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  • The Sporty Side of the Side-by-Side: The Yamaha YXZ1000R

The Sporty Side of the Side-by-Side: The Yamaha YXZ1000R

Yamaha Invents a Segment with the YXZ1000R Sport Side-by-Side

Sep 3, 2015
Photographers: Courtesy Of Yamaha, Brett T. Evans
For the uninitiated, the differences between particular variants of the side-by-side utility vehicle (UTV) theme don't seem obvious. That's why it's so impressive that we were genuinely surprised when we laid eyes on the Yamaha YXZ1000R for the first time. This was clearly something different.
Photo 2/13   |   The Yamaha YXZ1000R intimidates onlookers with its LED-lit glower. The exposed coilover shock absorbers are located to prevent camber changes and maximize grip.
That reaction was shared by many of those who were in attendance at Yamaha's official reveal event for what they call "the world's first pure sport side-by-side." Immediately, the YXZ grabs you with its aggressive bodywork (itself inspired by the company's well-regarded YFZ sport ATV), and once you're drawn in, you start to notice the details.
Massive Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 shocks and progressive-rate springs locate the front and rear double-wishbone suspension components, and anti-sway bars on both axles provide roll resistance without requiring undue spring stiffness. With 12.9 inches of ground clearance and 16.2 inches of front and 17.0 inches of rear suspension travel, the YXZ is poised for high-speed desert transit.
However, what makes the all-new Yamaha most unique is what's in between the bucket seats. Rather than controlling a droning CVT, as on most side-by-sides, the stick on the center console swaps between five individual cogs, a segment-first application of a full manual transmission. Yamaha says the sequentially shifted gearbox eliminates driveline slack compared to a CVT.
Photo 6/13   |   2016 Yamaha Yxz1000r Wheel
The amount of control offered by the gearbox is immediately apparent. Even the best CVT has some level of that rubber-band twang on full throttle, with the transmission's cones taking some time to adjust to the amount of power and acceleration the driver is calling for. Conversely, in the YXZ, releasing the clutch pedal provides a groundswell of linear, predictable power from the also-segment-first triple-cylinder engine.
The rev-happy 998cc engine is a gem. Yamaha claims the unique I-3 in the YXZ makes the most naturally aspirated power in the industry, with a wide powerband to match. Furthermore, the YXZ's triple has a high 10,500-rpm redline, allowing the motor to make full use of its lightweight forged-aluminum pistons and equal-length three-to-one exhaust manifold. Throttle response seemed crisp, and the engine has an intoxicating induction roar thanks to the air intake mounted just aft of the passengers' eardrums.
Photo 7/13   |   2016 Yamaha Yxz1000r Front View
On the too-short ride around Yamaha's makeshift dirt track, it became immediately apparent the company had absolutely nailed its suspension tuning. Through tight, dusty corners, there was almost no lean, and over pronounced whoops, the ride remained very controlled. On table jumps, the YXZ really strutted its stuff, with graceful landings that cushioned the passengers from any harshness. The fact that it never bottomed out (or even came close) is a testament to how excellent its progressive suspension is.
The YXZ1000R SE will go on sale in October for $21,599, which nets customers all the aforementioned hardware, along with yellow, retro-inspired 60th anniversary bodywork and true beadlock wheels. The standard, non-anniversary model starts at $1,800 less, sans beadlocks, and it will be available in December. Those who are willing to gamble on the unusual "pure-sport" Yamaha will be sure to enjoy zinging it across the landscape.
Photo 11/13   |   2016 Yamaha Yxz1000r
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R
Vehicle Layout Mid-engine, 2-passenger UTV
Engine 998cc naturally aspirated I-3, dry-sump lubrication
Power 110 hp (est.)
Transmission 5-speed sequential manual with hydraulic clutch
Driveline Part-time 4WD, locking center differential
Suspension, F/R Double-wishbone with anti-sway bar, Fox Racing Podium RC2 coilover shocks/ Double-wishbone with anti-sway bar, Fox Racing Podium RC2 coilover shocks
Brakes, F/R Hydraulic disc/Hydraulic disc
Photo 12/13   |   2016 Yamaha Yxz1000r Front Suspension
Photo 13/13   |   The A-arms are located so that bumps push the wheels backward or up, rather than in or sideways. This prevents camber and toe changes that result in nervous handling.

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