For several years, CFMOTO Canada has been making its own way in the off-road industry, where competition is extremely fierce. The company’s vision has always been to offer good quality vehicles at very affordable prices. The new ZForce 950 is no exception. CFMOTO’s executives have confirmed to us that the retail price of the new machine will be only $500 more than the ZForce 1000 model. Price aside, the company did it right by getting the opinion of journalists during private testing of a few prototypes last winter. Since then, the vehicle has undergone many modifications and improvements which will allow CFMOTO to be a serious competitor in several aspects compared to major manufacturers in the off-road industry. And they always offer their excellent 5-year warranty including a full-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty and 4 years or 5000 km on the powertrain. A good proof of reliability from the company.
Over the years, CFMOTO has us grown accustomed to vehicles that are very well equipped as standard. With most of their competitors, you often have to pay several hundred or even thousands of extra dollars to obtain the equivalent equipment. The 950 ZForce keeps that up with an extremely well-equipped vehicle. The roof, which is a no-brainer to most of us, will be installed at the factory and delivered directly to you, along with side mirrors. You also get a 3,500 lb winch, a power steering system, turn-signal flashing lights, and a horn. As on the other CFMOTO’s vehicles, CVTech-IBC, a Canadian company, provides the variable transmission system.
Opinions are very divided on the look of the new machine. Undoubtedly, its particular design will turn heads for sure… For my part, I like the daring body lines, which are out of the ordinary. The front of the vehicle is very streamlined and offers a beautiful, visual continuity between the bumper, the grille, the fenders, and the hood. The headlights with integrated turn signals are very stretched and are well harmonized with the bumper and fenders. When viewed from the side, the rear end definitely catches the eye. The addition of conical air intakes at the rear also calls your attention. Once again, some like it and some don’t, but we have to admit that they add a very special and original touch. In addition to the aesthetical features, the relocation of the air intakes outside of the passenger compartment improves the sound level comfort in the cockpit, which we will discuss a little later. The rear of the latest CFMOTO machine doesn’t leave the eye indifferent either – the dual exhaust combined with the raised fenders goes well with the contoured rear tail lights. The engineers positioned the cargo space between the two wings lower, making it much easier to access the area. The latter is equipped with CFMoto’s quick-release system that will allow you to bring your extra gear along safely.
This is probably the best innovation from CFMoto, which we hope will not go unnoticed. At the front, the engineers added a sway bar, which helps to stabilize the chassis more efficiently in the handling department. Although this addition seems trivial, it greatly improves the behavior of the vehicle when cornering. It keeps the chassis more perpendicular to the ground and provides a more stable and predictable ride. As for the other components of the front suspension, CFMOTO essentially kept the same A-arm design used on the other models.
The rear suspension makes this vehicle one of the leaders in the category with an all-new, swing-arm suspension called Quadlink. This technology is used by several manufacturers and offers a major upgrade in terms of stability. Its design lies in the use of two large swing arms which are attached on both sides very close to the center of the vehicle. This geometry allows the rear wheels to remain perfectly parallel to the chassis, regardless of their position. The result on the track translates into increased stability, especially when going through a series of successive bumps. Just like at the front, there’s a stabilizer bar with CFMOTO gas shocks. The overall width is 60 inches.
There has been a lot of work by the manufacturer throughout the design process and especially since our first test last winter. The truth is, all the manufacturers listen to us during the tests and take note of our comments and suggestions, but rarely do we see any noticeable changes between the prototypes we tested and the final production models. Well, CFMOTO stands apart. The company delivered a very different vehicle from the one we tested in the winter season, it is now more user-friendly and more comfortable. Engineers repositioned the steering wheel so that it is closer to the driver. This change positions the driver’s elbows at 90 degrees and provides better balance with the throttle and brake pedals. The seats have been completely redesigned and are less inclined. They are also much more comfortable and have a nice, stylized finish. To continue with the ergonomics and comfort side, we cannot ignore the design of the doors that are curved outwards. This feature provides plenty of elbow room for both the driver and passenger. This is much better suited for taller people, and also for more sporty driving. A small downside on the passenger side, the footrests are very offset from each other which can become uncomfortable during long rides. Fortunately, there is still enough space to adopt a different positioning than the one proposed.
The driver is offered a completely new, redesigned, color-instrument cluster that provides all information relevant to the ride. It is equipped with five daytime light intensity modes, and also a night mode better suited to driving after the sun goes down. A light sensor located on the cluster allows to automatically switch to night mode when the brightness decreases. A small minus point, some pieces of information on the display are very small, which makes them illegible when driving.
In the central position, there are all the controls allowing the activation of the various options such as turn signals, traction modes, Hi-Lo beams, horn, a 12-volt outlet, USB port, and more.
Another noticeable improvement that cannot be ignored is the reduction in noise levels inside the passenger cabin. The new chassis has now an engine air intake at the rear of the cockpit, providing a quieter interior.
Although the 963cc V-twin seems identical to the 1000 model, it has a new sport mode, providing a better low and mid-range response. Indeed, the difference is easily noticeable on the trail, as the throttle response is faster, more efficient, and well balanced with the clutch. That being said, the fact remains that more power would certainly be appropriate with this new chassis. Even if 79 horsepower and 60 pound-feet of torque are enough to have fun for most people, they do not reach the performance enthusiast. We strongly hope that a 100HP engine or more will come soon.
There is no doubt in our minds that CFMoto enters through the front door with this new ZForce 950. During big turns, the chassis remains much straighter and more stable, and if you go into more aggressive driving, it leans slightly at the start of the curve to get back on the right axis very quickly. This is a marked improvement compared to previous models.
Our playground provided us with good accumulations of water, which allowed us to test the occupant protection. It is safe to say that the 950’s fenders provide excellent protection when going through water or mud. With many other manufacturers, you will have to spend many dollars to get the same protection with extended fender options.
Although we have discussed this previously, interior space is also an important asset to consider. Elbow room for quick maneuvers is adequate in this machine and is greatly appreciated. This quality will be equally valid for larger people who will find pleasure and comfort even during long rides. Although there are many different sizes of people, I believe the majority will feel comfortable from their first seconds behind the wheel.
The improved powertrain response at low and mid rpms cannot be overlooked. This change gave us a smile on exiting the bends and made us forget for a few moments the somewhat timid engine power of 79hp. It’s a fun engine, even if a little underpowered.
If there is one point that needs improvement, it is the steering with the turning radius. As they say, it does not turn on a dime. We had to repeatedly back ourselves up two or three times to change direction in a difficult spot. While the power steering does the job on the trail, there is some drag at idle, which could be improved as well.
- Surprising cornering stability
- Low-speed response
- Very spacious and ergonomic cockpit
- Good water and mud protection
- Inadequate turning radius
- Correct engine power, but we want more!
- Footrests on the passenger side to be reviewed
In closing, a huge thank you to CFMOTO Canada for allowing us to try out this new car that will offer fun, comfort, and peace of mind to all future owners.