For model year 2015, Arctic Cat introduced its newest addition to the Wildcat family, the 60-inch (152.4 cm) Wildcat Sport. The Wildcat Sport is a two-seater (performance category) that slots in-between the original Wildcat and the Wildcat Trail. With the Wildcat Sport, Artic Cat is targeting the consumers that are seeking a trail friendly unit and that are not limited by 50-inch (127 cm) trail width restriction. The Wildcat Sport is offered in 3 distinct packages: Wildcat Sport, Sport XT and Sport Limited EPS.
Our 2-day test of the Wildcat Sport revolved around the Limited EPS edition and took place in Bryce Canyon, Utah. Bryce Canyon offered a wide diversity of riding terrain, from rugged dried up riverbeds to breath taking trails reaching elevations of almost 11,000 feet.
Powering the Wildcat Sport is a 60-plus-hp, 700cc parallel-twin engine that feeds into the TEAM Rapid Response clutch. The engine is designed by Arctic Cat and is the same engine that is found in the Wildcat Trail. During our 2-day test runs we rode at different elevations that ranged from 6,000 – 11,000 feet. At this altitude all units can suffer in performance due to lack of oxygen, however I always felt that the unit had plenty of juice on tap and even at the higher elevations the unit always felt very responsive. It should also be noted, that as per the Arctic Cat’s rep present no adjustments were done to the units (clutching) to run at these higher elevations.
Our test unit, the Wildcat Sport Limited EPS featured ELKA Stage 5 shocks with dual speed compression and rebound adjustability. The ELKA Stage 5 shocks are a premium set of shocks that offer riders many adjustment possibilities to adapt to their own riding style/preference. The unit offers a dual A-arm setup, 12.2-in (30.9 cm) of front travel and 12.6 (32 cm) of rear travel and an overall ground clearance of 13-in (33 cm). We had the chance to tackle some aggressive terrain during our test runs, especially when we hit the dry riverbeds of the canyon. The trail had suddenly changed to what seemed to be an endless landscape of rocks and boulders. The suspension and ground clearance helped us conquer this terrain and the added sway bars assisted with the body roll. We always felt very in control of our unit and have no complaints as far as suspension and shocks are concerned.
TIRES, WHEELS AND BRAKES
The Wildcat Sport sits on a set of 26-in Carlisle Trail Pro tires with 12-in Aluminum rims. The unit is brought to a stop by dual-piston caliper hydraulic brakes that offer enhanced braking performance. One nice feature here is that the Wildcat Sport offers plenty of clearance, a nice to have for those who wish to run a larger tire/rim combo.
COCKPIT AND ERGONOMICS
The Wildcat Sport Limited EPS features full-aluminum doors with automotive-style paint and color-matched suspension arms. The unit is visually appealing with its aggressive stance and is available in either White Metallic or Matte Black. The interior cockpit is familiar, as it greatly resembles the one found in the other members of the Wildcat Family.
Ingress and egress is made easy utilizing the full-aluminum doors. While on the subject of the doors, I found that once they are opened they tended to drop back at a strange angle. I found that many people present that day, including myself, were inclined to push on the doors to facilitate exit. I wanted to point this out because I keep wondering, with all this pushing on the door which sits at that angle, could this have an impact on the door/hinges reliability in the long run?
Once seated in the unit, all gauges are clearly legible and everything is within reach. You find all the typical creature comforts including tilt steering. The cockpit provides a no-frills environment, which is well designed and provides ample room for driver and passenger. However I would like to point out that I did find the seats somewhat uncomfortable. The sitting position is good, however the seats seem to lack in bolstering, especially the bottom portion of the seat. This is not immediately apparent, but you will notice this after a long day on the trail. If I where to purchase this unit my first upgrade would be to change the seats to aftermarket seats which would provide more comfort and support.
Beside the obvious rear box/rack, we would also like to point out the less obvious huge amount of under-hood storage. This is a sealed container located under the front hood and is easy to access. This was a great place for us to store our lunch and bottled water for our ride.
Bryce Canyon was a great choice to shakedown the Wildcat Sport as it provided for a very diverse trail set. To try and describe the stunning beauty of this area in mere words is almost impossible. Visually stunning without a doubt, but also very demanding on our unit, especially at the higher elevations.
The first day of our ride we played follow the leader and in this case our leader was Dean Bulloch from D&P Performance. Dean basically gave us a guided ride across different terrains and scenic areas of Bryce Canyon. The Wildcat Sport performance was exceptional as we punched and tackled our way across these terrain types. At no point in time during our ride did we feel as we wanted more and the unit couldn’t deliver. Even at the highest of elevations we cruised along in our tightly knit formation.
The second day of our ride we broke off from the pack. We set off with Mark Esala, Artic Cat’s Engineering Product Team Manager and Karl Munford, Operations Engineer At Ruby’s Inn. Ruby’s Inn was our base of operations during our stay at Bryce Canyon. Karl guided us to a scenic trail environment, which greatly resembles our terrain set here in Canada. We spent the day riding the Wildcat Sport hard across this picturesque landscape and once again the unit did not disappoint. Mark who was the lead engineer of the Wildcat Sport knew exactly what the unit was capable of and he wanted to make sure that when we walked away, we knew it as well. Following Mark and Karl along the trails made me forget that I was driving a 700cc, as the Wildcat Sport provided for a truly exhilarating ride.
SO DID WE LIKE IT?
Absolutely! Aside from the concern I have with the doors and that I’m being picky about the seats, I won’t hesitate for a second to recommend this unit. Actually this is a unit that I would consider buying for myself if I was in the market.
I found that the Wildcat sport had a great power-to-weight ratio giving the unit exceptional performance for a 700CC. Suspension and handling was also very good; the EPS (Electronic Power Steering) was a welcomed addition especially when we tackled the tight sections and the endless landscape of rocks and boulders.
In reality what not to like? The unit looks great, performs well and is absolutely fun to drive. Add to this, good storage space for the long weekend getaways and with a 700cc engine the fuel economy is also on the menu.
If you are in the market for a new UTV, which is trail friendly and a pure pleasure to drive, I recommend that you stop by your local Arctic Cat dealer and take one out for a ride, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Good job Arctic Cat, I think you have a winner on your hands here!
For more information on the Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport, please visit the Arctic Cat Website.