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At $8,399, the 2012 variation of the Yamaha VX Sport is the most affordable personal watercraft on the market. It’s also a solid, reliable workhorse of a machine, making it a favorite with rental operators. That latter group is one of the reasons why Yamaha chose to keep the ’12 version of the sport nearly identical to its predecessor. But they’re also a reason why the bargain hunter simply looking for that extra toy in the arsenal may be drawn to a stripped-down model like the Sport. It’s a proven commodity that still delivers the most important result — a fun day on the water.
The VX line in general has been an unparalleled success for Yamaha. And much of that success starts with the reliable 1052cc Yamaha MR-1 engine. Pumping out approximately 110 horsepower, it may seen anemic by today’s standards, but in reality that’s more than enough horses to handle the basics. Top speed tops out around 54 mph; the craft’s holeshot has enough oomph to pop up a skier or wakeboarder, and can haul a tube all day long.
In fact, Yamaha touts this engine to be the most fuel-efficient model in the industry. At a 35 mph cruise it burns in the neighborhood of four gallons per hour, or a fraction of the consumption of the supercharged flagship models.
And while many riders may certainly outgrow that power delivery, others may find it perfectly adequate. One of the reasons many riders can live with the VX Sport in the long term is its hull. In short, it’s a fun ride, able to carve a tight corner when you’re feeling spirited, and yet holding a nice, stable line when you’ve loaded the boat up with a couple kids who are entrusting you to keep them safe and secure. This hull is often a good match for when the conditions deteriorate. Like almost all Yamahas, it charges through rough water with a somewhat stiff, but predictable, secure ride. It also handles with finesse around the dock or launch ramp thanks to an excellent reverse. Of course, it’s still located to starboard, meaning you can’t very easily steer, apply throttle, and manipulate the reverse bucket all at the same time.
No, you don’t get many frills at this price point. A speedometer is wisely included, as are rpm, fuel, and warning indicators to cover low fuel, low oil pressure, or engine overheating. Side mirrors are standard, and are located along the bow storage hatch, rather than low on the body like early models. That makes them more usable, but also keeps them away from damage at the dock. Fifteen gallons of storage capacity are split between that bow tub and a generously sized glove box.
Functional extras include a large rear boarding deck to simplify re-boarding in deep water. A rear grab handle provides some leverage, although you don’t get a spring-loaded step so it helps to be more agile. Once aboard, a gently sculpted seat provides a spot for up to three passengers, and keeps them from being crammed together. A simple tow hook is secured aft to haul those toys.
Can you get more? Certainly. But at this price point, you get what you really need from a craft. Maybe that makes it a rental favorite…but maybe it makes it all the boat you really need.
Related Reading2011 Yamaha VX Deluxe Review2011 Yamaha VXS Review2011 Yamaha VXR Review2010 Yamaha VX Sport Review
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