PREDATOR X18 INTIMIDATOR Fast, fun and cost effective
You seen them out on the trails, at the dunes and in the pages of Dirt Wheels, these high modified, $50,000-plus Rhino’s, Teryx’s and Rangers. Wealthy folks are taking a machine that was originally designed for hunters to get in and out of the deep woods and investing tens of thousands of dollars to build a machine that is not any more sport worthy than an average stock quad. Polaris did do a decent job in coming out with a sport UTV with the Ranger RZRS, but even that machine is only an upgraded version of a machine that was meant to drive slow on tight trails. Over the years we have tested compact, purpose built, long travel, buggies such as the Drakart, and ATV Racing Specialties cars and gave them rave reviews. The latest entry into this segment is called the Predator Off Road X18 Intimidator.
The X18 ($28,000) and $17,000, X18K (Kit car) are compact, two wheel drive, longtravel buggies that will run circle around even the most modified Yamaha Rhinos on the planet. The core of the X18 is a strong , two-seat, Mig welded, Chromoly chassis, and a 2.2 liter Chevy Ecotec engine. This is the same engine used in most of Chevrolet’s mid-sized and compact cars. In racing, the engine finds itself in another off road class called Trophy Lite (Mini Trophy Trucks), Midget Cars and many other racing disciplines. In the X18, the four cylinde, dual overhead cam, four banger engine is mated to a fully automatic CVT transmission just like you would find in most 4X4 ATV and UTV sold today. In stock trim the CVT will allow this car to get up 70 MPH. With different, easy to change clutch settings, speeds could break the 100 MPH mark.
COCKPIT The cabin of the X18 is laid out just like a race car with easy to read gauges, accessory switches, removable steering wheel and a passenger grab handle. The clean looking dashboard also contains two keyed ignitions. One is a beginner, low speed ignition and one is the full power sport ignition. This is a great safety feature all high horsepower ATV’s and UTV’s should have. More safety in the cockpit is found in the five point , Simpson seat belts and window nets. Both seats are not only adjustable, they have some suspension dampening and are heated. That’s a nice touch especially for the cold winter morning or night rides that we love to do. Even more, the cabin is fully enclosed with a gel coated fiberglass roof, side panels and an ultra thick aluminum skid plate. Entering the vehicle is not hard as the doors are easy to step over and the window secures inplace with little effort.
SUSPENSION Outside of the car, fully independent, long travel, suspension is found on all four corners. Up front, large Chromoly A-arms allow for an incredible 20-inches of travel. You are lucky to get a foot of travel out of an everyday, modified UTV. On all four corners of the X18, suspension movement is controlled by two reservoir equipped Vogtland shocks. One shock houses the large coil spring to hold the 1950-pound car off of the ground. The other is equipped with two external bypass circuits that allow you to easily fine tune the compression and rebound dampening depending on the type of terrain you are driving on. Twin shocks of the same design are also found on the rear corners of the car. There they are connected to large Chromoly trailing arms (similar to a Can-Am Outlander) offering up 18-inches of travel. The arms, front and rear are all powder coated for an easy to maintain finish. Further out on each corner, four piston calipers, steel braided brake lines and drilled rotors handle the stopping chores for the 120 horsepower rocket. The brakes have bias controllability allowing you to adjust the amount of front or rear brake input you want the pedel to have If you want to set the vehicle for a specific type of terrain. In hardback but loose terrain, you would want to have more rear brake. For very hard packed or tacky terrain, you would want more front brake pressure. And in the sand a neutral setting works the best.
