FIRST RIDE: SKI-DOO'S 2019 ACE 900 TURBO
There were a lot of shocked gasps when it was revealed Ski-Doo was replacing many models for MY 19 originally powered by the much-beloved 4-TEC 1170 4-stroke with an all-new ACE 900 Turbo in the 137-inch Renegade chassis for MY2019.
The first shock was Ski-Doo's move away from an engine (the 4-TEC) that has placed the company squarely in the lead in the 4-stroke realm.
This venerable big-incher has proven to be fast, fuel efficient and dead reliable. It truly established Ski-Doo as a viable leader in the 4-stroke engine class and those who have owned them have been more than satisfied with them. It is still available in a few 2019 models - but only a few.
The second shock is what Ski-Doo has chosen as a replacement. The 900 ACE engine has had its bottom end, rods and pistons beefed up and now accommodates a Rotax-built and developed turbocharger.
Where the former 4-TEC made about 130-hp, this new one claims 150. The new turbo-engine, with all its plumbing displays little - if any - weight disparity with the big-block 4-TEC.
Keep in mind the new 900 turbo is only used in the new G-4 wide body chassis - a place the old 1200 simply would not fit into.
Our test riders had ample opportunity to ride the new G4-based sled in Montana and were impressed with its handling and solid performance.
Get this straight: This engine claims 150 ponies, not 180 like Yamaha and Cat's turbos. Thirty stallions is a lot to give up but, to a man, everyone felt this engine is an overachiever and delivered performance (at least at elevation) particularly at lower RPM - relatively close to the Yamaha turbo.
Although the dyno will undoubtedly show a big difference, the end result, acceleration up to about 80-mph, is competitive.
We think much of this is due to the Ski-Doo's pDrive clutch and the fact the Doo offers a 1.6-inch track. We've said it before and we'll say it again, the high torque output of a turbocharged 4-stroke requires traction. Cat and Yamaha have figured this out and offer up to 1.6 inch lugs.
Conversely, Yamaha and Arctic Cat introduced the new SRX and Thundercat with a top end biased one-inch track this year to enhance top end speed. Hmm.
Get On it
Ride and handling with the new Turbo-Gade is very G4-ish. We felt the cornering performance of the wide body G-4 models was actually better than the 2 stroke G-4s - depending on the ski choice.
The G-4 widebody is obviously warmer because of the wider bodywork. Ergonomics are as all G-4s, far-forward and comfortable according to the G4 formula.
Our testers weren't in love with the turbo's throttle response but felt it was due to the DBW throttle setup and not to turbo-lag.
In fact, the opinion was that there was no discernible throttle lag from the turbocharger and at mid-throttle settings the sled tipped-in and accelerated voraciously without hesitation.
Do we think this sled will replace the sales volume of the 4-TEC? There's a pretty significant uptick in price here but a lot of 4-TEC owners have been begging for a turbo the last couple of years.
By upping the power of the 2019 900 ACE EFI from 90 to 95 ponies this year, those 4-TEC buyers who don't want a turbo may be satisfied. Dunno - I know we wouldn't be.
As for the new Turbo-Gade; aside from the weird throttle, we approve and are pretty sure the Ski-Doo faithful will love it too.
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