Itís safe to say one of the most eagerly anticipated boats in 2011 was Yamahaís VXR, an experiment that placed a powerful, but non-supercharged engine in an entry-level, but versatile hull design. The result was a boat that went as fast as the industryís flagship musclecraft but didnít carry their same hefty price tag. It also brought a PWC back to its simple, no-frills roots.
Naturally it was a success, and spawned Sea-Doo to follow suit in 2012. Following the ďif it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ mantra, virtually that same boat has returned in 2012.
The mixing and matching of existing components is what makes the VXR continue to be a winner. For starters, thereís the power. Under the seat resides Yamahaís familiar 1.8-liter, still the largest engine in terms of displacement in the watercraft industry. In this guise, it foregoes the supercharger and intercooler combo, primarily because this lightweight package simply doesnít need it. I recorded a top speed on my GPS that easily surpassed the 65 mph mark, and noted 0-30 mph acceleration runs in the neighborhood of 1.8 seconds. That puts the VXR right in line with the industryís leading flagships, and all without their higher fuel bills and maintenance concerns.
As it turns out, the engine is actually a good match for the VXR hull. Saddled with introductory duties until last year (although VX models have arguably proven popular with far beyond just introductory riders), this platform has always shown potential in the handling department. It handles a variety of conditions with ease, and actually carves a pretty tight corner. In fact, some fine-tuning of the hullís sponson placement and a shift in the boatís center of gravity have created a truly agile, aggressive hull. Power into a turn, shift your weight just right, and the boat rockets through the corner with jaw-dropping agility. Itís truly a thrilling ride.
There is, however, somewhat of a learning curve to find that sweet spot. Miss it and youíll find a little bit of an unnerving skid at full speed, but dial in that position (mine was best if I kept my weight further back toward the stern) and the results are great fun. I also found good results standing up, a position that not so coincidentally also positioned my weight a little further back on the craft.
Tip? Chop the throttle for just a fraction of a second when entering a turn, then power through. The technique plants the bow and uses the hull to maximum effect.
Truth be told, this is not the exact VX hull shared by the rest of the line. Rather, itís a lightened version that exploits the boatís power-to-weight ratio to the max. Yamaha used its proprietary NanoXcel hull material in the VXR lay-up. Nano-engineering of the Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) formulation substantially lowers the materialís weight, while according to Yamaha, actually improves hull strength over standard SMC or fiberglass formulations. The VXR weighs a mere 728 pounds. Thatís less than even the most minimal VX Sport, which features a far less powerful engine.
As ride and speed (and price) are the primary focus, donít expect to find much in the way of extras. Other than a reboarding step and the familiar remote that locks the craft or activates a slow-speed mode, Yamaha intentionally kept the VXR somewhat plain, foregoing electronic throttle, trim, and even tilt steering. The only addition for 2012 is a choice in color. Riders can now choose between a VXR in Carbon or one in Crimson Red Metallic.
Iíve heard many riders describe this simple approach as almost freeing. Rather than have extras to contend with, they just focus on the ride, much like the days of the no-frills stand-ups.
That may limit the VXRís audience in some regards Ö but also likely targets it even more precisely for the crowd itís intended to reach.
|2012 Yamaha VXR Specs|
|Dry Weight||728 lbs|
|Bore and Stroke||86mm x 78mm|
|Fuel Capacity||15.9 gal.|
|Combined Stowage Capacity||15.1 gal.|
|Colors||Carbon or Crimson Red Metallic|