I don’t know if any other ATV lineup introduction to the media has ever been so highly anticipated. It has been painfully exciting to know, for a few years now, that BRP’s very talented R & D team was up to something really big. Despite the fact that they stayed very tight-lipped about the nature of the project, it was quite obvious to everyone that their next logical step in the quest for power-sport supremacy would be: a Can-Am Side X Side!
For BRP, the moment was of great historical significance. As the curtain finally dropped to reveal yet another innovative technological gem, an all-new category of vehicle with the Can-Am branding was born. This necessary step into the very successful UTV market was so important, that BRP’s President and CEO José Boisjoli personally took time to not only participate in its presentation to the media at the breathtakingly beautiful, historic Château Montebello in Montebello, Québec,. He also got down and dirty with all of us, trying out not just this long awaited Can-Am SSV, he tried as well a slew of other newswoorthy addition to Can Am’s already extensive all-terrain lineup.
Despite the fact that all the media present were calling this event: The Can-Am Side X Side press launch, all BRP personnel were still completely tight-lipped about what was to be presented and insisted only on the fact that we were in for a big surprise. It was obvious to me by then, that there would be something more to this entire Can-Am lineup reveal, than just the expected new Side by Side vehicle. On the menu for the evening: a smorgasbord of off-road delicacies to please the most sophisticated pallet. The presentation started with a more general flair, with all of BRP’s accomplishments throughout history, thrown at us with an efficient punch, in a flashy two minute video montage I would love to loop on my computer screen. The speeches that followed were surely all very interesting, informative and pleasant, but the wait was getting to be absolutely unbearable!
Obviously, the Can-Am team had no intention of hurting an body, but the suffering, for me anyway, was real. For whatever reasons, they chose to present us with everything else but the new Side X Side beforehand. For you, the suffering stopped when you took a first glance at it on the cover of that grand edition of your favorite ATV magazine. Knowing how it feels, and realizing that I might be causing you to have the same sort of impatient feeling I had felt during the presentation, I can suggest that you just read whichever paragraph you are first curious about, I won’t be insulted if you shut me up on all the new Can-Am goodies in store for 2011 and skip right to what I wrote on the Commander. So just to put this out of the way; the Renegade 800R will now be available in White and the Outlander 800R LTD has a shiny new blue paint job.
Outlander 800R X xc, at the races
The black tarp is yanked off, revealing the racy new Outlander 800R X xc, using BRP’s wording: the ultimate racing 4×4, ready to race right from the BRP’s showroom floor. It adds premium features, like a fully adjustable KYB high-performance suspension package, premium beadlock wheels, 1.3 cm (½-inch) front sway bar, ITP Holeshot ATR tires and their DPS (Dual-mode Power Steering) system.
Getting dirty with the new Outlander 800R X mr
Another ATV cover, looking strangely propped up high and pretty tight fitting around this quad, was pulled, revealing an awesome looking new off-road monster called the Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr. This intimidating Outlander is all about continuing on forward, no matter what obstacles may lay ahead. It uses the 800R MAX platform, the same mud racers seemed to be favored in competition for its extra reach to the bottom of mud baths to find traction. This longer wheelbase, teamed with an impressive array of accessories and modifications from ATV mud performance experts: Gorilla Axle, make it an obvious strong contender in any mud racing competition: stock from your friendly neighborhood BRP dealer. For decisive performance in the deepest of mud holes, premium ITP cast-aluminum wheels and Gorilla Axle Silverback tires were added and many key elements were relocated for optimal performance when the vehicle is almost completely submerged. The CVT intake, CVT exhaust and engine air intake are located as high in the machine as possible, seamlessly fitting just under the handlebar, into the rides naturally aggressive lines, in what Can-Am calls the ISS (Integrated Snorkel System).
The radiator, normally victim to clogging with mud and debris under the plastics, is also kept high and dry up over the front rack and encased in a sturdy black brush painted metal armor and support. The ACS, an industry-exclusive air-control suspension, which adjusts both front and rear high-pressure gas Fox Racing Shox suspension units, offers six presets to the rider, allowing him to increase ride height to its maximum level when mud holes need to be crossed, and drop the ride back down for better stability while trail riding to the next fun mud hole. The X mr also has a progressive throttle to ensure manageable power whether in precise riding situations like rock crawling or when you just gun it on a very wet and dirty stretch of trail. Additional racing footrests, angled for a ergonomically correct foot position when riding with the front end floating in the mud were also added, along with color-matched handlebar wind deflectors, an aluminum 6061-T6 taper-profile handlebar with square racing pad, rugged front and rear bumpers, embroidered gripper seat cover and a black and yellow graphics scheme that looks absolutely fantastic!
A commanding entry into the Side x Side segment
Ok now let’s cover all there is to know about this exciting new Can-Am Commander; a truly amazing vehicle, even at a quick first glance. Exuding toughness, this ride has a sport inspiring feel that makes you forget about the ride’s utility driven advantages. The Renegade influence is obvious and that is pretty much what I think most of us wanted. Claudette, who by the way did an amazing job at snapping her Nikon just at the right moments as I was pushing it hard, couldn’t stop repeating the same succession of words: “My God it looks hot!”
