The Naturally Aspirated 1000cc class of the sport UTV market is one of the largest segments when it comes to enthusiasts buying new vehicles. Why? Well, for starters this N/A engine segment puts out great, reliable horsepower, and you don’t need to worry about extra components like a turbo spooling up to boost your horsepower numbers and potentially take a toll on your powertrain reliability. Plus, being that most of these machines are in the 64” width category, they offer plenty of sporty handling to go with the powerful, non-boosted engines.

Every manufacturer seems to need a “hero” vehicle in their sport side-by-side lineup, and usually that “hero” comes in the form of a turbo-equipped vehicle for a bit of boosted performance. While Yamaha has had a GYTR turbo kit for their venerable YXZ1000R for several years, it hasn’t been until the 2019 model year that they unveiled a true bolt-on GYTR Turbo kit. Installation is incredibly easy with this 2019 edition compared to past models, and you still get all of that Yamaha quality with this new kit.

The GYTR Turbo kit is now bolt-on and easily adds 60% more horsepower with the standard tune. But, it’s ready for even more…

To test out the latest and greatest GYTR Turbo kit on a fire-breathing YXZ1000R SS, Yamaha let us take their Turbo-equipped YXZ out for a couple days in the Glamis sand dunes. With the expectation of some middle-of-the-week virgin dunes and a claimed 60% horsepower jump over stock, we were ready to rip!

In case you missed the updates last year, the 2019 Yamaha YXZ1000R lineup received significant updates to the entire machine. From smaller items like stainless steel brake lines, larger brakes, and bigger wheel bearings to larger items like a full radiator relocation to the rear of the vehicle, new transmission gearing, and upgraded 30” tires to complete the package, the YXZ lineup got a full refresh. In stock trim, these revisions made the YXZ a completely different vehicle without compromising that driver-centric experience from behind the wheel, especially when you factor in the suspension upgrades and adjustments. Pairing those revised spring rates & valving with the larger 30” stock tires made this machine a true desert capable side-by-side, giving it the ability to get up on top of the whoops and power through the harsh terrain. In addition, after our testing in Alabama, we also found that the stock YXZ still performed very well on the tight trails. The trails really showed off the 24% lower gearing – not only did the YXZ now have the ability to crawl up rocky terrain at about 5mph, but it also powered through the tight trails with much more speed and finesse than before. When we factored in all of the changes, there wasn’t much missing from this machine – it is a blast to drive!

The YXZ1000R handles like no other UTV on the market – it is a blast to drive hard and shift gears, too!

You’ve heard it time and time again, but it is worth mentioning how performance-driven this YXZ feels on the trails and in the desert with the combination of the manual transmission and very well engineered, driver-focused chassis. This vehicle makes it feel like you are driving a race UTV every second you are behind the wheel. It’s a blast, and we just wish the stock seats did a better job of holding you in place. But, that’s what the aftermarket is for… Overall, the handling prowess and manual shifting is something that you just have to experience – it’s extremely addicting.

So, with the stock unit being that good right off the showroom floor, what is it like when you add the GYTR Turbo kit into the equation?

I feel like the best way to describe this GYTR kitted YXZ is that it is positively the ultimate “sleeper” in UTV form. You’ve seen the Camaro’s, Mustang’s, Charger’s, and Hellcat’s all lining the streets waiting for the next red light so they can try to smoke their buddies. But there is always that one friend who you line up with at the streetlight with a seemingly stock car. However, when the light turns green and they absolutely smoke you, you know there is something a bit extra lurking beneath the hood. That’s exactly the case with the turbo-equipped YXZ – without a look at the back of the vehicle, you’d never know that the GYTR Turbo kit was ever attached. It sounds exactly the same and runs as smooth as a stock YXZ motor ever would. But, lurking beneath is a spooled up system that is ready to just be unleashed through the tires. Especially when you add launch control into the situation…

Two words – Launch Control!

My time with the turbo-equipped YXZ1000R SS started on a warmer Wednesday morning in the Glamis sand dunes. With 2 days to ride and really get a feel for these YXZ’s in the sand, I woke up primed and ready for some throttle happy fun. Isn’t that what Glamis is for?!

This could just be a personal preference, but I like when motors are hopped up yet still easy on the ears. Sure, it’s nice to have a great sounding exhaust, but the feeling you get when you absolutely smoke another driver in a race and they had no idea it was going to happen, that is real satisfaction there! What I’m getting at here is the fact that the GYTR Turbo kit comes with everything to mount this system to the stock exhaust. This is specifically what makes this sport UTV a total sleeper with the turbo attached. It fires up and sounds the same as a stock unit, and the only way to tell a YXZ has a Turbo is to actually investigate the drivers side by the engine. That’s where you can see the Garrett Turbo charger, TIG-welded air box and stainless steel exhaust manifold, large water-to-air intercooler, reflashed ECU, unique Donaldson air filter assembly, braided stainless steel hoses and AN fittings throughout, and high performance silicone hoses at boost connections to prevent blow offs. In other words, quality is not spared in any way with this kit. If you’ve been around sand cars or high performance engines for any length of time, you can clearly see that this kit is quality. And if you haven’t, then now you know…

The stock Maxxis Bighorn tires are great in the sand, especially with all the Turbo power on tap. The handling of the YXZ is extremely predictable and confidence-inspiring in the dunes.

