UTV TEST: First Test – 2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec 700

Yes, we have heard it a million times: when is Honda or Yamaha going to jump into the high-performance UTV market? Well, Yamaha has just taken their first step in getting back into the game they basically spawned over a decade ago. No, the new Wolverine is not in direct competition with the Polaris RZR XP 1000 or Can-Am Maverick, but it could give the RZR 900 or Arctic Cat Sport 700 a run for their money. What the Wolverine is for sure is new and exciting. Since it does not have a dump bed, we have to call it a sport model instead of a sport utility.

ALL-NEW ENGINE
Powering the Wolverine is an allnew, dual-overhead-cam, 708cc, liquid-cooled engine. This powerplant is not found in any other Yamaha product that we know of. Having a DOHC cylinder head versus a single will allow it to rev quicker and higher, producing a lot more power. We feel this thing is capable of producing power in the 75-horsepower range. That is the same horsepower as the super-fun Polaris RZR 900. And, it does not run as loud as the Viking engine does. The engine is governed to top out around 53 mph, just a tick faster than the Kawasaki Teryx. We hope very much that this powerplant ends up in the Raptor or, better yet, in a new Wolverine sport 4×4 quad. After our first initial run in the Wolverine, it feels like it will keep up with the Arctic Cat Sport 700, but probably not with the RZR without modifications. Again, this engine will accept modifications much better than the SOHC Viking powerplant. In stock trim it’s a great rock crawler. It has low range and a full front diff-lock, so it gets all the power to the ground. Yamaha’s CVT also lets you creep around easier, whether you are rock crawling or just loading it onto a trailer. And yes, this machine will fit in the back of most full-sized pick-ups.

SUSPENSION
Yamaha equipped the Wolverine with a conservative double-A-arm setup on all four corners. When you look at the travel numbers, 10.6 inches out back and just over 9 1/2 inches in the front, things are much better than the Viking, but not close to the over 1 foot of travel its competition has. Yamaha did do an excellent job calibrating the shocks for aggressive driving, and since they are fully adjustable, drivers can tune them a bit. In the rough, you can find their limits pretty quick, but when you do and back off a hit, the machine handles great. It feels low and wide, so there’s no hint of two-wheeling. When you know the size of bumps you can hit fast, the Wolverine soaks them up easily. Ground clearance is adequate thanks to the reverse gullwing A-arms. For casual trail riding and exploring, the stock setup is awesome; however, racers will want to upgrade the suspension in a hurry.

FIRST IMPRESSION
Our lucky test driver who had the opportunity to get behind the wheel came away very impressed with the overall build quality of the Wolverine. It’s sporty to a point and quick enough to put a smile on your face for sure. The Wolverine is no racer, as it’s intended for trail explorers that may have been introduced to the sport in the days of the Rhino and have been waiting patiently for another offering from Yamaha since its extinction. The Wolverine will not set the world on fire, but it will start a small war between the other Japanese companies to one-up each other. Eventually, that will get them to the point of performance where Polaris, Arctic Cat and Can-Am are at now. We just hope it’s not another decade until that happens.

2016 YAMAHA WOLVERINE R-SPEC
Engine.Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke
Displacement……………………………708cc
Bore and stroke………… 103mm x85mm
Compression ratio…………………….10.1:1
Fuel system……………………… 44mm EFI
Fuel capacity………………………… 9.7 gal
Transmission…………….Fully auto CVT
Final drive………..Four-wheel shaft w/
front diff-lock
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front…………………….Dual A-arms/9.7”
Rear…………………..Dual A-arms/10.6”
Brakes:
Front……………….. Dual hydraulic disc
Rear……………….. Dual hydraulic disc
Tires:
Front……………………………………. 26×8-12
Rear………………………………….. 26×10-12
Length/width/height.116.9”/60.6”/74.2”
Wheelbase…………………………………81.3”
Turning radius…………………………181.1”
Ground clearance……………………..11.4”
Curb weight………………………….1311 lb.
Bed capacity…………………………….300 lb
Towing capacity…………………….1500 lb
Colors….. Blue, green, Realtree Camo
Price…………………………..$13,199 w/ EPS

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