As the first snowmobile manufacturer to launch its 2017 lineup, marketshare leader Ski-Doo has thrown down the gauntlet to its competition with a new 850-class engine and Gen4 REV chassis combination that is as revolutionary as it is stunning.
For 2017, select MX Z, Renegade and Summit models will come in an all-new, narrow chassis that could potentially change the way people sit or stand on snowmobiles from this point forward, while also launching a 165 hp engine that sets a new highmark for two-strokes, both for the power it creates but also for ultra-durable design it features.
There is other 2017 news from Team Yellow as well, including 129-inch tracks on more MX Z models, heated seats on Renegade Enduro models, taller lugs on Grand Touring models and a broad array of color and graphics changes. But, clearly, the engine and chassis launch – the first combined design of a chassis and engine package together in more than 20 years from Ski-Doo – is the obvious starting point.
Welcome REV Gen 4
The new REV chassis – referred to as Gen4 – was designed and built at the same time as an all-new engine package that allows the chassis to be narrower in front of the driver, and thus again challenges ergonomic norms, just like the original REV chassis did when launched for 2003. This new chassis and engine combination will be 850-class MX Z X and TNT short-trackers, Renegade X and Adrenaline crossovers and Summit X and SP mountain sleds.
To introduce the 2017 sleds, BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli started with the new engine.
“Any new project starts with a mandate, and with the powertrain it was very simple,” Boisjoli said. “Design a state-of-the-art engine that combines the best characteristics of a two-stroke with the benefits of a four-stroke. By that, we mean the best power-to-weight ratio and the zip of a two-stroke, but with the smoothness and durability of a four-stroke.”
The result is an 849cc liquid-cooled twin that generates a claimed 165 hp and features plenty of beefed up engineering, including bits of diesel engine technology to provide the ultimate in durability, including a sturdy, two-piece, forged crankshaft, pistons with special built-in ring carriers and cylinders that are plasma-lined instead of Nikasil coated.
To get more power, designers created the second generation of E-TEC direct injection featuring new, intake-mounted boost injectors. At lower RPM, all of the fuel charge comes from the cylinder head-mounted, voice-coil injectors, just like traditional E-TEC systems. Plant the throttle or operate at a higher RPM, however, and extra fuel is supplied to the cylinders by the boost injectors. A more powerful ECU controls the timing of these transitions as well as the opening and closing of the new, electronically controlled eRAVE variable exhaust valves.
Another design goa was to make the engine narrower so chassis designers could alter the sled’s layout. The engine is 1.6 inches narrower than the 800R E-TEC, but more importantly the engine package – including the clutches, magneto and exhaust system – is 4.1 inches narrower and nearly centered, side-to-side, in the chassis. This was accomplished by creating a more compact magneto, repositioning the electric start motor, designing a taller and narrower muffler and implementing use of the new pDrive roller primary clutch – unveiled last September for the 2016 MX Zx 600 RS race sled.
In turn, this narrower power package allowed designers to reshape the body panels. The rider has moved forward slightly, but when leaning in turns or crawling around the machine off trail, the rider can get significantly farther forward thanks to a two-step body panel design called Ergo-Step. On the driver-facing side of the panels, the far outside on each panel is sharply angled and leads to a second flat section, or “step,” located a couple of inches farther forward. On this new chassis, when a driver wants to lean forward and out, he or she can scoot farther forward – it feels like the driver can put his or her knee almost on top of the spindle.
The ease of driver movements is further enhanced by a narrower seat, flatter running boards and a more forward and open foot position, with a footpeg on each side allowing the rider to hook the top of his or her feet into the footrests.
There are other upgrades as well. New RAS 3 front suspension adds up to an inch of travel. Also on MX Z X and Renegade X models in the new chassis, a four-position adjustable riser allows the rider to move the handlebar forward or back up to 4 inches to find the perfect position. Those same X models get a new rack steering system aimed at reducing bump steer.
