Like every other manufacturer, Kawasaki has stuck with a familiar lineup going into 2013. A streamlined group that is primarily centered on the successful Ultra hull, its focus is evenly divided between all-out performance and cruising, with one token entry-level machine thrown into the mix.
The marquee craft in this four-model offering is the Ultra 300X, a big-water-friendly musclecraft that boasts the highest horsepower of any current production craft. That horsepower is courtesy of a 1,498cc engine fitted with a “Roots-type,” Eaton twin-vortices supercharger. The latter, a new addition in 2011, features dual, counter-rotating rotors that produce significant quantities of boost at all RPM levels. As Kawasaki touts, power is steady, rather than produced in waves, avoiding any lag off the bottom end and producing a flat torque curve. A liquid-cooled intercooler lowers the temp of that compressed air being force fed to the engine to keep power-robbing heat at bay.
That’s the Cliffs Notes version of the Ultra’s muscle credentials. The rest of the story can be found in its hull and features. The former is race-tested, a deep-V monster that is a perennial favorite of offshore racers. The design got some smooth-water manners in 2011, as the addition of electric trim allowed riders to drop the bow in corners. The result is a versatile ride that should win fans across the board. The latter now includes things like electronic throttle, which enables obvious perks like cruise control and a no-wake mode, but also can find that sweet spot where the engine is getting the best fuel economy.
Other Ultra standout features? Massive storage and fuel capacity. This boat goes big so you don’t have to go home. So to speak.
The rest of the line builds upon that basic formula. The Ultra 300LX is the same model, but with a cruising orientation. Paint and graphics get the requisite treatment, but the seat is the big-ticket item. It’s supportive and tiered to offer all passengers better support, but also to allow those behind to get a view of something other than the driver’s head. The Jet Ski Ultra LX is built upon that same concept, but differs in the engine compartment. Here, Kawasaki foregoes the supercharger/intercooler combo to trim costs as well as reduce the fuel bill. Buyers still get the same Ultra features, but will find themselves able to both go farther and keep a little money in the wallet after leaving the fuel pump.
The lone “non-Ultra” craft in Kawasaki’s lineup is the STX-15F, what most would consider the brand’s entry-level candidate. The 15F, however, has always enjoyed a little edge over its competition. Namely, it’s got more power than most entry-level machines – about 160 hp. It may use a more dated hull design (as a reminder, it was one that was proven on the race course once upon a time), and features may be minimal, but the added power promises to keep customers happy as their experience levels increase.