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Kawasaki kept everyone in suspense till mid-November, but the 2017 Jet Ski lineup is now confirmed. The new SX-R standup will be the brand’s bold new roll of the dice for 2017, but it will be the only one. The remainder of the Jet Ski lineup will once again be quite familiar, with the Ultra platform as the centerpiece.
The Ultra may not be anything radically new for the brand, but it has known much success. And a great deal of the reason is the common thread that spans all five Ultra models, a chop- and wave-busting, deep 22.5-degree deadrise hull that has proven itself time and time again in the toughest conditions. Ultras mix a stable, confidence-inspiring ride that’s great for the novice with the aggressive, ocean-ready handling that experienced offshore types demand. Head offshore, pick a direction, and the hull will take you there in Point A-to-Point B fashion, never deviating due to a knock from a wave or a quirk in the hull. It’s a rough-water beast, with a big feel that will never let you down.
And yet, it’s not defined by tough conditions. The addition of electric trim several years back, along with the shortening of the steering nozzle, revealed a hard-cornering, agile side to the Ultra hull in calmer conditions. Drop that trim as you enter a turn, barrel through with a slalom-skier-like slash, and then raise it once you exit. You’ll feel every bit the closed-course racer.
Of course, that familiar Ultra power definitely plays a role. With one exception, Ultras are powered by Kawasaki’s well-proven 310-horspower, 1,498cc four-cylinder outfitted with an Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger capable of producing 16.8 psi of boost. Power comes on strong and never lets up, rocketing the craft to 65 mph and beyond in a flash.
Cruise control and no-wake modes are standard issue. On the practical side, storage is an impressive 56 gallons.
As to the differentiation between models, it’s somewhat minimal yet significant. The lead dog is the Ultra 310LX, holding at $17,999 for ’17. Equipped with a heat-resistant, cruiser-style saddle, the LX’s true highlight is JetSounds, Kawasaki’s onboard sound system that includes dual 30-watt speakers, amp, and convenient controls mounted into the handlebar pad. Both a waterproof canister capable of holding a memory stick and a waterproof bag for your phone or music player are included to source the tunes. Stash them in the glovebox underway. The 310LX is offered in an Ebony/Candy Lime Green colorway.
Next in line is the Ultra 310R ($16,299). The “race” version of the Ultra, it swaps out the handlebar column for aftermarket-style, stainless steel bars with 12 positions of adjustment and motocross-style crosspad. The seat slims in the middle to encourage the use of your legs. A grippier, textured saddle material also keeps riders locked in place. A similar Ebony/Lime Green (without the candy) is the color of choice.
The R is followed by the Ultra 310X SE ($15,799) in Ebony/Sunbeam Red with a sport-style seat and five-position adjustable handlebar and the Ultra 310X ($15,299) with the five-position adjustable handlebar in Ebony/Metallic Stardust White.
The lone Ultra to forego the potent supercharger, the naturally aspirated Ultra LX ($11,199 in Ebony/Valiant Blue) sticks with the same 1,498cc engine but puts the focus on touring with a LXury bolstered seat with significant lumbar support and a slightly larger 60-gallon storage capacity. Foregoing the supercharger/intercooler combo significantly increases the craft’s range.
Kawasaki’s familiar introductory model is once again the STX-15F. Featuring an aggressive hull and the most power in the introductory class, the 15F is also powered by the naturally aspirated 1,498 cc engine. For 2017, the 15F comes in Ebony/Metallic Graystone and carries the familiar $9,699 price tag.
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