By Mark Lester
Yep, Ski-Doo messed up the 800 class in one swift move. Okay, I had a lot of preconceived expectations in anticipation of the 800 E-TEC’s arrival. With the 600 E-TEC re-writing the rules in the 600 class and redefining the 2-stroke engine as we know it, I wanted to see the 800 do the same thing to the 800 class.
I didn’t want to pen this short report until I had racked a few klicks on the 800 E-TEC which arrived here on Tuesday afternoon. The snow is back and the trails are superb so I’ve logged 151 miles on the 800 in two days and have to report I am more impressed than I had hoped I would be. The sled exceeds my expectations and it still needs another two hours of running until it hits the full advance map and cuts the oil pump back.
Everyone was anticipating more power from the E-TEC DI hammerhead injection system however, there’s more than just a healthy dose of roost on tap. The way this thing spools power is amazing – Seamless, linear and in abundance. You can trail ride this 800 at easy speeds and it obliges with smooth engagement and nice lift off idle, with nary a surge.
The old Power-Tek frustrated me when threading it slowly down a tight portage or just maneuvering the sled. It was jumpy, edgy and irreverent at small throttle openings. Oh yeah, the E-TEC engine makes that crazy 3 stroke sound at low speed and the cleanest wail up top – short of a General Electric jet engine.
Once under way and setting up for a good carve the engine is electric motor like in its dispensation of thrust. Move your thumb a given amount and get that exact amount of juice. It is way too easy to rip trails with this kind of response. You are in control, in your office and it’s a good day with the predictable and positive sensations this motor produces.
THE BIG END
Okay, here’s the beef. This motor is stupid fast. From 6500 to full shift at 8200 the sled literally leaps up onto its rear idlers and throws the skis in the air – at 50 MPH! The power up top sends even Arctic Cat’s healthy new 800 looking for traction. The 800 class just got bored, stroked and Direct Injected by Ski-Doo. This is a totally impressive, better than expected, standard-setting power plant.
I only got 150 miles on it, but the first tank was spot on 19 mpg and the mill is not on the full-power program yet. Included in that 19 mpg were a couple solid pulls up the lake – one at 102 then another at 115 MPH indicated. It uses more oil on the break-in map so I can’t quantify oil consumption.
IS E-TEC IT?
When Ski-Doo landed the 600 E-TEC there was the sound of a drum beating in the distance. All the advantages of a 2-stroke including light weight but better than 4-stroke fuel economy and better than 2 stroke SDI or carb power from the same basic power plant.
EPA 2012 emissions are met with both these E-TEC mills and the only thing I can say which makes any sense is this – Polaris better get some of their much rumored Orbital DI engines in production and if Arctic Cat has a DI program, it’s time to pull the sheets off it.
Ski-Doo has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for snowmobile power with the DI E-TEC engine family. In the world of 2-stroke power, economy and emissions it isn’t possible to compete with DI technology with anything less than DI technology.
Simply put, no OE other than the fully 4-stroke committed Yamaha camp can afford to miss out on the benefits and advantages of 2-stroke direct injection.