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Features

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH TURBOS?

By: Kent Lester, Photo By: Mike Lester
10/30/2017

Every year we examine the progress of high performance sled sales and try to gauge the sizzle factor of certain models.

There's no question, in the high performance category, sizzle is a big factor when a customer walks into a dealer's showroom. As a matter of fact, when the sales contract is being filled out and the checkbook is on the desk, it can completely cloud some buyer's minds and convince them it's worth it to spend extra big bucks.

Sizzle is a powerful, magnetic force in snowmobile marketing and it's one of the reasons sleds are so brightly colored and have blinding graphics.

Probably no other industry development has influenced sizzle like turbocharged sleds. Why? On one hand there are reasons these sleds are kinda impractical.

For instance, the price tag is always pretty intimidating. Then there's the weight factor. Snowmobilers are obsessed with weight and when you factor in a 4-stroke engine and a turbocharger and its plumbing, the whole weight-saving thing goes out the window.

It leaves one common factor: Power. Turbocharged sleds put power into the stratosphere. Back in the day Cat was getting 110-hp out of a 600cc 4-stroke triple and then Polaris came with a 750 twin that made 140 and boosted itself for short intervals to 180.

Meanwhile, Cat had evolved its Suzuki turbo program into sleds capable of generating power mighty close to 200-hp (claimed 177). The latest Yamaha SideWinders and 9000 Series Cats are openly confessing their 180-hp claims are actually pretty much actually 200-hp.

This kind of power is what becomes totally arresting and makes potential buyers see themselves as power kings within their riding groups. Shoot, if it isn't fast enough stock, you can just add a chip and some tweaking and drive the power up close to 300-horses!

As much as the lightness of 2-strokes is appealing, the limitless power of a turbocharged 4-stroke is simply mind-boggling. You just can't count on getting that much power from any other engine configuration in snowmobiling!