CFMoto ZForce 1000 Sport review: a hilarious beast of an off-road toy
Driving CFMoto's latest sports side-by-side and trying not to roll it
You might think the luckiest people in the automotive industry are either billionaires or journalists – but you'd be wrong. The luckiest people are those with fields.
That's because unless you own a racetrack, you're going to have a lot more fun slithering around in mud than you can on law-bound Tarmac. Which is probably why CFMoto has created the ZForce 1000 Sport – a side-by-side off-roader that's designed to yump, jump and generally hoon around off-road. Or on.
I spent a morning hooning a ZForce 1000 Sport around a motocross track with DriveTribe's Lucy Brown – watch the video below to see how we got on, or read on for more thoughts.
What is it?
This ZForce 1000 has an optional tyre rack and rear box
It's a £13,000 side-by-side that weighs a mere 690kg, yet is punted along by a bespoke 78hp V-twin engine. It's a 963cc unit with 80Nm of torque, which can send power to all four wheels through a CVT gearbox. You can run the ZForce 1000 Sport in rear-drive mode (through a limited-slip diff on the back axle), or in four-wheel drive mode or four-wheel-drive with a diff lock.
How does it drive?
The ZForce 1000 Sport fires up with a pretty raucous burble from its two rear-mounted exhausts, then it's a case of pushing the gear lever forward into Drive (or further forward to put it in low-range), releasing the manual handbrake and then prodding the accelerator.
The doors open from the front, suicide-door stylee
It's fair to say that in sport mode the throttle mapping is on the honey badger side of aggressive, and after working out that the suspension can cope with huge bumps, you quickly feel confident enough to give it a bootful.
At which point the ZForce 1000 suddenly feels like it has the most potent 80hp you've ever felt. Probably because by the time it hits 40mph you feel as if you're doing 150mph, with ears of corn and grass snakes slapping you in the face as you explore the countryside.
Drive it hard and you'll rarely be on all four wheels
The way it finds grip on wet grass and powers forward is partially testament to the grippy 27-inch tyres, although you always sense that the back axle is doing a bit more work than the front, so you can floor it out of corners with an armful of opposite lock. It's hilarious fun, and in rear-drive mode you're very rarely pointing in a straight line.
The electric power steering is light, which is helpful because you're constantly feeding in corrections as a result of your right foot's inputs. The four disc brakes work impressively well, and when it comes to stopping the limiting factor is the grip available between tyres and mud.
How does it corner?
On two wheels if you're not careful. Like most side-by-sides, the ZForce 1000 Sport can feel top-heavy when you get too much grip mid-corner. You have to be careful with your inputs and take it easy in tighter turns, simply because there's always the threat of it rolling over – although the quick steering allows you to quickly correct any mishaps (see Lucy almost sticking us upside down at 11:30 in the video above).
You don't need to be in rear-wheel-drive mode to indulge in a bit of skidding around
The rollcage is a proper ROPS-certified one, and the whole vehicle can be put on its roof without bending anything. You're held in place by a regular three-point seatbelt, but you can fit harnesses if you're going to be jumping it regularly.
Oh yes. This is the ZForce 1000's piece de resistance – its durability. The suspension does such a good job at damping jolts and bumps that you'll soon be finding things to jump it off. You'll want to keep a bit of throttle on when you're in the air to avoid pitching nose-down for your landing (but you need to lift off just as you land to preserve the life of the drivetrain). The jolt upon landing is never half as bad as your brain imagines – again, a testament to the suspension.
This happens a lot – the landings are more comfortable than you'd think
It's once you've had half an hour getting used to the ZForce that you really start to uncover its mischievous side – and you just start driving it faster and faster over tougher terrain. You can get yourself into real trouble with the combination of the engine's low-down punch and the suspension's pliancy, and you find yourself carrying more and more speed – eventually doing much bigger jumps than originally anticipated.
That said, if you prefer to keep it on flat ground then there's a lot of fun and satisfaction pulling dirty big slides out of every corner. It feels like big soft muddy go-kart that can actually tow stuff.
What about the practical stuff?
Well, it's road legal and comes with mirrors (we removed them for off-roading's sake) and a front-mounted winch.
The interior is rugged and designed to be hosed out
Visibility out is fantastic until your helmet fills with bees, although there is an optional windscreen to help mitigate facial pollination. The seats are super comfy, and the utilitarian interior is happy to be hosed out at the end of the day.
You get a full digital dash which shows the state of the 4wd system
There are some nice touches – the driver gets a digital dash screen, which can be flicked between a few modes and shows how you've got the four-wheel-drive system setup.
Should I buy one?
Got land? Get one of these…
If you have some land to dick about on then there aren't many four-wheeled toys that are as fun (or affordable) as the ZForce 1000 Sport. It gleefully soaks up adolescent punishment and pushes you to be more and more of an idiot. It's brilliant. Sometimes the best things on four wheels aren't cars…