No boat squeezes more fun from every dollar spent than a personal watercraft. Right now our favorite new models run the gamut in price and performance, from entry-level tiddlers to mind-bending water-rockets. Manufacturers are focused on creating new engines that improve power density – more power from a smaller package – with economy enhanced by the latest in design technology.
Yamaha WaveRunner EX Series
The all-new WaveRunner EX series from Yamaha is an antidote to the high cost of boating. The 10' 3" long EX is about six inches shorter and 100 lbs. lighter than the V1 models it replaces, and EX models will be priced about $1,200 less than a comparable V1. The base EX ($6,599) has just the basics. The EX Sport ($7,599) adds manual reverse thrust, a reboarding step, mirrors and more graphics. The EX Deluxe ($8,599) features the Yamaha RiDE electronic reverse/brake system, blue or silver metallic base paint color, and a two-tone seat. All EX models are rated for three passengers.
The EX was designed specifically for the new lightweight Yamaha TR-1/HO engine. For EX duty, the compact, three-cylinder TR-1 is slightly detuned to about 100 HP, performance that’s a good match for the size and weight of the EX platform and a top speed of about 50 MPH. This hull delivers a soft ride in lake chop and carves like a devil on smooth water. The TR-1 engine is smooth and quiet, and Yamaha says it delivers about 20 percent better fuel economy than the MR-1 engine it replaces.
For information, visit Yamaha WaveRunners.
Sea-Doo Spark Trixx
Based on the two-passenger Sea Doo Spark with the 90 HP 900 ACE HO engine, the Trixx features VTS (Variable Trim System) with extended range–17 degrees up and 6.0 degrees down trim compared to 7.0 and 4.5 degrees respectively for the standard VTS–that makes it possible to ride the Trixx around on its tail at low speed. Spins and hops are easy to perform, too. Wedges at the aft ends of the footwells help the rider hold position when the bow is high, and a handlebar riser with three inches of range can be adjusted without tools to suit rider preference and provide more leverage over the boat.
With the bars lowered and the trim set at a normal angle, the Spark Trixx performs like a 90 HP Spark ($5,899) the entry-level model Sea-Doo introduced to much acclaim several seasons ago. The lightweight hull and deck are molded with polypropylene reinforced with long-strand glass fibers, and the Spark Trixx weighs just 422 lbs. and so can make the most of its relatively small engine. The excellent BRP electronic Intelligent Brake & Reverse system is a standard feature of the TRIXX package. Top speed is about 48 MPH.
For information, visit Sea Doo.
Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R
The Jet Ski SX-R ($9,999) is ready to reignite the passion of stand-up PWC riders with an all-new platform powered by a 1.5-liter four-stroke engine. The most-previous Jet Ski SX-R went out of production following the 2011 model year, a victim of new emissions regulations and flagging sales. The 2017 SX-R is larger and heavier, and offers a new riding experience with a wider, v-bottom hull, a broad-and-steady powerband and roughly twice the horsepower of the previous model’s 781cc two-stroke engine.
With a length of 8’8” and a beam of 2’6”, the new SX-R is 14” longer and 1.3” wider than the previous SX-R and at 551 lbs., weighs a significant 181 lbs. more than that Jet Ski did. To accommodate that weight, the running surface is wider to provide added buoyancy. The added length is obvious in the nose, where the new SX-R extends further forward from the handle pole pivot. The four-cylinder engine is also used in the Jet Ski STX-15F model, so it’s a proven performer. The handle pole now incorporates a small stowage compartment and low-fuel and engine warning lights. A magnetic key is a new theft-deterrent.
For information, visit Kawasaki.
Yamaha WaveRunner GP1800
Power-to-weight ratio is the key to high performance, which is why the new Yamaha GP1800 ($13,999) is designed to pack more power in a lighter package, creating a WaveRunner so potent Yamaha says this new muscle-craft is intended for “racers and experienced high-performance enthusiasts.” The power comes from the proven 1.8-liter Yamaha Marine Super Vortex High Output (SVHO) equipped with a supercharger and an intercooler and unofficially rated at about 260 HP. The hull and deck shape is very similar to the sporty WaveRunner VXR, but is molded with the lightweight NanoXcel2 composite SMC material. The result is a dry weight of 769 lbs., a significant 22 lbs. lighter than the FXR model the GP1800 replaces and only two pounds more than the VXR, which is not supercharged.
The GP1800 delivers performance that demands absolute respect. Top speed is close to 70 MPH, but it’s the acceleration that really mind-bending – this machine can rip from a sedate 30 MPH to a cheek-flapping 60 MPH in the blink of an eye. The hull is balanced to deliver precise steering response that reacts almost instantly to input from the handlebars. Again, the rider really needs to pay attention but those with skill and nerve will be rewarded with a ride that approaches the performance of a race-ready machine. Few performance boats of any type offer more bang for the buck.
For information, visit Yamaha WaveRunners.
Sea-Doo Rotax 1500 HO ACE Engine
BRP spreads its latest ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) engine technology through the Sea-Doo line with this all-new 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, which powers the 2017 Sea-Doo GTX Limited 230, GTR 230, GTR-X 230 and Wake Pro 230 models. Much of its design is similar to that of the 300 HP 1630 ACE engine that debuted in 2016 models, including a four-valve-per-cylinder head, a new combustion chamber, improvements to exhaust and intake porting, and the plasma-coated cylinders introduced last year in place of pressed-in iron sleeves. The intercooler is claimed to be 75 percent more efficient. The engine is designed to run well on regular-grade fuel, and delivers the same fuel efficiency as the less-powerful engine it replaces, according to BRP.
The new Sea-Doo GTR-X 230 ($12,999) is a prime application for the 1500 HO ACE. Intended to appeal to sporty-minded rec riders, the GTR-X 230 mates the top deck from the high-performance RXP-X with its ErgoLock seating position to the GTR hull that offers less-extreme handling than the RXP-X. In the GTR-X the new 1500 HO ACE delivers strong acceleration, a top speed of about 65 MPH, and handling that’s fun but never so abrupt as to catch a rider off-guard.
For more information, visit Sea Doo.
There you have it; five great PWC ways to play on the water—each priced less than a mid-size outboard motor. If you’re looking for “smiles per gallon,” start with a new personal watercraft.
See personal watercraft listings, on boats.com.