2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i H.O. Preview

ATV.com Staff
by ATV.com Staff
Arctic Cat swings for the fences with race-inspired UTV

Editor’s Note: Since originally publishing this preview article on the Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i, we’ve had a chance to spend a day riding it. You can check out our full review and video by clicking here.

After first catching sight of a wicked-looking sport side-by-side from Arctic Cat in March, we finally have some concrete details to provide you. The Wildcat is real and it’s coming soon!

Baja Inspired

According to Arctic Cat the new 2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i H.O. was inspired by the unforgiving terrain of the Baja 1000 and engineered to attack the gnarliest obstacles with precision and control.

Arctic Cat boasts that the all-new Arctic Cat Wildcat V-Twin 1000 H.O. is the most potent pure-sport recreational off-road vehicle ever built and features industry-leading suspension travel, 13 inches of ground clearance, a full-perimeter frame and the largest displacement engine in its class.

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000

You can expect to see the Wildcat 1000 in showrooms in the fall.

“The Wildcat has no equal. Period,” says Claude Jordan, Arctic Cat President and CEO. “Our customers asked for a high-performance side-by-side, and we happily responded with a no-compromise, pure-sport hot rod that redefines what’s possible with a production off-road vehicle.”


2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000
2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000

While the powerful engine is headline-grabbing, it’s the suspension of the Wildcat that will catch the attention of the hardcore enthusiasts. Arctic Cat says the Wildcat can “effortlessly hammer through whoops and dunes thanks to a front and rear suspension combination that rivals those used on off-road race buggies.”

At the rear is an industry-first five-point, multi-link trailing arm suspension that is designed to keep the tires’ contact patches flat while the suspension moves through its 18 inches of travel! We had to read that part twice!

“The unique five-point, multi-link minimizes camber and axle plunge to soak up the harshest terrain without compromising handling and steering,” says Arctic Cat.

Up front, the double-wishbone front suspension boasts a best-in-class 17 inches of travel, with geometry that’s optimized for stability and control. Both the front and rear suspensions are dampened by Walker Evans Racing shocks. Designed from a lifetime of off-road competition and experience and also made in the USA, these remote reservoir shocks are machined from billet aluminum and feature 17-position compression dampening adjustability, dual-rate springs and preload adjustment. They’re calibrated with ample ride-in to help keep the Wildcat’s tires on the ground.

The all-new Duro Kaden 14-in tires were developed specifically for the Wildcat, utilizing an elongated tread pattern designed to extend to the tires’ shoulder and provide excellent cornering, traction, performance and durability in rough conditions.


The foundation for the Wildcat’s suspension is a full-perimeter frame that Arctic Cat says sets a new standard in strength, rigidity and durability. Usually found only in off-road race trucks, the chassis is constructed from High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steel with a full-perimeter exoskeleton design that’s a first in the UTV class. With a 40/60 front/rear weight distribution, the Wildcat’s front end is designed to remain light for optimal handling when tackling gnarly terrain. According to Arctic Cat, occupants in the cockpit of the Wildcat are positioned close to the low center of gravity, leaving them less affected by movements of the suspension and chassis and producing a more comfortable and confident ride.

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i H.O.

If the stars align properly we would love to do a head-to-head comparison with the Wildcat 1000i H.O. and the Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900.

1000 H.O. Engine

Built in St. Cloud, Minn., the 1000 H.O engine that powers the new Wildcat is the largest displacement engine in the Pure Sport UTV category. The 951cc V-Twin, SOHC 4-stroke with Electronic Fuel Injection has proven itself on the Prowler XTZ. On the Wildcat, the 1000 H.O. has been tuned to deliver even stronger acceleration thanks to the extra torque and horsepower provided by heavy breathing 50mm throttle bodies, a new 2-into-1 ceramic-coated exhaust and an all-new air intake system. The close-coupled, mid-chassis engine location is designed to neutralize the Wildcat’s handling, maximize the rider/passenger volume and reduce cockpit noise

The engine transfers power to the driveshaft via the Duramatic automatic CVT transmission. The addition of the Spike Load Dampener allows the driveline to slip for a millisecond under harsh spike loads, reducing the torque load to the system for optimal durability. A console-mounted shifter allows quicker gear selection between Reverse, Neutral, High and Low gears. Likewise, a dash-mounted switch activates 2- or 4-wheel drive with differential lock. Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes provide strong, enhanced braking.

Electronic Power Steering

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000

Arctic Cat outfitted the Wildcat with Variable Assist Electronic Power Steering with the goal of delivering even greater steering control and ease. The EPS system is a managed electronic control unit that measures steering input force, tire resistance and vehicle speed, and then provides the appropriate assist to the steering column through an electric motor.

Steering assistance begins at idle, and varies based on the above inputs. According to Arctic Cat this results in light steering input effort at speed while maintaining the right amount of driver feedback to feel the limits of traction and control. The power assist is particularly noticeable at low speeds and when in 4WD (especially with the differential locked), where its reduced steering effort eases changing direction or navigating tough obstacles like washouts, rocks or mud.


2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000

In the interior of the Wildcat you’ll find contoured, high-back bucket seats with upper body supports that are designed to deliver exceptional comfort and body stability. In fact, Arctic Cat boasts that these seats rival any aftermarket suspension seat on the market. The cut and sewn design cradles the Wildcat occupants to minimize fatigue. A 3-point seat belt with an anti-cinch design keeps you in place.

Getting in and out of the Wildcat should be quick and easy thanks to a tube-frame door with integrated nets. Pivoting from the rear and latching at the front via a simple one-latch mechanism, the doors open quickly and easily, swinging out of the way for hassle-free entry/departure.

Other interior features include an infinitely adjustable tilt steering wheel, a new five-inch digital/analog round gauge that displays 14 critical operations, a locking glove box, and two easy-to-reach cup holders.

Premium Features

The Wildcat is dressed in automotive-style paint: Black Metallic or Arctic Green Metallic. LED headlights and taillights come standard and provide clear, bright light. The Wildcat’s rear cargo bed has the largest capacity in its class with a 300 lb. payload to carry a cooler and additional fuel containers. A 12V accessory outlet is located in the center console for GPS or cell phone adapters. The alternator capacity has been increased for accessory lights, radios or winches. The underside of the Wildcat features full-protection HDPE skid plates to help glide over protruding obstacles, while the chassis utilizes maintenance-free bushings for added durability.


If the Wildcat isn’t quite wild enough for you, Arctic Cat will offer more than 50 products to help further set it apart. An array of trick lightweight aluminum protective accessories will be available, like front and rear pre-runner bumpers, rock sliders, A-arm guards and skid plates. A contoured half windshield with a dust management system will divert the wind up and over the rider while the stylized T-top style roof with integrated rear spoiler and built in headliner has room to install your tunes. Look for other items like a gas can holder, spare tire carrier, cooler holder, fender flares and a box cover to arrive shortly among a host of other products.

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ATV.com Staff
ATV.com Staff

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