We rode this three-seat beautyalong the Atlantic Coast near Key West in seas to four feet andfound the boat to be solid and forgiving. It took the torturewithout creaks, groans or cracks. We couldn't say that about thedriver.
But we could say it was a blast to drive. The STX-12F has a lotof torque and excellent acceleration, which is best enjoyed whilestanding up, flexing knees and elbows to absorb the shock. In thismanner we jack-rabbited along in the mid-40s, goosing the throttleat the crest of each wave to enjoy the exhilarating hang time as weglided over the troughs.
While boaters have been trained to think four-stroke marineengines are heavy and sluggish, the STX models were among thequickest in the fleet at the 2003 Kawasaki press introduction --nearly as quick as comparable two-stroke DI models.
Though we didn't conduct sound level tests due to seas and wind,riders on the STX-12F caught boat to boat conversation withouthaving to say "Huh?"
Here's a boat that sets itself apart from the pack in threenotable ways. First, it's the least expensive "green" four-strokewatercraft on the market at $8,499. Second, it's the lightest onthe market, which allows it to exceed 55 mph with a modest 125horsepower engine. Third, it earns the CARB three-star emissionsrating, the highest possible, meaning it will be welcome on LakeTahoe and other emissions-sensitive western waters.
The bow of the STX-12F has splash deflecting sponsons (shownabove).
* To get the solid 24-karat ride, Kawasaki makes the hull inone solid piece, laminating stringers, engine mounts andstrengthening features into the hull rather than gluing in astringer assembly -- a third component in most watercrafthulls.
* A water-jacketed exhaust system cools and quiets theengine, plus dual water mufflers and air box help make thiswatercraft among the quietest on the water.
* A direct crankshaft-to-impeller connection with no gearreduction increases torque to the impeller while keeping rpms wellwithin redline level.
* Smart Steering assists greenhorn drivers in avoidancemaneuvers. The engine's electronic brain monitors both throttleposition and steering position. When it senses a sudden reductionin rpm along with a steering change, the system feeds in enoughthrottle to turn the craft away from danger. We got enough coursecorrection to avoid a submerged log.
* Kawasaki deserves honors for integrating fullinstrumentation into a stylish LCD panel in the dash with clearreadouts and reliable waterproof construction.
Emissions: CARB 3-star rating
Off-power Steering: Kawasaki Smart Steering
Storage Capacity: 23.5 gal.
Special Standard Features: Tow hook, boarding ladder
Top Speed: 55.4 mph
Top Pick For: Pulling water sports. Walk-around stabilityis good and a flip-up ladder is standard, as are mirrors foroptimum skiing and riding.
Contact: 866-453-8754, kawaski.com