The fun is just beginning! Yes, again, another sporty Side x Side with four seats! Being passionate ATV riders, getting the invitation to go kick up some dirt with this awesome machine in California, was truly exciting! It’s always a shared experience and fun and healthy collaboration between all media members, shipped to the middle of nowhere, for some awesome off-road fun at work, when we test a ride with so many seats.
We know many passionate ATV riders might still be wondering what all of these off-road cars are doing, stealing more and more pages in just about every issue of our magazine and many other ATV ones. Don’t worry, we have not cut out any quad stories, to make room for these, we’re just reporting, as usual, on all the new off-road vehicles coming out, and it so happens that nowadays, most are Side x Side vehicles.
This is actually the perfect ride to spread the infection. We know you have an idea of what this fuss is all about, or else you wouldn’t be reading this article. If you have no interest in a vehicle that can conquer a steep rock climb faster than almost any Jeep, pass a sport quad while flooring it through a series of bumps, and blast sand up, in a dune, like there is no tomorrow, that’s fine. There is one ATV test in this issue, and it’s a little more of a tamed model for less extravagant thrill needs.
Of course, the decision to buy one of these comes with a myriad of factors to take into consideration. I certainly encourage people to buy them; if they can as the multi-passenger trail riding experience is something you need to live through, to understand how it can improve in your quality of life.
Only one try, that’s all that is needed to get anyone stung by the bug. Even if it’s someone else at the wheel, which is another experience in itself, the new 2013 Arctic Cat Wildcat 4 1000 is still easy to get hooked on. First off, is the feel of the seating position; simply put, you just can’t wait to get this thing going, as soon as your bum hits the soft and very comfortable seat. You can oddly feel the space age shapes of the entire vehicle snuggle you. It’s the lowest seating position of any Side by Side, which provides a large dose of confidence, as soon as you start moving forward for the very first time. Much like in a Polaris RZR, the occupants are close to each other but still comfortable and not rubbing elbows; just enough to add even more in reassuring feel. The opposite is felt in Can-Am’s, which positions you close to the edge of the vehicle, and that can be a little scary at times, even if their side-nets are among the best-designed. Of course, the doors on this vehicle also contribute in making you feel more secure. I really hate those handles on the inside though, but that’s no biggy, a few minutes of sawing and grinding and my knee will be all smiles. The added handle in the center of the cab for the passenger, also in the two-seat Wildcat vehicles, has a big positive impact on passenger comfort. Trust me, even if the vehicle is almost impossible to flip over, you’ll be glad to have that stick to hold onto, when flying by in a left turn.
Despite the much lower seating position, the 2013 Arctic Cat Wildcat 4 1000, like the two-seat models, boasts an impressive 13-inch ground clearance. This feature took some getting used to, as I was dodging some trail imperfections and many times slowing down for nothing. I cringed quite a few times, thinking I would hit rocks and scratch the still untouched belly of my brand-new Wildcat 4 unit, but I never did. Lots of features from the two-seat Wildcat 1000 were carried over to this extended one, which is 29 inches longer. The same full perimeter exoskeleton is used for this model and Cat engineers told us they had designed the two-seat Wildcat with that in mind. It was made to allow the eventual addition of the two rear seats, which I of course sat in to see how well it welcomes a big man like me. It offered me the same sort of tight feeling, with my knee touching the roll cage, as in the Polaris 4-seaters. Still, most will enjoy the same comfort felt in front, with a clear view over the front occupants’ heads of what the next obstacle to conquer will be.
Arctic Cat’s Variable Assist Electronic Power Steering (EPS) has also been transferred over to this model and it works as soon as you turn the key to the on position. It turned out to be a really good feature for this particular vehicle, which does need quite a bit of forward and reverse manoeuvering when comes time to turn the vehicle completely around. The turn radius is quite wide on the two-seater and just feels a bit more problematic on this off-road bus. On the up side, the Wildcat needs very little steering input, which made it extremely fun and easy to manoeuver around the few telephone poles that were causing a certain desert trail to swerve.
