The job of a moto-journalist has ups and downs, sometimes testing some vehicles leaves us a bit bitter, while others are getting us thrilled and inspired. Being an amateur of performance and racing, I had a little smile when the owners of the magazine asked me to try the new Maverick X3 XDS Turbo RR.
I already drove it on the trail a little over 450 kilometers, so I had a fairly good idea of the capabilities of this machine. For those who do not know it, the RR version develops nothing less than 195 horsepower. You read correctly, 195 HP, the most powerful out-of-the-factory side-by-side vehicle of all brands available on the market today. But on the trail, it is difficult to safely use all this power and play with all the capabilities of the X3. Yes, huge power is ready to use, but one should also consider the suspension that continually demands more bumps, more jumps, etc. This being said, you will understand that finding a safe and appropriate playground to test all these features is not always easy…
No doubt, we wanted to find the right spot which would allow us to push the limits of the suspension and the engine of the beast. After a few discussions, Pat, one member of our team, knewthe people of the Off-Road Festival of Ste-Beatrix in Lanaudiere, Quebec. He made a phone call and that was it!
So here we are on the grounds of the Off-Road Festival, with jumps, straight lines, a sandy spot, and challenging steep rock slope. In short, a huge playground for adults, and it was just for us.
You certainly know the expression “falling back into childhood,” you know when you’re driving and you have so much fun that you do not want to stop, you just want to keep pushing the machine, turn after turn, like a five-year-old kid who does not want to stop playing with his new toy. That’s how I felt on this beautiful day of October.
A little bit of technique
We are talking about an SxS of 195 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque produced by the Rotax 900 ACE Turbo (Advanced Combustion Efficiency), a 900 cc Turbocharged Triple-cylinder engine, liquid-cooled with integrated intercooler and high-performance air filter. Originally the Maverick X3 was delivering 172 HP, the additional 23 horses come from – among other things – the turbo, which is a little bigger than that of the model R which propels 172 HP. Unique in the industry, the turbo is manufactured directly by Rotax. In order to properly tune the turbo, the engineers have enlarged the air cooler (intercooler), which is essential to ensure that fresh air is always available. The reason being that if you increase the pressure at the intake, the air will also warm up and this will greatly reduce the performance if it is not cooled before entering the engine. The air intake has also been modified to improve airflow, as well as the air filter. The final result is increased airflow capacity and better air circulation on the intake side to better feed the turbo. The pistons have also been updated to be more resistant in order to withstand the additional horses. Additional horses also mean new clutch calibration – the Quick Response System QRS-X pulleys also got recalibrated.
This car is perfectly legal for the trails in Quebec, the vehicle’s width is exactly 64 inches. But be careful if you want to make some changes in the wheels or tires to remain legal.
The X DS Turbo RR version is equipped with FOX Podium 2.5 RC2 shock absorbers with Piggyback reservoirs and they are dual-speed compression and rebound adjustable. There are double A-arms with sway bar at the front, and independent 4-link Torsional Trailing-arm X (TTX) with sway bar at the back. You will see later that I have no doubt about their ability. Total travel is 20 inches front and rear. The suspension and tire combination offers 14-inches of ground clearance.
As for the tires on our test model, the X DS turbo RR, Can-Am opted for 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 with 14-inch aluminum wheels.
The interior of the cabin remains similar to last year. A noticeable change is the use of the new 7.6-inch digital display, which is now found on many other BRP products such as Spyder and snowmobiles.
On the track
Before going into the heart of my experiences with the Maverick X3 XDS turbo RR on the track of the Off-Road Festival, as I mentioned I already rode it about 450 kilometers in various trails in Quebec. Indeed, this machine turns heads with a sound that is out of the ordinary and its roar is definitely raising the adrenaline level for the pilot. The engine air intake is located just a little higher than the driver’s head, so we hear very well the snoring of the intake. It would probably be unpleasant in a work vehicle, but in an X3 … it only increases the feeling of power! And if you ever want more peace after having tried it, there is an adapter that extends the air intake backward for more silence. For my part, it is out of the question to change that…
The suspension does a good job in the trail, it is relatively firm at low speed, which is quite normal if you want to get good performance in extreme conditions. On the other hand, the more it gets pushed in the bumps the more it gives you – you just have to be careful, because, as the saying goes, at the end of each straight line there is a curve … In bumpy conditions we usually slow down, with the Maverick X3 XDS turbo RR it’s the opposite – we just want to give it more, because the suspension can take so much! We all have the same reaction, we stiffen imagining the impact, to realize a fraction of a second later that everything went smoothly.
I was apprehensive that with a turbo a little bigger, the engine would be less responsive, but it was a false illusion. The response is as fast as the previous 172 horses engine version, and it only takes a fraction of a second to feel the additional power. In a straight line and full acceleration, we feel the rear of the vehicle that lowers slightly to finally remains stable and offers full traction. Despite its long suspension travel, the vehicle remains stable and offers no unwanted bounce that would reduce its grip to the ground. I observed the same phenomenon in cornering, the FOX Podium 2.5 shocks do an excellent job and keep the vehicle stable in all situations. We must also give credit to the two sway bars that helped too.
But as you know, it is difficult and sometimes foolhardy to let go of your crazy on the trail, so this is where our test track came to allow us to push the X3 a little further …
Like any pilot, it takes a few turns to master the characteristics, performance, and reactions of the beast. Each lap, I pushed it a little more to understand its reaction on the different jumps and bumps and to study the correct dosage of the throttle to increase the push on the rear wheels during jumps in order to keep the vehicle in a good axis for landing, etc. But when all that is mastered, it’s just amazing how a stock machine without any particular adjustment can give you. The power allows to run at just the right speed to make the jumps, and keep the chassis in a perfect axis, and reach a near-perfect landing every time. The absorption capacity of the suspension helps a lot and even helps to correct some errors. Even landing slightly off-axis, there is no backlash, the suspension replaces the machine in the right direction without hesitation. In full acceleration, we reach 100km/h in a few seconds, it pushes us into the seat with a beautiful melody in the ear. What a great feeling, you have to try this to fully understand.
We also did some low-speed rock crawling crossings in the steep rocks. The 4-wheel drive with Smart-Lok technology does a good job and uses traction where and when it is needed. Even if the X DS version is not the best machine for this type of terrain, it is interesting to see how the Maverick is doing well.
No doubt, this beast is a racehorse capable of offering you a huge dose of adrenaline. The feeling of full acceleration coming out of turns is out of the ordinary and ensures a big smile.
I join the whole Planet Quad team in thanking the Can-Am company, for the long-term loan of the vehicle, and also the Ste-Béatrix Off-Road Festival crew and particularly Édith Loyer, general manager of the event, to have allowed us to use their facilities for our test.