Can-Am focused on function and began with the chassis. The two foremost goals for the X3 chassis were that it had to be light and it had to be rigid. This was accomplished by utilizing an exotic steel called Dual Phase 980 used in the super-car industry.
Early on, Can-Am’s engineers determined the best way to get the most consistent performance from a vehicle’s suspension is to ensure the chassis it’s bolted to is extremely rigid. Mission accomplished with the X3.
It was time to bolt up a dual A-arm front end with arched lower arms yielding 20-inches of wheel travel. It was mated to a trophy truck-inspired 4-link trailing arm rear end also with 20-inches of travel on the Xds and up to 24-inches on the Xrs.
All four corners are damped by massive Fox 2.5 Podium RC2s that are 3-way adjustable. 20 inches is a big number. But what if it didn’t deliver? That would be a shame. Luckily, that’s not the case. Travel is pillowy soft, it’s deep and it’s progressive, so bottoming isn’t an issue.
Ergonomics were also high on the list of priorities when designing the X3 chassis. It’s the chassis layout that ultimately determines where and how the occupants are seated in a vehicle and with a clean slate to work from, Can-Am was able to develop the most aggressive and ergonomically correct seating position we’ve experienced.
What makes the ergonomics so good in the X3 is a combination of position and design. The seating position itself is the most laid back, kart-style of any SxS to date… and its adjustable if you want to sit a bit more upright.
Seats designed by a company that supplies seats for Ferrari are a one-piece molded design Can-Am calls “Ergolock”. The bolstering is specifically designed to hug your body and keep you locked in. It works when you’re railing corners and, perhaps equally as important, the seats remain comfortable for all types of riding.
If there’s one thing we could say about the interior that isn’t quite perfect, it would be the steering wheel. We feel it’s just a bit on the small side and way too flexible.
Just a few years back, turbochargers weren’t all the rage. The old adage “there’s no replacement for displacement” prompted dreams of big bore, big cylinder count engines in most high performance vehicles.
This is the decade of the turbo, though and while a turbo can make anything better, a turbocharged triple cylinder engine is just a very special combination. The X3’s 900cc turbocharged and intercooled engine is referred to as the ACE and produces a surprisingly silky 154-horsepower.
154-horsepower in a SxS is like pizza: Even if it’s not good, it’s still pretty good. In the Maverick X3 though, it’s not just good, this power is incredible… but not for the reasons you’re probably expecting.
A new CVT transmission Can-Am calls the QRS-X consists of a larger, 6-roller primary and 3-roller secondary clutch that pinch a wider drivebelt, and it’s responsible for the smoothest and most linear power delivery of any performance vehicle we’ve ever driven.
Can-Am’s former performance Side x Sides have been known for abrupt clutching and aggressive throttle tip-in. The Maverick X3 is the complete opposite. Clutch engagement is as smooth as butter, power delivery is actually a bit on the soft side, though once the boost really kicks in, you better be holding on! Speed climbs so fast it can take you by surprise.
The X3 Xds package is 64-inches wide – pretty standard for a pure sport SxS. The width definitely helps make it more stable. But much of its very predictable handling characteristics are thanks to its 4-link rear end’s nearly scrub-free operation, excellent sway control both front and rear and its extremely precise, short ratio tri-mode power steering system.
There are a few secondary features we think are worth noting: The Xds comes with 14-inch aluminum bead-lock wheels and 29-inch Maxxis Bighorns are a great combo anywhere your imagination may take you.
Trick LED lighting adds to the X3’s overall futuristic feel and semi, halfish doors will keep you in and most debris out. Multiple drive modes and a throttle limiting “Learn Key” help keep the incredibly powerful X3 controllable in any situation, even for newer drivers.
I can just picture a young boy in Quebec, sitting at his desk drawing pictures of the ultimate off-road vehicles he had imagined in his mind. Long travel, big horsepower, futuristic looks… the same stuff you and I imagined back in the day.
When the time came for Can-Am to build the ultimate pure sport SxS they needed imagination. They needed people to think like they did as kids, with no limits or restrictions, no one telling them the ideas they had were unrealistic or impossible and that’s exactly what they got.
Underneath it all, the X3 was born in the minds of imaginative dreamers. It was Can-Am who brought it into reality for us all to marvel at.