|Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport Review
By Jon Crowley, UTVGuide.net
Arctic Cat invited media to travel to Bryce Canyon, Utah to spend some time behind the wheel of their new Wildcat Sport. The new Wildcat Sport is 110.5 inches long and 60 inches wide and fits in between the Wildcat Trail (110.5″ x 50″) and the Wildcat 1000 (128″ x 64″) for the Arctic Cat ROV lineup. This size vehicle is well suited to terrain found in this area of Utah, where trails aren’t quite as wide as you tend to find in Southern California and Arizona.
We used Ruby’s Inn as our base of operations, and this was a great choice. Off-road access to hundreds of miles of trails is available right from Ruby’s Inn where they also have RV campgrounds, hotel fuel and restaurants.
Bryce Canyon is carved out of the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau and this area has some of the most scenic routes available to UTV use. The Forest Service has designated several loops where riders can enjoy the area and all its scenic beauty. ATVs, OHVs and UTVs are not permitted in Bryce Canyon National Park, but riders can enjoy similar scenery on the Paunsaugunt. Bryce Canyon-like scenery wraps around the plateau to the south and west, where most of the ATV routes are located. Some of the more scenic trails in the area include Casto Canyon Trail, Freemont Trail, Paunsaugunt Trail and Poison Creek Trial.
The elevation for this area starts at about 8,000 feet and climbs from there. Winter snow pack can extend well into Spring and make some of the trails inaccessible. Temperatures are quite a bit colder than surrounding areas, so go prepared.
The new Wildcat Sport is the 60-inch version of the Wildcat Trail. The Wildcat Sport uses a-arms and axles that are +5-inches longer to achieve the extra 10″ of width. Otherwise the basic cab, plastic, engine and clutch are the same between the two models.
We rode for two days at elevations ranging from 6,000 feet to over 10,000 feet. At this altitude, all vehicles suffer a bit from lack of oxygen, and most should have their clutch adjusted for optimal performance. Our Sports were clutched for sea level, but I felt they were still quite responsive climbing steep grades with lose rock and reaching top speeds over 65 mph on graded roads.
Like the Wildcat Trail, the Wildcat Sport utilizes a 60-plus horsepower, 700 parallel-twin engine that feeds into the TEAM Rapid Response clutch. While the horsepower rating is not on par with theRZR S 900, the Wildcat Sport is quite a bit lighter (about 1,050 lbs. vs. 1,200 lbs), so the power-to-weight ratio is close. The clutching felt very crisp off-idle and during slow-speed maneuvering. We did not have a chance to do any difficult rock crawling, but from what I experienced, I think the clutch setup will do well.
It was nice to see that Arctic Cat engineers thought enough about ground clearance to make the lower/front arms arch. And although the Wildcat Sport comes with 26-inch tires, there is plenty of clearance for larger tires. I plan to put a set of 30-inch tires on mine to see how it will do in the rocks.
One nice change to see from Arctic Cat is the clutch arrangement. From everything I could see, the cover on the TEAM clutch can be removed easily for in-the-field belt replacement. This is a big improvement over the full-sized Wildcat 1000.
The Wildcat Sport frame features a 40-/60-percent front/rear weight distribution and I found that the vehicle responded in a very predictable manner around high-speed corners. The seats in the Sport are low which in turn translates to a low center of gravity and more confidence in the corners. I did find that the seat did not have much bolstering and wasn’t well designed for optimum leg room. I am 6′ 1″ and felt like my knees were bent more than I’d like and the relatively short seat bottom left me feeling like I was slipping off the seat. Our trail guide, Dean Bulloch from D&P Performance had a set of PRP seats in his Wildcat Sport, and they provided more side support and legroom.
The Sport XT and standard models get the new JRi 2.5 adjustable shock. Fluid loss is eliminated by moving the compression adjustment to the shaft. And the top-of-the-line Limited model, features Elka Stage 5 shocks with high and low speed compression dampening. Both of these suspension packages are premium shocks with lots of adjustability. While driving the XT model, I softened up the JRi shocks to give me a more supple ride. The Elka shocks felt great right where they were set. The Trail features front and rear sway bars, and the Sport only has then in the rear. I did feel that the Wildcat Sport had more body roll that I would have preferred, but with the 60-inch stance and low stance, I never felt even close to going over.
Overall, I think Arctic Cat has done well with the design of the Wildcat Sport. The 60-inch platform is lightweight, nimble and sporty. Even though the parallel twin cylinder engine is less than the competition, it packs enough punch to be very completive. I really enjoyed how well the TEAM clutch felt throughout the power band. I did not really like the seat or how the seatbelt tightened up and locked me in, but those are things that I typically change anyways so I can live with that.
