2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV

Chinese Challenger offers good value for Sport UTVers...

Style and power for the 21st century By the staff of Dirt Wheels

CFMoto’s most powerful sport UTV is still focused on-trail use. It has a 60-inch stance, modest suspension travel for a sport UTV, and almost radically modern styling at a very good price.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV

When we contemplate sport UTVs, CF Moto hasn’t been our first thought.  But the new 2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV,  has made us think twice.

When we think about 4×4 quads and utility UTVs, CFMoto is solidly on the radar. Now that we have experienced the 2021 CF Moto Z-Force 950 Sport and Z-Force 800, the brand will be part of the new sport UTV lexicon.

The company has staked out a certain area of the sports market, and they are servicing that market. In addition to the flagship 950, CF Moto has two 800s and a 500.

One 800 is 60 inches like the 950, and the other 800 and the 500 are 50-inch trail-legal machines. CFMoto is committed to building sport UTVs, but sports models that are trail-oriented. These are fun machines that are designed to fit on tight, wooded trails.

WHAT IT IS

While the ZForce 950 Sport looks like a winner from an industrial design contest, it is far more than just-style. It is based on a stout-feeling, high-strength, one-piece HSLA (high-strength, low-alloy) steel frame. HSLA is, as the name specifies, strong. But, unlike some alloys, it is easy to weld and does not lose strength near welds, which makes it a great choice for a car chassis.

Thankfully, it is covered underneath with ample skid plates. Upfront are double A-arms with 11 inches of travel working with fully adjustable gas shocks. In the rear is a trailing-arm system that CFMoto calls Quadlink rear suspension, which also has fully adjustable gas shocks and 11.8 inches travel.

A trailing-arm system is unusual with travel numbers like these, but the suspension at both ends works well. In fact, quite well for the claimed travel numbers. Our wooded test loop wasn’t ultra rough or even choppy, but there were rocky, rutted areas and roots that gave a good clue about the action. We can’t think of a machine with equal travel that could do much better than the ZForce.

The ability of any machine to absorb trail irregularities can be attributed in this case, to the tires. The tires are modern in design, with 14-inch wheels and 27-inch tires.

That isn’t a huge amount of tire sidewall to absorb bumps, but those tires and the conservative center of gravity, are part of what keeps the ZForce planted in turns despite the 60-inch width.

Part of the turning prowess is thanks to quick-ratio, variable electronic power steering. It offers a good feel, but also minimizes the effort required. In some of the tight off-camber corners found on the test loop, the front wheels would push towards the outside of the turn. The sudden acceleration and heavy torque leaving turns squat the rear and lighten the front. The trait wasn’t obvious on flat or banked turns.

The ZForce 950 Sport has a locking front differential, and we chose this pile of logs to give the 4WD system a workout. It crawled right over, but we used the full skid plates.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV

GET MOVING

Once you have a chassis, you must have motivation for it. Ample go-power comes in the form of a 79-horsepower, liquid-cooled V-twin. Each cylinder has a single overhead cam with four valves per cylinder. It breathes in through a high-volume intake with both a filter and pre-filters. Downstream of the filters is Bosch’s fuel injection system.

Electronic throttle control is one of the advantages made possible by the EFI. The engine starts easily, runs smoothly, and pulls hard through the mid-range. Throttle response is soft right off idle, but as the rpm climbs a bit higher, the engine hits hard and acceleration is impressive.

The same is true as the engine rpm continues to climb. It pulls strongly up top, and acceleration remains brisk. We didn’t have the room to get it topped out, so we had no chance to discover the top speed.

Connecting the engine to the wheels is a CVTech transmission. It features a CVT with a centrifugal clutch to smooth engagement and soften shocks to the CVT belt. In all, the CVT works quite well. The centrifugal clutch does add a rotating mass to the drivetrain. It is possible that the added rotating mass is a partial cause of that soft initial response.

CFMoto specified highly bolstered seats for the ZForce. They hold you snugly in place, and the shoulder bolster gives a secure feeling. We’d like more left-foot room for the driver.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV

LOOKING OUTSIDE

CForce’s ZForce 950 Sport is covered in swoopy body panels that are bright and smoothly finished in red, silver, or yellow. To achieve the swoopy lines, the body tucks in enough to expose the inner body structure. The car was designed so that the inner-body structure tubes run outside of the body in places.

