Textron Trip Reports UTV Product Reviews

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport Review

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Fleet of 2015 Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport’s Lined up at Ruby’s Inn – Bryce Canyon

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Casto Cayon

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport Limited features full aluminum doors and Elka Stage 5 Shocks

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
The Wildcat Sport features high clearance front a-arms

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.

Team Rapid Response Clutch
TEAM Rapid Response Clutch

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.

Elka Stage 5 Shocks
Wildcat Sport Limited with Elka Stage 5 Shocks

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. 

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
The Wildcat Sport taking a hard corner

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.

UTV Truck Rack
Driving home with our new Wildcat Sport Limited

Wildcat Sport Limited

Wildcat SportWildcat Sport
Wildcat Sport Limited

Prairie City SVRA – November 2014:

Factory UTV UHMW skid plate, a-arm guards and rock sliders
Factory UTV UHMW skid plate, rock sliders and a-arm guards

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
28-inch GMZ Cut Throat Tires on Lite Loc Beadlocks

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.

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Wildcat Sport ripping on the short course track

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport Review
Rock Crawling

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport ReviewArctic Cat Wildcat Sport Review
Short Course Track

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

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Wildcat Sport taking on Chocolate Thunder

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.

Wildcat SportRock Crawling

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

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport
Wildcat Sport at Sand Mountain, NV

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.

Wildcat SportWildcat Sport
Jumping the Wildcat Sport 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.

Wildcat Sport Limited
Our Wildcat Sport Limited carving in a bowl at Sand Mountain

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:

  • New 110.5-in. length x 60-in. width chassis dimension slots in-between the original Wildcat (120- x 64-in.) and the Wildcat Trail (110.5- x 50-in.).
  • Double A-Arm front/ rear suspensions with rear swaybar feature 12.2 in/12.6 in. of travel, with 13 in. of ground clearance, for premium handling and comfort in all terrain conditions.
  • 60-plus-hp 700 parallel-twin
  • 4-stroke engine with closed loop EFI, SOHC and liquid cooling provides class-leading performance, durability and excitement.
  • TEAM Rapid Response clutch system for optimal drivetrain performance and durability
  • High/Low/Reverse/Park and with electronic 2WD/4WD/Differential Lock
  • Variable Assist Electronic Power Steering (EPS) (Limited)
  • JRi ECX-1 piggyback gas shocks feature 2.5-in. reservoirs, plus full compression adjustability, for fade-free suspension performance in all terrain conditions. (Sport and XT)
  • New Carlisle Trail Pro 26-in. tires provide optimal traction, durability and flat-protection in a wide range of trail conditions.
  • Elka Stage 5 aluminum piggyback gas shocks with Dual-Speed Compression and rebound adjustability for the ultimate adjustable, fade-free suspension performance. (Limited)
  • New fully variable tilt steering mechanism offers greater overall range, infinite adjustability and increased room for driver entry and exit.
  • 12-in. steel wheels
  • 12-in. machined cast-aluminum wheels (XT and Limited)
  • New dual-piston caliper hydraulic front brakes provide enhanced braking performance.
  • Easy-hinge doors with automotive-style handles and latching ease vehicle entry and exit.
  • 300-lb. rear cargo box capacity
  • 1500-lb. towing capacity and 2-in. rear receiver hitch
  • Underhood storage box (Limited)
  • Automotive-style painted bodywork (XT and Limited)
  • Color-matched suspension arms (XT and Limited)
  • Available in Lime Green and Red (Sport)
  • Available in Viper Blue and Vibrant Red Metallic (XT)
  • Available in White Metallic and Matte Black (Limited)

Wildcat Sport Specifications:

  • ENGINE TYPE – 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder
  • BORE & STROKE (mm) – 76.9×75.3
  • COOLING SYSTEM – Liquid Cooled
  • TRANSMISSION – Rapid Response Clutch, Hi/Lo Range, Reverse & Park
  • DRIVE SYSTEM – 2/4 WD + Electric Front Differential Lock
  • OVERALL WIDTH (in./cm) – 60/127
  • OVERALL HEIGHT (in./cm) – 64.3/163.3
  • OVERALL LENGTH (in./cm) – 110.5/280.7
  • WHEELBASE (in./cm) – 84.6/214.9
  • GROUND CLEARANCE (in./cm) – 10/25.4
  • FRONT SUSPENSION TYPE – Double A-Arm w/ Anti-Sway Bar
  • REAR SUSPENSION TYPE – Double A-Arm w/ Anti-Sway Bar
  • FRONT BRAKES – Hydraulic Disc
  • REAR BRAKE – Hydraulic Disc
  • FUEL CAPACITY (gal./liters) – 7.4/28
  • FRONT RACK CAPACITY (lbs./kg) – NA
  • REAR RACK/BOX STORAGE CAPACITY (lbs./kg) – 300/136.1
  • TOWING CAPACITY (lbs./kg) – 1500/680.4
  • SPEEDOMETER – Digital
  • ODOMETER – Digital
  • DRY WEIGHT – Approx. 1050 lbs.
  • MINIMUM OPERATOR AGE – 16 with Valid Driver’s License
  • AVAILABLE COLORS – Green, Lime, Red
  • SPECIAL FEATURES – 2 Bucket Seats, Tilt Steering, JRi Shocks, Front & Rear Sway Bar, LED Taillights, Rear 2-Inch Receiver, Rapid Response CVT System
  • MSRP – $13,399 Sport, $13,999 Sport XT, $15699 Sport Limited EPS

Manufacturer Info:

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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