winch-control switch too (the XT has this as standard).

The heads up gauges are all within an LED display unit, which covers all the main functions, such as speed and fuel availability etc.

For those with the need to store and carry tools, there some handy under seat and waterproofed capacity of 21-litres, plus other storage areas in the cabin, including a removable tool-box fitted into the dash.

Out back, there’s a durable tipping load bed – with the tipping handles on either side of the vehicle – which is capable of carrying up to 454kg and which has integrated anchors on the side walls, plus several tie-down points to hold loads steady.

The cargo box, which measures 96.5 x 138.4 x 30.5 cm, can also be sub-divided using integrated recesses, which hold separators. It also accepts bed extenders for adding to its overall dimensions, for bulky light material.

A good point is the sturdy tailgate which Can-Am says can ‘withstand ordinary farm use’, which means you can sit on it when the vehicle is not moving as long us you are under 113kg! It can also tow just a little more than 900kg.

Operator safety is paramount and there’s room on the bench seat for three people, all safely tied in with seat-belts. The sturdy all-round safety frame can also carry a range of accessories, from lighting to doors and a full cab spec’.

At the very least, a front windscreen is necessary as this is quite a fast vehicle capable of more than 40mph. As such, it would be best to purchase the road-going version – some people head to town for the papers in them!

The base version, the HD8 BAse is priced at £8165, the model tested, the HD8 DPS is at £9832, while the top-of-the-range HD10 XT costs £13,332 – all exclusive of VAT.

Can-Am has also updated its Outlander L Pro ATV models, giving users the option of having either the liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 450cc or the new 570cc V-Twin engine from Rotax as an option. The Pro 450 comes in at £5749 (£6249 as road legal) while the Pro 570 costs £6332 (£6832).

FOR the opportunity to win a Can-Am Defender worth £9799, see The Scottish Farmer and Can-Ams exclusive competition on page 11.