2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i H.O Ride Review
Unleashing the Wildcat
April 19, 2013
By Brit Mansell
Is this the new desert king?Not since the rumors first surfaced of the Polaris RZR-XP have I been so consumed with the possibilities of a new side by side entering the market. Now that the XP has been around for a year, it has a solid reputation for high performance and high durability. Will Arctic Cat's newcomer to the scene be able to dethrone the king? Read on and we’ll see.
To properly set the stage, I race a Polaris RZR-XP about two to three weekends a month, so I am quite familiar with the handling, power and aesthetics of the XP. If you’re reading this article, you are probably interested in purchasing a new big-bore UTV or you just purchased a XP and you're wondering if you bought the wrong machine. Hopefully I will answer all of these questions and more by the time we’re done.
These photos don't do the paint justice. The huge metal flakes look amazing in the sun.Preconceived Notions
These are my thoughts before ever laying eyes on a Wildcat. They’re simply observations I took from viewing the photos and renderings scattered throughout the Internet. I think this is important to this article because you may have some of the same thoughts...
Low Stance - or more appropriately, the seating compartment sits near the bottom of the vehicle. In my experience, this should aid in lowering the center of gravity, so at this point in the review, I think that’s a good thing.
Long – coming in at 95” (13.4” longer than the RZR-XP), this is one big machine. That should make it very stable through the rough choppy terrain of the West Coast, but it may be an issue on the tight wooded terrain often consuming most of the East Coast recreation areas. It could also be an issue for “short course” UTV riding and racing. These tracks are primarily GP-style motocross tracks featuring short, low jumps. The RZR-XP’s “bucking” issue is overly visible on these types of tracks. I am very interested to see how this vehicle compares on similar small jumps. Maybe the extra length will be the cure.
Power Steering – power steering is a huge asset for all UTV’s. I’m excited to see Arctic Cat stepping up and including power steering as an original equipment item.
Engine – with 951 cc’s, it comes in at 76 cc’s above the RZR-XP (875 cc’s). I’m curious to see how efficiently this engine gets this displacement advantage to the ground.
Shocks – the OEM shocks on the XP are Fox Podium 2.0’s. They are great for stock, but they still have room for improvement. The Wildcat features 2.0 Walker Evans shocks with dual rate springs, compression adjusters and crossovers. It looks to be a great shock package. The Wildcat also has a huge amount of front and rear travel. This should be especially useful on the West Coast. We will be testing in Barstow, so we will be able to put this travel to the test pretty quickly.
Radiators – one of the standout features for me was the location of the radiators - behind the passenger compartment. I have had several issues with the front-located radiator on the XP becoming covered in roost from the vehicle in front of me. The radiator location of the Wildcat should prevent this from being an issue.