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After the somewhat late introduction of the powerful new Ultra 300 models earlier this year, Kawasaki has chosen to introduce just one new model for 2012 — the Ultra LX. A non-supercharged, normally aspirated version of its powerful siblings, the Ultra LX is being pitched as an “all-around, go-everywhere cruiser” that delivers low emissions and a fuel-efficient ride, while retaining the go-anywhere attitude of the newest Ultra models.
Certainly, the Ultra LX branding is nothing new. The big change for 2012 is that the LX now shares the new-and-improved hull introduced last year on the Ultra 300LX. It’s stronger in key areas, lighter by nearly 43 pounds, and arguably more stable than the previous design. It also, however, should be even more fun to drive. The 300’s deep 22.5-degree deadrise hull banks sweetly into turns, and enjoys quicker, tighter handling response thanks to a steering nozzle that has been shortened by 20 millimeters.
Though familiar, it’s worth noting the boat’s basics are derived from Kawasaki’s vast race experience. The engine itself is based on the ZX-14 sportbike, and features 1,498cc of displacement. Its 160 horses are delivered to the water through a 155mm jet pump that results in nearly 1,000 pounds of thrust. But without the supercharger and intercooler, it’s not as thirsty for fuel, making the Ultra LX a worthy long-distance touring machine. Still, Kawasaki continues to tinker with this proven package. A list of improvements has been made for 2012, including stronger con-rod bolts, more durable main journal and big end inserts, and reinforced crankcases. A revised ECU also promises even lower exhaust emissions.
Other, non-engine-related standards also continue to make the LX platform a strong candidate for touring. For one, Kawasaki’s massive storage remains. The Ultra LX features 60 gallons of storage capacity, split between its cavernous bow tub and an easily accessible glovebox.
An updated, plush cruiser seat also welcomes up to three passengers, with bolstered support for each. Drivers can tailor the ergonomics to their size (or a desire to stand) with five-position tilt steering. And everybody will stay dry thanks to integrated splash deflectors built into the hull.
Other improvements that carry over from the new 300 hull and deck? A larger, easier-to-read LCD display is a nice improvement, as is a redesigned reverse lever. A change in the lever’s throw gives the system a “lighter” feel according to Kawasaki.
Color for 2012 include an attractive mix of bright red, white, and black. The combination gives the Ultra LX a more sporty appearance than the somewhat subdued hues of the 2011 model. Those watching the price tags will be pleased to note the price has only increased $100 over the previous model. MSRP is now $10,999.
Related Reading2011 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra LX Review2011 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 300LX Review2011 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 300X Review [Video]
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