For many of us, the most memorable part of Miami Vice was the flashy 38-foot Scarab that Crockett and Tubbs used to zoom their way around Biscayne Bay. The new Scarab 195 Open isn’t anything like that boat.
It’s better. Way better.
This new waterjet-powered Scarab 195 Open is exactly the reason that sports-car sales are down and sport-ute sales are up: It does everything. Once Crockett and Tubbs had chased down the drug lord at 69 mph, well, they couldn’t do much else with their Scarab.
The 195 Open, on the other hand, is great for wakeboarding, diving, tubing, fishing, water skiing and family outings. Scarab admits they were inspired by brands like Jeep and North Face, and they designed the 195 Open for weekend adventures. It can be towed behind a small car, and everyone is going to love it because it has an enclosed head. And while that big Scarab put Sonny Crockett on a first-name basis with the guys at the fuel dock, this new sportboat sips fuel.
If this 195 Open were a racehorse, its lineage would be described as “Scarab out of Bombardier by Groupe Beneteau”. That’s because Bombardier Recreational Products decided to get out of the waterjet-powered boat business in 2012 to concentrate on Sea-Doo watercraft, leaving the 18-foot-10-inch bowrider they had been prepping in limbo.
Groupe Beneteau, which also builds Four Winns, Glastron and Wellcraft, saw the opportunity and acquired all the tooling, plus a contract with Bombardier for its Rotax 4-Tec waterjet powertrain. The Scarab name had been languishing, so the new line assumed that title. First off were sporty jet boats, but the 195 Open breaks new ground as a center console.
At first glance, it’s clear that Scarab's inspiration wasn’t just Jeep. The most noticeable feature on the 195 Open is stolen straight from your Ford F-150 pickup: a fold-down tailgate. It’s a brilliant idea and sure to be copied. It gives you a buttoned-up transom when you want it, as well as a water-level boarding platform.
Not so readily visible, but a huge bonus, is the head hidden in the center console. This makes the 195 Open very family-friendly, especially when your crew needs a bathroom stop.
The 195 Open is available in two configurations: Fish and Open. Our test boat was the Open, which doesn’t have the two fishing seats, the livewell or the bow casting platform. Instead, our Open had U-shaped seating forward, flip-up seats aft that fold flush, and lots of stowage.
The starting point for all 195s is the hull, which bears a few genes from Sea-Doo watercraft. A pair of channels run fore and aft next to the keel, giving the boat natural tracking. A problem with waterjet boats is they tend to wander without having a lower unit or rudder, and I found that these channels really kept the 195 Open on rails at all speeds.
The squared-off pram bow increases the forward seating considerably, and it can be fitted with a table with drink/coffee holders. One particularly likable feature is that the Scarab designers created good walk-around space, even next to the console.
The forward side of the console has a padded seat atop a storage locker, with a backrest of thick foam padding like the material that surrounds the coaming. The entire front of the console hinges upward on gas lifts, revealing a Dometic portable toilet behind a footwell that gives over 5 feet of headroom. The back of the compartment is covered with a vinyl curtain so you don’t see the dashboard wiring, and each side has several net pockets for stowage of your gear.
The helm is tidy, with a fat wheel behind a signature Scarab chrome bezel with auto-style instrumentation, leaving a flat panel for more electronics. A husky billet throttle is right where you’d want it, and there is a shelf but no lip next to the stereo. Behind the thick Lucite windscreen, however, there is a lipped shelf, perfect for stashing your shades and suntan goop. The wheel is offset, a slight oddity since the well-padded seat is 30 inches wide and therefore suitable for one person only. Our test boat had the optional watersports tower with a central tow point and fabric Bimini, and the whole shebang hinges to the floor for garage storage. Our boat also had the optional graphic padded marine mat, which was very soft on the tootsies.
On each side of the helm are pop-up seats that become walkways when folded down and, just aft, a pair of large lockers. The gel-finished starboard locker has a drain, while the port locker has the battery and breaker panel. A folding sun pad covers both aft lockers, and then you have that wonderful folding transom. Our boat had the aft footwell filled with a humongous water bag for creating immense wakes when needed.
Our test boat had the standard 250 hp three-cylinder supercharged and intercooled Rotax 4-Tec powertrain, and it turns the 195 Open into quite a sporty boat. We topped out at 41 mph and got there in a hurry, jumping on plane in a mere four seconds and passing 30 mph in under seven seconds. Shoppers will note that the Yamaha 190 FSH posted a 43 mph top speed, but that boat has no head and carries no water ballast. Back aboard the Scarab, the factory captain insisted on cranking the wheel hard over at near-top speed. The 195 Open didn’t spin out as I’d expected — just banked hard, threw spray everywhere and rocketed away, thanks to the hard chines on each side. Waterjets aren’t the quietest engines, but our 195 Open had considerable sound-deadening material, and I’m told more is coming.
As a former owner of a Scarab go-fast, I was prepared to be unimpressed, but I was completely won over. This is a great boat for all sorts of reasons, but don’t take my word: Go run one yourself. You’ll love it.