Sixty-five miles per hour is a benchmark in the high-performance PWC market. Most craft that reach it cost upwards of $13,000 and require a supercharged engine to get the job done. Yamaha’s WaveRunner VXR breaks the mold, hitting that magic number — and beyond — for just over $11,000.
Rather than pile on the extras, Yamaha distilled the VXR down to the barest essence of a PWC. The hull is borrowed from the existing VX line, entry-level models that are perennial bestsellers. Yamaha tweaked the hull with a new sponson placement to sharpen cornering and switched the lay-up to a lightweight, nano-engineered compound used in its high-end models to shed 40 pounds.
Into that newly svelte hull, the company placed the PWC industry’s largest displacement engine, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, pinched from the FX High Output. The end result is a 728-pound boat with an approximately 180 hp engine that exploits its horsepower-to-weight ratio for blistering performance without the complexity and expense of a turbo. I reached 67.7 mph in less than ideal conditions and noted a brisk 1.8-to 2.0-second acceleration from 0 to 30 mph.
To many enthusiasts, that price/speed combo alone will make the sale, but the VXR also stands out for its handling ability. According to Yamaha, a combination of increased thrust, revised sponson placement and greater pump suction puts more hull surface in the water. Cornering is somewhat old-school; I found I had to keep my outside foot planted toward the stern to really lock the boat in its tracks. But do it right, and you’re carving literally as hard as you can hold on. Done wrong, however, the boat can be somewhat loose and skittish. Weight placement is crucial, so expect a bit of a learning curve. The upside? Your efforts will be rewarded.
Don’t expect the bells and whistles that have come to typify most new PWCs. Other than a supportive bolstered seat and a few basic extras, the VXR is as basic as they come, with little more than a throttle to pull and handlebars to turn. You won’t even find tilt steering. It’s oddly liberating, allowing the driver to forget about what gadget does what and just simply ride the machine. And ride it fast.