2017 Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat : Pure power
To be a member of Team SledMagazine.com gives some advantages, including having access to a snowmobile fleet. Lately, I had to leave my own snowmobile at my dealer’s for a minor repair. As I had planned to go snowmobiling with friends during the weekend, I contacted SledMagazine.com to see if a trial snowmobile would be available. I had the chance that the 2017 ZR 9000 Thundercat was available. I kept it for a whole week and I put it to the test in various conditions over more than 1 000 kilometers. Here are my impressions.
Lighthouse on Île Verte in region of Bas-Saint-Laurent
The 2017 ZR 9000 Thundercat is a Spring Only model equipped with the new turbocharged 9000 C-TEC4 engine that develops 180 HP. This triple engine of 998cc is silent despite its huge power. It took me some time to get acquainted to this power. I can tell you that as soon as you press the accelerator, you’d better hold the handlebar tight.
When your machine is equipped with a turbocharged engine, you expect to hear a whistling specific to turbo. But not with this engine, thanks to the new compact exhaust manifold that instantly transfers power with incredible efficiency. So, this engine does not need any relief valve. What is important with a powerful engine is the transfer of power from the engine to the track, a good drive clutch and a good drive system. The Thundercat is equipped with the TEAM Rapid Response II drive clutch that does not make the belt slide and keeps it colder. After over 4 000 kilometers, the Thundercat still runs with the original belt.
Engineers had quite a challenge to ensure control of such a machine with huge 4-stroke engine in sporty riding. I assure you that Arctic Cat’s engineers have succeeded, with the Slide-Action rear suspension inspired from race track and the Arctic Race front suspension with sway bar. And the ProCross 6 skis with deep keel offer good control in cornering mostly in more aggressive riding where the machine grips to the trail in all conditions.
Despite the fact that this snowmobile is designed with race-inspired technologies, comfort has not been compromised. Its heated seat and Fox Zero QS3 shocks provide impressive comfort on very frequented trails. I liked the heated seat mostly during long rides at night, because when humidity and fatigue get to you, this standard accessory makes your late rides more pleasant.
Speaking of comfort and convenience, the 2017 ZR Thundercat is equipped with standard Sno Pro hand guards. They bring a nice look to the snowmobile and a good protection against wind. With the hand and thumb warmers, the protection is sufficient between -5 ?C and -15 ?C. But in colder temperature, hand muffs would be nice, mostly if you pilot with gloves on. I would have liked the choice of many levels of heat intensity for hands and thumb; the actual two levels are not adequate to find the best heat during a ride. Switches are easy to reach and as they are backlited, they are easy to see at night. To activate the reverse, the control is on the same side than the accelerator, inserted into plastic. It is hard to reach it with gloves on, but designed this way, it keeps us from activating reverse accidently.
The ZR offers many interesting standard accessories such as the plastic tunnel flares, behind the running boards, that reduce snow on us. I tested these in powder snow and they are effective. In the standard tunnel bag, we can store a spare belt, the tool bag that includes the suspension adjustment key and few other items for a safe ride like a small emergency kit, a bottle of water, etc.
The standard LED lights with accents are very efficient. I assure you that even in daylight, it is very visible. As I rode in front of another collaborator who was piloting this snowmobile, I always could see its LED lights in my mirrors, even in daylight. At night, the lights illuminate the trail with pure white color for better vision. Also, when contact is on « Accessories », the lights are on, so that we remain visible at all time when we stop along a trail after sunset. The black/white color with red accents provide a super look to the 2017 ZR 9000 Thundercat.
I would like to thank SledMagazine.com, the manufacturer Arctic Cat and Junior Mécanique Plus, Arctic Cat dealer in Rimouski, for letting me put this snowmobile to the test.