Powered by their flagship motor: the powerful 71 hp Rotax 800 V-Twin EFI engine, and also available with a new extremely potent Rotax 1000 V-Twin EFI engine producing 85 hp, the Commander certainly makes a bold entry into the segment, with pure adrenaline pumping acceleration, unequalled top speed and a look that leaves no doubt to this ride’s true Can-Am DNA.
Power is one thing, but it needs to be easy to manage by the user and the handling must permit safe use of it. The Commander does just that with state of the art suspension technology. It was no big surprise to find many of Can-Am’s successful technological advancements in ATV conception, find their way onto this vehicle. The TTI rear suspension’s advantages were obviously just as efficient on this much larger vehicle, which is actually more closely tied to Trophy trucks, the racing machines the system was inspired from. Anti-dive front-end geometry also helps a great deal in keeping the vehicle on all four wheels. The X model goes a step further with highly advanced and fully adjustable front and rear Fox Racing Shox HPG piggyback shocks and a front sway bar. The 35 cm (11”) of total ground clearance will also be very practical in many situations.
Various BRP officials described the Commander to us in very fine details and their passion for it was palpable. The entire Can-Am Commander line includes the Commander 800 EFI (available only in yellow), Commander 800 EFI XT (available in yellow or an industry-exclusive NEXT G-1 Vista camouflage), Commander 1000 EFI (available only in yellow), Commander 1000 EFI XT and the Commander 1000 EFI X, with its beautifully more aggressive-looking black and yellow combo. Early on in their presentation, the vehicles’ amazing versatility was also described in great details. Underlining user-focused features, such as its huge cargo capacity with the Dual-Level cargo box; front and rear standard 2 inch square tow hitch adaptons, and 680 kgs (1,500 lbs) of towing capacity, it seemed that this was a factor they wanted us to take good notice of. Upon a closer look all around the vehicle, the utility side became clearer. Three separate compartments offer a total of almost 2,000 cubic inches of cockpit storage space. The glove box features 1,050 cubic inches of storage, which can be divided into separate sections. There is also storage space under the seats, which you can easily adjust as you would in your car, and be removed and used to sit beside a warm campfire.
Heaven on earth: sand, mud, snow…
The moment I had been so painfully waiting for was finally here. I could have relaxed a moment, slowly getting ready for a safe but serious test of this fabulous ride’s abilities. I could have slipped a coffee cup in the cup holders molded into the center console. Keeping it nice and warm, as the engine gets up to temperature, a few moments before the expected abuse of us, very fortunate people permitted to do as we please with any machine for half-hour periods. Maybe take the usual slow look around, checking that all is in safe working order, like tire pressure, check for leaks, lube this and that, as everyone should normally do. Why I jumped in, buckled up, turned the black key, pressed the start button dead center in the dash, selected H with the shifter that can’t ever hesitate, clicked on the sport mode and floored the deep growling Commander 1000R X, all within about 3 seconds, I don’t know. But it sure was cool to be in total confidence that every prototype was in perfect order, and to just go out and have a blast.
Instantly, I created my own little off- road race track and couldn’t stop doing laps on it. What can I say, I fell in love with these new sport Side X Sides, since my very first contact with the Polaris RZR models. This one here was just bringing on a little more responsive power, a much more aggressive sounding rumble and a little different approach in rider position, which feels a bit like an old Jeep rather than a dune buggy or rail car. I can’t help but think of how cool this thing will be to thoroughly test out in the snow. In a power slide, your body sort of follows the rear end, as it would, let’s say, in a Panoz or Corvette. The cockpit feels much more reassuring than that of any Side X Side, with a steering wheel I would see fit for my Supra, a full center console that wraps around you, a ROPS certified cage with big 2 inch diameter tubing, easy quick snap side nets and, of course, 3 point seat belts which need to be clicked on, or else the ride’s rev limiter will stay active. I love the black key.
It is much sweeter than the gray key. The orange one I would certainly never use. Let me explain. The Commander features a new throttle-by-wire system that works in conjunction with the 54mm Bosch throttle body. It produces smooth throttle delivery, even when your foot is bouncing due to the terrain. The iTC system detects unwanted bounces and filters the input for more throttle accuracy. No cables to adjust, lubricate, or replace with this system and the fact that it works electronically, and can be made to work in conjunction with the DESS security key system, enables this different colored key system with a black key without any throttle restrictions; a gray one that limits the vehicle’s top speed at 50 km/h, and an orange one, which only lets the user climb up to 25. How cool is that?
Despite this relatively short time spent at the commands of the Commander 1000R X, I truly pushed it to the best of my abilities. Pure off-road bliss would be a good way to describe this intensely enjoyable experience. Boy oh boy! I can’t wait to test some of these rides thoroughly and share my findings with all of you.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Can-Am Off-Road Website