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Engine: Supercharged w/intercooler, 1,498cc
Fuel Capacity: 20.6 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 56 gal.
Seating Capacity: 3
The 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X just may offer the best bang for the buck in Kawasaki’s top-heavy lineup of 310hp Ultra models. No, it doesn’t have the LX’s fancy sound system, nor does it feature the SE’s touring saddle or the R’s racy, aftermarket-style handlebars. What it does offer, however, is the pure essence of the Ultra ideal – the most powerful production engine in existence packed within one of the best offshore and rough-water hulls ever made.
Oh, and the cheapest price tag of the lot. Like I said, bang for the buck…
A Familiar Combo
Horsepower ratings have become kind of a touchy subject in personal watercraft circles of late, but Kawasaki’s claim is legitimate – when it comes to actual measured horsepower, the Ultra 310’s 310 horses rank it as the most powerful PWC engine currently produced. By now, the specs should be very familiar – 1,498 cc in displacement, Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger, massive intercooler, an impressive 1,890 pounds of thrust. How those specs translate to performance should also be a familiar tale. The 310X comes on hard the second you touch the throttle, accelerating with a brutal lack of hesitation, never wavering in the midrange and peaking at a limited target of 67 mph. Yes, I’ve gone faster, as have a lot of people. Visit the aftermarket and you’ll go faster still. Just be prepared for the resulting thirst for fuel.
That power wouldn’t be so impressive if the Ultra hull didn’t make it so usable. Now a design with plenty of years under its belt, the hull’s deep, 22.5-degree deadrise makes quick work of everything from lake chop to offshore swells. It doesn’t so much skip or plow across the waves, but just motors through and over them, always with precision and rarely if ever getting knocked from its path. That characteristic is what has long made the design a favorite of offshore racers, but it’s also one that makes the Ultra so versatile for less-experienced riders. It’s predicable and solid and inspires confidence in both driver and passengers.
A “rough-water boat” used to sum up the Ultra in its earliest days, but the current model is also surprisingly agile in calm conditions. At nearly 133” in length and weighing over 1051 pounds, the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X is no spry two-seater, but toggle down the electric trim and lean into a corner and the Ultra can sometimes feel that way. The short steering nozzle responds quickly and the hull stays hooked up throughout. And yes, that added punch from the engine when exiting a turn isn’t too shabby.
Kawasaki doesn’t so much cut corners to keep the 310X price tag the lowest of all Ultra 310 models. It simply focuses on what truly matters in classic Kawasaki style. Don’t expect anything comparable to Sea-Doo’s iBR or Yamaha’s RiDE; reverse is simply the classic mechanical style that has served watercraft users for decades. Yes, I’d like to see Kawasaki offer something comparable to its competitors at this price point, but you get what you get. At least that reverse lever is mounted portside, allowing you to simultaneously use reverse and throttle.
Cruise control and no-wake mode are offered, as is the aforementioned electric trim. Use cruise and no-wake when riding for those extended periods at speed or navigating slow-speed zones, but also don’t forget it when towing. It provides a better ride to skiers and boarders than your finger ever would on a throttle with so much power behind it. Other electronic enhancements include Kawasaki’s theft-prevention key system. The normal key allows the operator access to the engine’s full potential, a second “SLO” key limits a fair degree of that power to make the craft more suitable for new or younger riders. An eco-minded mode is also available to offer more fuel-efficient power delivery, but in classic Kawasaki style it still feels a little more spunky than competitors.
Features specific to the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X include the saddle, which is just gently sloped old-school style rather than heavily bolstered or tiered. The idea is that “sportier” 310X riders likely prefer to shift their weight around in the saddle more, and the lack of bolsters gives them that freedom. Handlebars can be adjusted to one of five different angles to accommodate for driver size or riding style. Underfoot, Hydro-Turf continues to make the traction mats with welcome cushion for those offshore adventures.
Capacities? Ultras still go big, with 56 gallons of storage (mostly in the generous bow tub) and over 20 gallons of fuel capacity.
Compare and Contrast
Competitive models? At this price, the 2018 Kawasaki Ultra 310X lines up most closely with Yamaha’s FX SVHO ($15,299). That craft offers similar power, remote transmitter for security, adjustable steering, and cruise control and no-wake mode. It also offers RiDE, which translates to superior control in reverse and rapid deceleration at speed. Sea-Doo’s closest competitor is the RXT-X 300 ($15,699). The RXT-X’s redesigned hull is now a rough-water contender in its own right, as well as nimble on flat water. In addition to iBR, the RXT-X also offers a modular ErgoLock saddle, conveniently accessed front storage, new rear cargo system, and X package additions of sponsons, adjustable aftermarket-style steering and footwell wedges.
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