The current jet boat renaissance continues, as the Scarab nameplate and BRP boat design reappeared together when Rec Boat Holdings (which also builds Four Winns,  Glastron,  and Wellcraft) revealed its new Scarab 195 to dealers in frosty Cadillac, Michigan. If the boat looks familiar, that’s because it was going to be a new Sea-Doo—until BRP decided to pull the plug on its sport boat business a year ago. Rec Boat Holdings snapped up the tooling for the 18-foot 10-inch bowrider, and also signed an agreement to purchase the 1503 Rotax 4-TEC jet powertrain from BRP. The Scarab 195 is the first of what will be, by next year if all goes well, a four-boat Scarab line of jet-powered sport runabouts.

scarab impulse ho running

The Scarab 195 has obvious Sea-Doo DNA, but Rec Boats has added some of its own details, like the flush glass windshield. Top speed is about 43 mph.

The Scarab 195 carries plenty of BRP DNA – the squared-off bow, drooping bond line and tapered stern are obvious visual clues – but that’s not a bad thing. This was going to be an all-new Sea-Doo, so it incorporates the latest running surface and deck shape the company was working on; in fact this boat was ready to go into production. The interior was finished by Scarab and features some clever ideas.

But let’s start this review by discussing the performance of the Scarab 195. I ran the top-of-the-line 195 HO Impulse, which comes with the 250-hp supercharged/intercooled Rotax engine. I mentioned it was frosty in Michigan – 39 degrees and spitting snow, in fact – and blowing hard enough to whip up a stiff chop on the lake. I took one look at the water and figured I was in for a rough ride over to the lee shore. So I was pleasantly surprised when I throttled the Scarab on plane directly into the wind and found the ride to be not bad at all, quite comfortable indeed. Remember, this is a jet-powered boat, so there’s no trim – the running angle designed into the hull is what you get. And it seems that angle and the shape of the hull are tuned to deliver a good ride. Next I tried running across the seas, and the Scarab held course against the wind and water with just a little steering input. A key feature of the running surface was at work here. There are channels molded into the bottom about 10 inches outboard of the keel, that run the length of the wetted surface and act to keep the boat on course. This is intended to make up for the fact that jet boats lacks the rudder effect of an outdrive. On a nasty day like the one I had in Michigan, they seemed to really work.

Top speed was 43 mph. I was expecting a little better but that’s not unacceptable with 20 gallons of fuel and two people on board. The fact that I could have a conversation with the passenger at cruising speed, however, was another pleasant surprise. I recorded 90 dB-A at 6500 rpm, which isn't whisper-quiet but is great for a small boat with jet power. At WOT sound pressure topped out at 94 dB-A. A few weeks ago I ran an 18-foot runabout that hit 105 dB-A with the same Rotax powertrain, which is about four times louder on the dB scale.

scarab jet boat rotax engine

Insulation and thick rubber seals around the engine hatch help tone down the sound level in the cockpit.

Scarab put a lot of effort into sound suppression. I was told there are some new materials in the hull lamination, and the engine hatch is well-insulated and sealed with a rubber lip. The Scarab is going to be priced and finished as a premium boat in this category, and they felt it needed to be as quiet as possible. A peek under the hatch reveals quite a bit of plumbing around the engine, which is equipped with a big intercooler, water-jacketed exhaust catalyst, and the same muffler and resonators found on Sea-Doo boats. But main service points are handy, and the battery is within easy reach.

The low profile of the Rotax engine offers a key design advantage, and the Scarab features a deep boarding platform and the Versa Lounge, a convertible sun pad/aft seat that’s somewhat similar to what we've seen on recent Four Winns models like the Sundowner 265. The two sections of the cockpit seat back and the center section can be adjusted independently to form a wider sunpad, or to be backrests for aft-facing seats. The hinge apparatus for this is made of stout-looking stainless steel, and once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy to maneuver. The aft seat wraps around the cockpit in typical runabout fashion, but notice that the inside corners of the bottom cushions are notched to create a little more leg room, so four people can really sit here, or you can lay back in the corner and still bend your knee.

scarab jet boat seats

The aft Versa Lounge seat can be configured to face fore or aft, and can also lie flat to expand the sunpad.

Other cockpit features include a very deep glove box in the port console, plus a small stowage area below accessed through a door in the walk-through. A small cooler can be stashed here. The helm features a large tach and speedometer flanking a digital screen. On top of each console is a little pocket lined with thick tacky foam, designed to cushion a smart phone. There’s stowage below both bow seats and an anchor clip under the bow peak cushion.
Deadrise20 degrees
Displacement2,600 lbs
Fuel capacity31 gal.

Some other details to note: The molded windshield glass wraps around its frame for a look that’s very automotive. I love the deep, vinyl-wrapped armrests on the gunwales at the bucket seat positions, and the matte-textured material to cut glare on the top of the helm console. The Impulse has lots of different textures in the upholstery that give the cockpit an upscale look.

This Scarab will be offered in three trim levels. The base Scarab 195 gets the 200-hp Rotax engine, the Versa-Lounge aft seat, hull color but no additional graphics, and a custom trailer. The Scarab 195 HO adds the 250-hp engine, flip-up bucket seat bolsters, snap-in carpeting, a Bimini top, stainless steel (rather than plastic) cup holders and grab handles, pull-up cleats, and a stereo remote at the helm. To that list the 195 HO Impulse adds more vivid colors with graphics, color-matched upholstery inserts, the tower and its top, cruise control, and a soft mat on the swim platform. Compared to the Impulse the base boat looks a little plain, but Scarab expects the Impulse to really be the best-seller. Final pricing has not been locked down, but expect the range to start at a hair over $30,000 and top out around $42,000. The boat is in production and dealers were driving home from this meeting with brand new Scarabs in tow—they’re hauling home quite a nice little boat.

For more information, visit Scarab.

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Written by: Charles Plueddeman
Charles Plueddeman is's outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.