Cutting through the BS of a snowmobile manufacturer’s PR team can feel akin to being a fish in water full of lures, artificial flies and the actual food. What is what? What is real? What matters? The point of this post is to see what was a great job by the marketing team, and what was a great job by the engineering team. We’re too new and too small to actually get the invite to the launch events, so this is purely from the spec sheet. Maybe next year eh boys?
Arctic Cat 2018 – The all new M8000
Cat jumped the gun with an early 2018 release (this means you can in fact go buy the sled now, if you can find one). The sales team did an excellent job with this one. Narrower, easier and more powerful. That’s the take away they have you lured in with. But what was (really) changed??
- The motor – C-TEC 2. The motor is new. How new? Well, its essentially their C-TEC 2 600 motor, which has been around for a few years, just in the 800 size. We’ll start with the bad, the motor is no longer being built by Suzuki. That said, Cat has had good success building their 600 motor (in the US of A), and with their new overlords (just bought by Textron) we’re guessing this motor will *probably* follow the Cat trend of good reliability. Interesting features include a dual stage injection system, which is pretty slick, different injection areas for different RPM/load. Though this may make for better response in an NA application, it could offer turbo guys some pretty awesome fueling/tuning options. Power output is supposedly around 160 – though there are a few videos floating around of the Cat outdoing the Doo 850 motor. Interesting… So the claim is more power, more fuel economy (via DSI) and crisper throttle response. We are going to wager its overall output is strong, but not game changing. It’ll ride like the other Cat motors up top, just be a lot more refined in getting there with a broader torque band (this according to the dynos we’ve seen).
- Clutches – Rapid Response II drive clutch. The big thing here – engagement at very low RPM and auto belt deflection adjustment. The latter sounds awesome, as we hate adjusting belts. The former, interesting – but we’d have to ride it. We like some RPM at engagement for performance reasons. We also are curious if/how engagement is adjusted being its a roller bearing setup…
- Body Work/Chassis – Here is the big one – The chassis is the same. Everyone thinking its an all new sled, its not. The body work is redone, and is 10% narrower. How they calculate this? That’s anyone’s guess, but hey, its a move in the right direction.
- Suspension – We’ve always thought Cat was smart offering air suspension OEM. Though we love coilover performance, it is far too often a rider ends up on the wrong spring for his weight/style. Air gives ultimate tuning options, which is great. Apparently the new shocks are revamped a bit from Fox, shorter negative spring, bigger positive spring, new geometry of the rear skid. This could offer more mid stroke support but we’d have to ride to see. In the end, this is a small change, not a revolutionary change.
- Dropped and Rolled Chain Case – The dropped driveshaft was lowered 1.125″ giving a 9.7 deg lowered approach angle. Say what?! The idea is to get the sled on top of the snow, not plowing into the snow. Cool. Again, we’d put this in the “nice improvement” not “game changer” category.
- Other stuff – There are other random changes, the belly pan, narrowed boards, gas tank, electrical wiring layout etc, but most of these we’re putting in the “you probably won’t even notice” category.
- Weight – The sled lost 17 pounds. (Real world we’re seeing 11 pounds, not 17) – Worth noting, with all fluids, its still a solid 20-30 pounds heavier than the lightest 15x out there (Polaris)
So what is our take? Well, we are intrigued. Cat has always had a few things that we liked, the way the cooler worked for instance helped the sled stay lighter in the field (no snow buildup). They have long had a reputation for a good motor, though with the new motor no longer being built by Suzuki, I think the jury is still out.
If you are a Cat die hard, this is one to check out for sure. If you are like us, maybe give it a season to see if the new motor is as reliable as we hope. Have you ever heard of the saying “death by a thousand paper cuts?”. It popped into my head when sifting through the changes. Cat didn’t make any huge changes, but they did make a bunch of small changes, that appear to be for the better. If they all prove to perform as intended, all the little things might add up to one all-new badass feeling sled. Time will tell…
Promotional Video from Cat
2017 vs 2018 comparison
850 vs Cat