Three Takeaways From Our Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo Ride

January 2020 Feature Web Exclusive

Go ahead, pick any superlative you’d like to describe the latest bombshell to hit the western market in quite a while.

Awesome. Powerful. It flat out works. Seriously? Remarkable. Amazing. Wow.

When Ski-Doo pulled the covers off its 2020.5 Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo sleds Monday outside of West Yellowstone, MT, any and all superlatives came crashing together.

And thanks to Mother Nature, we could not have asked for any better conditions to test the new factory-installed and backed turbo two-stroke. There was 2-3 FEET of new (and can we add, untracked) powder in the mountains above town and we tackled it with the Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo and ALL of its 165 ponies at about 8,000-8,500 feet elevation.

We came away very impressed with the two-stroke turbo and how well it worked in challenging conditions.

Here are three takeaways from that first ride:

1 - Power AT Elevation

Anyone who has ridden in the mountains and at elevation for any amount of time knows the formula that a snowmobile engine loses 3 percent of its horsepower for every 1,000 feet you gain. So, for example, the Rotax 850 E-Tec cranks out 165 hp at lower elevation but “dwindles” down to 125 hp at about 8,000 feet—or a loss of 40 hp. What can you do with an extra 40 ponies at elevation? Tackle 2-3 feet of new powder and being to stay on top of the snow.

Yes, aftermarket turbos can offer the same results. But Ski-Doo makes it a simpler process with its factory-installed turbo that is backed by the factory with a one-year warranty.

Want to talk about turbo lag. Well, that’s a short conversation. There is none. Press the throttle and the turbo kicks in—and you know it has by a) the instant and arm-stretching response and b) you can hear it kick in.

But what’s very impressive about that is that this turbo’s power is manageable. We never worried we were going to  be out of control by engaging the turbo with the press of the throttle. Yes, you have to be paying attention to the instant, increased power but it’s not scary (maybe because it’s a modest 4 lbs. of boost) or make you feel like the sled is overpowering the rider,

Ski-Doo didn’t invent the turbo but it is the first OEM to factory-install it on a two-stroke.

And this sled still comes with SHOT, the best starting system in the industry.

2 – A Great Match

While we won’t go so far as to say the new Rotax 850 E-Tec Turbo engine and the Rev Gen4 chassis is a match made in heaven, they work so well together it comes darn close.

It would be short-sided to talk about the new turbo engine without talking about the Ski-Doo Summit chassis. You can have a great, spectacular factory-installed turbo but if all that power fights the chassis, then your ride will be less than fun—and desireable.

Looking at the chassis, you will notice a few things that are a bit different (ish). The chassis that is home to the new turbo engine is a hybrid of sorts between the traditional Summit X and Summit with Expert Package. This Summit has the shorter tunnel and no snow flap along with lightweight spindles on front that are found on the Expert package. The handlebars/riser are set right between (165 mm) the height of the Expert package and Summit X/SP. That will probable create some discussion as to why and I want/don’t want it taller.

Perhaps there was no better example of how beneficial the shorter tunnel and no snow flap are than our ride in West Yellowstone where the snow was sooooooooo deep. Press the throttle, the turbo kicks in and the snow evacuates out the back instead of getting all tangled up between the tunnel, track and snow flap. While that is not a result of the new turbo engine, this new sled will definitely benefit from it.

3 - Watching Their Weight

The simple fact is, a turbo is going to add weight to a sled. However, the resulting power-to-weight ratio is usually worth the sacrifice in lighter weight. The new Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo did indeed gain weight—about 10 lbs. But Ski-Doo was able to offset that some by redesigning a new one-piece hood that sheds 6 lbs. over the previous design.

It’s a good tradeoff. Think about the power-to-weight ratio of a sled cranking out 125 hp at 8,000 feet compared to 165 hp at 8,000 feet. It’s more than a good tradeoff.

Here is the official Ski-Doo press release.

Ski-Doo Takes The Industry To New Heights

The Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo is a snowmobile that completely redefines high elevation riding and takes the industry to new heights. Riders will experience factory-built power in a way never before attainable until the Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo. Riders also get never before seen manufacturer-backed ease of use and peace of mind—because this is the world’s first ever OEM-built 2-stroke turbo engine.

