Yamaha's strategy is simple: Keep it simple and target only the Family Fun category with its boats. Boats in this category range from 18 to 23 feet in length and are still the most common boats in production today.
Staying with this strategy meant only one thing for Yamaha: go smaller. It already had a 23-foot boat with its SX230, so it had to offer a smaller package to stay within the bounds of the Family Fun category — and we're glad it did.
A smaller boat costs less, is more nimble and playful to drive and is easier on your tow vehicle. And in this case, Yamaha took many of the popular aspects of its larger boat and made them even better while incorporating them into the build of the brand-new SX210.
Probably the most talked-about area on the SX210 is the swim platform. We would actually hesitate to compare it with typical swim platforms found on other boats and would almost rather refer to it as an aft deck. You'll find a two-tiered platform covered with Hydro-Turf matting, which provides excellent traction and is comfortable to sit and kneel on. You'll also find a curved radius around the forward portion of the upper platform with curved port and starboard backrests — and in the center of the lower platform you'll find a base for a pedestal table. This all amounts to a place where two or three people can relax and lounge in comfort while the boat is stationary, similar to the aft deck of a much larger craft. And, don't forget that the platform will also make a great staging area for watersports — one of the best we've ever seen on a boat this size (and the notched step-over transom improved accessibility).
In terms of seating you'll find that the SX210 is similar to what you'd see on a specialty watersports boat. In the cockpit there's comfortable wrap-around seating starting at the console to port and wrapping all around to just aft of the driver's chair. The chair itself is sporty and comes standard with a flip-up bolster. In fact, everything you see on the SX210 is standard because there are no options available — Yamaha decided to include everything without trying to nickel-and-dime you to death with a bunch of puffed-up options. And we're confident you won't be found wanting for much of anything else anyway.
Here's another treat: twin power on a 21-foot boat. The SX210 is powered by a pair of Yamaha 110 hp 1052cc marine engines with jet drives — the same ones found in many of its high-end PWC. Twin power offers all kinds of nifty little advantages, including being able to limp home if one of the engines dies and having excellent maneuverability in tight spaces. And don't forget the advantages of jet drives. They allow you to explore the shallows without having to worry about thrashing a prop, and they are considerably lighter than stern drives, increasing your horsepower-to-weight ratio and boosting acceleration.
Our review took place on Tellico Lake near Knoxville, Tennessee, where Yamaha has a testing facility. We had two people aboard and a third of a tank of fuel (about 17 gallons or 106 pounds). Our two engines were spinning 16.5-in., 3-blade stainless steel impellers.
The SX210 blasted out of the hole and onto plane in only 3.4 seconds — within 7 seconds we had passed 30 mph. With the throttles all the way forward we quickly spooled up to a top speed of 45.6 mph at 8,100 rpm, which is exactly where these engines are designed to top out at, so you can feel good that the impellers are spot on in terms of pitch. At peak speed you can expect a range of about 132 miles. Our most efficient cruising speed was 31.5 mph at 6,500 rpm, which yielded a range of about 177 miles. In both cases the SX210 was pretty loud with 109 dBa at top speed and 97 dBa at cruising speed.
Handling at top speed was admirable without a hint of slop in the wheel. We set the speedo at 40 mph and gave the wheel a few hard-over turns — the SX210 stuck them well and lost a minimal amount of speed in the super-tight corners. In all, the SX210 is a really fun craft to drive, but it's not so aggressive as to put inexperienced boaters on edge.
You'll also appreciate the SX210's no-wake mode, which limits the rpm to 2,500 and dials you in with a speed of 5 mph while motoring through no-wake zones.
Yamaha does things a little differently because it started out with PWC and later branched out into boats. One of the main differences between Yamaha and other builders is that it offers what it feels is a complete product without bothering you with a bunch of options. The SX210 completely covers the basics and covers them well for this size of boat.
At a price of $28,899, the SX210 is a little higher priced for what we would consider an entry-level craft, and we attribute that to the fact that it comes with many of the features you'd have to buy as options on other craft and because this is a high-quality machine, not something where corners were cut to shave a few bucks off the price here and there.
In terms of handling and watersports ability, the SX210 won't let you down, and the wakeboard/ski-boat-inspired seating will keep you and your posse happy. The SX210 brings something different to those of you who are shopping in the Family Fun category, and we think it will resonate with many of you.
Unlike most other boats, the Yamaha SX210 is an all-inclusive package. No worrying about having to budget for an extra $5,000 or $6,000 to buy the trailer, Bimini top and filler cushions, because all that stuff is already figured in.
You'll also be glad to know there's no need to bring a cooler. In the center of the sole there is a huge glassed-in cooler with an overboard drain, plenty for a full day of food, drinks and snacks. There's also no lack of storage at all — if anything, there's an overabundance of storage. There's room under the bow seats and more under the outboard seats in the cockpit. There's even more room inside the port helm — there wasn't enough height for it to qualify as a head, but we guess many of you will buy a Porta Potti and use it for that anyway (and it would make a great place to stow deflated tubes out of the way).
Another interesting thing to note is how low the engines are set in the SX210. Because the boat is a jet drive, the engines have to be set lower than you'll find with a typical stern drive arrangement. This means the engines are less intrusive on interior space, and this is evident in the design of the SX210, which doesn't have the typical raised engine hatch most stern drives of this size do.
Editor's note: Be sure to check out Go Boating magazine for the complete review of the Yamaha SX210, as well as how-to articles, tests of the latest products and subscription information.
Manufacturer Contact Information
Yamaha Motor Corp., USA
1270 Chastain Road
Kennesaw, GA 30144