2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE Review

The 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE sets itself apart from the other Ultras with a bolstered saddle and Candy Burnt Orange color scheme.

Fast Facts

Engine: Four-cylinder 1,498cc Supercharged/Intercooled

Fuel Capacity: 20.6 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 56 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

Price: $15,799

Kawasaki Ultras have a reputation for brute power, superior offshore handling prowess, and solid reliability. They also have a reputation for often subtle differences between models. Here’s what’s uniformly great about all, as well as what separates the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE from its pack.

Common Thread

All Ultras share the same hull and deck design, and nearly all also sport the same engine. It’s become Kawasaki’s trademark design, and at least for now the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra appears to apply.

The former starts with an excellent deep-V hull, a 22.5-degree deadrise that cuts its way through lousy conditions or offshore waves with precision and finesse. Point an Ultra and it goes where intended, with no wandering or quirky mannerisms. It’s a hull that has won numerous offshore championships and one that I would continue to rely upon if your typical home waters are filled with chop, or lie off the coasts.

2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE 3

That hull maintains those characteristics in calm waters. Straight-ahead drag races will have you feeling totally confident. Diving into corners will reveal surprising agility. Electric trim enhances both. Raise that bow to reduce the hull’s wetted surface and gain every available mile-per-hour on the top end. Drop that bow to get more hull active in the corners and carve through with a powerful inside lean.

At 310 horsepower, the engine providing the push remains the highest horsepower rated choice on the market. That power is generated by a generous 1,498cc of displacement and a gutsy Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger and large intercooler. Cram that engine with its mega-dose of chilled air and it’s capable of producing 1,890 pounds of thrust, a jolt that can be physically felt when squeezing the throttle from a dead stop as the craft literally leaps forward with no hesitation. Top speed theoretically tops out at 67 mph in good conditions, but I’ve seen many an Ultra push that mark. For those that want to go even faster, the aftermarket is ready and waiting.

Special Edition

2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE Seat

So what’s so special about the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE? Like I said, differences are subtle. On this model that difference is found mostly in the saddle. Look behind the driver’s perch and you’ll see the addition of a noticeable bolster compared to the mostly level 310X seat, both to provide back support and comfortably separate driver from passenger(s). That saddle also sports more refined cut-and-sew construction techniques, and slims forward to allow a rider to get their legs more into the act and take some of the stress off the upper body.

And then there’s the unique paint job. For 2018, the SE clearly distinguishes itself from the rest of the family with a bold Ebony and Candy Burnt Orange color scheme.

Other standout features return to the Ultra status quo. Cruising riders, those with extended slow-speed zones, and even watersports fans will all appreciate cruise control and no-wake mode. Cruise lets you lock in a set speed and then simply squeeze the throttle to alleviate finger fatigue, or better satisfy a rider at the end of a towrope who would rather avoid the surging common to a human finger on the throttle. No-wake requires no throttle at all while navigating those sometimes tedious slow-speed areas. If you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient power delivery, or maybe trying to extend your range, ECO mode is also available. As I’ve noted in the past, Kawasaki’s ECO doesn’t seem as tame as most, which means more consumers actually might use it. There’s also a secondary key to further govern the engine if desired; both act as theft deterrents when removed.

2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE 1

Moving away from electronic enhancements, riders can dial in their position with tilt steering, find ample room for storage from the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE’s 56-gallon capacity, and easily hop back aboard from deep water thanks to a spring-loaded boarding step. Missing is any modern electronic reverse or deceleration capability that is now standard issue on the competition. Manual reverse works, but proves more difficult when trying to achieve a neutral position and requires one hand leave the handlebars. It also won’t double as a “brake” to rapidly slow the craft.

Decision Time

2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE 2

Comparison shopping vs. the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE? Yamaha’s FX Cruiser SVHO ($15,999) offers a similarly powerful engine, offshore-worthy hull, and both cruise control and no-wake mode. Yamaha’s saddle is doubly bolstered, creating three separate areas for driver and multiple passengers, but storage capacity measures up notably less. The noticeable advantage, however, is RiDE, Yamaha’s dual-throttle system for reverse and deceleration. Sea-Doo offers the GTX Limited ($15,899) and RXT-X 300 ($15,699), both of which use a new hull design, offer direct-access front storage and include the option for secured cargo on the aft platform. Like Yamaha, Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR) offers superior reverse and rapid deceleration.