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Yamaha’s FX Cruiser SHO has been retooled for 2012, and much of the project’s focus is on comfort. A particular point of interest? The comfort of those people who aren’t at the controls, but instead trying to enjoy the ride as a passenger.
In truth, that’s often the worst seat in the house on a PWC. Yamaha’s promise is to change that perception…while still retaining the features that have made the Cruiser SHO a touring and luxury favorite.
Stretch it Out
One obvious way in which Yamaha has improved passenger comfort is by simply providing more elbowroom. The 2012 FX Cruiser SHO is 7.5 inches longer than the previous model, and a good portion of that length — about three inches — has been added to the saddle. In addition to those extra inches, the Cruiser seat also now offers a tiered, individually bolstered style that gives each and every passenger a designated, supportive spot to sit, and raises each of those spots several inches above the seat in front. No longer does the middle passenger feel sandwiched between the other passengers, and no longer do passengers stare at the back of a lifejacket rather than get a view of the water forward. The middle seat is raised six inches in height, and the farthest seat an additional four. It’s PWC seating, theater-style, and it works.
Those remaining new inches have been given to the aft boarding area in an attempt to make reboarding less of a struggle. The newfound space works in conjunction with tweaks on the boarding process. A spring-loaded boarding step is now wider, extends deeper into the water, and perhaps most important, features a flat bar to step on, rather than the rounded tube that could prove slippery or hard on bare feet. That makes the first step in the boarding process much easier, especially when combined with a new grab handle positioned at platform height. Step on, reach forward to grab the handle, extend your leg, and grab the traditional, saddle-height boarding handle with your free hand. It’s a “climbing aboard” approach that takes less strength or flexibility, meaning one that will be appreciated my far more consumers.
That’s not to say the driver won’t appreciate a few new tweaks as well. One of the most obvious is a mechanical neutral. By adding a detent in the reverse lever’s throw, Yamaha has created a way to hold the reverse bucket at just the right attitude so that thrust is directed neither forward nor back, holding the boat in a relatively stationary position. Drivers can start the boat at the dock or launch ramp without immediately surging forward or back; “shifting” the boat into forward or reverse is then accomplished with the necessary precision. A small window in the reverse handle will display an “N” when the lever is in the right position. I found this simple approach to work surprisingly well, although I’d still love to see the reverse lever moved to the port side so that an operator could control throttle and forward/backward motion simultaneously.
As a driver, I also appreciated the relocation of the mode buttons for the information display. Formerly located alongside the display screen, where they required an awkward reach over the handlebars, the buttons are now positioned right in front of the saddle, under the handlebars and to each side of the tilt steering handle. Yamaha has a fancy name for it — Command Link — but it really just means the buttons are finally convenient.
Which has always been the case with the right handlegrip-mounted buttons that activate Yamaha’s Cruise Assist and No Wake features. A byproduct of electronic throttle, Cruise Assist allows the boat to hold a set speed while the driver simply fully squeezes the throttle lever. It’s great for distance riding or towing duties; up-down arrow keys allow fine-tuning of the speed on the fly. No Wake mode requires no throttle pressure at all, holding the boat around 5 mph for those extended slow-speed zones.
The FX series has an edgier style for 2012, compliments of molded external panels that have been very well integrated into the craft’s lines. The add-ons occasionally reduce function — the bow storage tub, for example, now seems smaller — but add it at other times. New stern styling cues actually reveal a handy, wet stowage compartment aft. Located on the vertical space between the boarding platform and seat, it’s a great spot to store a towrope when skiing, tubing, or boarding. A well-thought-out notch in the door even allows the towrope to stay attached to the tow-eye without being pinched by the door.
Familiar Power, Fun New Ride
The engine below the seat hasn’t changed. It’s the powerful 1.8-liter SHO variation, meaning a supercharger and intercooler compliment all that displacement. That gives the boat a good jump out of the hole, and a top speed comfortably around the 65 mph mark, all with Yamaha’s trademark reliability…and the ability to run on 87-octane gasoline for a low cost of operation.
The boat’s handling, however, has been altered, and for the better in my opinion. The FX models were always great in rougher conditions, but in calmer waters I often noticed they could roll on and off the hull’s pad and onto the chines, a trait that could give the boat a little bit of a jerky feeling through a turn. The longer hull and remodeled sponsons, however, seem to have eliminated the tendency. The boat now rolls smoothly into a corner with an inside lean, and holds a predictable carve through the turn. It’s a precise, aggressive feel that inspires a lot of confidence and allows the driver to really push the craft to its limits.
Of course, we can’t forget the other features of this flagship craft. Quick Shift trim alters the boat’s running angle for speed or acceleration, pull-up cleats are a nice upscale touch when tied up at the dock, and Yamaha’s familiar remote locks things up for security, or tones the engine down for newcomers or to save fuel. There are also nice additions to the display, like fuel-consumption readouts and a compass.
Related Reading2012 Yamaha WaveRunner Lineup Preview [Video]2011 Yamaha FX HO Review2010 Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO/FX SHO Review
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