Honda has always played it somewhat conservative in regards to the personal watercraft industry, but 2010 just may be the company’s most cautious year yet. Giving a nod to the current economic conditions, the brand elected not to introduce a single model tagged as a 2010 unit, but rather chose to rely upon the current inventory already in the dealer pipeline.
In short, Honda dealers will continue to offer the 2008 F-15X ($13,299) and 2009 F-15 ($12,999).
Oldies But Goodies?
Yes, these are existing models, but in a way they remain somewhat fresh. Both boats marked a new movement at Honda, and introduced new engines, as well as new hull-and-deck designs to the market, as recently as mid-2008.
At 133.8 inches, the F-15 hull is roughly eight inches longer than the F-12 line it replaced, but it’s look on the water are much more imposing. The boat features a dramatic, upswept bondline in profile, and a squat, muscular view from the front. That bondline serves a purpose; it helps fend off damage at the dock. The hull is still classic Honda, meaning it will satisfy performance enthusiasts one minute, yet never intimidate the family the next. It’s also a strong candidate for rough water, retaining a predictable line as it punches its way through the waves. There’s little unwanted splashing, and both towing and touring duties are handled equally well.
Both craft feature the same engine within, a 1,470cc mill rated at 153hp on the F-15. Expect a top speed in the high 50s on the base model. On the turbocharger/intercooler-equipped F-15X, that engine produces top speeds around 65 mph from just shy of 200 hp.
Long gone are those memories of turbo lag on the F-15X. The new engine features a single throttle body, and turbo and intercooler are located close to the intake manifold. That means there is significantly less volume that needs to be pressurized. Boost also kicks in at a mere 2500 rpm. All these ingredients add up to a boat that leaps out of the hole, as you would expect from a PWC.
The F-15X continues to be offered with Honda’s optional GPScape system, a global positioning receiver built into the existing display. It’s barebones, and perhaps not always the most intuitive, but has one big plus over a handheld GPS – it doesn’t run on batteries. That means you can always rely on it; if your boat is running, so is the GPS system.
Honda introduced the convenience of a fuel-flow meter to the PWC market, and the display features a handy time-remaining display to help plan your trips. The boats also have several nicely thought-out features for maintenance, including an easily reached oil filter and dipstick, and removable side panels to open up access to the engine. Storage capacity is 25 gallons, and includes a decent glovebox, under-seat nook and large front tub.
Looking To The Future
Consumers are understandably curious about the future of the Honda line. Currently, production is completely stopped, and ATVs are being cranked out in their place. Rumors abound, however, that new models are indeed coming, perhaps as early as late 2010.
In the meantime, the models that exist remain strong. They’re also likely to go for a reasonable price. Hondas have always commanded a premium … now may be the chance to score a deal, particularly on the F-15X, which now sits just $300 higher than the F-15.
For more information on the Honda line, check out http://powersports.honda.com/water.aspx.