The new Yamaha VXR and VXS WaveRunner models were introduced to dealers, along with the rest of the 2011 line, at a meeting in Atlanta on August 25. Using a classic high-performance formula, Yamaha has dropped a big engine in a little hull, specifically the 180-hp version of its 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine in a light-weight rendition of the VX-series hull, an econo-model previously powered by a 110-hp, 1.0-liter engine. The aim is to offer a high-performance model that takes enthusiast riders back in time, to the days when a fast PWC was smaller, lighter, and less expensive.

2011 Yamaha VXR

2011 Yamaha VXR

“We challenged ourselves to create a WaveRunner that could run out in front of the most high-performance watercraft on the market, and to do it at a price thousands less than anything else,” said Scott Watkins, Yamaha’s product development manager.  “We achieved it by matching our 1812cc engine, the largest displacement in the industry, with a lightweight compact platform.  By doing this, we didn’t need to rely on a supercharger or intercooler to meet the top end of our performance benchmarks, which helped keep the price low. ”

Pricing starts at $10,899 for the VXS, which has a traditional, stepped three-passenger seat and is only offered in Eclipse Black color. The VXR has a lower-profile, racing-style seat and metallic paint finish in blue or silver, and will cost $11,199. That’s about $2,000 less expensive than the sporty 2010 FZS models, which have a 230-hp supercharged version of the 1.8-liter engine.

A Yamaha spokesperson told me that the changes the company made to the 2010 VX models (see "PWC Expert: 2010 Yamaha VX Cruiser" ), including reshaping the deck and revisions to the pump intake area in the hull, were intended to accommodate the 1.8-liter engine in 2011. In the VXR/VXS, both the hull and deck are formed using Yamaha’s NanoXcel, a lightweight composite material developed for the FX and FZ series.  While Yamaha has not release an official weight spec for the VXR/VXS, one source is claiming the new models will have a dry weight of only 721 pounds. If that’s correct, the VXR/VXS will actually weigh less than the 736-pound VX models, despite coming loaded with 70 more horsepower. That’s possible in part because of the lighter composite, and because the 1.8-liter engine is more compact than the older 1.0 liter engine. One dealer who has had a chance to test the VXS on the water reports a top speed of more than 65 mph.

Other than some new colors, there are no other significant changes to the Yamaha WaveRunner line for 2011. And, as yet, I don’t have any information on the 2011 Yamaha sport boats.

Yamaha will make the VXS and VRX available for media testing in the next few weeks, and after I’ve had a chance to ride one I’ll be back with full details of features, specs and performance.

Charles Plueddeman is the PWC Expert.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.