When you test drive about 250 new boats a year, it's easy to characterize any one with a droll, here-we-go-again remark. But when we hit the throttles of the twin engines that power Yamaha's new 242 Limited S bowrider, the acceleration was so startling and the top speed so satisfying, "droll" gave way to smiles. Besides nimble turning and belly-busting speed, what sets the 242 Limited S apart in the very cluttered universe of midprice, midsize family boats is its seamless integration of hull, seating comfort and mechanics of propulsion. Even the relatively comfortable asking price is kept low thanks to the way Yamaha takes ownership of the entire building process - everything from laying the keel to casting the impellers.
It's that ownership of the process, we think, that keeps Yamaha at the top of the game and makes ownership easier - a formula that has made Yamaha one of two top jet-boat builders. For the customer, when the boatbuilder is also the engine maker, there is no finger pointing between component makers in the event that something needs service.
It is the propulsion system and its low profile that lets Yamaha accomplish the most dramatic feature on its new 242 - its signature bilevel transom design, with padded seating and curved backrests over the swim platform. The area makes a perfect spot for comfortable socializing. Even more welcome to towed water-sports guys, the lower platform now is just 7 inches above the water surface, which eases reboarding- even without the integrated stainless-steel ladder. Since Yamaha debuted this transom concept in 2004, other builders have tried to match it and mostly failed. It's the compactness of the engines and jet-drive system that lets Yamaha tuck them under its unique transom seating area, while other manufacturers build a "doghouse" over the area. A stern-drive won't accommodate this innovation either.