Monday, 30 April 2018 08:49

Wolverine a safe bet in the boonies

Written by  Mark Daniel
Yamaha Wolverine. Yamaha Wolverine.

Queenstown wasn't turning on the charm weather-wise, giving us a wet and windy day in late March for the launch of the latest side by side from Yamaha, the all-new Wolverine X4. 

Championed by the Japanese manufacturer as a dual-purpose machine equally at home in recreation or work, the X4 should interest farmers, hunters and commercial operators wanting to move two or four people safely.

Built for capability, comfort and confidence, the X4 is said to perform well in tight terrain, with precise, predictable handling and smooth, quiet power. 

Add to that rider friendliness, with the ability to carry four adults, and versatility of 33 accessories and you can see where they’re coming from.

During a day-long test in the hills behind Queenstown the machine proved to be capable on steep gravel tracks with deep ruts and washouts. Add to that tight technical turns with adverse cambers, slippery rock pavements, and rutted, muddy waterlogged sections.

The machine proved easy to steer with its electric power steering set-up giving the right amount of feedback, and a fly-by-wire throttle to apply caution or power when needed, which came almost instantaneously. 

The X4 was also forgiving if you happened to pick the wrong line, using a mix of the power and the excellent downhill retardation to bring things back under control. Suspension travel is about 220mm, with 270mm ground clearance.

Looking at the technical detail of the machine, an all-new 850cc, in-line twin motor uses the fly-by-wire throttle for extremely precise control. Also, part of the package is a management key, useful for vehicles being used by employees, that allows a restricted top speed of 40km/h or unlimited speed if conditions permit.

With the tried and tested Yamaha Ultramatic CVT transmission the operator benefits from constant tension on the over-dimensioned belt, said to give a longer service life, and a sprag clutch that engages as the throttle is released, giving positive downhill braking.

 Additionally, tweaks to the set-up see transmission take-up occuring at lower throttle settings, while the drive options include 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with diff-lock, all able to be selected on the fly.

In the operator area, easy access is achieved via a tilt steering wheel and up to 100mm of travel of the driver’s seat. A comprehensive dash display gives details of gear selection, transmission mode, speed, temperatures etc, and there are areas for storage that combine well with the central stowage bin. 

The seating arrangement has four full-size bucket seats for four adults, with plenty of padding and good lateral support. The rear seats can be tipped forward or removed to provide more load carrying space at the rear. 

The rear seats easily allow six-footers to be carried and there’s a smooth ride in the rear. This is helped by a self-levelling rear suspension set-up that keeps thing on an even keel with up to 60mm of auto-levelling.

Looking at carrying capacity, with two passengers the rating is 272kg, four-up sees it drop to 72kg, and the towing capacity is a useful 907kg. 

Standard equipment includes a full-underbody plate, LED lights, centre console and a re-wiring system for later add-ons such as winches or heaters. Electrical output is 600W as standard, and includes two 12V DC sockets, four pre-wired switches and those 33 accessories that include fully enclosed hard cab, soft cab, heaters, skid plates and front windscreens.

 

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