The best thing about this media event, is Arctic Cat sent us home with our new Wildcat Sport Limited demo unit! It is currently at Factory UTV getting a new UHMW skid plate installed, then we plan to swap in a set of 30-inch tires to see how it will perform in the rocks.
Prairie City SVRA – November 2014:
We added full Factory UTV UHMW skid plate, rock sliders and a-arm guards on our Wildcat Sport so that we could do some extreme rock crawling without damage to the underside.
Then we swapped out the 26″ stock tires for 28-inch GMZ Cut Throat Tires mounted on Lite Loc beadlocks wheels. This gave us more ground clearance.
We played in the rocks and then on the short course track to see how the Wildcat Sport would handle the bigger tires.
We had a fun morning in the Wildcat Sport at Prairie City SVRA. The Factory UTV under armor gave us confidence in the rocks that we weren’t beating up our demo unit too hard, and the larger tires gave us enough ground clearance to let us play in the rocks without spending too much time on the skid plate.
Clutching nearly as good as stock, but we did smell the belt a few times while rock crawling. While the 700 engine doesn’t set you back in your seat, it does get the car around the track with good acceleration to be fun. In the rocks, you can feel how light and nimble the car is. Power steering felt appropriate but at 6′ 1″ I would like a little more legroom.
While rock crawling, it was necessary to lock the front differential to get over several obstacles. While the diff lock worked great, we had a hard time engaging the switch on the dash with gloves on.
Johnson Valley OHV Area – Home to King of the Hammers – November 2014
We took our Wildcat Sport to Johnson Valley, CA in November to try it out on some of the toughest rock trails around. This area is home to King of the Hammers and is known for its brutal trails. We took on Chocolate Thunder and Wrecking Ball and a bunch of whooped out desert.
The28-inch GMZ Cut Throat Tires are more suited for short course but the added ground clearance over stock 26-inch tires was a huge benefit. I would like to try this again with a set of 30x10R14 tires to give us even more ground clearance. I was very thankful for the Factory UTV UHMW skid plates, because we spent some time on our skid plate!
The 700 twin cylinder engine and Team Industries clutch pulled the larger tires without an issue so I think that a larger tire would not be an issue.
We made it up both of these tough rock trails and just had to winch on the Wrecking Ball waterfall like all the other UTVs.
Testing the Front Differential Lock
We recently took our Wildcat Sport down to Prairie City SVRA to test in out in muddy conditions to see how the 4WD Locking Front Differential works. The Wildcat Sport features a dash mounted switch that allows on-the-fly shifting from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive. This setting allows the front wheels to spin at different speeds. Then when the terrain gets even more aggressive, you can activate the electronic front differential lock. This mode sends power to all four wheels for ultimate traction.
Sand Mountain, Nevada
We slapped the stock tires back on our Wildcat Sport and headed for the dunes at Sand Mountain, Nevada for a few days of riding. While most would consider the Wildcat Sport to be geared towards trail riding, we wanted to see how it did in the dunes.
The Wildcat Sport Limited model, features Elka Stage 5 shocks with high and low speed compression dampening. We put these shocks to the test and were very impressed with how they were able to handle jumps, g-outs and whoops. It is so nice to see top-of-the-line shocks as an option from the factory.
The Wildcat Sport comes with 26-inch Carlisle Trail Pro 4-ply tires. This tire is light which helps in the dunes, but they don’t have much bite and could use a little larger footprint for more floatation. We duned quite a bit with 8 PSI and couldn’t get to the top of Sand Mountain. Dropped them to 4 PSI and it powered to the top. I think the Wildcat Sport would react well to a nice set of paddle tires.
The Wildcat Sport has a TEAM Rapid Response Clutch. This clutching system is super smooth and responsive on the trail and worked equally as well in the sand. We have now driven the Sport hard in the rocks, on the trail and in the sand without a single belt failure. The clutch is tuned to handle a variety of terrain very well.
With more power and suspension, the Wildcat 1000 is better suited for the dunes. The good news is while the Wildcat Sport was designed primarily as a trail machine, it is also a capable dune machine. Arctic Cat’s lightweight, nimble and sporty Wildcat Sport is quite the versatile UTV.
Wildcat Sport Features:
Wildcat Sport Specifications:
Arctic Cat Inc., based in Thief River Falls, Minn., designs, engineers, manufactures and markets all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles under the Arctic Cat® brand name, as well as related parts, garments and accessories. Its common stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the ticker symbol ACAT. More information about Arctic Cat and its products is available on the Internet atwww.arctic-cat.com
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