The industry may indeed be entering the upswing that manufacturers, aftermarket companies, and dealers have long anticipated, but judging by most OEM’s offerings for 2005, the industry is playing it safe for the time being.
Across all four remaining manufacturer’s lineups, existing models dominate the landscape, with the few truly new boats being twists, variations on, or combinations of former models. A bad thing? Certainly not. These lone “new” offerings are better than ever. Those who had hoped for the radical departures of yesteryear, however, may just have to keep that enthusiasm in check.
Powersports Business has already given readers a look at the new Yamaha offerings, in reality, likely the most “new” of anything you’ll see in ‘05. This issue we take a closer look at both Sea-Doo and Honda, and offer the first glimpse of what we expect to see from Kawasaki.
Sea-Doo Goes Big
After leaving the competition well behind (at least in terms of horsepower) in 2004 with the introduction of the 215-hp RXP musclecraft, Sea-Doo has elected to do the same for the booming three-passenger market in 2005.
The 2005 RXT combines the 215-hp four-stroke introduced on last year’s RXP with the familiar and proven GTX 4-TEC hull design. The result is one powerful family cruiser, or as Sea-Doo reps like to paint it, a “cigarette boat for the personal watercraft crowd.”
The heart and soul of this new craft is Sea-Doo’s industry-topping 1494cc, supercharged, triple cylinder four-stroke with an intercooler, a design that now boasts a one-year track record under its belt and one that churns out that 215-hp that has made many a performance enthusiast stand up and take notice.
Featuring a closed-loop cooling system that promises to increase engine life and the electronic brains that make concepts like a “learning key” speed governor a reality, the engine is both a barnburner and a responsible member of the boating community. It starts with ease, makes exhaust smoke virtually nonexistent, and cleans up emissions to the tune of CARB’s Two Star rating.
All this while offering muscelcraft-like response out of the hole, powerful mid-range acceleration, and top speeds that continue to flirt with (and in some cases heavily pet) the so-called Coast Guard suggested speed cap of 65 mph.
Although the RXT’s modified-V hull is essentially the tried-and-true GTX, minor cosmetic updates can be found on the boat’s top deck, including a slightly different use of chrome accents. More functional improvements include the addition of all-new, far grippier traction mats (a feature that will be found throughout Sea-Doo’s 2005 line), and exposed bolts on the aft sponsons.
That hull also continues to feature Sea-Doo’s trademark O.P.A.S. off-throttle/off-power steering system, a design that features external rudders which not only enhance steering ability during off-throttle collision-avoidance maneuvers, but also continue to work should the driver accidentally pull the lanyard or kill engine power.
In addition to the RXT, Sea-Doo's new 3D, which was released last spring, gets a two new experiences for model year 2005. Besides the vert, moto and kart modes, the 3D also gets a knee mode and a Shoq that locks in the handlebars for the vert experience.
The Shoq is a three-position adjustable strut and incorporates a damper that Sea-Doo officials said will help smooth the ride. Sea-Doo will also offer a base 3D PWC. It's basically a bare bones 3D and comes standard with the vert mode only. Other modes can be added, for an additional cost.
Other returning Sea-Doo PWC include the GTX, GTX Limited, GTX Supercharged, GTI, GTI LE, GTI RFI and the newly named Wake edition.
Honda, Kawasaki Add Details
Continuing to make headway in the now four-manufacturer PWC market, Honda failed to unveil anything radically new at their dealer show, but instead showed a twist on an existing model. The AquaTrax F-12X GPScape is essentially the F-12X of old, but now outfitted with an onboard GPS navigation system.
The built-in unit is integrated cleanly into the traditional handlebar display, and features storage for up to 100 waypoints, GPS-speak for saved locations. A digital compass will also show the direction of travel. Other additions to the model include a rear boarding step, and a new black hull/gold deck combo.
Elsewhere, Honda will continue the models from last season, including the larger F-12 and F-12X, and the smaller, more nimble R-12 and R-12X. The F-12 has also received upgrades, including a higher-revving engine that produces an additional 10 horsepower. The F-12 has also received several other engine upgrades, such as a new jet pump, new impeller, and tweaks to the intake. New color schemes also were unveiled throughout the line.
While Kawasaki has yet to officially unveil their new line in public, details have been released on the Internet. Leading the way once again is the versatile and powerful STX-15F, a four-stroke packed with power. The remainder of the line appears to be similar to last year’s offerings. Of note, the SXR stand-up does return for 2005. More details on Kawasaki will be available in the next issue of PSB.