Once the engine is fired up, it is business as usual when driving the YXZ1000R. Takeoffs are smooth with the new gearing and clutching. Upshifts and downshifts can be had at pretty much any RPM, even full throttle at full boost! Like no other UTV on the market today, the YXZ’s high RPM engine is exhilarating when you pull a full throttle upshift, especially with north of 180 horsepower coming out of the crank. And, I have to say that one of the absolute best parts about this GYTR Turbo kit has to be the fact that the engine is smoother and has more usable power throughout the RPM range compared to stock. It doesn’t have hard “hits” in the powerband; it’s just smooth throughout. When you mash the gas, you better believe that this turbo power comes to life, quickly! Instead of keeping the YXZ up top in the RPMs all the time, the turbo allows you to really utilize the bottom end of this engine, making it less shift-happy and easier to drive. Newbies to the sand dune world would find this turbo-equipped engine actually easier to drive in the dunes because of the more abundant power across the entire RPM range. And the seasoned desert rats will enjoy the significant, put-you-back-in-your-seat boost of power. If you want it to, the power can really come on hard and the turbo gives you a nice little blowoff valve burble when you back off the throttle. That is an oh-so-sweet sound in the sand…

In a wide field of UTVs, it is hard to deny the awesome feeling and direct connection of the Yamaha 3-cylinder engine/5-speed transmission. This powertrain system delivers a spectacular driving experience!

Even with a 60% increase in power output, Yamaha claims that you can still utilize Launch Control in the turbo-equipped YXZ. Of course, we had to test it… Lined up at the bottom of Old’s hill in Glamis, we pitted two GYTR Turbo-equipped YXZ’s together – one with sand tires and the other with stock Maxxis Bighorns. Honestly, I had a bit of trouble getting launch mode to work (totally my fault…) because I wasn’t mashing the gas at the right times. Once I got the hang of it, we pitted the two cars together and did a full throttle launch, through the whoops, grabbing gears, all the way to the top! Surprisingly, the sand tires only gave me about a door length advantage compared to the stock Bighorns. It was so close that I barely saw the other YXZ in the rearview mirror! If I was to choose whether or not to put sand tires on this GYTR Turbo car in the sand or not, I would still choose the sand tires for the wider contact patch and better all around duning performance. Yamaha is selling their own factory-approved sand tires now, and these did work well when we tested them. However, I think there are some better options on the market, especially when we look at the front tires. The ribs are fine on the Yamaha editions, but they aren’t quite large enough to really help you steer through the rough stuff. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t a bad set of sand tires, but I’d like to have a bit more rib height on the front tires so the front retains all of the handling prowess that the stock YXZ is so well known for.

While paddles aren’t totally necessary, the YXZ1000R does benefit from the added traction and bigger contact patch. These accessory items are a great sand tire option.

In case anyone was wondering, we also pitted a GYTR Turbo-equipped YXZ against a completely stock YXZ1000R. With launch control on both units, we blasted up the hill to see just how much distance the Turbo-equipped model would put on the stocker. You’re right, there was no competition… The surprise was just how much space was left between the cars – it was literally car lengths, not feet. I’d say 4 car lengths separated the Turbo at the top with the stocker, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was a larger margin that we all initially thought.

One of the real pros of the YXZ platform is the handling traits of this vehicle, especially with the revised 2019 suspension. With dual rate springs from the factory on the SE version, plus the added bonus of having full shock adjustability, a driver can really tailor the ride and handling traits of the YXZ to fit their personal driving style. I found it very hard to get the YXZ to bottom out on even the harshest transitions with this progressive and well sprung dual rate setup. Having that much bottom resistance also makes this vehicle a bit rough on the slow speed sections of the dunes or when you’re going over deep ruts, but I like the fact that you can adjust the slow speed compression to alleviate some of the harshness. Almost all of the manufacturers have gone away from a fully adjustable suspension setup, and as someone who has driven all of the sport UTVs and appreciates a well suspended vehicle in stock form, the 2019 YXZ is very hard to beat.

Even when you shove the YXZ into corner, the balanced and nimble chassis never gets out of shape. The harder you drive it, the more fun it is, especially with all of the 2019 suspension enhancements.

So, at the end of the day, the GYTR Turbo kit is obviously much faster and still retains all of the handling prowess of the stock YXZ. It’s also an easy installation on the 2019 model because it’s all bolt on – no more taking the engine apart and replacing the rods with heavy duty units (for 2019, Yamaha just upgraded the stock YXZ engine to include the better rods and parts – kudos, Yamaha!). It sounds like this GYTR Turbo kit is well worth it for the $5499.99 price tag, right?!

YES! If you have a 2019 YXZ1000R and you want the extra power, this GYTR Turbo kit is an absolute must. Not only does it up the fun factor on your YXZ, but it brings a whole new driving experience to an already extremely capable vehicle. I’d absolutely lay down my own money for it, that’s for sure…

You can check out this GYTR Turbo kit on Yamaha’s website.

Buying tip: Get the 4-point harness bracket, along with the 4-point harnesses, and you’ll really feel like your “in” the YXZ1000R.

Be safe in the sand – we’ll see you in the dunes!

Photos by: Adam Campbell Photography


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