The X Factor

Cat Unleashes New Wildcat 1000 X

Published in the April 2013 Issue April 2013 Powersport News Lane Lindstrom

Okay, we have a confession we need to make right off the bat. Our invite to Arctic Cat’s media ride this past January said we would be riding Cat’s new Wildcat four-seater. We were pretty excited.

But when we got there and Cat unveiled the new Wildcat 1000 X (which came as a surprise) and we got the vehicle out on the desert in southern California, well, we didn’t spend much time in the four-seater. We were pretty enamored with the Wildcat X.

It seems Arctic Cat quite literally pulled a fast one on us. You might remember our review (“Impressive New Side-By-Side Set To Wow Dirt Enthusiasts,” Dirt Toys Magazine, Spring, 2012, page 14) of the Wildcat after getting to ride it near Barstow. Really, our only complaint was the level of horsepower. We wrote, “While we were extremely impressed with the Wildcat—easily one of the most anticipated side-by-sides in recent years—one area where we think it falls behind its chief rivals, the Polaris RZR 900 XP and Can-Am Commander 1000, is in power. We felt the Wildcat was lacking a little, and we emphasize little, in the horsepower arena...”

Problem solved.

Not only does the Wildcat X 1000 have more power (a Cat-claimed 90 plus hp), that power is getting to the wheels thanks to a new Team drive and driven clutch. Then there are the all-new Fox Podium shocks, new sway bar and 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires. This is one sweet off-road machine and it doesn’t matter much what terrain or surface you choose to play on.


Testing And More Testing

Cat has tested the new Wildcat X in some rough and tumble places like the desert around Barstow, CA; the dunes at Glamis; and the rocks in Moab, UT.

Our ride on the Wildcat X and the Wildcat 4 was near Randsburg, CA, which, to varying degrees, offered a little of all those places. There were plenty of rocks, desert riding, terrain changes, some rock climbing and a generous amount of whoops. And then some more whoops.

Before we talk about what’s new, it would be good to review what returns for 2013 and 2013.5 (which is how Cat introduced three of its new Wildcats: Wildcat4; Wildcat 1000 and 1000 Limited; and the Wildcat X).

That includes the 5-link rear suspension with its 18 inches of travel. On the front there is 17 inches of suspension travel and the vehicle still has 13 inches of ground clearance. The exoskeleton chassis, made of high-strength low alloy, has a 40:60 weight distribution and a very low center of gravity. In addition to the 951cc V-twin with EFI powerplant, which offers up 78 hp, the Wildcat has variable assist electronic power steering. You might remember that the EPS is driven by an electronic control unit that measures steering input force vs. tire resistance and vehicle speed to give the appropriate assist to the steering column.

The 2013 Wildcat Limited has all those features plus front and rear aluminum bumpers and color-matched seats.

2013.5 Models

Now on to the 2013.5 models. As for the Wildcat4, additional features include a 29-inch longer wheelbase to accommodate the additional passengers, front and rear tube frame doors, 10 percent more legroom in the rear compared to the competitors’ four-seaters and a 12v accessory plug in the rear with two cupholders. The rear seats are also elevated (4 inches higher) for better visibility from the back and come with handholds.

The Wildcat4 also gets the same Team Industries drive and driven clutches as are found on the Wildcat X, giving improved upshifting and backshifting while helping maintain a more consistent rpm during changes in terrain.

A new rear swaybar designed to work with the new Fox Podium shocks is also standard on Cat’s four-seater. The new swaybar offers a small weight loss for the overall vehicle due, in part, to fewer component pieces. As for the shock, the Fox Podiums are 23-position compression adjustable and have a remote reservoir and dual-rate springs.

The 2013.5 Wildcat 1000 and 1000 Limited get many of those same features as on the Wildcat4 and Wildcat X, including the Team clutches and the new swaybar and shocks as well as distinct colorations and two-tone seats unique to these vehicles. These two Wildcats also get aluminum front and rear bumpers.


