Last month, Yamaha Motor Corp., USA hosted a rather impromptu media tour ostensibly to highlight the company’s UTV manufacturing capabilities in its Newnan, Georgia, plant. It also provided a perfect backdrop to roll out the brand new 2016 Wolverine R-Spec model. Tough to tell which is more impressive!
First, a little about the factory. All of the company’s ATVs and Side- by-Sides (SxS) come from Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America (YMMC) in Newnan, making it the company’s worldwide hub for ATV/SxS production and distribution. In fact, Yamaha just announced that it has produced 3 million units from this facility (see news story on page 7).
The YMMC facility covers 280 acres with more than 1.3 million square feet of manufacturing facilities giving it a massive physical footprint in Newnan.
While the Wolverine R-Spec is definitely sporty, it’s not specifically a sport SxS. Yamaha representatives say it’s aimed at a wider segment of the market (recreation), crossing over into some utility/sportsman segments as well.
The Wolverine is engineered to handle extreme terrain in comfort or with aggressive handling – whatever your customer’s comfort level may be. It works for an aggressive style driver or it can cruise along like a Cadillac just as easily, soaking up the bumps and ruts along the way.
The Wolverine will be available in dealerships starting in April, and standard models feature a hard sun top and come in Steel Blue and Hunter Green. The new camo Wolverine R-Spec will be the first ever SxS to feature Realtree Xtra Camo. MSRP for non-EPS (electric power steering) models starts at $12,199 and EPS models will start at $13,199.
The Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec is built on an all-new chassis (assembled on the same line as the Viking) with a compact design, look and feel, a comfortable and secure cab with seating for two, with handling and durability that is greatly improved over pervious models – and according to Yamaha, best in its class – thanks to a new, fully adjustable suspension package that includes long travel suspension and KYB piggyback adjustable shocks.
“The all-new Wolverine will extend Yamaha’s SxS lineup into the recreation segment, creating a new level of durability, quality, handling and superior off-road capabilities not yet seen in the off-road industry,” said Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s Recreational Vehicle (RV) group vice president. “Yamaha’s Wolverine R-Spec SxS is made for off-road enthusiasts, hunters and explorers looking to navigate tight, technical trails and extreme off-road terrain.”
The long-travel suspension of Wolverine R-Spec comes standard with KYB piggyback shocks, which feature 9.7 inches of travel in front and 10.6 inches of travel out back – and more suspension customization than any other model in its class with high- and low-speed compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload adjustability.
With a high-level of adjustability, drivers are able to tune the comfort and handling based on personal preference and terrain. The impressive suspension package makes for a comfortable and planted feeling while articulating through a variety of rough off-road situations, according to the company.
Aggressive new styling and a nimble, compact-feeling chassis, enable the Wolverine to navigate tight, technical trails and challenging terrain. The vehicle’s 81.3-inch wheelbase, 11.4-inches of ground clearance and wide-arc A-arm design provide maximum ground clearance for all types of terrain.
Yamaha also incorporated features like rear wheel protectors that extend from the bottom of the frame to reduce obstacle contact with rear tires so it can handle all sorts of terrain. The chassis is upswept on the sides more than two inches higher than the center of the frame to help the vehicle more smoothly pass over obstacles.
Full-coverage skid plates front-to-back and side-to-side eliminate catch points and the Wolverine’s ability to glide over obstacles. For added protection, Yamaha incorporated CV boot protectors on the front A-arms while the rear A-arm features built-in skid plate protectors as standard equipment.
Yamaha employed durable steel wheels (12 x 6 in the front and 12 x 8 out back) and all-new exclusive 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires providing optimum traction, durability, comfort and steering precision.
The automotive-style cab features high-back bucket seats designed to provide maximum comfort and confidence for both driver and passenger, especially in extreme off-road environments. The cab design also includes a new center console with multiple storage options. Three-point seat belts and shoulder bolsters – in addition to the new engine positioning – all work in concert with the new chassis and cab design to create a balance of optimum comfort with maximum off-road capability.
The Wolverine R-Spec comes standard with a dealer installed hard sun top and cage to provide added protection from the elements.
The On-Command four-wheel drive system features 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with diff-lock – and can be changed on the fly with the dash-mounted dial. The driver-controlled system eliminates hesitation or slipping while waiting for a computer to engage.
A high, low, reverse and neutral CVT system with one-way sprag clutch provides a consistent, natural-feeling engine braking that eliminates “free-wheeling” – especially necessary when traversing extreme terrain.
Numerous design and performance features add up to provide an aggressive handling machine, including Yamaha’s electric power steering (EPS) with rack and pinion steering. Yamaha’s EPS provides positive feedback from the trail, providing maximum comfort and confidence with optimized steering ratios, a light steering feel and precise handling. The Wolverine also features four-wheel disc brakes and a separate new wet parking disc brake system for increased durability and protection from the elements.
And finally, one of the biggest distinctions of the Wolverine R-Spec is a new double overhead cam (DOHC), 708cc engine with optimized torque, power delivery and engine character – for spirited recreational driving.
The fuel injected, four-valve engine packs a 10.1:1 compression ratio and 103mm bore by 85mm stroke. A new air induction system (AIS) produces less emissions, meeting the latest EPA standards, while the engine’s power character and delivery is optimized for technical terrain and extreme off-roading. It also features a high-volume air intake that is elevated to keep it out of the elements to maximize power in a variety of off-road situations.
The oversized dual foam filter with reusable design is located under an easily removable center console and requires no tools to clean and return to the trail. Yamaha’s thoughtful design incorporates simple service features such as coolant, engine oil and gear oil drain holes that are built into full-length skid plates and easy to access battery and marine-grade electrical components under the removable hood panel.
It is built for adventuring with a 9.7-gallon gas tank and a lightweight and durable injection-molded composite fixed-position cargo bed. Six steel tie-down points are connected to the chassis and a removable tailgate can be stored and secured in the front of the bed that also has a built-in one-inch divider. The bed is rated to haul up to 300 pounds of gear and supplies, while a two-inch receiver hitch is rated to haul an additional 1,500 pounds of weight.
The Wolverine made its official debut at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas shortly after the media preview in January. Yamaha got everyone excited to take it for a spin, but we were told not until it goes into production. It’s smart to position the Wolverine as a recreational SxS instead of going head-to-head with the Polaris RZR and others in the sport segment, which is a very small slice of the overall UTV market anyway.
If Yamaha has done their homework, and they probably have, this will be a great selling vehicle to customers looking for performance and handling with the capability to be used for hunting and outdoor activities as well as moderate utility uses. It’s somewhat equivalent to a crossover SUV: it can do a little of everything you need.