Team Arctic Cat partnered with TEAM Industries, employees-owned, Minnesota-based Company, to totally rework the Wildcat’s clutch system. A dedicated group of American engineers and manufacturers, who work hard to perfect superior-performing, premium power train components for all kinds of on-road and off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs, UTVs, golf carts, or just about anything with a drive train. They produce helices, drives, and clutches, to fit almost any ATV or UTV. They support Arctic Cat, Polaris, Yamaha, Bombardier, Can Am, Gas-Gas, Honda, KYMCO, and Suzuki, and many more. Other TEAM aftermarket products include: gears, alignment tools, clutch pullers, primary and secondary clutch springs, clutch weights, CV Boots, CV Axles, and adjustable arm kits. The quality of their work has been proven good, by some of the world’s top racers who have used TEAM ATV components in record-setting performances. Team’s Rapid Response Clutch did wonders for this already incredible recipe for off-road fun, which is the Wildcat platform. No problem throwing the rear into a drift even with all seats taken!
I have yet to truly test any Wildcat machine in true MX style racing form, like I recently had the chance to do with a Polaris at the Monster Energy Super-motocross, last September. A fellow racer actually used his RZR 4, proving that such longer wheelbase Side x Side vehicles can perform just as well as any, in such a demanding environment. The Wildcat 1000 X is surely another worthy subject for our pages, and of course, better-suited for that type of ultimate abuse, and I would be honored to try and race one to a podium finish, in any race. After a day spent of swapping back and forth between the Limited, the X, and the 4, I can tell you that the power put to the ground is much improved, and with the X, it is now terribly close to that of the RZR XP 900, bound to be compared to.
Although the new Wildcat 1000 X is not the subject of this article, we did get a few units to share on that awesome day, guided by the Yoshimura guys in the breathtaking deserts of California. They had a particularly sweet Wildcat with their rust-resistant RS-4 stainless steel exhaust system. Sweet all-black ride, but I actually found my stock Wildcat X to look prettier, with its nice, new racy graphics. Hitting the dealerships in March, at an MSRP of $20,799 Canadian, this new Wildcat X boasts much-improved low-end grunt and pull on the arms with a serious 12 horsepower increase, over the 78 provided by the original Wildcat 1000. The same TEAM Industries drive system is used in this one, which means all that power is transferred very efficiently. The torque and horsepower of the 951cc V-Twin now feels like it should; strong and fast on demand. The X model also adds 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, front and rear aluminum bumpers, and color matched seats. The entire Wildcat family gets a new beefier sway bar, designed to optimize the all-new 23-position, compression-adjustable FOX Podium shocks trusted to soak up the most challenging obstacles Mother Nature has to offer.
Why so many arms and pivot points on that impressive 18 inch travel, providing advanced independent rear suspension system? You might ask, after observing our close-up photo of it. The goal is fulfilling a minimum variation of the wheel track, toe angle and camber angle as well, during jounce and rebound of the wheel. A multi-link suspension allows the vehicle to flex more; this simply means that the suspension is able to move more easily, to conform to the varying angles of off-road use. Many desert racing sports vehicles are equipped with a multi-link system. It allows the designers to incorporate both good ride and good handling in the same vehicle. The only drawback to a multilink suspension like this one, is that it needs lots of moving parts, meaning that it is costly and a bit complex. It is also difficult to tune its geometry without advanced equipment. It needs a full 3D computer aided design analysis.
Don’t forget helmets and seat belts, so that the fun can last a lifetime. The extremely high-performance suspension system of all Wildcat machines makes them surprisingly safe and loads of fun to drive, as is also the case with many of the latest new sport Side x Side models in this exciting new part of the industry.
It’s no surprise to see Arctic Cat coming out with a four-occupant Side x Side; their Prowler line has models for just about every utility need and the newer Wildcat 1000 X, certainly the coolest thing we’ve ever seen, and had the chance to try and find the limits of, takes good care of the thrill seeking and racing crowd I am proudly a part of. A more family and friends-oriented machine was all that was missing. Enjoy it!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Arctic Cat Website