The 2018 M 8000 Mountain Cat continues to be the dominant sled in Arctic Cat’s mountain lineup. It benefits from all of the great changes of the 2018 M 8000 Sno Pro along with some additional features and benefits. First and foremost, the 2018 Mountain Cat is even lighter yet. Arctic Cat took a serious look at where weight could be saved and made every effort to do so on this model cutting another 9 pounds out of it compared to the 2017 Mountain Cat.
The fuel tank is now manufactured using a rotational molding process (roto-molding). This is a more costly process but it allows the tank to be manufactured with a thinner cross-section (wall thickness) which provides 5 pounds (seriously) of weight saving. The tank holds 10.5 gallons of fuel and has a larger storage compartment in the rear (we are told this storage area is about 2 quarts larger in volume).
In addition to the lightweight fuel tank (-5 lbs), jackshaft (-2 lbs), brake system (-1.5 lbs), steering support (-0.8 lbs) and tunnel (-2 lbs) that the M 8000 SnoPro received, the 2018 Mountain Cat also gets a 3.5 pound lighter driveshaft. That’s 14.8 pounds of weight savings compared to a 2017 Sno Pro and that doesn’t even take into account the narrower body panels and such which should place it overall at about 19 pounds lighter than a 2017 Sno Pro.
The Ascender platform brings a whole new way to attack the mountain. Running boards are 1” narrower than previous designs and the overall profile is 10% narrower for improved side-hill performance, improved venting and ease of laying the sled over in deep snow. The revised bellypan shape allows the rider’s feet to move 2 inches further forward for even greater ergonomic options for riding. The drive shaft dropped 1.125” allows for a 9.7º lowered approach angle providing more maneuverability and the ability to get up and stay up on the snow. Improved fit and finish with easy on/off one-piece body panels allow easy access to the engine compartment and brings a distinctive Arctic Cat styling.
Arctic Cat has put a new twist on suspension with this model and equipped it with Fox QS3 Float shocks. We are familiar with this shock package and quite like the ease of adjustability that they offer. But, Arctic Cat’s version comes with its own new twist. The rear rail shock can be locked out by twisting the QS3 adjuster to the third position. This limits the amount that the rear portion of the rear suspension can compress which helps keep the nose down on steep climbs. This is an interesting new concept that, to our knowledge, has never been applied in this manner until now. The positions on the QS3 are #1 – soft supple trail compliant ride, #2 – medium to large bump compliant ride, #3 – Ski Shocks: large bump or hard charging ride quality, Rear Rail Shock: lock out for hillclimb purposes. It’s pretty cool, and it really works.
And finally, the 2018 Mountain Cat comes standard with the 3 inch Power Claw track offered in both 153 and 162 inch lengths.
We had half of a day to ride and enjoy the new 2018 Mountain Cat. Conditions were, for the most part, deep bottomless sugar snow. And, we put it to the test as the area we were riding and exploring was tight trees, creek bottoms and not a flat spot to be found. The new 2018 Mountain Cat excelled in these conditions. It is much more agile than the 2017 model it replaces and we love the new motor. It performs exceeding well at elevation, yet very smooth in delivery.
The new QS3 shocks we found very easy to adjust. Even with a gloved hand, you can find the adjuster and twist the knob to the desired location. It is very quick and easy to understand. The rear rail shock position #3 on the QS3 adjuster is an interesting new concept to limit transfer. The suspension still moves a little in the rear, but it is extremely stiff. We found this to be a pretty effective method to keep the nose of the sled down on those really steep climbs. It also maintains that great approach angle we like on this sled which helps get on top of the snow quickly. With the rear shock “locked out” the skis really do stick to the ground. When you are climbing, normally you won’t need much suspension travel unless you are in hard rutted conditions at which time we would choose position #2 on the QS3 adjuster. If you’re out climbing in soft snow you can leave it at #3 until you get back onto packed snow, then bring it back down to #1 or #2. Kind of like having two sleds in one, giving it an even broader performance window.
The extra storage in the rear of the seat is a welcome addition. In the past, we have found ourselves searching for enough storage to house the tools, food and survival gear we like to carry with us on our adventures into the backcountry. Very welcome addition.
In conclusion, we feel this sled is absolutely better than the 2017 Mountain Cat that it replaces. There is no question in our minds there. The new 800 DSI engine seems to really work good at elevation and is well matched to the rest of the machine and set-up. We like what Arctic Cat has done and are very excited to ride one this winter!
The 2018 Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat 153” sells for $14,199, and the 162” goes for $14,399. Electric start models will run you $300 more.
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