The high elevation experience gets easier and more fun as deep snow pilots get the same kind of power their low elevation comrades have had for years, with no turbo lag and the same renowned ultra-quick throttle response Rotax 850 E-TEC engines are famous for. The first ever factory produced 2-stroke turbo also lets riders enjoy centrally balanced handling, lighter weight and consistent performance, as altitude increases. Peace of mind is part of the package too with perfect factory integration, accurate calibration at all altitudes, in all conditions and the reassurance of a factory warranty.

Riders will enjoy every ounce of the 165 horsepower from the industry’s leading 2-stroke engine to its fullest, all the way to 8,000 feet (2438 m) in altitude. They continue to enjoy a 40-hp advantage over non-turbo 850s from there up on the way to discovering stunning new winter playgrounds.

This 2020 late release Ski-Doo model begins with the Rev Gen4 platform. So responsive, a simple glance is all it takes to point it in the rider’s desired direction. There’s no deep-snow snowmobile that translates the relationship between rider, sled and epic terrain better than the Summit.

More than a new engine, it’s a complete lightweight, turbocharged package fully designed by Rotax and Ski-Doo. In addition to delivering all its power at less weight than aftermarket turbo kits, the optimized layout in the chassis keeps the sled balanced side to side for easier handling. Available at dealers now, the Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo also comes standard with a new one-piece lightweight hood.

Highlights of Summit 850 E-Tec Turbo

  • Rotax designed and built turbocharged engine
  • First mass production 2-stroke turbocharged engine in any vehicle
  • 165 horsepower up 8,000 feet (2438 m) elevation, plus 40 horsepower over normally aspirated 850 E-TEC above that
  • Runs on pump gas
  • Factory integration delivers balanced handling and accurate calibration
  • Factory warranty
  • One-piece lightweight hood
  • Available at authorized Ski-Doo dealers now

Technology Background For Rotax 850 E-Tec Turbo

Designed specifically for the 850 E-Tec entirely within Rotax walls, the new turbo ensures full use of the 850 E-Tec’s 165 horsepower all the way up to 8000 feet and then maintains a significant 40-horsepower advantage over normally aspirated engines from 8000 feet to the top of any mountain.

When designing the new 850 E-TEC Turbo engine, four key factors were front and center for Rotax and Ski-Doo engineers to ensure optimal consumer satisfaction:

1. Responsive power delivery with no lag,

2. durability,

3. light weight

4. and seamless integration into the responsive Rev Gen4 platform.

Optimizing power at minimal boost was critical for both throttle response and longevity. An intake with a short-track bypass tract keeps throttle response crisp and quick, while the streamlined exhaust system minimizes backpressure.

An electronically controlled wastegate maintains consistent boost pressure (up to 4 psi) and delivers it precisely as needed, to ensure the dynamic performance characteristics of the 850 E-Tec are never lost.

The inhouse Ski-Doo/Rotax design advantages are immediately felt when riders experience how flawlessly the turbo package performs from idle to wide open throttle and how it integrates with the rest of the snowmobile. The compact turbine and compressor are ideally fitted within the Rev Gen4 chassis. The lightweight material along with a patented lightweight continuous oiling system and optimized down pipe are laid out to ensure the entire powerpack stays centrally balanced within the frame.

It’s all wrapped in a new one-piece lightweight hood and unique side panel with strategically placed venting for optimal cooling of critical power-producing components, and sleek, sexy styling.

Track: 165 x 16 x 3.0 in. (420 x 41 x 7.63 cm)

NEW Drive Belt Monitoring System: Alerts riders in two different ways, duty cycle and temperature, if drive belt issues are impending before failure. Allows rider to be proactive to prevent belt failure. In both scenarios engine performance is not altered in any way—the system is meant to warn riders of potential issues before they happen.

NEW QRS Vent Plus driven clutch: Finned fixed and moving sheaves maximize airflow of the CVT system to decrease overall operating temperature and offer consistent performance.

MSRP: $18,099

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