2012 Yamaha VXS Review

Musclecraft performance, affordable price tag...for three

Like the FZS to the FZR, Yamaha’s VXS is the three-passenger version of the competitively priced, potent VXR. Not familiar with the VXR/VXS story? It’s where Yamaha takes a lightweight, formerly entry-level hull, drops in a powerful engine (but avoids a costly supercharger), and produces a boat that can run with the top musclecraft, yet cost literally thousands less.

Sound fun? Believe us, it is.

Package Deal

Yamaha’s VX hull design may have been entry-level until recently, but it’s always had potential written all over it. It’s aggressive in the corners, carves with a nice, predictable bite, and proves stable in top-speed runs. Tweaks in advance of the latest horsepower addition only added to the pedigree, with a new sponson position, pump inlet modifications, and the biggie, a switch to the company’s lightweight NanoXcel hull material.

Into that lightweight, nimble design Yamaha dropped an 1,812cc four-cylinder, the industry’s biggest displacement engine. With this package’s light overall weight (721 pounds), it didn’t need a supercharger to bump that power further, a switch that saved not only significant expense but also promised a more thrifty engine at the fuel pump. Probably also less maintenance down the road.

Can the VXS get the job done without the supercharger/intercooler combo that performance types have come to expect? You betcha. Top speed is easily in the 67 mph range in good conditions, and 0-30 mph times are a speedy 1.8 seconds.

Thrill A Minute

2012 Yamaha VXS High SpeedIn addition to its impressive speed, the VXS holds a predictable line in the water.

Certainly it’s an advantageous power-to-weight ratio, but as I alluded to already, this isn’t some overpowered rocketship that will leave you white-knuckled at the controls. Yes, squeeze the throttle and it leaps with an arm-stretching surge, but keep your weight forward and the bow down and you’ll be able to keep it hooked up and under control. Once at speed it’s bullet fast, but holds a predictable line.

Cornering is aggressive and quick, but requires you keep your head in the game. Success comes down to weight distribution. Play around with it in the early going and you’ll likely find the sweet spot where the boat hooks up as hard as your skills can push it. Barrel in without practice, however, and you may find yourself briefly panicked by a high-speed drift. Hint? For best results chop the throttle just as you enter a corner, then get back on the power once the bow drops.

In short, it’s kind of like a standup, in that you get better with more time on the water. In my opinion, that’s what makes it fun.

Fun, Fun, Fun…

Yes, much like a standup it’s all about fun factor, not frilly extras. Don’t expect things like handlebar tilt, trim, and certainly not cruise control. You do get the remote transmitter that can lock the craft for security, or activate a gas-saving low RPM mode, and yes, you also get some handy glove box cupholders.

But beyond that the VXS is all about simplicity…just like the good old days.

2012 Yamaha VXS Specs
Length 126.8 inches
Beam 46.1 inches
Curb Weight 721 lbs
Engine Four-cylinder DOHC EFI
Displacement 1,812 cc
Bore and Stroke 86mm x 78mm
Compression Ratio 11.0:1
Rated Horsepower 180 (Estimated)
Fuel Capacity 15.9 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 15.1 gal.
Colors Silver Metallic
Price $10,999.00

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2011 Yamaha VXS Review
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