Yamaha ended months of speculation about its 2011 plans, revealing to dealers a new high-horsepower twist on the existing VX platform. The two new craft, dubbed the VXR and VXS, combine a lightweight version of the VX hull design with the proven 1.8-liter engine used in the existing FZR and FZS.
Playing The Ratio
According to Yamaha Product Development Manager Scott Watkins, the goal of the project was to produce a boat that could challenge existing ultra-high-performance models at a significantly lower price. To do so, the company relied upon the time-honored principle of power-to-weight ratio, along with parts that were already in existence in the current Yamaha lineup.
“We challenged ourselves to create a WaveRunner that could run out in front of the most high-performance watercraft on the market, and to do it at a price thousands less than anything else,” said Watkins. “We achieved it by matching our 1812cc engine, the largest displacement in the industry, with a lightweight compact platform. By doing this, we didn’t need to rely on a supercharger or intercooler to meet the top end of our performance benchmarks, which helped keep the price low. And the performance continues to run laps around the competition.”
Originally, the VX hull was recognized as an entry-level unit in the Yamaha ranks. Over the years, however, Yamaha began to recognize the boat was appealing to more than just the entry-level audience, and began to offer increasingly high-end finishes to the boat. But despite the occasional opinion that the hull could handle far more horsepower, the engine inside remained the 110hp four-stroke that has always powered the craft.
That has changed for 2011 — at least for the VXR and VXS — with the addition of the 1.8-liter powerplant used in the FZ line. This is the biggest displacement engine in the watercraft industry at the moment. It builds its horsepower through sheer size, and is not reliant on a supercharger and intercooler to build power. Yet, it’s a more compact design than the base VX motor.
The hull it’s being put into has been tweaked slightly. Last year Yamaha introduced a few small changes to the VX line, modifying the pump inlet and fine-tuning the deck design, changes officials now admit were paving the way for the 1.8-liter engine in 2011. This year that already lightweight hull is made even more so with the addition of NanoXcel, Yamaha’s proprietary hull material that is stronger, yet lighter in weight, than Yamaha’s conventional lay-up. The engine/hull combination lets the VXR weigh in lighter than the standard VX models, tipping the scales at only 728 pounds.
“We ask PWC buyers what they want most and the answer is always consistent,” explained Andrew Cullen, marketing communications manager, Yamaha WaterCraft Group. “They want a watercraft that’s fun and fast, as well as reliable and affordable. And that’s exactly what we give them. The proof that it’s working? Happy customers and rising market share.”
The VXS, with a more traditional bolstered saddle and black paint scheme, will retail for $10,899. The more race-inspired VXR, with a flatter saddle and choice of metallic blue or silver, will cost $11,199.
While the new VX models push the line into new territory, the existing VX line returns for those looking for affordability, reliability and fuel efficiency. A VX model has topped sales charts for six consecutive years. The line includes the base VX Sport, middle child VX Deluxe, and fuller-featured VX Deluxe.
The FX Series — FX HO, FX Cruiser HO, FX SHO, and FX Cruiser SHO — also returns unchanged to occupy the high-end of the spectrum. Meanwhile the FZR and FZS receive new colors and graphics. Price points have increased anywhere from $200-$400 across the board. PSB