2019 TEXTRON WILDCAT XX
The Wildcat XX was created with big-time input from former Indy Car, NASCAR and renowned pro off-road racer, Robby Gordon.
Putting Robby on this project netted much more than just having a famous celebrity endorsing a new product. This guy is extremely hands-on and when he says it's good, he means he has tested it to the absolute extreme, made suggestions and pushed hard for them being carried out.
Just a side note: Talking to Luke Lester, who himself is a formidable off-road rider and stunt driver for our cameras, he related his experience with Robby Gordon while on a first-ever test ride of the XX.
In two sentences: "I have never gone that fast over such incredibly rough terrain at any time in my life. Not only was I white-knuckling it but I couldn't believe how cool and at ease Gordon was riding at those speeds!"
Needless to say, any new vehicle that can pass the RG test, has got to be solid. RG is the moniker Textron uses to describe the Wildcat XX's suspension system and naturally, RG stands for Robby Gordon.
Technically, Textron is using an unequal length A-arm front end. This tech is common in the snowmobile industry because it allows the suspension to cycle through its full travel, in this case 18-inches without altering the vehicle's stance side-to-side.
This term is called "scrub" and when the upper and lower A-arms are the same length with the center mounting points directly above one another, makes the vehicle less stable and prone to bump steer which takes the vehicle off-course. The result is vague steering under extreme conditions as the stance changes throughout its travel.
The XX's unequal length arms, with the upper and lower control arm mounts staggered, keep the wheels the same length apart all the way through the suspension travel and it means it tracks near-perfectly in corners and on high-speed straightaways. On landings, when all the travel is used up, the Wildcat lands straight every time.
Textron has gone with top drawer Fox 2.5 Podium QS3, 3-position compression adjustable gas shocks on all four wheels. There's only three settings: Soft, Medium and Firm, so it’s super-easy to set up your level of compliance and get all four shocks set exactly the way you want them.
Robby is quick to point out that although this front end design is excellent there's more required in an off-road vehicle at this level. Durability is key and races are never won without it.
Thus, the engineers have specified suspension parts be built in double shear, meaning the force required to shear the bolt, coupler, tie rod end, steering knuckle or ball joint in double shear is twice the shear force required in single shear since there are two shear planes (the total shear area is doubled).
Depending on the materials used for these parts there is a weight penalty, but, ask any off-road racer and they’ll tell you this is the best possible scenario. After riding with Robby, we believe it!
At the rear, the Wildcat XX suspension design is very similar to some advanced off-road racing trucks. Once again, the goal was to reduce scrub and the designers accomplished this by using a leading arm with two mounting points where that big arm attaches to the frame and pivots at the front.
With this setup, you don't need another control arm at the side which tends to produce scrub as the suspension cycles. The wheel is unrestricted in its pure vertical movement and, in harmony with the front end, tends to track as straight as an arrow.
Textron did a good thing when it bolstered its relationship with Yamaha, established in 2013 by Arctic Cat's snowmobile division. The result is a great engine became available for the Wildcat XX.
Yamaha's 998cc DOHC triple is similar to the naturally aspirated one (EFI) found in the XYZ but there's one big difference: Where the XYZ uses a gear-on-gear manual transmission, the Wildcat has a CVT with both the primary and secondary clutches built by TEAM Industries. Textron claims this engine makes 125-hp and Luke says it actually feels like more.
This triple is as smooth as silk and spools out incredible throttle response with a dash of exhaust sweetness thrown in. The CVT calibration is spot-on and it never feels like it's running short of power. That being said, we can't help but speculate there's a turbocharged prototype somewhere.
As you may know, Yamaha’s 998 is already offered in Arctic Cat's snowmobile division with a 180-hp turbo version. Talk about a bolt-in!
The engineers decided to mount the engine a bit higher in the chassis for added protection from projectiles underneath and have made it very easy to service with excellent accessibility to the engine, gear-case and transaxle and quick-remove technology built-in.
BTW, an all-new TEAM front gear case and rear transaxle combine to facilitate 2WD, 4WD and diff-lock. 15-inch wheels with aggressive 30-inch meats provide 14-inches of ground clearance - and plenty of bite.
From the ground up, Textron intended the XX to be the best off-road vehicle in the marketplace. Certainly, Polaris and Can-Am have set the bar high, but somehow, we can't help but feel it just got raised even higher.
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