Yamaha Wolverine X4 SE from $23,999.

Story Mark Muller  

The wet, steep, muddy tracks of the Off Road Adventures facility in the wooded hills outside of Queenstown in New Zealand proved the ideal testing ground for the launch of Yamaha’s new Wolverine X4 SE side-by-side vehicle (SSV) in late March this year. With the rain coming in thick and steady, the Wolverine was put through its paces by a committed pack of motoring journalists, all of whom came away impressed by this latest offering from the Japanese manufacturer. 

There is already an existing Wolverine two-seater on the market; the X4 four-seater is essentially an entirely new model. It is powered by an 847cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected four-cylinder engine mated to Yamaha’s ultramatic constantly variable transmission system. This CVT set-up works smoothly to ensure that the engine is delivering applied power to all four wheels without noticeable lag or slackness in the uptake. While the engine might seem small on paper, in practice it was more than up to the task of barrelling around rough terrain fully loaded with big blokes keen to see just what could be done. 

The four-wheel-drive system is controlled by a simple dial to the left of the steering wheel and allows the operator to select between fully locked differential 4WD, limited-slip-diff 4WD or two-wheel-drive. A hand shifter lets you choose low-range, high-range, neutral or reverse. There’s also a speed limiter (with hare and tortoise settings) under the bonnet to cap the top end at 40 kilometres per hour if less experienced drivers are in control. This will come in handy for younger operators, or for areas in which you don’t want high spirits to fall down the wrong side of ability (think young station staff with the bit between their teeth). Fully independent suspension, disc brakes on all four wheels, a ground clearance of 273 millimetres and skid plates and rock sliders on the steel frame add to the package. The whole thing is 3100mm long, weighs in at 475kilograms, and three-point harnesses on all four seats plus a full roll cage help keep the occupants where they need to be. The Wolverine is rated to carry 71kg in its cargo bed, and tow up to 900kg. The rear seats can be moved forward to increase the size of the cargo area, if needs be. 

The vehicle comes with a range of fit-outs, including a fully enclosed factory fitted cabin. In the cold and wet trial, the cabin ended up fogging up and visibility was reduced. To our mind, the pick of the bunch would be the open-sided version with a roof, so sun and rain can be kept away, while still affording good 360-degree visibility. 

Yamaha expects about 40 percent of sales to go to recreational users, 30% to agricultural purposes and the rest to commercial buyers, with a small slice taken up by hunters. Australian road laws mean the Wolverine is only legally driven on private land or in ATV/SSV parks. This shouldn’t worry OUTBACK readers who are using the vehicle on-farm. If you’re after a safe, agile, robust and assured vehicle, the new Wolverine is well worth a look. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #119

Outback Magazine: June/July 2018