Review: Kymco UXV700i UTV

By: Barry Ashenhurst, Video by: Barry Ashenhurst

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Kymco’s new UXV700i side-by-side is a smart little package for those who want civilised features, not big carrying or towing capacity

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We’ve had brief experience with the Taiwanese Kymco brand but impressions have been favourable. The machines appear to be well made for the price; the specs competitive at the softer end of the market where Kymco operates.

The brand has been handed around over the past 10 years, and been allowed to run down from a marketing point of view, but deserves better and will probably get it now that it’s being handled by Mojo Motorcycles. Kymcos aren’t the biggest, fastest, strongest or toughest, but are made by a recognised equipment manufacturer, not a can-opener factory with a sideline in UTVs. Kymco builds UTVs for Kawasaki and its product is generally considered good value for money. In my always humble opinion, they’re underrated.

The Kymco UXV700i side on
The Kymco’s good at sneaking around tight spots but, with 700cc, has plenty of power for cruising at speed. It’s also very comfortable.

The problem with comparing a Kymco with a similar UTV is finding a similar UTV. The off-road market is bat-flap insane, more so for first-timers. Many makes and models compete for your attention, so you need at least a basic working knowledge of these machines before you can tell the difference and make sensible purchasing decisions. You can screw up really quickly. So here’s some unsolicited advice.

If you’re in the market for a new UTV, conduct a box ticking exercise. Look for machines in your price range to determine who offers the most for the money. Run through the specs of every machine (it’s easy; they’re on the net). But the last and most important thing, get your bum on the seat. A machine that looks good on paper might drive like the crudest thing that’s ever had wheels, so don’t buy anything until you, and especially the wife, have driven it.  

At $13,990 drive away, right now the Kymco’s closest competitors are the Polaris Ranger 570 HD at $14,990, and the CF Moto U550 EPS at $11,990, so maybe you should start box ticking there.

The Kymco from the rear
The smallish tray drops easily under its own steam and has a useful rubber liner

COMPACT AND COMFORATABLE

Kymco, CF Moto and Land Boss (formerly Linhai) are distributed in Australia by Mojo Motorcycles. In our opinion Kymco is the better product. And they keep improving it. Some changes to the latest model are minor but some will, or should, make a difference. Here they are:

  • the ‘flagship’ 700i gets new fuel injection mapping and an output of 45 horsepower (33.6kW) from its liquid-cooled four-stroke single. Does it feel like 45hp? We’ll get to that in a minute.
  • Kymco says the transmission has been improved to match the extra engine output
  • front suspension A-arms have been redesigned to increase ground clearance
  • rollcage and seatbelt designs are new, to "create better headspace in the cockpit and increase overall occupant protection". "Better headspace" probably means more headroom.
  • Kaifa gas shocks have preload, compression and rebound adjustment. Most UTV shocks have preload adjustment only.
  • seats have ultra high backs. There’s a new steering wheel as well.
  • this model has a shaft-mounted handbrake and a Park slot in the gearbox. Good.
  • 25-inch (635mm) Maxxis tyres are standard, on 12-inch (304.8mm), four-stud black steel wheels.

A recreational version of the 700i is available in the US but the Australian version is farm only. Here’s what we think of it.

The UXV is a compact machine, perfectly suited to crawling through tight scrub and along twisty creek-beds. We know because we spent a day doing it. That it has a 700cc engine gives it decent on-road performance as well. It’s a neat combination of on and off-road capability and turns out to be a very pleasant thing to drive.

Ground clearance is said to be 12 inches – ‘said to be’ because we don’t actually measure these things – and not once did the Kymco get hung up on trail obstacles or in rocky creek-beds. It’s also quite agile for a machine with a rollover protection system (ROPS) and if you’re careful you can sneak under low hanging branches and through ‘tree tunnels’.   

Sliding the driver’s seat forward gives access to a handy storage bin.
Sliding the driver’s seat forward gives access to a handy storage bin.

Kymco says the single-overhead cam engine produces 45hp. Some American reviewers have said they doubt that figure but we think it’s legit. The little donk certainly pulls hard on hills and its top speed on our gravel dragstrip was 90km/h. It had no difficulty fording the Brisbane River either.  

