First Ride: 2022 Ski-Doo Mach Z With Launch Mode

You may want to think of the 2022 Ski-Doo Mach Z as the snowmobile that changed the sound of impromptu drag races forever!

     The limited-edition model – a one-year wonder only available to those who order this spring, according to Ski-Doo – has many appealing and high-tech features. They include a high-output version of the Rotax 900 ACE Turbo engine that produces a thrilling 180 horsepower; a first-in-the-industry semi-active, self-adjusting suspension system; and a lowered ride height aimed at optimal top-end speed.

     Those features fall on top of the benefits of the REV Gen4 chassis platform, the rMotion X and RAS X suspension systems and Ski-Doo’s renowned exemplary build quality and fit-and-finish. Plus, the sled features stealthy good looks and brings back a legendary Mach Z nameplate.

     All of that is certainly exciting, but ultimately what pushes this machine from “pretty darn cool” to “completely awesome!” is the Launch Mode that can be used to create unbelievable holeshots off of a starting line – all while impressing and intimidating those around you.

     When the rider takes the pre-described steps to engage the Launch Mode and then squeezes the brake and throttle all the way to the handlebar, the engine spits and sputters while bringing the engine speed up to 3400 RPM, just below clutch engagement speed. When the brake is subsequently released with the throttle still pinched, the sled benefits from the already-spinning turbocharger and sends the driver into hyperspace in a swirl of snowdust.

      We had the chance to test drive the machine recently in Idaho and came away mesmerized. (Click through to read about the new Summits from Ski-Doo as well as the Lynx snowmobiles that are coming to North America.)

900 ACE Turbo On Steroids

The 2022 Mach Z is very directly aimed at the go-fast lake-race enthusiast.

     It starts with the engine. Ski-Doo took its 150 horsepower, 900 ACE Turbo engine and went two directions with it. The new “normal” 900 ACE Turbo will now produce roughly 130 horsepower to put it closer to what most have traditionally called the “600-class;” the new 900 ACE Turbo R further spins up that turbocharger, adding additional boost and holding it longer, thanks to new intake and exhaust, bigger injectors and a stiffer spring on the wastegate.

     The results are stunning the first time a rider grabs a handful of gas. This buggy has serious scoot whenever the throttle in slammed to the handlebar, and when letting off it exhibits an authoritative snort of a high-powered, turbocharged machine.

     The engine will actually be shared with other platforms – including 2022 MXZ and Renegade X-RS applications. In the Mach Z, though, it is combined with a setup that specifically targets the lake-racer crowd – including a ride height that’s lowered 1.5 inches to let it cut through the wind and give maximum top speed.

 Smartest Suspension Yet

The Mach Z also has a unique KYB shock package: Called the Smart-Shox, the shocks on the RAS X front suspension as well as the rear arm on the rMotion X rear suspension self-adjust up to 50 times per second to the conditions encountered, based on three selectable modes.

     To do so, the system’s Suspension Damping Control Unit (SDCU) gathers information from sensors monitoring the shock position, direction and acceleration rate, as well as the steering system position, plus engine RPM, throttle position, RPM rate change, vehicle speed and braking, allowing it to monitoring many parameters that affect front-to-rear pitch and side-to-side chassis roll.

     Those inputs allows the suspension to know, for instance, when to stiffen the rear shock or the front ski shocks during hard acceleration or braking. Similarly, if you drive it aggressively into a turn at speed, it can accommodate for the situation by stiffening the outside shock to prevent inside ski lift. It can even sense when the sled has been launched into the air and stiffen the shocks to prevent a hard bottom.  The shocks are connected, but can each self adjust independently.

     The driver pre-selects between three shock modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport-Plus – utilizing a dash-mounted switch. During our ride, flipping the switch to “Comfort” allowed the shocks to easily eat up small trail chop but didn’t necessarily improve handling.

     “Sport” mode is where most riders will spend most of their time – it allows for aggressive approaches in corners as well as charging through fairly sizeable mogul. We found the “Sport-Plus” mode to be borderline overkill – it was snocross-level stiff and would mostly be used by true ditch-banging racer wannabees, though we could envision its use on white-cement-like, morning trails.       

Launch Mode

OK, we’ve made you wait long enough – which maybe is fair, considering the owners/drivers of this sled won’t have to wait at all for the power to come on!

     Because this is one of Ski-Doo’s ACE engines, it has three driving modes – Eco, Standard and Sport. (This is different than the shock settings – it’s related to the sled’s acceleration curves.) To activate the Launch mode on a stopped/idling snowmobile, the driver pushes the driving mode button forward to Sport and holds it for a couple of seconds until they hear the engine RPM increase to 1800 RPM.

     At this point, the driver gives a hard squeeze to the brake, followed by mashing the throttle all the way to the handlebar. The engine speed quickly spins up to 3400 RPM – just below clutch engagement – and hold it there, getting the turbo charge up and running without risk of burning the belt.


     Like a high-end sports car or a modern snocross sled with a “stutter” button, the engine then spits, sputters, pops and crackles as it backfires into the exhaust and gets the turbocharge on full spool, waiting for the brake to be released. Frankly, it’s cool as hell sitting on this idling sled that sounds like a high end drag racing and then releasing the brake and roaring off a starting line.

     Admittedly, on the model we tested, the main thing the Launch Mode did was dig a big hole as the unstudded track searched for traction before finally hooking up and surging us forward. For true “launched-out-of-a-canon” feel, a studded track will be necessary.  Still, the rate of acceleration was exhilarating. We can’t wait to spend more time on the machine next week!

Editor’s Note: Every Snow Goer issue includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive print and/or digital issues.

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