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Engine: Three-cylinder 1,049cc
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 7.7 gal,
Seating Capacity: 3
Introductory models used to be dismissed as little more than craft destined for rental fleets, but today’s Rec-Lite category has shone a new spotlight on these affordable models. Now they’re just as apt to be a young couple’s first PWC purchase, or maybe the latest toy for the waterfront vacation home. The 2018 Yamaha EX Deluxe fits all those descriptions while adding some of the brand’s latest innovations, including RiDE, the dual-throttle system designed to both take the stress out of close-quarters maneuvering while adding the ability to rapidly decelerate from speed.
Line up EX, VX, and FX models side by side and the familial relationship comes into focus. At 10’ 3” in length and 3’ 7” in width, EX models are the smallest of the three. Take into account the 2018 Yamaha EX Deluxe’s 599-pound weight and you’ve got a craft that’s far more easily trailered by an abundance of vehicles, easily stored at home, and yet still capable of carrying Mom, Dad and child in relative comfort.
Construction is Yamaha’s familiar Sheet Molding Compound (SMC), the same durable fiberglass-based material that forms the basis of the entire WaveRunner line. Grooved, two-tone traction mats still line the footwells, dual mirrors keep tabs on the action behind, and the grips are the same “pistol” style shared by flagship models. Despite its positioning, the Deluxe even adds two-tone, cut-and-sew construction to the saddle, and metallic paint in a choice of two colors.
So besides size, what makes possible the reduced price? The deck design is simpler; details are less intricate and those mirrors are conventional, rather than the sleek design integrated into the bow storage hatch found on pricier models. That saddle is also proportionately slimmer, although Yamaha made sure engine access wasn’t compromised. Routine maintenance items are within easy reach; more extensive access is possible by simply unbolting the seat’s composite sub-cowling. Storage in the 2018 Yamaha EX Deluxe is minimal at 7.7 gallons, with shallow bow tub and under-seat nook but a deep, foam-bottomed glovebox. Still, that’s more than the competition offers in stock form. The boarding step is a simple, one-foot platform.
Also cutting price is a tamer, 100hp version of the TR-1, a 1,049cc, conventionally aspirated engine with lighter muffler and exhaust manifold and simplified drivetrain, including a one-piece flywheel and coupler and one-piece molded pump stator and impeller housing.
The Ride…And RiDE
That engine maintains similar acceleration to the slightly more powerful version found in the Yamaha VX line and a 50 mph top speed, results roughly on par with Sea-Doo’s 90hp Spark model, the only other craft currently sharing the Rec-Lite segment. Fuel capacity for the EX is double that of its competitor. Yamaha also claims better fuel efficiency. As to handling, the 2018 Yamaha EX Deluxe feels similar to the VX, able to carve a precise turn and showcasing exceptional stability, even with that occasional third passenger. It has a slightly more playful feel than its sibling, however, especially once you start to play with your weight placement.
As mentioned in the intro, the Deluxe also receives RiDE, a welcome addition to any craft, but especially at the introductory end of the market. RiDE allows the EX Deluxe to start in neutral, then be moved forward or back through the alternating use of the throttle and RiDE lever positioned on the opposite side of the handlebars. You don’t shift the EX Deluxe as much as flow between movements of these two levers. Releasing both puts the craft into “neutral,” the reverse bucket deflecting just enough thrust to keep the craft stationary. Pull the RiDE lever at speed and it overrides the throttle and uses that redirected forward thrust to provide rapid deceleration while maintaining a level running attitude.
Other models to consider? It’s already clear that’s the Sea-Doo Spark, albeit to be competitive that would have to be the Spark in three-passenger form with the 90hp engine, Intelligent Brake & Reverse and Convenience package options ($7,599). The Spark is smaller and arguably more playful, but the 2018 Yamaha EX Deluxe boasts superior passenger weight capacity, fuel capacity and range…and is arguably the better choice in rough water conditions.
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