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Arctic Cat 2025 Favourite: Anticipation, Disappointment, and Pleasant Surprise

Arctic Cat ZR 858 137 2025

My expectations were high for Arctic Cat’s 2025 snowmobile lineup. Indeed, following the unveiling of the 858 engine last September during Hay Days, the manufacturer set the stage. You can read our technical presentation article by clicking here. While I was certain of the model that would be my Arctic Cat 2025 favourite when I arrived at the Snow Shoot, my selection process turned out to be a bit more complicated.

In this article, I present to you my Arctic Cat 2025 favourite!

Prelude to the Snow Shoot MY2025

Last year, Arctic Cat had definitely won over all the journalists present at the Snow Shoot. Indeed, the new Catalyst chassis was a hit with all the members of the Sledmagazine.com team and even with other industry magazines.

We all had nothing but praise for the Catalyst chassis and the very impressive performance of the 600 C-TEC2 engine. We then said to ourselves that Arctic Cat was back. Indeed, the “Catalyst” snowmobiles compared very well to those of the competition in terms of their performance both on and off the trails.

For my part, the ZR 600 137 2024 had made a big impression on me. I could say that every second at its handlebars was pure delight! You can read my review on the subject here.

So, when I went to West Yellowstone, I had practically already made my choice regarding my Arctic Cat 2025 favourite. The equation was simple: Catalyst + 858 = Favourite. I never believed I could be so far from reality.

Arctic Cat ZR 858 137 2025

First Contact With the 858 C-TEC2 Engine

The wait wasn’t very long before I could sit on a snowmobile powered by the 858 C-TEC2. Indeed, on the first morning, we had a ZR 600 137 and a ZR 858 137 in our lineup. As you can imagine, I patiently waited for my turn while focusing on the performance of the other snowmobiles being tested during the morning.

Mid-morning, it’s finally my turn. I finally sit behind the handlebars of the ZR 858 137. Afterwards, I rode with the ZR 600. That’s when I became disillusioned. Indeed, the magic was definitely not there. The engine seemed anaemic. When I pressed the throttle, almost nothing happened. In short, it was a great disappointment for me. A disappointment that was also shared by the other journalists in my group.

I’ll digress here to tell you that I explain what happened further in my article. End of digression.

Fortunately, by the end of the morning, the ZR 600 redeemed itself as it performed very well. I then wondered if it wouldn’t be my favourite again for 2025. However, there are still several Arctic Cat snowmobiles to try out. So, the dice are not yet cast.

Arctic Cat ZR 858 137 2025

A Last-Minute Surprise

On the third day of our trials, our group was short two snowmobiles. So, we selected from the units that hadn’t been reserved by the other magazines. One of them happened to be another variant of the ZR 858 137. I only realized this when we returned at the end of that half-day.

Having already tried the other models, I set off with the ZR 858, thinking I would switch at the next stop. But from the first metres, I wondered what was happening. This engine is significantly more lively. No hesitation, beautiful power surges, and superb acceleration coming out of the turns. It’s nothing like the other unit!

I must admit, though, that despite the fact that the 858 in this snowmobile managed to put a smile on my face, its power doesn’t match up to the other 850s offered in the industry. That being said, it’s an engine with a lot of potential.

Arctic Cat ZR 858 137 2025

The Impact of a Snowless Winter on Calibration

When I returned this snowmobile to the Arctic Cat team, I asked many questions. I learned that the snowmobiles present at the Snow Shoot did not all share the same programming and calibrations. This explains very well why some snowmobiles performed much better than others.

They also explained to me that the lack of snow in recent months had greatly limited the chances to test these calibrations. The more favourable snow conditions at the end of the season in the American West will undoubtedly allow them to fine-tune the calibrations for the engine and clutches.

My Arctic Cat 2025 Favourite, the ZR 858 137

So, you’ve probably guessed that my favourite for this year is the ZR 858 137 2025. It wasn’t as easy a choice as in previous years. It took a bit of luck for me to get the chance to ride this model a second time with a much more awakened engine.

Arctic Cat ZR 858 137 2025

I hope to have the chance to ride this model in Quebec next winter.

To learn more about Arctic Cat’s 2025 lineup, we invite you to read our articles on the new features and about the 858 engine.

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