UTV SHOOTOUT: Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport 700 vs. Polaris RZR S 900

Arctic Cat and Polaris elevate the 60-inch sport UTV to new heights with the introduction of the 2015 Wildcat Sport 700 (tested February 2015) and RZR S 900 (tested January 2015), respectively. The two new machines have among the best power-to-weight ratios in the industry. The heavier 60-inch UTVs make up for the slightly lower numbers with more suspension travel and ground clearance, plus higher cornering speeds due to the increased width. We’ve spent a lot of time with both sport UTVs and decided to shoot them out at the King of the Hammers UTV race. Dean Bulloch raced the Wildcat Sport and Jon Crowley raced the RZR S 900. Which is the better desert sled, duner and rock crawler? Let’s belt in!

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2015?
Arctic Cat: The engine, CVT, driveline, cabin and plastic are the same as on the 2014 Wildcat Trail (tested March 2014), but the new Sport has the basic Trail Cat frame with a few extra gussets, longer A-arms, shocks, axles and brake lines, and 26-inch tires. Sport and Sport XT 700s get new JRi ECX-1 piggyback shocks with 70-position compression damping adjusters on the shafts, while Sport LTDs get Elka Stage 5 shocks with separate high- and low-speed compression adjusters, plus rebound and preload adjustments.

Polaris: In response to the Wildcat 700s, Polaris completely redesigned its 50- and 60-inch RZRs and scrapped the original 760cc twin in favor of a slightly detuned (75 versus 88 horsepower) ProStar 875cc inline twin from the old XP 900. The 800’s frame is replaced by an all-new frame that’s identical to the XP1K from the cabin forward, and rolled IRS replaces the XP1K’s trailing arms. On the S 900, travel is 12.25 inches in front and 13.2 inches out back, with piggyback Fox Podium X 2.0 shocks on all corners. The 27-inch GBC Dirt Commanders replace the old 800’s 26-inch rubber. The 1000-based frame is much more solid than the 800’s and has much more elbow room and creature comforts, yet the ProStar power gives it one of the best power-to-weight ratios in the industry.

The S 900 has 6.3 horsepower per 100 pounds, while the Wildcat Sport has 6.2 horsepower per 100 pounds and is 154 pounds lighter than the S 900. While we’re looking at numbers, wheelbase is 84.6 in the Sport Cat, while the S 900 is 5.6 inches shorter at 79 inches and has 1-inch-taller tires. The Wildcat has a 1/2-inch advantage in ground clearance, but the riding position is much lower and the hood is longer, so it’s harder to read terrain in tough-going.

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HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The Wildcat Sport starts at $13,399, and the Sport XT is $13,999, while the Limited with EPS goes for $15,699. Polaris’ RZR S 900 starts at $14,699 and jumps to $16,499 for the EPS model, while the 55-inch 900 XC Edition is $17,299 with EPS, EBS and Turf mode rear diff. Can-Am’s 60-inch Maverick 1000X xc with EPS is a pricey $18,299, and the 61-inch Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec is 12,199 without EPS and $13,199 with it.

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WHICH 60-INCHER IS FASTER?
Both sport UTVs wind out to around 70 mph of top speed in high range, but the RZR S 900 gets there quicker and pulls harder from turn to turn. The 875cc, DOHC ProStar twin has serious torque and good yank out of corners with 75 horsepower, some 40 percent more than the 53-horsepower 760cc twin it replaces. The Sport Cat produces 60-plus horsepower with new closedloop EFI, a 40mm EFI throttle body and Team Rapid Response CVT clutch. It’s not quite as torquey as the Polaris motor and wants low range sooner in nasty terrain.

WHO HAS THE BETTER 4X4 DELIVERY?
This one is a tie. While the S 900 has more user-friendly on-demand 4WD and a new close-ratio, quick-engaging front differential, it still depends on rear wheels spinning to engage the front, and it never engages the front drive on steep descents. This is most noticeable in extreme rock crawling. We really like the way the system pulls you out of a slide on hardpack, though, and that it doesn’t push as much going into sandy turns. The Arctic Cat has a threeposition 2WD/4WD/diff-lock switch, so it’s got full-time 4WD with limited slip in the middle position and no-slip 4WD in diff-lock, which is confirmed with an indicator light on the switch. The Sport Cat also has the advantage of fourwheel engine braking on steep descents, but our test drivers felt the CVT clutch responded a bit too quickly in delicate rock-crawling situations. It also is a bear to turn in diff-lock mode, despite EPS, and it pushes more than the RZR in 4WD.

