THE SPRAWLING Mount Seaview Resort, west of Port Macquarie, has mountains, faraway campsites and gullies of deep river crossings, so it’s the perfect spot to be introduced to Yamaha’s latest off-roader: the two-seater Wolverine X2.
The go-anywhere buggy is a side-by-side vehicle with part-time four-wheel drive and a heap of ability for rough work. It’s not cheap for an off-road-only machine, at $21,499, but it is uber competent and comfortable; some would pay this much for suspension work on a full-sized 4WD and still not ride ruts and whoop-dee-dos as well as this. Whether spewing dirt on steep ascents, splashing through creeks or dodging through the trees, this is a magic machine for work or play. It’s no slouch when the tracks open up, either.
The latest X2 gets the new 847cc twin-cylinder motor, which generates 47 per cent more torque and 32 per cent more power than the outgoing X2. That’s hooked up to Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT transmission, which slurs through its belt system at lower revs than before and then delivers to either the rear wheels or all four. Drive-by-wire throttle and a speed control key to limit top speed to 40km/h are both new for the two-seat Wolverine.
The machine is 1.5 metres wide, 1.9 metres high and a tad less than three metres long, and it weighs in at around 700kg. Its compact body is a tad narrower than before, and it sits on a slightly shorter wheelbase and a galvanised chassis.
The roll cage is new, the cabin doors are higher, the tilt tray is longer and wider than before, and the payload is up from 136kg to 272kg. The reworked cabin has a tilt-adjustable steering column, a lower dash and high-backed, slide-adjustable seats with seat belts.
An LCD display features a speedo, odo, trip and hour meters, and warning lights, but there’s no tachometer.
The X2 features 280mm of ground clearance and a standard hardtop, and there’s also a heap of factory options to add including winches, heaters and a fully enclosed cabin. Accessory mounting points and necessary wiring is all set to go from the showroom floor.
Chief among the accessories is Yamaha’s Adventure Pro GPS, which is powered by Magellan. It’s an Android-based tablet capable of navigating owners through the scrub, recording the journey and then on-sending, monitoring the vehicle’s engine, and storing apps such as Weatherzone.
THE FIRST thing you notice about the X2 is how quiet it is, as Yamaha put a great deal of work into the exhaust system and engine mounts to quell noise and vibration. You then realise it’s still quick with two onboard – and it’s light and easy to steer – with smart torque and power responses from the parallel twin. This responsiveness comes into its own on ascents, where you can drop off the throttle to better negotiate a tougher section and then power away again without fear of losing momentum.
While four-low means the X2 will climb almost anything, the locking diff is a boon in steep ascents, eliminating any scrabbling for traction from the Maxxis rubber. Downhill braking is likewise impressive. Yamaha’s CVT has a larger centrifugal clutch to help maintain constant belt tension, and the one-way sprag clutch helps eliminate freewheeling on steep descents.
Through all of this, it’s the X2’s suspension – independent, double wishbone with anti-sway bar, all ’round – which impresses time and time again. There’s 221mm of wheel travel up front and 226mm down back. All this is backed by KYB piggyback shock absorbers. It’s this ride comfort – plus that smooth, ever-willing engine-transmission combo – that lifts driver confidence.
Yamaha Aus expect some 40 per cent of sales will go to agricultural users, 30 per cent to recreational buyers, 20 per cent to commercial, and 10 per cent to hunters.
TRACK ATTACK: Yamaha is working with authorities around the country to open up more private and public territory for recreational SXS drivers.