Sled: 2008 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT
Modifications: Straightline Performance billet head kit and ceramic-coated pipe, Stud Boy +Plus studs, Stud Boy Shaper Bars, BRP heated handlebar bag, BRP aluminum hand guard mounts
Whether by consumers, other factories or our staff, the 2008 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT was one of the most anticipated sleds last fall. Ski-Doo claimed it was the first to break the 400-pound barrier with a modern, full-size, liquid-cooled sled, but people were skeptical whether the feat could be pulled off when the machines hit the assembly line.
When TNTs arrived at dealers last fall, we put one on our set of Intercomp scales; it weighed 408 pounds in trail-ready form without gas or oil. Even though production versions narrowly missed Ski-Doo’s pre-season claim of being the lightest liquid-cooled sled, it’s a major accomplishment that has forced other manufacturers to develop lighter designs, too.
With 500 miles on our demo 2008 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT, we wanted to liven up its bottom end and mid-range. We bumped up the 597cc engine with a head kit and pipe from Straightline Performance Inc. (SPI). Peak horsepower went from 105 to about 115 hp, according to SPI, but more importantly the engine gained useable torque that we could feel.
It became the best-running snowmobile in our fleet last year. Every time we pulled our 2008 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT demo sled out of the barn and took it for a rip, it performed well beyond expectations. Throttle response was quick and the engine pulled hard up to its 8000 rpm peak. Fuel mileage was excellent at more than 15 mpg. It sipped oil. Match that power to a super-light, sharp handling chassis with leading economy and it becomes a recipe for riotous fun.
This machine inspired a boatload of confidence for riders because it handled so well and drove easy right out of the crate, something we can’t say about our MX Z X 800R demo last year (for a full review, check out the December 2008 issue of Snow Goer). The TNT’s sharp handling was a result of suspensions that worked well together, but the sled’s seat, handlebar and cab helped because it’s easy for drivers to move around and control the sled. Riders can sit down, grab on and drive it with authority because they can easily connect with the sled.
The 2008 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT ergos put the driver in a position that lets him react to what lay ahead. Knees are at a comfortable angle and the footwells are spacious with good traction. The cut-out side panels let drivers slide their shin into the gap to lean out farther and set the body lower. A flat handle bar with hooks was a good balance for control while turning and it was comfortable when standing, though not as well as the REV-based MX Z it replaced.
While the machine fits drivers for more comfort, it’s a cold ride. Much like one of Paris Hilton’s bikinis, the TNT’s tiny windshield looks nice, but offers minimal protection from the elements. Hand guards offer wind protection for the hands, until you bust the cheap plastic mounts. Ski-Doo offers aluminum mounts from its accessory catalog, but they should be standard equipment.
Armchair engineers were quick to assume that REV-XP-based sleds would be plagued by service bulletins and problems with durability, but our sled was reliable and suffered no chassis, drivetrain or suspension failures through more than 2,000 miles. We had the handwarmer update performed and replaced a failed button for the gauge package. Ski-Doo released a service bulletin this summer mandating driveshaft replacement on all 2008 and early 2009 REV-XP sleds.