When Yamaha introduced the SUV 1200 at the marine industry's main trade show in Chicago, it took two tablecloths to cover it. When they pulled them off to reveal the longest personal watercraft in history - more than 12 feet long -the first thought that sprang to mind was, "What a tank. Would something that big be fun to ride?"
Well, yes, it is big. And yes, it is a blast to ride. In fact, it's the most fun you can have on a tank without blowing things up or driving over parked cars. The SUV 1200 stays hooked to the water no matter how hard you flick it into a turn, thanks to its full-length keel. It accelerates as quickly as smaller craft, but once at speed, the SUV rides like nothing else. Face it, most lakes are glassy for an hour or two after sunrise. After that, most lakes are whipped up enough to toss around small boats, let alone PWCs.
But the SUV 1200 is the type of craft you want to take on rivers and actually go somewhere. This boat has enough storage beneath its aft saddlebags to conceal a wakeboard, a slalom ski and enough gear for camping or a daylong cruise. In all, the SUV boasts 116 gallons of storage, nearly four times more than any PWC.
Those on shore will appreciate Yamaha's new sound suppression system, which begins with an airbox lined with baffles to quell intake noise. Burnt air and fuel escape through an exhaust resonator and then through the pump housing. By the time it exits the craft, exhaust noise is up to 50 percent quieter than other models.
Owners will appreciate the convenience items such as the dovetail rear boarding platform, which allows a rider greater leverage when reboarding. And the five-position adjustable handlebars make the boat comfortable for anyone. The SUV even comes with a trailer, which brings to mind the second question: how much? $8,999 takes it away.