While the Sport UTV segment has focused on ultra powerful, long suspension desert machines in recent years, Arctic Cat has turned some much needed attention on designing a nimble woods machine. We had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Polaris RZR 800 challenger in the wilds of Gateway Canyons, Colo.
The new Arctic Cat-designed 700cc engine (built by Kymco) is an electronically fuel injected four-valve, dual overhead cam, parallel Twin that produces a claimed 60 horsepower.
This engine is coupled to an all-inclusive transmission that is tucked together tightly with an estimated overall length of about two feet. This is my humble guess and not a written fact, but it does look compact for sure. The transmission is belt driven with what Arctic Cat calls its Rapid Response Clutch system. At a glance the CVT system looks just like many on the market yet the experts at Team Industries tuned this RRC system specifically for the Wildcat Trail machine. Unique to this system is that the rear drive axles come right out of the sides of the transmission, eliminating the need for a rear differential. Essentially, the transmission becomes the rear diff. This not only allows the Wildcat Trail to be weight biased just like its big brother with a 40-60 split, but it seems to keep everything narrower as well.
Stepping out to the suspension on the new kitty we find a little more travel than the typical 50-inch sport trail UTV. The front legs on the Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail swing up to 10 inches while the rear suspension will travel 10.5 inches. This gives just a bit more movement than the competition. The dual A-arm design is coupled to a front and rear sway bar that keeps the chassis just a bit tighter while riding off-camber terrain as well as offering stability while cornering. Suspension is dampened by FOX shocks. These FOX single spring, nitrogen charged, preload adjustable shocks offer suitable trail dampening for this compact ride.
Like the full-size Wildcat, rider and passenger sit down low in the cabin. Custom sewn seats look tough enough for trail battle. Arctic Cat claims the Wildcat Trail sits riders three inches lower in the cabin than the competition (read Polaris RZR 800). Also like its big brother, the Wildcat Trail has minimalistic features in the cab. An all-new digital dash offers up any information you may need to know while riding the rig around the woods. Located just under the new display are the key switch, 4WD selector and light controls. To make a drive gear selection, simply push or pull the gear shifter forward or back in the center of the seats.
As this is a compact machine, don't expect to find much storage space. A small glove box has a net to keep things from flying out and is the only enclosed storage in the vehicle. You'll also find two cup holders and some limited space behind the driver's seat. A small rear cargo area can carry the bare essentials and comes equipped with six molded tie-down points located on top of the bed rails.