Up until today there has only been 2 true SPORT UTV
models to select from and both happened to be made by Polaris. The
Polaris RZR S was the first sport minded UTV to hit the market, equipped
with factory long travel suspension. RZR S changed the UTV game all
while giving consumers the option to buy a UTV that came with the type
of suspension usually reserved for the aftermarket. In January of 2011
Polaris trumped themselves and the entire industry with the release of
the Polaris RZR XP 900. The XP 900 immediately jumped to the top of the
list for consumers who wished to buy a UTV from the dealership with both
suspension and POWER! Polaris changed the game with the new XP 900,
boasting a rear trailing arm suspension design that resembled that of a
sand car and a new, larger power plant. The XP 900 has now become the
go to UTV for those looking for a true SPORT UTV.
Well now the game is being changed once again. However,
this time it is not by Polaris. In July 2011 Arctic Cat busted on the scene
with their new answer to the XP 900 and the entire craze surrounding the
SPORT UTV market. Arctic Cat introduced the 2012 Wildcat Sport UTV.
Much like the RZR XP 900 by Polaris, the Wildcat will utilize a trailing
arm rear suspension, which just happens to boast industry leading wheel
travel. Arctic Cat did not ignore the power side either, powering the
machine with their 1000cc V-Twin 4 stroke. Now sport minded consumers
are asking the question, Wildcat Vs. RZR XP 900? So we decided to take
the numbers and crunch them down giving you your first comparison
between the 2 most talked about UTVís of the year.
In the dunes, there are a few factors that make a
vehicle perform well:
Suspension Travel and High Quality, Adjustable Shocks
Wheelbase - longer wheelbase tends to help in the whoops
Width - wider platform is more stable
Low Center of Gravity
Polaris RZR XP vs. Arctic Cat Wildcat
The Wildcat boasts some incredible wheel travel at 17″ in
the front and 18″ in the rear. This will be a huge asset in the dunes. Head
to head, the RZR XP 900 and the Wildcat look to have similar horsepower
numbers. Based on the weight difference, we believe the Wildcat would lose
in a straight line, smooth terrain hill shoot. But where the Wildcat may
shine is when you toss in some whoops or rough terrain. With 13.5″ more
wheelbase and 3″ Ė 4″ or more wheel travel, the Wildcat should be able to
keep the available power to the ground better.
Trailing Arm Suspension - 5-link vs. 3-link
The Wildcat and RZR XP 900 both feature rear trailing arm
suspension. Arctic Cat has opted for a 5-link and Polaris for a 3-link. The
Wildcat has 2 inch adjustable Walker Evans Racing shocks with piggyback
reservoirs. The RZR XP 900 has 2 inch adjustable Fox Racing Shox with
piggyback reservoirs. Both of these suspension types have a long history in
off-road racing and provide improved performance over typical a-arms when it
comes to high speed and rough terrain. Both shock types are also
customizable when it comes to valving and dampening. What we mean is if the
supplied adjustments still are not giving you the ďtuneĒ that your riding
style requires then you can have them pulled a part and fine tuned to your
liking by a shock expert or by FOX Racing Shox and Walker Evans Racing
themselves. This is huge especially for the consumer who plans to compete
with their new UTV.
One area where the Wildcat has an advantage which helps
performance in the whoops is wheelbase. The Wildcat is not only 11.5" longer
overall, but the Wildcat's 90 inch wheelbase is 8.5 inches longer than the
RZR XP. The only downfall to this extra length is getting it to the dunes.
Many duners have tight circumstances in their trailers and another foot can
be a big deal.
Wildcat 951cc v-twin vs. RZR XP 875cc twin
The heart of the new Wildcat is a 951cc V-Twin, SOHC 4-stroke with Electronic
Fuel Injection (EFI) has proven itself on the Prowler XTZ. On the Wildcat, the
1000 H.O. has been tuned to deliver even stronger acceleration thanks to the
extra torque and horsepower provided by heavy-breathing 50mm throttle bodies, a
new 2-into-1 ceramic coated exhaust and an all-new air intake system.
At the heart of the RANGER RZR XP 900 is the all-new, 88
horsepower ProStarô 900 Twin EFI engine that was built specifically for an
extreme-performance Side x Side. The engine features Dual OverHead Cams (DOHC),
four big valves per cylinder and a 180-degree crankshaft for balanced
performance and fast throttle response for groundbreaking acceleration.
Engine placement is also key in the design of the chassis
and seating. Both of these vehicles place the engine behind the seat
which helps in a few ways. It allows the seat position to be lowered
for a much better center of gravity and also helps produce a better
front-to-rear weight ratio. Off-road vehicles tend to handle rough terrain
better if the rear of the vehicle carries a little more weight than the
front (e.g. 60-40 ratio).
Arctic Catís Variable Assist Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
on the Wildcat delivers even greater steering control and ease. The EPS
system is a managed electronic control unit (ECU) that measures steering
input force, tire resistance and vehicle speed, and then provides the
appropriate assist to the steering column through an electric motor.
The RZR XP does not come standard with power steering, but
it available as a PURE Polaris accessory, on some Limited Edition models and
also as an aftermarket accessories from companies like
We love power assist steering for UTVs and think that it is
great that it is available for both of these vehicles. If you are a
fan as well, factor that into your cost comparisons since you would need to
add that to the RZR XP.
When you are looking at a vehicle that has less than 100
horsepower, more weight is a performance killer. The claimed dry weight of
the Wildcat is 115 lbs. heavier than the RZR XP 900. Both vehicles have
enough horsepower to push the cars nicely through the dunes, but if the
horsepower of these vehicles is nearly equal, the RZR XP 900 will win the
straight-line race. Keep weight in mind when modifying your UTV as well.
We hear lots of complaints of not enough power from consumers but then we
look at their UTVís and find they have loaded it up with an extra couple
hundred pounds of accessories! With that said, you never want to jeopardize
safety for the sake of saving weight!
Competition is a good thing! We are thrilled that
another manufacturer has entered the pure-sport UTV market with a
vehicle that makes duning fun. There is a HUGE market for sport
UTVs, and Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki should take note.