Kymco – our verdict

kymco atvKymco


New for 2008, the MXU 400RL is a joint effort with Arctic Cat. Single cylinder aircooled petrol, £4680 + VAT.

Our rating: 4th

New for 2008, the MXU 400RL is a joint effort with Arctic Cat. Single cylinder aircooled petrol, £4680 + VAT.

Looks, build quality ++++

Small, neat. Cheap-looking display panel spoils an otherwise quality air.

Equipment, cost +++

Basic like the Honda, but homologated for road use (so has full lighting set) and with independent rear suspension. Simple LCD display, analogue fuel gauge in the tank top.

Practicality +++

Good load capacity from two slim racks, plus twin compartments below the easily-removed seat. Fine gated gearshift and start-in-gear ability encourage jump-on-and-go riding.

An extended towbar puts the ball in easy reach, but the central exhaust exits directly in line with it. No replaceable wheelarch extensions or recoil starter. 12V outlet up front, wide footboard slots help shed mud.

Performance +++

The 367cc petrol engine has its work cut out among the 500s. Claimed light weight helps make the most of the Kymco’s quadricycle-legal 19.8hp, but the heavy Quadzilla still beat it in the hillclimb.

Belt drive calibration keeps the engine revving so the compact Kymco always feels a smaller-capacity ATV. Yet top speed is 52mph and it’s engagingly perky ridden solo.

Fuel consumption ++

Relatively limited power and constant high revs don’t encourage low fuel consumption, particularly when towing. 24.9mpg parallels the heavier, faster Polaris.

Brakes +++

Plenty of stopping power and a short wheelbase means stoppies (back end wheelies) are a hard squeeze of the discs away. A shame that engine braking isn’t available in reverse. Excellent flip-over parking brake needs an indicator lamp or other reminder that it’s set.

Ride, comfort, noise +++

Independent rear suspension looks much like the Arctic Cat’s but doesn’t deliver the same controlled ride, though the Kymco’s short wheelbase probably influences this. Compliance over small bumps isn’t extended to larger ones.

Handling, steering +++

Very light steering and a tight turning circle make for low-effort riding. A jiggly ride, keenness to follow contours and handlebar shimmy detract from the pleasure.

Maintenance ++

Air cooled so no radiator. Engine dipstick access is very poor thanks to a hard-to-remove cover. Slotting the aircleaner in below a front mudguard is OK until it’s covered by mud, while the battery is below a screwed-down cover under the seat.

Weighted score 2.77. Rather overshadowed by the bigger petrol-engined models in this test. Yet the Kymco’s rideability, compactness and competitive price deserve to win it friends.