2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X Review

The most affordable member of the Ultra 310 family

The Kawasaki Ultra may have matured from a single model to a line that virtually defines Kawasaki’s personal watercraft offerings, but the craft’s focus remains as clear now as it was when introduced – deliver the most horsepower, tackle the toughest conditions, and all the while keep riders confident in the saddle.

The 2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X is the closest to the craft that started the Ultra phenomenon. It remains the most affordable of the line.

What Makes an Ultra…an Ultra?

Fast Facts

Engine: Three-cylinder 1,498cc

Fuel Capacity: 20.6 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 56 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

MSRP: Starting at $15,299

Ultras are equal part hull and horsepower. The former is now a renowned offshore racing veteran, a deep-V monster that arguably handles rough water as well as, if not better than, any other contender. That deep 22.5-degree deadrise simply takes the jolt out of rough conditions, slicing through and blasting across wave tops while virtually never getting tossed from its line or displaying any unexpected handling quirks. You simply point it in the desired direction and go. The ride isn’t cushy soft, but it’s not jarring either. It’s simply solid and predictable. Get up out of the saddle in the really rough stuff and let your legs absorb the shock and you’ll find you can maintain an impressive head of steam in the choppiest of conditions.

The Ultra hull gets a lot of press for its rough water prowess, but its handling in calm water isn’t lacking. Okay, it was in the past, but the addition of electric trim and a shorter steering nozzle several years back really changed the boat’s personality. Being able to barrel into a calm-water turn, drop the bow for added hull in the water, then power through gives the boat a smaller feel than you’d expect. The boat’s hint of inside lean also feels natural and intuitive. The end result is a nimble craft that feels smaller than its dimensions would suggest.

2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X Action Front

Kawasaki’s 1,498cc engine, capable of an industry-leading 310 horsepower, continues to be the perfect match. Paired with an Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger and sizable intercooler, it produces gutsy thrust immediately off the bottom end, roaring out of the hole with a notable whirr that only enhances the rider’s perception of power. Theoretically it should be electronically limited at 67 mph, but I’ve gone faster in good conditions. The catch? It’s likely one of the thirstiest for fuel, but let’s be honest, that’s usually not a deal breaker for the target audience. All high-performance engines are thirsty.

Expected Amenities

Above the bond line, the 2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X looks – and features – also continue to match up well. Lines are aggressive and masculine, the saddle comfortable and sloped (if a tad wide for smaller riders). In the X version, it foregoes bolsters, in part to allow riders to move around more atop the saddle during aggressive riding. The handlebars can be adjusted to one of five positions to match the driver’s height or preference. Hydro-Turf traction mats underfoot provide a grippy base. Riders will note an “ultra”-sized storage compartment up front, a large portion of the X’s overall 56-gallon storage capacity. Fuel capacity is 20.6 gallons.

2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X Storage

As to big-ticket features, cruise control and no-wake mode are standard issue in this arena. Both use electronic throttle to control the engine, cruise locking in a set speed just like on your car and no-wake holding the engine around 5 mph for those extended slow-speed zones. Lacking is a similarly progressive reverse. Unlike both Sea-Doo and now Yamaha, Kawasaki still has not offered an electronic reverse that allows the craft to start in neutral, or apply braking power at speed. The Ultra’s offering remains mechanical, with a portside handle on the console, not the handlebars.

Theft-prevention is accomplished via a magnetic key, housed within the glove compartment. Use a second key to activate a SLO mode that limits speed for novice users. There’s also an electronic fuel economy assistance mode that retains the Ultra’s snappy feel, but tailors the acceleration to a more fuel-efficient delivery.

2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X Action Two-Up

The Core Ultra

So where does the 2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X fit into the Ultra hierarchy? As mentioned in the lead, it’s the closest to the original model that launched an entire platform. At $15,299, this is the most affordable Ultra with the 310hp engine. The most obvious difference between the models, at least upon initial glance, is that seat. As previously mentioned, it makes it easier for riders to move about the saddle, but the profile also works well for towing, making it easier for a spotter to flip around and face backwards. Bathed in “metallic stardust white,” it’s also the tamest in color.

2017 Kawasaki Ultra 310X Engine

But let’s be honest, tame is never a word that comes up in a discussion of the Ultra. Sure, it can be a touring machine or watersports tow platform, but at its core it’s a big-water monster with an equally monstrous engine under the saddle.

Buyers are going to want to hear it roar.