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Take a bigger engine, knock off the supercharger, and put it in an existing hull? Sounds like the VXR, but Yamaha did it two years earlier with the FX HO.
Time to meet another of those over-achieving midrange models…
Engine and Features
Yes, Yamaha souped up the FX HO in somewhat similar fashion in 2009, upgrading the engine to the 1.8-liter mill that is the industry’s largest displacement engine of record. Estimated to produce around 180 hp, it weighed less than the 160 hp engine it replaced, and breathed new life into the FX HO platform. That same model is still a favorite today, running on regular unleaded fuel while powering the HO to a top speed just shy (63-64 mph) of the 65 mph standard set by industry flagships. Add in a 0-30 mph time of just over two seconds, and a price tag of $12,199, and you’ve got a quick, versatile boat that’s comfortable in a variety of water conditions.
That engine doesn’t just provide a good power-to-weight ratio. It also includes electronic throttle, making for a more comfortable ride. Cruise Assist enables the driver to lock in a speed and maintain it simply by squeezing the throttle, a feature that comes in handy during not only cruising but also when taking towees for a ride at the end of a towrope. Up/down arrows provide small adjustments in speed, and releasing the throttle deactivates the system.
Electronic throttle also allows for a No Wake mode. Again, a quick tap of a button activates the system, which holds the craft at roughly 5 mph, this time without even holding the throttle.
Squeeze the throttle as the PWC Gods intended and the FX HO displays nice reflexes. The added power gives it a lively, nimble feel for a midrange model; turns are sharp and predictable, and the craft exhibits Yamaha’s trademark solidness in rough conditions, tracking straight and true and with no surprises as it encounters a confused sea. Yes, there is a little looseness in the hull that can be felt occasionally (I chalk it up to the lighter weight NanoXcel hull material), but play around with weight placement and it begins to become more of a non-issue.
That leaves my only true complaint the same as it was last year — a starboard location for the reverse lever, which won’t allow the driver to manipulate throttle and reverse at the same time.
Comfort and Stowage
Cruise Assist and No Wake Mode are part of the FX HO’s feature-rich package.
As usual, Yamaha’s ergonomics are top notch. Adjustable handlebars tilt through a 20-degree arc to cater to drivers of different sizes (or those that like to muscle the craft around in a standing position), and manual trim adjusts the bow up or down to favor speed or acceleration. Yes, trim can be a little stiff to manipulate when a good flow of water is exiting the pump, but it doesn’t require the driver to take his eyes off the water, which is a big plus.
Stowage is divided between a generous front tub and a deep glovebox that can handle drinks, as well a watertight canister atop the console. All are part of a total 23.7-gallon capacity. A keyfob remote locks the craft for security, but can also be used to limit top speeds when you want to turn the controls over to a less-experienced rider or simply wish to conserve fuel without having to think about it. A handy reboarding ladder is at the ready should you end up in the drink.
Take Your Positions…
Where to position the FX HO? That’s a tougher call now that the VXR exists. But still, this is a much more upscale platform. Whereas that boat is a stripped hot rod, the FX retains a plush comfort with cruise control and no-wake abilities. It’s also just a bigger alternative, able to haul more passengers and gear.
In short, it’s a solid performer that has only gotten better with age.
Related Reading2011 Yamaha VXS Review2010 Yamaha VX Sport Review2010 Yamaha FZS Review2010 Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO/FX SHO Review
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