Why 4X4 when you can SXS?

ByUnsealed 4X4May 28, 2018
Why 4X4 when you can SXS?
Review: Yamaha Wolverine X4 SXS

Costs Zook money, rides like a Range Rover yet is as capable as a comp truck. But is the Yamaha Wolverine X4 all smiles and waves?

We’re going to answer the question you’re going to ask first: no, you can’t drive the Wolverine X4 on the road (legally) in Australia. Which is a damn shame, as they are an absolute hoot. Lightweight, heaps of torque, seating for four adults (comfortably, I might add), and a suspension set-up akin to what you would see on a desert racer. They don’t just look cool, they are. Incredibly! Here are the ten highlights I found after driving a few variants of the Wolverine X4 through lovely, albeit damp Queenstown, New Zealand.



Instantaneous torque. That is the best way to describe it; you put your foot down and it goes. Straight away. I stopped on a muddy hill, stomped the accelerator and four giant rooster tails of mud covered the vehicle in front and behind us (yes, we were on private property). While I might sound like a yobo, I wanted to load the driveline up and see if the motor performed under load. It performs under load. It’s incredibly frugal too, which you would expect. The torque comes from the design of the engine, not through tuning or trickery. There is 847cc to play with, which might not sound like much, however at no stage was I left wanting more power. The engine is also mounted down in the chassis, to help with stability and lowering the centre of gravity.



The gearbox was an area Yamaha wanted to pay particular attention to, both in regards to longevity and performance. Engine braking was impressive, not rock crawler slow, but you were in control at all times. Operation is as simple as putting it in high or low depending on the terrain you are driving and the gearbox does the rest. This is due to the CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission, which Yamaha claim won’t snap belts anywhere near as often as other makes on the market. We certainly had no issues during testing.



Four-wheel independent suspension – check. Coilover suspension – check. Self-levelling rear shock absorbers – che… Wait a minute. What? Yep, the Wolverine X4 features self-levelling rear suspension, meaning that if you put a load in the back or have burly passengers, the suspension will automatically align the ride height to match after driving for a few short metres. And it worked. While talking about suspension, the ride quality is simply outstanding. No bucking around like you would in a dual-cab ute for example, the Wolverine X4 rides like a cloud, without having much noticeable body roll. That, for me, was the highlight of the whole vehicle, just how well it rode.



Are you the sort of person that has to have all the gear? Well, Yamaha are speaking your language friend. Not only are they offering a wide range of factory accessories, such as hard and soft top roofs, LED light bars and even a winch, but the wiring for these accessories is pre-fitted. That will save any prospective buyer ample time, and bulk dollarydoos. We found the fully enclosed hard top made the Wolverine X4 fog up too much, and the open top version let the rain in. Heaps. As a compromise, if I was in the market for such a machine, I’d select the hard roof without the sides or windscreen. Best of both worlds if you ask me.



No, no … the diffs didn’t catch on fire. But damn, they were on fire performance-wise. The rear end is a direct drive system, which is locked all the time basically. The front diff features a Limited Slip Differential, and with the turn of a dial, can be fully locked. So you have a light, well sprung, torquey twin locked mini 4X4 … no wonder they go anywhere. The locker engagement caused a few small teething issues on test, but simply turning the X4 off and on again solved it. Which is easy to do, thanks to the electric starting via a switch on the dash.



Imagine a Suzuki Sierra that had grunt and rode well, that is kind of what the Wolverine X4 is like. While it certainly doesn’t feel dated or tacky, Yamaha have managed to strike that balance between form and function. Everything is so simple. Automatic gearbox, power steering, an accelerator pedal and a brake pedal. I’ve driven remote control cars that are more complicated. Another neat feature is the speed reduction switch in the engine bay (Speed Key Mode). That means if you have kids or untrustworthy mates, set it to turtle mode and you won’t have a Dukes Of Hazard scene on your hands.



900kg! Yep, the Wolverine X4 will tow 900kg. We can’t say legally, as you can’t drive (or tow) on-road, but Yamaha have warranted the Wolverine X4 to tow 900kg. So if you live on an island and need to move a few jet skis around, not only are we jealous of your lifestyle, but we’re confident the Wolverine X4 would handle the task.



You approach a nasty bump, thinking the front end will dig in and the suspension will bottom out with an almighty thud. But it doesn’t happen. The approach and departure angles on the Wolverine X4 are remarkable. I strongly doubt a 4X4 would have made it through the test course we were on without needing to be recovered. This makes the Wolverine X4 incredibly capable by simply being nimble. Weighing under 1000kg certainly helps, as does power steering. I don’t see why you couldn’t drive one up a vertical wall. As an off-roader, you will be impressed. And when you consider these machines are basically a tool for farming, having so much off-road ability is pretty darn cool.



This was more due to driving an open top version in the rain for a few hours without wet weather gear on. Yep, I’m a freaking hero. It was fun for the first two hours, but after stopping for lunch, it got a bit old. Having said that, I was comfortable. We were really throwing these things around, through mud and rocks as well as steep climbs. And you know what, I got out and wasn’t sore. I wasn’t fatigued. Just wet and muddy, but my goodness I don’t think I’ve smiled so much in my life. What was most surprising is how comfortable it was sitting in the back seat. Yamaha has done the smart thing, and used the same seats front and back. Means they only need to stock one part, and back seat passengers are treated with some respect.



So what do you think this will cost? If you answered $23,990 you would be spot on.