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I’d like to call the Yamaha VX Sport “cheap,” but that would saddle the boat with all sorts of low expectations. Instead, I’ll call this very solid machine “inexpensive,” a term that will no doubt make Yamaha marketing types much happier…and tell a much better story.
Let’s get the price out of the way. Yes, the VX Sport is Yamaha’s most entry-level, lowest-priced model, tying with the Sea-Doo GTI 130 at $7,999. That’s a decent investment for sure, but it’s nearly chump change in today’s market. That makes many people consider the Sport as a pure rental boat. (And, in fact, VXs dominate many a rental fleet). But the Sport also makes an enticing buy for those who just want to get an inexpensive, simple, bare-bones model to add to their waterfront getaway, or a simple boat to enjoy the sport.
For starters, the Sport benefits from the same best-selling hull and deck that graces the rest of the VX line. That means it handles rough conditions when required, and nearly always holds a stable, predictable line, no matter rough or calm.
For 2010, the deck has been tweaked to provide a better overall experience. The seat is longer, and footwells modified to provide about four more inches of legroom. The passenger end of the saddle has also been redesigned in shape, and offers thicker seat bolsters for more comfort. The display and mirrors have also been redone. The display sits a little higher, and mirrors are now elevated on the console, which prevents them from being damaged at the dock. Finally, the glovebox is significantly larger, as is the rear deck.
Other changes to the boat are a redesigned rideplate, intake grate, and sponsons that provide a slightly more playful ride by essentially moving the center of gravity aft, and allowing the boat to bank slightly more into a turn. The engine has also been recalibrated; Yamaha claims fuel-efficiency, already the best in the industry, has been improved by about 10-percent at both cruising speeds and wide-open throttle.
The Sport is powered by the familiar 1052cc, 20-valve, EFI four-cylinder Yamaha MR-1. Yamaha hasn’t stated horsepower in several years, but it used to be rated at 110hp, and that’s probably where it remains. Don’t let the number fool you, however, as this engine cranks out similar power to Sea-Doo’s GTI 130. Expect about 54 mph on the top-end, and enough power to get skiers and wakeboarders up and out of the hole with relative ease.
I’ve already alluded to the engine’s fuel-efficiency. On bargain models, purchase price is probably on par with how much they cost to run. I haven’t had the opportunity to fuel-flow test the 2010 version to verify the 10% increase, but I can tell you that the previous engine burned just a little over four gallons per hour at a 35mph cruise. Expect a slight improvement here.
How’s the ride? Surprisingly fun and playful. This may be entry-level, but it still does the things we ask of any watercraft, meaning it carves a corner, holds a stable line at speed, and handles decently in tight quarters. To that end a larger reverse lever helps; I just wish Yamaha would one day relocate it to the port side to allow for easy use of both reverse and throttle.
Instrumentation is not bare-bones, but instead includes speed, rpm, fuel, and engine hours. Warnings indicators cover low fuel, low oil pressure, overheating, and engine.
Yes, corners are cut but surprisingly few. You don’t get a rear boarding step. Colors and graphics are relatively simple. There’s no remote transmitter for security.
All in all, however, you get what you really need — adequate, reliable power, comfortable seating and predictable handling, decent (15 gallons) storage, and a strong dealer network to back it all up.
Maybe that does make it a cheap boat that’s best for rentals. But maybe it also makes it an inexpensive boat that’s a bargain for you…
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