The two-seater arrangement is nicely laid out. The high-back bucket seats are more than comfortable and better than you’d expect in this price range. No doubt this will make the Kymco popular with women who find more agricultural machines clunky things to drive.  

Other features will make it popular as a civilised cross-over:

  • positioned between the seats, the gear selector has a smooth action and picks up the gear with no crunching, stalling or bogging in one slot
  • storage space is well thought out. In-cab is a two-slot cupholder, a small tray in the centre of the dash and a glovebox to the right. Moving the driver’s seat forward reveals a lidded bin.
  • lift the bonnet and there’s a huge storage bin, though unsealed
  • the electronic power-steering is well weighted; 
  • the brakes are strong and engine braking in low range is excellent.
Kymco’s new UXV700i side-by-side is a smart little package
Kymco’s new UXV700i side-by-side is a smart little package

The radiator is well protected with a mesh guard. The cargo bed is smaller than you’d get in a purely commercial machine but has a nice rubber liner and tips easily under its own effort when you pull back the latch.

Ride quality is pretty good for a small machine like this. No doubt to gain a marketing advantage, Kymco fitted fully adjustable shocks, and by ‘fully adjustable’ we mean preload, compression and rebound, something you see only on recreational UTVs, and not all of them. Will farmers mess around with clickers? Probably not, but young blokes who see themselves as rally drivers probably will. No harm done. And they might learn something, like how to get compression and rebound totally out of whack.

Controls are well placed. A small switch-dial to the left of the steering wheel chooses two or four-wheel drive and engages the diff lock.  

In-dash are a 12-volt socket and a USB port. The instrument cluster is small but easy to read. A bright, coloured row of gear position indicators runs along the bottom of the digital display to let you know what gear you’re in.

To make sure you fit your seatbelt, the vehicle will do no more than 10kph until you buckle up. Kymco fitted net doors but there’s only a small shoulder bolster on either side. Frankly, we like that. One of our testers rolled a UTV at low speed some years ago and when his body contacted the steel bar it damaged the nerves in his shoulder, necessitating an operation. Manufacturers have a habit of including these bolsters as a safety device but seldom pad them with soft material to prevent the injury I’ve just described.

Which, I must confess, drags me kicking and screaming to the subject of whether or not to wear a helmet in a UTV. The answer is yes, bloody yes!

Dual discs up front and single disc on the drive-shaft. Braided lines are part of the package
Dual discs up front and single disc on the drive-shaft. Braided lines are part of the package.

The Queensland Gummint can’t decide one way or the other on this issue and has changed its poor little mind several times. Bugger the gummint. If you refuse to wear a helmet then you can’t blame anyone when your bonce collides with a portion of a ROPS that more or less surrounds you in a UTV.

We can’t be anything but positive about this neat little machine. It may have faults we didn’t find in the six hours we had it – they all might – but on the face of it the Kymco has a lot going for it. It’s for those who don’t need big carrying or towing capacity, or serious rough terrain ability, but a comfortable people mover that can handle a bit of rough terrain if it happens to be in the way. And you can play in it, which does no harm at all. As a cross-over vehicle it’s good value for money. That it comes with a five-year limited warranty is a bonus.

 

KYMCO UXV700i SPECS:

Engine – SOHC 4-stroke single

Capacity – 695cc

Fuel delivery – Electronic injection

Claimed output – 45hp (33.6kW) at 6,500rpm

Fuel capacity – 32 litres

Transmission – CVT auto with high/low range, front diff lock

Park brake – ‘P’ in the gearbox and a mechanical handbrake

Gear selector – Sequential shifter between the seats (PRNHL)

 

RUNNING GEAR 

Wheels and tyres – 25-inch Maxxis tyres on 12-inch, four-stud wheels

Suspension – Dual A-arms front and rear

Shocks – Kaifa gas, with rebound, comp, and preload                                        

                 adjustment

Brakes – Dual front discs/ single rear disc, with braided lines

DIMENSIONS

Length/Width/Height - 2870 x 1500 x 1850mm

Wheelbase – 1910mm

Tray size – 1210 x 820 x 310mm

Payload capacity – 200kg

Towing capacity – 550kg

Claimed ground clearance – 300mm

Claimed dry weight – 543kg

RRP – $13,990

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