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Review : ZR 9000 Thundercat from Arctic Cat EPS and ATAC

Thanks to Évasion Sport from Laterrière in the Saguenay, I got my hands on a ZR 9000 Thundercat equipped with a C-TEC4 turbocharged triple-cylinder 998cc engine rated at around 200 HP. I was surprised by its great power.

This snowmobile is designed for trails. It is equipped with the optional ATAC adjustable suspension and electronic power steering (EPS), for an improved and effortless handling. It’s like the snowmobile is lighter. There’s practically no effort required to turn the handlebars. That’s a big plus. Its 137x15x1.25 Ripsaw II track with a shortened design offers unmatched handling and acceleration.

ZR 9000 Suspension

The ARS II front suspension with ATAC and FOX ZERO IQS shocks gives us better cornering and increased ground clearance for more confidence on the trail.

The ATAC system is an interesting option. With a button on the handlebars, we can adjust the suspension immediately, while riding, according to 3 levels: soft, medium or firm. I preferred the soft mode, which I found a bit firm to my taste.

The 137″ SLIDE-ACTION rear suspension is equipped with an Arctic Cat IFP 1.5 center track shock and a FOX 2.0 ZERO iQS rear track shock. This allows for lower and smoother track tension with Torque-Sensing Link, three-position rear coupler blocks, adjustable spring preload and durable three-wheel rear axle.

The ADAPT CVT clutch enhances belt performance and life. It provides improved engine response and smooth power output.

Other features included

  • Heated seat;
  • 11″ half-height windshield provides additional wind protection and allows more enjoyment of the ride;
  • Ski width is adjustable from 42″ to 43″;
  • LED headlights: when the high beams are activated, the low beams also stay on to provide an LED light pattern with great range and width;
  • Push-button electric start;
  • Push button reverse;
  • Goggle holder: This one allows you to protect your essential equipment under the gauges.

In conclusion

The appearance of the ZR 9000 is very good.
There is no rumble in the tunnel from the track or other elements.
No big noises from the clutches either except for a little whistling at startup and low speeds, but that’s not major.
The riding position is comfortable.
The grips and thumb really warm up nicely.
The ATAC system is good, but adjusting it while riding is more complicated than having a button just for it. The button is also used for the menu of one of the two gauges and you have to take your eyes off the trails to know where you are.
The rear suspension does the job, although I found it a bit stiff for my taste. The front suspension is well calibrated.
The visibility in the left side mirror positioned on the body at knee height is not adequate. It should be installed a little higher than the handlebars since you have to take your eyes off the trails to look into it.

The power steering (EPS) is a big plus and is one of the criteria that would make me consider my next snowmobile purchase. I really liked the ride.
Its very reliable 200+ HP engine (made by Yamaha by the way) is VERY powerful at a good recovery and is not very noisy. This is another important criteria.
This is not a beginner’s machine. With all its power, there should be a mode selector switch (sport, regular, economy) like we see on other manufacturers, which reduces the HP a bit.

So, the ZR 9000 Thundercat, designed for trail riding, is not lacking in engine power, is easy to ride and gave me a lot of fun in the curves as well as on the straights. Despite the small negative points, as every manufacturer has, this one is still a great machine to consider when shopping for a trail snowmobile.

That said, Arctic Cat’s spring sale runs from April 19 to May 3, so don’t hesitate to contact your dealer!

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