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WHICH SPORT HAS BETTER HANDLING?
The RZR S 900. With a 79-inch wheelbase, the Polaris is 5.6 inches shorter than the Sport Cat, and it also has a more neutral weight bias than the Cat’s 40/60 rearward bias. This lets the RZR turn in more quickly and snake around tight turns with higher cornering speed. The extra power and torque, combined with on-demand 4WD, gives it a big advantage in turning. On the other hand, the Wildcat Sport’s longer wheelbase gives it more stability at higher speeds, and the rearward weight bias makes it jump and land more predictably in dunes.

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WHO HAS THE BETTER 60-INCH SUSPENSION?
The Limited Sport Cat has plusher suspension and more shock tuning with the Elka Stage 5 shocks, and the RZR S has slightly more travel but a harsher ride. The RZR’s Fox 2.0 Podium X shocks have 24-position compression clickers on the piggyback reservoirs, and they’re tuned stiffly, which pounds you more in choppy sand and rocks. The Arctic Cat LTD’s Elkas have high- and low-speed compression clickers, rebound clickers and dual-rate shock springs. Both have ring-type preload adjusters for fine-tuning ride height. Both have 12.2 inches of front travel, while the RZR S has 13.2 inches out back compared to 12.6 inches on the Cat.

WHICH IS THE BETTER ROCKER, MUDDER?
Rocks are Arctic Cat’s domain, while mud is Polaris’. The softer LTD shocks and full-time 4WD give it better traction in extreme rock crawling once you get used to the quicker CVT engagement, and it has slightly more ground clearance (13 inches versus 12.5 inches). The longer wheelbase also helps it get up ledges better, but the RZR S has 27-inch GBC Dirt Commanders compared to the Sport Cat’s 26-inch Carlisle Trail Pros. We like the taller GBCs in mud, and the RZR S has a clear advantage in power and torque, plus a 40+ mph low range for mud. We’d like to see a High Lifter S 900 and Sport Mud Pro 700 in 2016.

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WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
Pure Polaris. While the Wildcat has a more secure-feeling seating position, especially for rock crawling, our experienced and beginner UTV enthusiasts preferred the S 900 seats for comfort and security. While the Sport LTD’s full doors offer more security, testers preferred the RZR doors and large latch button. We broke the latch on the right Sport Cat door. It’s also easier to get in and out of the Polaris, and the XP1K-based cabin offers more elbow room and an adjustable passenger T-bar. It also has a larger glove box with a latching lid, more storage space, adjustable seats and no-chafe three-point seat belts. The floor drains and LED-lit floor are nice too.

HOW SPORTY ARE THE BRAKES?
Both have strong brakes, but the Polaris XP1K-based brakes are stronger. Sharing front-end components with the XP 1000, the S 900 has dual-piston front calipers, stainless steel brake lines and plastic caliper guards. Rear calipers are single-puck, and the RZR doesn’t have EBS. The Arctic Cat has single-piston calipers on all four wheels, stainless steel brake lines and EBS in the CVT, but the tires aren’t as grippy as the Dirt Commanders.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Both of these all-new, 60-inch sport
UTVs are viable alternatives to the more expensive and heavier 1000s. The Polaris RZR S 900 EPS has better power, handling, brakes and creature comforts than the Arctic Cat, while the Wildcat Sport 700 LTD-EPS has better ride quality and full-time 4WD for extreme conditions. It’s lighter and flies better in the dunes too. The S 900 EPS is $800 more than the Wildcat Sport 700 LTD, but the extra power and comfort are worth it. The results of the King of the Hammers UTV race prove both are capable platforms in the hands of skilled pilots.

