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The Yamaha V1 Sport is a new name for 2015, but the craft takes much of what was great about the former VX Sport and carries it on for the recreational or entry-level buyer. In an unconventional manner, it also takes on Sea-Doo’s seemingly lower-priced Spark.
At $8,399, the V1 Sport wouldn’t appear to be close at first glance. But option that Spark up to a 90 hp engine, add on its three-passenger hull extension, reverse, and add the bow storage compartment and the Spark actually comes in at $7,299. Yamaha’s hoping the V1 Sport’s greater horsepower, fiberglass hull, increased length and capacity, and better storage and fuel capacities bring the comparisons far closer, and for many buyers, tip the scales in the brand’s favor.
As already noted, that’s the former VX hull below the V1 graphics. It’s a great starting point, as the design skillfully blends stability, comfort, and a touch of performance into a versatile package. Beginners will never feel intimidated at the controls, even as conditions deteriorate. Those with limited experience or more skilled riders who just want an affordable craft will also find the V1 can carve a decent, aggressive turn when desired, and still feel nimble when it’s time to just cut up the water and have fun. No, don’t expect freestyle-inspired spins. The V1 grips the water with a firm tenacity. But the small size and light overall feel combine to deliver a surprising fun factor. Low-speed handling is also solid and predictable, especially given that the Sport includes reverse.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Yamaha VX
The V1 Sport’s power is the same as found in the previous VX. Yamaha’s 1,052cc MR-1 engine and 155mm pump combo has a long, long track record of reliable performance, generating in the neighborhood of 110 horsepower. When paired with the V1 Sport’s light overall weight (745 pounds), it delivers adequate power, even with a multiple passenger load. Expect a top speed close to 54 mph in good conditions. Also expect to enjoy exceptional fuel economy. Consumption is only about four gallons per hour at a common 35 mph cruising speed. Is that enough power for watersports tow duties? That all depends on the weight of your rider, but you should be able to haul kids and lighter adults on skis and wakeboards, and virtually anyone on an inflatable.
As an affordable, entry-level model, the V1 Sport won’t dish up a lot of extras. You do, however, get one biggie – the aforementioned mechanical reverse, complete with a detent to approximate a neutral setting. That means you can more confidently maneuver around a dock or launch ramp, as well as navigate confidently around a boat-laden marina. Yes, it’s on the right, meaning you’ll have to get tricky if you want to simultaneously use throttle, but in tight quarters idle speed is usually just fine. Sea-Doo’s iBR, similar to Yamaha’s own new RiDE technology, is easier to use, however, and earns points for keeping your hands on the handlebars and eyes on the water.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Sea-Doo Spark
You’ll also get decent glovebox storage with holders for drink bottles, and just over 15 gallons of bow storage space. The Sport also includes good HydroTurf traction mat coverage in the footwells and aft deck, as well as a spring-loaded boarding step and dual rearview mirrors. And, though colors and graphics are simple, the hull and deck are painted. Automotive-style paint and clear coat typically won’t be as prone to fading as gelcoat over the long term.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F
Where are cost-cutting efforts obvious? The seat is one example. Though it features some sculpting and an upwards tier, it’s covered in one simple piece of vinyl so it is not as fitted and upscale as the cut-and-sew construction featured in higher-end models. The info display is also somewhat minimal and, like the VX of old, the towsports tow eye is just a simple U-bolt.
Clearly, the entry-level market has been shaken up as of late, but while Yamaha may not have introduced a truly new model, the V1 Sport proves to be a strong contender with a proven history. Considering that “proven history” includes sharing nearly the same hull, engine, and features of the best-selling craft for much of the last decade, once you do the appropriate math the V1 Sport isn’t that far off in price from the competition’s seemingly lower-priced alternatives. For that reason and more, the craft remains one of the industry’s more compelling buys.
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