The mission of the Scarab 165 ID can be described in one word: fun. This 15-foot-9-inch runabout can be ordered with up to 300 jet-drive horsepower. With a full tank of gas, it weighs only about 1,700 pounds. That’s an exciting power-to-weight ratio—one that will rip from zero to 30 mph in a tick over 4 seconds and top 57 mph in a flash with a crew of two grinning boaters aboard. The steering is quick, and the hull is agile. The Scarab 165 ID is simply a blast.
This boat does have a practical side. On its trailer, the Scarab 165 ID is just 18 feet, 4 inches long and weighs a little more than 2,300 pounds, an easy tow with even a modest vehicle. The Scarab 165 ID will take up the same garage space as a couple of trailered personal watercraft. In fact, a couple of PWC may be the only alternative to the Scarab 165 ID if you are considering a small boat with the advantages of jet propulsion. A full-size PWC, such as the Yamaha WaveRunner FX HO ($15,400 without a trailer) can match the speed and agility of the Scarab and carry three adults, but not with the comfort of the Scarab, which also offers more room for gear. A pair of full-size PWC on a trailer will weigh about the same as the Scarab, tow as easily and take up the same space.
Interior and Accessories
While rated for a total of five passengers, the Scarab 165 ID practically seats three across in individual bucket seats. Settle in at the helm and you’ll feel like you are at the thick-rimmed wheel of a racing go-kart, embraced by the seat bolsters and just-right footrests. The twin-lever control adds to the racy feel of the 165 ID. The boat’s diminutive proportions, lack of windshield and proximity to the water’s surface enhance the experience of running this boat at speed—the water seems to rush toward you, and the bow lifts and gets just a little floaty. The Scarab 165 ID can outmaneuver any prop-driven runabout. The boat handles like a PWC, with super-quick steering. At idle, the Scarab will spin within its own length when the wheel is turned to full lock, which will prove handy in tight docking situations. We can attest to it.
The helm presents an analog speedometer and tachometer flanking a central LCD screen with a fuel gauge and other info. Cruise control is standard and handy for no-wake zones. Our test boat was equipped with a digital speed-control option ($1,095), which adds a docking mode that tones down throttle response, an eco mode that limits power to save fuel, and a ski mode you can set to program the rate of acceleration and a desired speed.
The supercharged 300 hp Rotax 300 ACE is a $7,710 option over the base 170 hp Rotax engine. But according to Scarab, 80 percent of buyers get the big motor, and we understand that logic. Why settle for lickety when you can get lickety-split? Keep in mind that a jet drive is about 30 percent less efficient than a propeller, so in terms of thrust you’ll experience the equivalent of about 210 prop horsepower while burning fuel at the 300 hp rate. Engine access is good below the hatch abaft the seats, with the battery convenient to port. This engine has closed cooling, with the heat exchanger built into the ride plate in the hull bottom, so winterization does require pumping antifreeze solution through the exhaust using a flush port in the transom.
Let’s set the scene at the sandbar: Access to the transom lounge area is easy over a pair of steps. The lower platform surface is close to the water for easy boarding when a tubing session is done. The second level provides a footrest for two small seats with padded backrests. Our boat featured optional hexagon-patterned MarineMat on the platform and cockpit deck ($1,040 combined). The premium JL Audio package ($2,740) adds a pair of transom speakers and a subwoofer. It also features adjustable RBG LED lighting in not just the speakers but also the transom and cockpit seatbacks, which looks really cool at night.
The optional aluminum sport arch ($3,140) incorporates a sun top and can be used for towing a boarder. Add board racks to the arch for $915. There’s a 6-foot-long ski locker in the sole, plus shallow stowage below a padded seat to port and at the bow. All the stowage is finished in smooth, easy-to-clean fiberglass, and the bow compartment drains to use as a cooler.
There is more storage below the engine hatch—a canvas pouch for lines, and a cubby to starboard that might hold a small cooler.
No question, the Scarab 165 ID is a fair-weather boat. There’s no wind protection, and this small hull will not be comfortable on a really rough day. But for a pure summer blast around the lake, we think this boat is a viable alternative to a PWC. Both are easy to own and maintain, and both offer similar dart-and-dash performance on the water. But the Scarab 165 ID offers a more socially pleasing experience.
How We Tested
- Engine: Rotax Marine 300 ACE
- Drive/Impeller: Water jet/166 mm diameter, 14/22 pitch 4-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.00:1 Fuel Load: 20 gal. Water on Board: NA Crew Weight: 380 lb.
- The 21-degree hull deadrise cuts through modest lake chop, and the ride is great considering the boat’s compact size.
- Jet-power advantages include shallow draft, no prop and minimal maintenance.
- New standard trailer has snazzy aluminum wheels.
- Customize your boat with one of 30 outspoken color and graphics options, including soft 3D Impact graphics that protect the hullside from dock rash.
- Stowage capacity is limited, and there’s likely not enough deck space for your big Yeti cooler.
- Jet-power disadvantages include less efficiency than a prop and no trim.
Pricing and Specs
|$44,225 (base with test power)
|6’6″ (with tower)
|170, 230 or 300 hp Rotax jet drive
Scarab Jet Boats – Cadillac, Michigan; scarabjetboats.com