The magazine’s team had the chance to test-drive the 2020 Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo in Québec… And in Montana! Thus, we were able to validate how the turbo’s magic works on this model, which has already become the topic of much discussion in the media.
My first contact with this beast was at Domaine du Lac St-Mathieu during a convention. Luckily for us, there was a massive snowfall of over 40 cm, and we were able to really push the performance of the 2020 Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo. The first observation was that the addition of the turbo is not too noticeable in terms of weight, since the light hood that removes six pounds makes up for most of it. Furthermore, the sound of the 850 E-TEC Turbo is very comparable to that of the naturally aspirated engine except for a slight whistle and the pressure release. Even close to sea level, there is a certain turbo sound that can be heard. We are not talking about the same pressure as when we go up in altitude, but it’s still present. In fact, in Québec, the difference in power can be felt in altitude in the Chic-Choc Mountains by a 15-HP bonus, as shown in the photo below.
Let’s get back to our Québec trial… We were able to test the 2020 Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo in beautiful fresh loose snow over several days. With many hours spent on board, you realise that the engineers’ work is impressive since you don’t feel any delay (“lag”), which you often experience with turbo engines. The key to its success is the dual inlet plenum air intake system that allows ambient air to enter, usually when the gas pedal is pressed. Then, when the turbo starts to build up a higher pressure than the external one, the ambient air intake is blocked to let the turbo’s compressed air come in. This all happens in a fraction of a second with this relatively simple but effective and innovative technology on a 2-stroke turbo engine.
So, we have all the power available, and the remarkable responsiveness of the 850 E-TEC is maintained with the turbo engine. In fact, the 850 E-TEC engine’s mechanical components have been preserved for the most part, except for a few minor modifications here and there. Of course, some components have been added by the turbo’s arrival, but essentially, we have the same mechanics that we have known for a few seasons now.
We have the same frame as a Ski-Doo Summit with excellent chassis rigidity that provides remarkable agility on the handling side. It’s easy to handle, and you will be able to draw your lines with superior precision.
At the Snow Shoot for the 2021 Snowmobiles, we had the opportunity to test many of the 850 E-TEC Turbo engine models and especially to try it out in a high-altitude environment. To put you in context, the elevation in West Yellowstone, Montana, is 6500 feet, and you can easily reach 8000-9000 feet and higher in the surrounding mountains. With such an altitude, 800/850 cc snowmobiles see their power reduced by 40 HP, the equivalent of a 600 cc 2-stroke machine!
With the arrival of the turbo, we can always obtain full power, regardless of altitude. We immediately notice the difference since the other 800/850 cc naturally aspirated engines seem anaemic compared to the Turbo version, which allows us to overtake them easily in the mountains. All this while doing a wheelie next to them.
This maintains the power of the 850 E-TEC engine and gives you the best of both worlds, which means plenty of snow, mountains as far as the eye can see and all the power to enjoy it. It’s truly in this environment that the Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo shines and shows its real utility!
Except for a few places in Québec, the Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo is worth considering given the higher purchase price to get the same performance as a naturally aspirated engine like the Summit 850 E-TEC. This vehicle is specially designed for people from the West, in the Rocky Mountains, where altitude takes a lot of the power and where the turbo effectively compensates for this deficiency… Like in Montana!
The SledMagazine.com team would like to thank the Ski-Doo dealer Roger A. Pelletier in Cabano for the short-term trial of the 2020 Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo.