The all-new 240 Series sport boats from Yamaha successfully address two performance issues long associated with jet-powered runabouts: noise in the cockpit and wandering at no-wake speeds. The improvements are so dramatic that the boats' other new features and updated details seem like icing on the cake.
The new 240 Series includes four models that are based on a new 24-foot hull form that’s six inches longer and has higher freeboard from bow to stern. The base model is the SX240 ($50,499), while the AR240 ($53,499) adds a tow-sports tower and flashy graphics. Further upscale are the 242 Limited ($58,499) and tower-equipped 242 Limited S ($61,499). All prices include a trailer.
A pair of Yamaha 1.8-liter, 180-horsepower, four-cylinder engines power all models, each mated to a Yamaha jet pump—the same powertrain that propelled previous 240 Series boats. The new boats weigh about 255 pounds more than the models they replace.
The noise level in previous Yamaha boats—made worse by the high pitch—was so bad that it was all but impossible to have a conversation in the cockpit, even at cruising speeds. The new 240 Series boats are as quiet as any sterndrive-powered runabout I’ve tested, and the decibel meter proves it.
Here’s a comparison of the last Yamaha 240 model I tested against the preproduction 2015 AR240 I ran this August: At 2400 rpm (no-wake speed) I recorded 75 dBA for the old model, compared to 66 dBA for the 2015 model. Ramping the engines up to 5500 rpm (31 mph) produced 92 dBA and 88 dBA for the old and new models, respectively. Lastly, at 6500 rpm (40 mph), the old model produced 97 dBA, while the new boat came in at 92 dBA. On the logarithmic decibel scale, a three-decibel change is roughly twice as loud, or half as quiet, as the point of comparison. In layman’s terms, new Yamaha 240 boats are dramatically quieter than the previous models.
Yamaha did some easy things to reduce the noise, such as placing thicker insulation under the engine hatch and doing a better job of sealing the engine bay. More challenging was developing a new material for the coupler between the engines and jet drive shafts and redesigning the shape of the jet pump inlets to reduce turbulence. Even the placement of the adhesive that bonds the liner to the hull and the liner design itself were fine-tuned to limit resonance of engine and pump noise through the hull.
Back on Track
A new hull shape, and a feature Yamaha refers to as an “articulated keel extension,” help the new 240 Series models track better at low speeds. Without these features, piloting a jet boat through a long no-wake zone generally requires constant course corrections, especially if there’s a crosswind. That’s primarily because there’s no rudder or drive unit to help hold it on course.
The 240’s running surface now has a “dihedral keel,” a sort of fin that’s about six inches deep at the transom and extends forward about 13 feet. A cast-aluminum, articulated keel extension at the transom adds perhaps another 12 inches to this shape. It’s also hinged, and steered via a tie-bar that’s connected to the starboard jet pump nozzle. You could just call the “articulated keel” a rudder, except that it doesn’t project below the hull.
Watch a short video of the Yamaha 240 dihedral keel
All that business under the boat helps a lot. Once I got the AR240 to five mph, I could let go of the wheel and the boat stayed on course. Previous Yamaha jet boats would start to spin in a circle if you let go of the wheel. Getting on a straight course with the new boat is still a little tricky, probably because the boat just doesn’t respond well to steering input at low speeds. This could make docking a bit tricky, so a deft touch is required.
An unintended benefit of the new keel shape is much sharper handling at speed. The boat doesn’t “skid” in a fast turn, and tracks really well through chop and wakes. The new design does not seem to impact boat speed much. I clocked a top seed of 50 mph on the preproduction AR240, which suffers from the added weight and drag of its tower. The SX240 should run about 53 mph, about the same as the previous model.
Features Fine Tuned
The basic layout of the new Yamaha 240 series is similar to previous models, starting with the signature terraced lounging area at the transom and easy step-through in the cockpit. New is a wet-gear stowage compartment behind each of the aft back rests, each large enough to hold some fenders or ski vests.
Bench seats wrap around the cockpit, and there are bucket seats at the console. Both bucket seats now recline, and the port seat can pivot 180 degrees to face aft. I found the bench seat backrests to be a little uncomfortable, however, partly because the seat bottoms are rather wide. Each seat-bottom cushion is now hinged with a clever cam arm for under-seat stowage access; the old cushions had to be removed and set aside. A snap-in carpet is standard.
The port-side console is new, with a head/stowage compartment that is accessed through a wide door on its inboard side. The compartment is lighted, and there’s just enough room for a portable head. There’s also a handy stowage shelf, but no opening port or significant ventilation, so things could get stuffy in there. The aft console surface has a black plastic insert that incorporates a locking glove box and, above that, a compartment with a wide door that flips down to become a surface for snack preparation or serving food.
New Flash on the Dash
There’s a dramatic new feature at the helm console, where Yamaha’s Connext, a seven-inch touch-screen display, replaces or augments much of the usual instrumentation and switches. A pair of analog tachometers are retained on the center of the dash, and the blower switch is located above the ignition keys. Everything else you might typically find on the dash is displayed on the Connext screen. When the boat is at rest and Connext is activated, the “float” mode screen displays battery voltage, audio volume, and water depth.
The boat’s audio system, which features Bluetooth and USB connectivity, is also controlled through the Connext screen. When the engines are running, the audio volume display automatically switches to show fuel level, battery voltage, and engine rpm. Boat speed is displayed at the bottom of the home screen. Six touch buttons along the top of the screen scroll Connext through its different modes.
Regular push buttons at the bottom of the unit control bilge pump, lights, and horn. The “Trip Info” screen displays fuel usage and rpm for each engine, as well as boat speed. On the “System Control” screen it’s possible to set the bilge blower to an automatic mode, and you can also turn the screen off, although it automatically dims in low light. Lower on the dash is a joystick that controls top-level functions of the Connext system, including audio and the Cruise Assist and No-Wake Mode speed controls. I’ve just scratched the surface on the Connext features here, but I found the system easy to understand and, for the most part, pretty functional. Because Yamaha knows its customers like to beach and relax on these boats, they come set up for a dual battery system (starting and house), with battery switches located below the port aft seat.
The AR240 I tested comes with a tow-sports tower as the only added feature over the base SX240, other than sportier graphics. It’s essentially a $3,000 upgrade, but it does incorporate a very functional sun top that’s a lot nicer than the base SX240’s setup. The new tower sweeps forward and is hinged, so it can be folded down to rest behind the windshield.
The 242 Limited models have a long list of upgraded features that make them a little plusher. A teak-look Seadeck mat material replaces the Hydroturf on the swim platform and bow peak, and the carpet is thicker. Upholstery throughout the boat has more texture and added bolstering, while grab handles have a soft-touch surface. The steering wheel is even upgraded, and the audio system is boosted with six Polk Audio speakers, including two additional speakers at the transom, where there are also bottom seat cushions added to the upper lounge level and a rinsing shower with a 10-gallon tank. The 242 Limited S package also adds docking lights and its own tow-sports tower with a color-matched cast aluminum base and integrated LED lights and speakers.
|Fuel capacity||50 gal.|
|Water capacity||10 gal.|
In addressing two key shortcomings of jet propulsion, Yamaha has not tampered with the advantages of its drive system. It’s lightweight—the combined powertrain in the 240 series delivers 360 horsepower but weighs only 700 pounds. Consider that the new MerCruiser 4.5L is rated at 250 horsepower but weighs 940 pounds with an Alpha outdrive.
The Yamaha powertrain is mechanically simple, self-draining, and requires minimal maintenance. Of course there’s no propeller to ding, and despite not having trim, the 240 Series boats will out-accelerate (zero to 30 mph in 4.8 seconds) and are faster than comparable propeller-powered runabouts. A nice mid-range boat, the Four Winns Horizon 230 for example, has a base price of $60,000 with a 270-horsepower sterndrive that will deliver a top speed of about 46 mph. The 21-foot Scarab 215 starts at about $43,000 with 300 horsepower.
Yamaha has been selling every boat it can build in its Vonore, TN, plant, which has been expanded twice in recent years. So while it probably didn’t need to make its flagship models quieter, or run a little better, those changes will help the company achieve its ambitious plans to expand its footprint in the market. The next step is to get owners of sterndrive boats to trade their propeller-driven boats for a jet. Considering the already-capable Yamaha 240 now is quieter and tracks better, Yamaha should be successful in that goal.
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