Ever play the super-fun video game Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road? The new side by side by Yamaha is like that...time one bazillion. Photo: Yamaha.

Ever play the super-fun video game Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's "Super Off Road"? The new side-by-side by Yamaha is like that … time one bazillion. Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha

A side-by-side is like a cross between a dune buggy and a trophy truck. Like the former, side-by-sides are awesome for exploring dunes, the open desert and fire roads. Like the latter, they have seats that are side by side, thus the name.

Like both, they’re a whole lot of fun to be in even if you have a model that’s designed more for work than play, like the recently discontinued Yamaha Rhino. RIP.

The all-new 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R that was released last week is all play and no work, though, designed for ripping big days, lots of miles and pulling some g's. What makes it unique is a manual transmission — the first ever in the side-by-side world.

The front-end of the YZX1000R is designed for maximum visibility, making it easier to see over the hood in extreme situations. Photo: Yamaha.

The front end of the YZX1000R is designed for maximum visibility, making it easier to see over the hood in extreme situations. Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha

We checked one out at the global unveiling earlier this month and rode shotgun with pro truck racer Dustin Nelson for a few laps. The short review? Industry leader Polaris should be very nervous. This vehicle is a game-changer. The longer review? Keep reading.

We lapped a dirt track at the Port of Los Angeles that included a bunch of whoops, two solid jumps and a couple of corners built to let you get sideways. The XYZ1000R manhandled the track handsomely, second only to Charlie Sheen in making bumps disappear, as confident mid-air as Shaun White in his heyday and as comfortable being sideways as Bukowksi on a bender.

The super clean dashboard of the YXZ1000R. Photo: Yamaha.

The super-clean dashboard of the YXZ1000R. Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha

Off the line, the YXZ1000R has plenty of get up and go thanks to an all-new 998 cc triple-cylinder motor that has fistfuls of low- and mid-range torque and is capable of producing about 110 horsepower, which Yamaha claims is the highest naturally aspirated horsepower in the industry.

It bears repeating that the five-speed (with reverse) manual transmission helps the performance driver get the torque they’re looking for. Redline? An impressive 10,500.

Who needs a wave to get pitted? Photo: Yamaha.

Who needs a wave to get pitted? Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha

Mating to a direct-drive transmission translates into another potential benefit: no more belts that can break. Yamaha also says their transmission provides 15 to 20 percent more power to the rear wheels and fuel efficiency gains of about 10 percent.

Unlike some competitors, the oil reservoir is not underneath the engine, so the motor is lower for better weight balance. Oil-tank baffling ensures the engine never starves for oil even if you off-camber.

Drivers can switch to on-demand 4WD by the twisting of a dial. And with a locking differential, you’re golden whether you’re looking for high-speed drifting action or slow-mo rock crawling.

Got navigator? Photo: Yamaha.

Got navigator? Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha

Suspension is handled by Fox Podium RC2 Shocks, with 16.2 inches of front travel and 17 inches at the rear. Front-end suspension is visible, popping through the hood, which looks awesome and also provides better sight lines for the driver. All four corners are fully adjustable: spring preload, rebound and both high- and low-speed compression damping.

The cockpit also includes a couple of firsts for Yamaha: their first seat that can be adjusted without tools and their first adjustable steering wheel.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any behind-the-wheel time. The only folks who were allowed to drive the YXZ1000R at the global release were pro Yamaha drivers. We’re hoping to get some solid seat-time soon. Stay tuned for a full review of what it’s like to drive the YXZ1000R.

The 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R goes on sale in October in the vintage-tastic 60th Anniversary Special Edition yellow ($21,599). The Blaze Orange colorway ($19,799) and the Racing Blue/White ($19,999) hit the showroom floor in December.

More from GrindTV

Immortalizing action sports with The LIFER Project

How getting girls in Afghanistan on bikes could change the world

We love these pro ball players who ride bicycles to work