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SPECS
ARCTIC CAT WILDCAT SPORT 700 POLARIS RZR S 900
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION
Engine type ……….. Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC I-twin …………………… Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC 4-stroke twin
Displacement ………………………………………….700cc …………………………………………………………………. 875cc
Bore x stroke …………………………76.9mm x 75.3mm …………………………………………….. 93mm x 64.4mm (x2)
Compression ratio …………………………………….. 10:1 ………………………………………………………………….10.6:1
Lubrication system …………………………….. Wet sump ……………………………………………………………. Wet sump
Additional cooling ………………………………………… Fan ………………………………………………………………..Auto fan
Carburetion ………………………………………. 40mm EFI …………………………………………… 46mm EFI throttle body
Starting/back-up ………………………………Electric/none ………………………………………………………… Electric/none
Starting procedure ………………….Turn key to the right ………………………………………………….Turn ignition switch
Air filter:
Type ……………………………………………..Paper pleat …………………………………………………………… Paper pleat
Access …………………….. Undo 5 clips, remove cover …………….. Tool-less, remove engine panel & undo 2 straps
Transmission ………..Dual-range CVT w/ reverse & EBS ……………………………………….. Dual-range CVT w/ reverse
Reverse procedure………… Move range selector to “R” ………………………………………..Move range selector to “R”
Drive system ………… Selectable 2WD/4WD w/diff-lock ……………………….. Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ auto diff-lock
Final drives ……………………………………………. Shafts …………………………………………………………………. Shafts
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS
Fuel capacity ………………………………………… 7.4 gal. ……………………………………………………………….. 9.5 gal.
Wheelbase ……………………………………………… 84.6” …………………………………………………………………….. 79”
Overall length/width/height ……………110.5”/60”/64.3” ……………………………………………………… 106”/60”/71.5”
Ground clearance ………………………………………… 13” ………………………………………………………………….. 12.5”
Claimed dry weight ………………………………..1074 lb. ……………………………………………………………….1228 lb.
Bed weight limit…………………………………….. 300 lb. ………………………………………………………………… 300 lb.
Hitch ……………………………………………….2” receiver ……………………………………………………………………….No
Towing limit………………………………………….1500 lb. …………………………………………………………………….. N/A
ROLLING CHASSIS
Frame ………………………………………………Steel tube ……………………………………………………..Steel round tube
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front …….. Dual A-arm w/ hi-lo comp., reb., prel. adj. …… Dual A-arm w/ prel., comp.-adj. Fox 2.0 shocks/12.25”
shocks/12.2”
Rear ………….IRS A-arm w/ hi-lo comp./reb./prel.-adj. IRS Trailing-arms w/ prel., comp.-adj. Fox 2.0 shocks/13.2”
shocks/12.6”
Brakes/actuation:
Front ………………………….. Hydraulic discs/left pedal …………………………………….Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear ………………………… Hydraulic discs/right pedal …………………………………….Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking ……………………………………………………..N/A ……………………………………………………..Lever on console
Steering …………………..EPS, rack & pinion w/tilt wheel …………………………………………………………………….. N/A
Tires:
Front ………………………AT26x8-12 Carlisle Trail Pro ……………………………..AT 27×9-12 GBC Dirt Commander
Rear ……………………..AT26x10-12 Carlisle Trail Pro …………………………….AT 27×12-12 GBC Dirt Commander
ELECTRICAL
DC outlet …………………………………………….. Console ……………………………………………………………….. Console
Lighting:
Front …………………………………2 halogen headlights …………………………………..2 LED 55/60W hi/lo headlights
Rear …………………………… Dual LED brake/tail lights …………………………………………. Dual LED brake/tail lights
DETAILS
Instrumentation ….. Speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/fuel/gear/ …………Speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/fuel/gear/clock/2WD-4WD
clock/2WD-4WD
Colors ………………………. Matte Black, White Metallic ……….White Lightning, EPS Havasu Red Pearl, Black Pearl,
Ti Matte Metallic
Minimum recommended operator age ……………….. 16 ……………………………………………………………………….16
Suggested retail price ……….. $13,399; XT, $13,999; …………………………………………..$14,699; EPS, $16,499
……………………………………………LTD EPS, $15,699
Contact ……………………. Arctic Cat, (218) 681-8558 …………………………………………….Polaris, (800) POLARIS

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