After teasing retailers at its annual dealer meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in early March, Arctic Cat has finally put some teeth behind its claims of a race-inspired, ultra-performance side-by-side vehicle designed to exceed the performance of the wildly successful XP 900 variant of the Polaris RZR.
The all-new vehicle, the 2012 Wildcat V-Twin 1000 H.O., will launch with class-topping engine displacement and suspension travel, and it will be the company’s first side-by-side vehicle intended to be a fully sport-focused model from inception. It will augment the company’s lineup in the growing side-by-side category, which currently includes three recreation-focused Prowlers and the new-for-2011 HDX utility model.
Building a Wild Buzz
In building buzz among consumers and dealers, Arctic Cat reacted smartly to images leaked from the dealer meeting in Nashville. It bought ad pages in enthusiast off-road publications teasing the upcoming vehicle, leaked selective information and quotes to the press and stressed four key factors about the Wildcat: its large-displacement V-twin engine, a massive 18 inches of suspension travel, a multi-link rear suspension cribbed from off-road racing trucks and the fact that the vehicle will be fully designed and built in the United States, including major components like the engine and shocks.
With a similar rear suspension design as the RZR XP 900, and last year’s news that Polaris was moving some of its production to a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico, Arctic Cat has aimed its engineering and marketing muscle straight at its cross-state rival.
Designed for Baja, Aimed at Enthusiasts
While such high-performance side-by-sides are often too wide for state-sponsored trails in the East and Midwest and aimed at desert riders of the American Southwest, sales of such vehicles — and accessories to widen less high-performance side-by-side vehicles — have proven the vehicles have a wide audience in all regions of the country.
With industry-leading suspension travel,
13 inches of ground clearance, a full-perimeter frame and the largest displacement engine in its class, the Wildcat is a full-production version of what was previously reserved for
off-road race vehicles.
“The Wildcat has no equal. Period,” said Claude Jordan, Arctic Cat president and CEO. “Our customers asked for a high-performance side-by-side, and we happily responded with a no-compromise, pure-sport hot rod that redefines what’s possible with a production off-road vehicle.”
The Wildcat is designed to effortlessly hammer through whoops and dunes thanks to a front and rear suspension combination that rivals those used on off-road race buggies.
At the rear is an industry-first, 5-point multi-link trailing arm suspension that keeps the tires’ contact patches flat while the suspension moves through its industry-leading 18 inches of travel. The unique
5-point multi-link minimizes camber and axle plunge to soak up the harshest terrain without compromising handling and steering.
The double-wishbone front suspension boasts a best-in-class 17 inches of travel, with geometry that’s optimized for stability and control.
Both the front and rear suspensions are dampened by Walker Evans Racing shocks. Also made in the U.S., these remote reservoir shocks are machined from billet aluminum and feature 17-position compression dampening adjustability, dual-rate springs and preload adjustment. They’re calibrated with “ride-in” — a term that refers to how much of the vehicle’s suspension travel is used while the vehicle is at rest — to keep the Wildcat’s tires on the ground, with consistent dampening for hours of hard riding.
New Duro Kaden 14-inch tires were developed specifically for the Wildcat, using an elongated tread pattern designed to extend to the tire shoulder, for excellent cornering, traction, performance and durability in rough conditions.
Full-Perimeter Exoskeleton Chassis
The foundation for the Wildcat’s suspension is a full-perimeter frame that sets a new standard in strength, rigidity and durability. Usually found only in off-road race trucks, the chassis is constructed from high-strength, low-alloy steel with a full-perimeter exoskeleton design that’s a first in the ROV class.
With a 40/60 front and rear weight distribution, the Wildcat’s front end remains light for optimal handling when tackling gnarly terrain. Occupants in the cockpit of the Wildcat are positioned close to the low center of gravity, leaving them less affected by movements of the suspension and chassis and producing a more comfortable and confident ride.
Minnesota-Built 1000 H.O. Engine
The 1000 H.O. engine that powers the new Wildcat is the largest displacement engine in the pure sport category, and the ideal match for the industry-leading suspension and chassis combo.
Built in Minnesota by Arctic Cat, the 951cc V-twin, SOHC four-stroke with electronic fuel injection (EFI) has been used on the Prowler XTZ and 1000 LTD ATV models. On the Wildcat, the 1000 H.O. has been tuned to deliver even stronger acceleration thanks to the extra torque and horsepower provided by larger 50mm throttle bodies, a new 2-into-2 ceramic-coated exhaust and a new air intake system.
The close-coupled, mid-chassis engine location neutralizes the Wildcat’s handling, maximizes the rider/passenger volume and reduces cockpit noise.
Also shared with the Prowler XTZ and 1000 LTD ATV, the engine transfers power to the driveshaft via the Duramatic automatic CVT transmission. The addition of the Spike Load Dampener allows the driveline to slip for a millisecond under harsh spike loads, reducing the torque load to the system for optimal durability.
A console-mounted shifter allows quicker gear selection between Reverse, Neutral, High and Low gears. Likewise, a dash-mounted switch activates 2- or 4-wheel drive with differential lock. Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes provide strong stopping power.
Electronic Power Steering
Besting its rival, the RZR XP 900, the Wildcat will be fitted with Arctic Cat’s Variable Assist Electronic Power Steering.
The EPS system is a managed electronic control unit that measures steering input force, tire resistance and vehicle speed, and then provides the appropriate assist to the steering column through an electric motor. Steering assistance begins at idle, and varies based on the above inputs.
The result is light steering input effort at speed while maintaining the right amount of driver feedback to feel the limits of traction and control. The power assist is particularly noticeable at low speeds and when in 4WD (especially with the differential locked), where its reduced steering effort eases changing direction or navigating tough obstacles like washouts, rocks or mud.
Comfortable, Controlled Interior
Arctic Cat engineers designed the Wildcat’s interior for optimal occupant comfort, control and visibility.
Contoured, high-back bucket seats with upper body supports enhance comfort and body stability, and are designed to rival any aftermarket suspension seat on the market. The cut and sewn design cradles the Wildcat occupants to minimize fatigue. A 3-point seatbelt with an anti-cinch design keeps riders in place and comfortable through the harshest terrain, instead of locking and stressing the rider’s collarbone.
A tube-frame door with integrated nets will aid getting in and out of the Wildcat. Pivoting from the rear and latching at the front via a simple one-latch mechanism, the doors swing out of the way for quick entry/departure. The tilt steering wheel will be infinitely adjustable.
A new 5-inch digital/analog round gauge is mounted in the center of the dash. It displays up to 14 critical operations including: clock/hour meter, fuel level, mode button, set/reset button, odometer/trip, gear position, speedometer/ tachometer, differential lock, drive select, high beam, battery condition, temperature and oil pressure.
There are a host of premium features and more than 50 Wildcat-specific products for endless customization options for the Wildcat.