Our initial test ride on MX Z and Renegade models with this new combination showed the new engine to be ultra-exhilarating. It was strong right off the bottom, and when those boost injectors started feeding the cylinder the engine’s pull was linear and strong, yet it never felt like the sled was trying to crawl out from under the rider.
2017 Ski-Doo Snowmobiles: Other MX Zs & Renegades
Beyond the four new 850-equipped MX Z and Renegade models, there are 13 other MX Z and 15 other Renegade models available for 2017.
Within the rest of the MX Z lineup, the biggest news may be that the TNT lineup benefits from the same 129-inch track length and matching rMotion rear suspension that was unveiled last year on the X, X-RS and Blizzard models. Now, the only Ski-Doo trail burners left with 120-inch tracks are the MX Z Sport models (600 carb and 600 ACE) that also feature the old SC-5 rear suspension. The other notable change is that the MX Z X-RS 800R E-TEC comes standard with electric start, meaning the recoil has been removed. The MX Z X-RS 600 returns unchanged.
Within the non-850 portion of the Renegade lineup, the biggest news is the heated seat on all Enduros, including the two-strokes. The love-it-or-hate-it tan color is also back, along with a blacked-out option. Otherwise, the rest of the Renegade lineup (X-RS, X, Adrenaline, Sport, Backcountry and Backcountry X) returns mechanically unchanged, though with some new appealing new color combinations. Also, with new 850s available, the 800R E-TEC-equipped MX Z X, MX Z Blizzard, Renegade X and Adrenaline models were dropped.
2017 Ski-Doo Snowmobiles: Gen4 For The Mountains
All of that Gen4 REV and 850 E-TEC excitement gets dialed up even further for mountain riders, as the new Summit X 850 E-TEC and Summit SP 850 E-TEC get the aforementioned features and other upgrades for 2017. Both are available in 154- and 165-inch lengths for 2017 – those wanting the big 174-incher will have to settle for the XM chassis and 800R E-TEC engine.
The new Summit 850 models gain 10 hp, are more reactive throughout the powerband, gain better ergonomics and lose 25 pounds compared to last year’s 800 models.
Ten of those pounds come out of the track – a new PowderMax Lite with a 3.5-inch pitch that Ski-Doo says not only strips weight but also gets better traction. An additional 2.5 pounds came out of a redesigned tMotion rear suspension, and other savings were found in the new engine and clutches as well as a new gauge and lighter and more open running boards. There’s also a beveled tunnel and a narrower seat.
Related to the ergonomics, a Summit rider can get his or her feet 2.6 inches farther forward with this new layout, and the new Ergo-Step side panels allow more forward movement as well. The centered mass, extra power, new clutches and lighter weight all make the machine significantly easier to maneuver when playing in powder, Ski-Doo officials claimed.
2017 Ski-Doo Snowmobiles: Odds & Ends
The Grand Touring has long been a benchmark 2-upper, and for 2017 there are a couple of changes to the lineup. Most notable is that buyers of the most-upscale Grand Touring SE models can now have a 900 ACE engine – previously the only Grand Touring with a 900 ACE was an LE model. Also, designers gave all SE and LE sleds more rear grip, opting for a 1.25-inch RipSaw track with Ski-Doo’s exclusive SilentDrive system vs. only the 1-inch lugs in model year 2016.
The rest of Ski-Doo’s lineup returns – from the work-oriented and work-to-play crossovers like the Skandics, five Tundras and nine Expedition models to the 174 –inch Summit models with the T3 package and the punky Freeride models – returns virtually unchanged, though some have interesting color combinations. The Tundra Xtreme, for example, gets splashes of manta green for 2017.
For more photos, quotes from manufacturer officials and complete models lists about the 2017 snowmobiles from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha, check out the April 2016 issue of Snow Goer magazine. It mails to subscribers in mid-March and hits newsstands on March 24.