MORE NUMBERS As the car sits on the trail, it has a 85-inch wheel width, 103-inch wheel base, is 136-inches tall and 143-inches long. Those specs are important is you drive mostly tight trails or want to haul your vehicle in a certain sized trailer. If you do want to transport the machine in a small enclosed trailer or toyhauler, with the use of stock Volkswagen Bug wheels and tires, the wheel width only measurers 74-inches making transportation easier. The X18 uses 31x10.5-15 tires Mickey Thompson tires mounted on 15-inch cast aluminum Walker Evans wheels. Lighting accessories include one, buggy whip, two running lights, one interior light and prewiring to accomidate four roof mounted spot lights. BUILD IT YOURSELF AND SAVE As we noted earlier, Predator Motor Corporation does sell this car as a kit for a substantial cost savings to the customer. For the $17,000 “Kit” price tag, some assembly is required. You also get to supply your own seat belts, window nets, wheels, tires, shocks, engine and transmission. Chevy has several versions of this powerplant that will bolt right into the X18, including a 2.4 liter model and a Supercharger option. Brand new, complete engines can cost as little as $3000-$5000. You could find one out of a junked car for around $500. Imagine spending that little for an ATV or UTV replacement engine. So the kit price isn’t a bad deal for most people interested in a UTV or the people out there who are used to paying $70,000-$120,000 for a high horsepower, Corvette powered buggies. And from what we have seen, some those machines are not nearly as reliable as the X18 Intimidator. The fully built car is California Green Sticker legal, smog compliant and comes in seven color choices, green, black, white, yellow, blue, red and orange. The kit is sold as an unfinished vehicle so, you have to take care of the DMV legwork yourself. TEST DRIVE When we strapped our selves into the cockpit of the X18, you feel as if you’re siting in a high-dollar, Class 1, SCORE, Baja racer. You have clear view all around you especially to the trail in front of you thanks to the excellent seating position. Those seats are probably the most comfortable off road seats we have ever sat in. There is plenty of leg room for our six-foot plus driver. In fact, the seat wasn’t even at it’s furthest back setting. If we moved the driver’s seat forward, a five foot tall driver would feel comfortable as well. Try doing that with any UTV. Bypassing the learner key, we went right for full power. The learner ignition box is adjustable so you could let someone get used to driving at 30 MPH, then bump the speed limiter to 50 MPH and so on. This is a great feature. With a mashed throttle, the car launches forward smoothly. There’s enough wheel spin to be exciting and keep you on your toes. Most UTVs get very boring when you add all of the extra weight of a long travel suspension kit and increase traction with better tires. The X18 spun the 31-inch tires controllably like you can on a 450 CC quad. Steering input is precise and quick, allowing you to slide into the faster corners or carve through the tight ones. Even though this car is wider than any UTV we have tested, we didn’t find our selves having to slow down or back up to get through the tight sections of our off road, desert, test track. You sit low in the car but still have tons of ground clearance for clearing rocks and other trail obstacles. The car never feels tippy. You feel more like you are in a go kart than in an off road machine with more than a foot of ground clearance. We were very impressed with the overall egros, comfort and handling of this vehicle. Torque from the 170 hp, 2.2 liter Chevy motor was equally as impressive and the automatic CVT transmission worked awsome. You could let off the throttle for a sharp turn or bump, then jump right back onto the throttle for an instant response and forward movement. Again much better then any stock or modified UTV. You could reach the 70 MPH in a hurry no matter how choppy the terrain. And by choppy, we mean driving through whoops and bumps over a foot tall or deep. The long travel suspension soaked up the hits excellent. Since we were unfamiliar with this brand (Vogtland) of shock, we tried to abuse them and find their limits to no avail. We couldn’t get them to heat up, bottom out or provide any ill will. They soaked up five foot drop offs as well as three foot G-outs without blinking an eye. The lack of wheel travel and shorter wheelbase of a standard long travel UTV would never allow you to drive as hard as we did in the X18.
CONCLUSIONS The X18 is not a UTV. It doesn’t have four wheel drive, it doesn’t have a dump bed and it doesn’t have a trailer hitch. The X18, is a fast, well handling two-seat offroad car capabile of high speeds over smooth or very rough terrian. It’s a blast to drive in sand, in the woods or the desert. It is built with quality components and proved to be very reliable in our abusive testing. It’s as equally as impressive driving at slow speeds as it is capabile of high speeds. Sure $28,000 or even $18,000-plus, is a lot of money for a toy. But so is spending $12,000 on a stock UTV then dumping another $20,000 into it, just so you can have a better machine than your neighbor or camping buddy. If you want a machine that performs like a sports car on flat terrain, flies like a quad over jumps, handles like a Trophy Truck in the whoops and can hold up to that type of punishment, look into the Predator X18 Intimidator. But if you do, make sure you invest an extra $10 for a rear view mirror so you can watch everyone else eat your dust. Or better yet, install car-to-car communications system like the one from www.mobileradiocommunications.net, so your riding buddies can find you after the dust setles. The X18 will also be available as a SCORE legal car for $21,000 before November’s Baja 1000. There are several other desert and short coarse racing organizations creating divisions to accommodate this type of car. Predator also sells upgrade shocks from Fox, roof racks and other components to suit any customer. Stay tuned to Dirt Wheels and www.dirtwheelsmag.com for the latest developments and improvements coming from Predator Motor Corporation. Or to contact them directly call (951) 259-3339 or visit them on-line at www.predator-offroad.com.
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login