Two-thousand-twelve marks the 10-year anniversary of the FX model, which was introduced with much fanfare in 2002 as the first production four-stroke model to hit the marketplace. And while the series still showed strength, it was clearly time for a refresh. The catch? Remaking a model that has proven as successful as the FX is no small task. Yamaha chose to do it by focusing primarily on driver and passenger comfort.
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Compared to the previous FX, the 2012 model has been stretched a full seven-and-a-half inches. Most of that additional length has been used to focus on passenger comfort and reboarding. The seat itself is about three inches longer than the former model. Cruiser versions get a theater-style seat, which is tiered into three distinct positions, each of which gets a comfortable, supportive bolster to keep the occupant locked in place. Passengers now have a better chance of having a view of something other than the driver’s back, with the middle seat raised an additional six inches over the pilot seat, and the aft-most seat lifted an additional four.
Most of the remaining four inches in gained length goes to the boarding platform. It’s not only roomier, but has improved access from deep water. A redesigned boarding step sits deeper in the water, but also features a flattened step area, rather than a rounded bar. It’s more comfortable to step on, especially in bare feet. Working hand-in-hand with that step is a new grab handle, located at deck height below the seat. Now, a rider can reach forward to grab the lower handle with one hand, and reach for the higher, seat-height handle with the other. It makes boarding a much easier proposition, especially for those who might not be in the best, shall we say, riding shape.
While it’s not comfort-oriented, another stern addition is worth mention. Yamaha has chosen to update the craft’s looks in 2012 with some edgy angles, much of which come from additional components fastened to the boat’s deck. At the stern, the company makes good use of that extra material by fashioning a small, wet locker just above that lower grab handle. It makes a good spot to stow a towrope; there’s also a notch in the door to allow that towrope to stay attached when the door is shut.
More ergonomic improvement can be found in the relocated mode buttons for the info display. Previously, they were located near the display, forcing an awkward reach over the handlebars. Now, those buttons are located below the handlebars, on a flat area just forward of the seat’s edge.
Fans of port-side reverse mounts will be disappointed that the FX reverse lever still resides to starboard. A new “mechanical” neutral, however, should receive praise. A detent in the throw of the reverse lever positions the reverse bucket in a neutral position, applying no real forward or reverse thrust. That allows for easier starting in maneuvering, especially in tight dock or launch areas.
All four FX models continue to be powered by Yamaha’s 1.8-liter engine. SHO models receive a supercharger and intercooler to further pump up their power.
What impressed me most, however, was the craft’s newfound handling. Previous models were sharp, but occasionally tended to rock back forth in the corner as the hull fell from its pad to its chines. Now, the FX carves with a perfectly predictable inside lean that yields no surprises and inspires tremendous confidence in the ride.
In short, this is a fun, fun hull to ride.