Moving Up The Food Chain

Moving up the food chain, we next come to the Wildcat X. In addition to all the features already mentioned above, this beast of a machine gets color-matched seats and front and rear aluminum bumpers and, probably most important, noticeable and notable, the new Cat Wildcat X engine. The 90 plus hp comes from the V-twin, SOHC, liquid-cooled, 951cc engine with EFI, all designed for massive torque and instant acceleration. Cat has improved the torque throughout the powerband and is using high compression cylinders to reach the increased horsepower.

Cat did a lot of work on the cams as well as “a lot of mapping.” Compared to the 78 hp of the base Wildcat, a bump of 12 plus horsepower is indeed impressive.

Cat engine expert Brad Mauch said one of the goals with the new engine was to increase the amount of air flow, which, of course, improves horsepower. He explained that the valves open quicker, stay open longer and open farther to allow more air in. Cat also changed the cylinder and pistons on the Wildcat X vs. the base Wildcat engine as well as used a new manifold.

As for the clutching part of it, we went right to the source and asked what specifically was done to improve the performance of the Wildcat. Team Industries’ Mark Schiffner explained (see sidebar).

Cat also pointed out that the company went to a new belt design to work with the Team clutches and doubled the air flow into the clutch area for more cooling.

Away From The Showroom

So how does it work in real life in real life conditions, away from the showroom?

We could use some superlatives here, but we’re not sure they would do the Wildcat X justice.

The suspension is every bit as good as the original Wildcat, which was introduced last year. The Fox Podium shocks just make the ride that much better and that’s saying something because the Walker Evans compression valve adjustable shocks used on the base 2013 models are very, very good.

Once again the suspension—both front and back—is solid. We were reminded of just how solid the suspension is soon after we started our ride across the desert near Randsburg, CA. It was a very dusty day and while we did our best to keep some distance between us and the vehicle ahead of us, the dust kind of hung in the air. We came up way too fast on a little gully that had a small dry rivulet running through it. We hit that dry rivulet a little hot and the front suspension, which was fairly loaded what with the weight transfer from being on the brake, took the brunt of the force of the hit. We braced for the worst and when we hit it, well, the Wildcat X bounced through it like it was nothing. That was dang impressive. The suspension responded well all day long—over rocks, through dry beds, through the whoops and across just about every kind of surface you can imagine.

Cat has that area of high end side-by-sides nailed.


Challenging For The Top

Cat has also just ramped up its competitiveness with the other high performance side-by-sides (read: Polaris RZR and Can-Am Maverick) by designing and building this new engine.

It’s strong, has amazing torque and never left us wanting more during our ride in the desert. We can’t make that claim for the sand because we didn’t take the Wildcat X on any big dunes, but 12 additional ponies sure isn’t going to hurt its cause. As noticeable as the horsepower is on this vehicle, the fact that the power was getting to the ground also jumped out on our ride. The power was more responsive as you got in and out of the throttle. Let up a little to make a turn or negotiate a curve and get back into it and you were right back on it.

We didn’t do a lot of rock climbing but what we did also brought out some great traits from the engine and clutching. Technical riding such as rock climbing requires a consistent throttle response. Too much and you can overshoot the rock(s) and cause some damage. Not enough and you don’t make it. The Wildcat X powerplant was constant and that gives you that much more confidence that you’re going to successfully navigate the obstacles.

We did get some seat time in the Wildcat4 on the tail end of our desert ride and we couldn’t have picked a better time to take a drive. The trail back to town featured some of the biggest whoops of the day and had some great curves and turns. Yes, the lesser horsepower of the Wildcat4 was noticeable, but with the new clutching, it was plenty snappy, especially when getting into and then letting off the gas as we pounded the whoops. The ride was great and never felt like the rear was out of control. Again, the Wildcat4, like the Wildcat X, inspires confidence in challenging terrain.

We are anxious to get another ride on the new 2013.5 Wildcats, not necessarily to confirm our impressions from our California ride, but more because, well, it was a lot of fun.

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