2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850 E-TEC II: First Ride! 2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850 E-TEC II: First Ride!
     SnowTech travelled to a private Ski-Doo test facility up in Quebec and was able to really put the new sleds through the... 2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850 E-TEC II: First Ride!

     SnowTech travelled to a private Ski-Doo test facility up in Quebec and was able to really put the new sleds through the paces in closed-course testing. Going into the test session, we had been briefed as to the changes and features of the new Gen 4 REV and the new 850 E-TEC II powerpack. After having ridden REV-XS sleds for thousands upon thousands of miles we were extremely confident in how well they worked, and truly wondered how Ski-Doo could improve upon that much, if at all. Like, what’s next?

     We started out by riding a REV-XS model just to get a feel for the test conditions on a sled we knew very well, and then progressed to several different Gen 4 REVs, constantly switching back and forth between the platforms to very accurately determine the differences in how they performed. Being a closed-course test facility we could really run them hard and concentrate on the machine performance instead of worrying about dodging on-coming traffic. We had a beautiful combination of winding groomed trails with plenty of elevation change, some acceleration blasts and then a couple of well-designed bump sections of different heights and frequencies, providing an excellent opportunity to see how reactive the new platform was and how the revised RAS-3 front suspension would act.

     What you instantly notice of course is the new 850 E-TEC II engine. This is the very first snowmobile engine designed to be an E-TEC from the ground up. The second generation direct injection technology combines the best of clean efficiency with explosive power and throttle response in an incredibly refined package. It’s been eight years since the first E-TEC was introduced, and the improvement is almost unbelievable that it could evolve to this level.

     As soon as you pull the trigger you have one thing to say – holy crap does this thing pull. The added torque is flat out impressive, not only in amount but how smooth and quick to respond it is, very controllable, very linear and predictable, giving you the ability to lift the skis at will and drop them back down just as quickly. It is so smooth, so quiet, so responsive, so impressive, it is clearly a winner in every performance respect.

     Past the instant performance gains afforded by the new powerpack we are just as impressed with the hardware changes made to provide durability that is more like a 4-stroke. Crank and piston durability has always been a concern with 2-strokes, and with the increasing number of miles we put on our sleds it was making 4-strokes look very attractive. A completely new forged crankshaft and bearing design with direct oiling should eliminate any and all crank bearing and crankshaft durability issues once and for all. Add to this the new pDrive primary clutch with a shaft-on-shaft design and centering rollers for premium clutch and drivetrain durability.

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     With these improvements to the crankshaft, bearings, pistons and oiling system we now have a 2-stroke engine that offers durability far closer to a 4-stroke than ever before, while maintaining the lightweight advantage of a 2-stroke. Damn impressive, to say the least, Rotax engineers are truly bringing us all of this world class technology with this one.

     Riding the new Gen 4 REV it truly feels narrow, lighter, more responsive, more playful. Dare we say more like a dirt bike? Pretty much. The distance between your knees is much narrower and your body can better influence the machine in ways you haven’t been able to before. For those who ride dirt bikes you know the difference in how a 450 feels compared to say a 250. The new REV is more flickable, easier to manhandle, easier to control.

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     When you are riding it the sled is more forgiving in that you can get it crossed up and almost out of control yet you are able to regain control with greater ease. It makes you a better rider. You will be able to get the sled to do what you want it to with less energy. You can ride further with less fatigue. It is just plain easier to ride and more fun to ride. At least this is what you think, so you hop back on a REV-XS and then that sled feel wider, sluggish, un-responsive. Hard to believe, I know, but that is the difference the new platform affords.

     I really didn’t know if Ski-Doo could pull it off, but the Gen 4 REV exceeded my expectations in every respect. The new RAS-3 is a welcome improvement, continuing the improvement started with the RAS-2 but taking it even further to better match the rMotion rear suspension. From what we can tell the new Gen 4 REV models are the most total and complete snowmobile Ski-Doo has ever offered, and you really do want to ride one as soon as you can to appreciate the difference. They just did it – again.

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