The sporty, aggressive two-seater in Yamaha’s line continues to be the FZR, a craft inspired by the GP series of old and one that features arguably one of the most fun, thrilling rides in the manufacturer’s lineup.
Power into a corner, lean in, and the FZR rewards the effort, railing through the turn with precision and style. It’s an intuitive, fun feeling that evokes the FZR’s two-wheeled counterparts carving a switchback-filled road. Soft, rounded chines enhance the lean-in effect. They allow the boat to roll into the turn with little resistance. When it comes time to pin it and blast a straight path, full-length lifting strakes allow the boat to get up and run. A “dihedral” keep shape, again reminiscent of the GP series of old, further add to the high-speed thrills.
Of course, the best part is that the boat doesn’t get twitchy when up and running, especially in rough conditions. It’s classic Yamaha in that it makes its way through the waves without getting tossed about, keeping the driver feeling stable and in control.
Power is provided by the familiar 1.8-liter Yamaha engine. Delivery is enhanced by both a supercharger and intercooler, which combine to give the craft a quick sub-2.0 second acceleration. Helping in that area is also the lightweight NanoXcel hull material and 155mm pump. Response is smooth thanks to electronic throttle. Inside info puts the FZR’s nameless horsepower at not much over 210, but it nonetheless reaches in excess of 65 mph with ease, while running on only 87-octane gas. Check out the display. In keeping with the boat’s image, Yamaha uses analog gauges, accented in red.
Yamaha tried a new concept with the FZR, giving the boat a telescoping steering column. Inspiration came from the brand’s own consumers, who indicated they frequently stood while riding what was previously thought of as a “sit-down” watercraft to allow their legs to act as natural shock absorbers or to increase their leverage and feeling of control. To aid this riding style, designers included a higher, raised handlebar position that wouldn’t necessitate bending over awkwardly. Press a button, pull the bars and you’re now able to assume a more natural stance.
And what goes up must come down. Those bars also feature a lower-than-average setting, great for those who want to get really low and rail the boat through the corners. It’s an aggressive position, and one I find surprisingly fun.
Use the manual trim to drop the bow heading into a corner, carve your way through the turn, then raise the steering nozzle to maximize top speed. My only complaint is a well-known one — it can be difficult to change the nozzle trim at high speed, as you’re literally fighting the pressure of water traveling through the nozzle. For this reason many riders will likely find a comfortable mid-range setting and forget it, at least for the corners.
This is a turn-and-burn watercraft, but it’s not a bare-bones performer. Extras include Yamaha’s keyfob remote that locks the ignition to prevent unauthorized use, or activates a fuel-saving, less aggressive low RPM mode. There’s also 21 gallons of storage split between the large bow tub, a dash glovebox with self-draining cupholders, and a flip-down boarding ladder.
Those familiar with the craft will realize not much has changed for 2012, but don’t overlook one key modification. The seat is now a “race-style” step-up seat, with two-tone vinyl and cut-and-sew construction. The seat’s obvious bolster helps to lock the driver in place during aggressive riding, as well as offer a little bit of support to the lower back.
Maybe that’s not a lot of new info to get excited about. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…especially not when what you’ve already got is this much fun.
|2012 Yamaha FZR Specs|
|Curb Weight||809 lbs|
|Engine||Four-cylinder, four-stroke, supercharged/intercooled|
|Bore and Stroke||86mm x 78mm|
|Fuel Capacity||18.5 gal.|
|Combined Stowage Capacity||21.3 gal.|