Short Term Test: Ski-Doo Backcountry XRS 850 2019
On this weekend of mid-December, I had the chance to try the 2019 Backcountry XRS 850 2019 for a little more than 650 km in early-season conditions. It is considered a 50/50 hybrid snowmobile and it is 146 inches long. It is a snowmobile for people who enjoy the trail as much as the off trail. And the question is, does this vehicle perform well in both conditions? So here are my impressions.
Last year, BRP decided to rename the Renegade Backcountry to just Backcountry. The reason is quite simple; this vehicle is a special class in the Renegade range. As if it wasn’t enough, BRP is presenting this year a high-end version of the Backcountry, the XRS. Only one engine option, the 850 E-TEC two-stroke with 849 cc. The XRS version is remarkable for its lava-red color, the absence of the front windscreen, but also for the addition of KYB pro front shock absorbers. The test vehicle is equipped with a 1.6-inch Ice Cobra track with 15-inch studs. Note that the vehicle can also be provided with two other tracks, including the 2-inch Powder Max.
When I took possession, I was surprised by the efficiency of the SHOT system. Even though the vehicle came out of a garage and had not been started for a while, I was able to start the snowmobile with this system before riding on the trails. Same during our meals, I didn’t expect the system to keep its power for more than an hour, I didn’t have to start the vehicle with the rope. I also liked that the button had two functions, start the snowmobile or engage the reverse function. The driving position is excellent. Note that all the buttons on the handlebars are well positioned and intuitive. The quality of the snowmobile’s general manufacturing is impeccable.
From the very first moments of my ride, I was surprised by the rigidity of the chassis, but especially by the efficiency of the cMotion suspension on the Backcountry. This suspension is superior to the older generation on the Renegade Backcountry model. During my ride, I didn’t feel like I was riding a 146-inch long vehicle. Even if the distance between skis is narrower than on any trail snowmobile model, it is easy to control in curves, and the skis don’t often lift and not as much as I had thought — not much compromise to make in trails compared to a snowmobile that is exclusively made for trails. The performance of the 850-engine coupled with the Pdrive pulley provides excellent acceleration and the adjustable
KYB pro front suspension helps to keep us in control in bumps and allows a sporty drive in all snow conditions.
Off the trails, although there was not much snow, the snowmobile did very well. The skis have a good flotation on the snow, and all you do is accelerate to get out easily. The 1.6-inch track does the job well, and even if the snow had been deeper, I wouldn’t have been worried. The chassis, suspension and the quick accelerations played a significant role.
After two days of testing, I can only say that BRP engineers delivered a complete snowmobile with the Backcountry, a well-thought snowmobile. The XRS version brings a little something extra and is faithful to the company’s other XRS models. For those who like snowmobiles of this type, you should consider trying it. It is an agile, high-performance snowmobile that is fun to drive both on and off trails and is well adapted to our conditions. A snowmobile that I had a lot of fun riding.
I want to thank the team at SledMagazine.com and the manufacturer BRP for the test of this snowmobile.