Between the stock front bumper, body sidebars, and the external runs of the body tubing, the car appears to have plenty of protection. Mounted in the front of the body shape are what CFMoto calls Ridevision high-intensity LED headlights and a winch with a 3000-pound rating. Again, we didn’t have much opportunity to test the lights or winch, but we are happy to know that they are there.

The digital display is bright and easy to read in sunlight. It has all the pertinent information at a glance. A line of rocker switches control the car’s other options.

At the rear of the machine is a 2-inch receiver hitch. On the top face is a threaded mount. Threading a bolt into that location locks whatever bar you put in the hitch and eliminates any hitch rattle.

This swirly exhaust system has outlets on both sides. The substantial shocks feature preload and damping adjustments. The hitch has an anti-rattle bolt standard.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV UTV

DIGGING AROUND INSIDE

Slide into the 950 Sport cockpit and you immediately feel that the seats have high bolsters that feel sporty and keep you in place during spirited driving. The interior space would have felt cramped, but CFMoto has bowed the doors to add shoulder and knee room.

While the steering wheel feels fine, it does tilt to fine-tune the driving position. We are not sure if the V-twin engine requires added room, but the passenger compartment is farther towards the front wheels than many machines. As a result, legroom for the driver’s left foot and leg are reduced.

As soon as you fire the car up, you notice the Pulse multifunction color TFT (thin-film transistor) digital display. The display is crisp and bright, and we had no trouble reading it in sunlight. The display has two view modes. Safety is provided by three-point retractable seat belts and the tall door tops.

As we have come to expect from CFMoto, all machines come with a high level of standard equipment. The ZForce has a roof, LED taillights, 220-pound cargo rack capacity (our machine had a nice CFMoto cargo box in the bed), and DC power and USB outlets.

Styling is a matter of taste. Some parts of the car look a little Buck Rogers, but mostly it looks modern and swoopy to us. It is a fairly light car by current standards.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950

TIRES ON THE TRAIL

Our available test loop had a wide range of conditions to test the 950, but it was also a blast with many turns, drops, and climbs. Parts required care to prevent tagging trees, while others allowed us to hammer the throttle and enjoy the acceleration.

We were almost instantly feeling secure on cambers, trusting the car powering through corners and not worrying about steep drops or climbs. Through all of our driving, the car was fun and easy to drive.

However, we didn’t have areas that required a low range or diff-lock, so we employed an abandoned pile of logs to try out those features. We were not sure how the car would crawl obstacles with the low-rpm power and modest ground clearance, but it was fine. We routinely powered right over multiple logs with no drama at all.

These spacey pods on each side are the intakes for the engine and CVT. They are not as high as some machines, but it looks easy to extend them.
We tested on fairly narrow wooded trails in Minnesota where we were happy for the 60-inch track width and the compact two-seat wheelbase.

2021 CFMOTO Z-FORCE 950 UTV

CONCLUSION

CFMoto has built a solid car that always feels secure. There is ample power on tap for any purpose, and especially on wooded trails as we explored.

Low range feels plenty low for more intense technical sections, and the drive options are all we could ask for. This feels like a quality machine that is well set up.

Perhaps the most impressive feature is the $12,999 price tag. That isn’t for a base model, but one with a high level of finish, cast-aluminum wheels, a roof, and a winch.

That is an excellent value for the price.

CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 SPORT

Engine Liquid-cooled OHV semi-dry-sump longitudinally-mounted single-cylinder 4-stroke

Displacement 675cc

Fuel system Bosch EFI

Fuel capacity N/A

Starting system Electric

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front A-arm front suspension with fully adjustable gas shocks/11”

Rear Quadlink rear suspension with fully adjustable gas shocks/11.8”

Tires:

Front 27×9-14

Rear 27×11-14

Brakes:

Front Hydraulic disc

Rear Hydraulic disc

Wheelbase 90.0”

Length/width/height 118.4 x 61 x 71 in

Ground clearance 12.2”

Curb weight 1400 lb.

Colors Red, silver, yellow

MSRP $12,999

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