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It’s not often a personal watercraft manufacturer announces a price drop. A slow-and-steady price creep has become more the norm. But dropping the price is just what Yamaha has done with the entry-level VX Sport for 2014, lowering this formerly $8,399 craft all the way to $7,999. The motivation? Likely a bargain-priced model recently introduced by a competitor, but that hasn’t changed what you get for your money. Nor where you can take it. Fun and simple, the Sport remains a good all-around boat in calm seas or rough, tiny inland lakes or bigger coastal waters.
And one that – as countless rental operators will attest – has a track record of reliable service. A Solid Core
The key to the Sport’s success is likely its solid core offerings. Start with the hull, the same basic design found throughout the best-selling VX line. It’s stable and predictable enough to handle the youngest newcomers or pure novice riders, yet can still be fun and playful for more advanced operators. Like all Yamahas, it’s also a champ in a wide variety of water conditions. Head off into the waves and you’ll note a slightly stiff, but overall solid and predictable ride that will inspire confidence in both driver and passengers. In short, you won’t have to stay on shore when the rest of the gang is heading out towards some rougher waters. Instead, you’ll be able to join in on the fun.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Sea-Doo Spark
The lone real shortcoming? At this price, you won’t get reverse. That means you’ll need to be more alert around a tight dock area, as you won’t be able to slow the craft’s forward momentum, or feather the boat in and out of neutral. True, we lived without reverse for years, but just be prepared…and maybe do a little practice near an empty dock before you take on the lunch crowd.
That hull is matched well to the Sport’s proven reliable engine. Yamaha’s base 1,052cc MR-1, it produces about 110 hp. No, don’t expect to rival any 300 hp flagships, but you will hit a top speed around 54 mph. That’s good enough for a lot of entry-level buyers, who will likely also celebrate the fact the Sport burns only about 4 gallons per hour at a 35 mph cruise. It’s also enough for some basic towing duties, meaning you’ll be able to pull the kids (or adults) on a tube or wakeboard.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F
Though the price is low, don’t expect a complete absence of frills. Take the dash display. It offers a quick digital read on speed, RPM, and fuel level, and can also keep tabs on engine hours. Warnings are included for both low fuel and low oil pressure. Widen your view and you’ll take in dual rearview mirrors, helpful for keeping tabs on what’s coming up from behind as well as any tow sports lover you’re hauling in your wake. Turn your attention aft and the ample boarding platform is covered in grooved Hydro-Turf traction matting, just like higher-end models. Stowage includes the now familiar duo of front storage tub and readily accessible glovebox.
But yes, there are some things you don’t get. Don’t expect a spring-loaded boarding step, multiple-piece stitched seat, or quick-connect tow eye. For the latter, a simple U-bolt suffices.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Yamaha VX Cruiser
And that’s okay, because at this price you really shouldn’t expect much more. More important is the fact that the VX Sport is a craft you can use just like any other personal watercraft. It’s not limited to smaller waters, and you can realistically haul the full complement of passengers when necessary.
That’s always made the boat a bargain. But that new price point just makes it that much more of a bargain for 2014.
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