Yamaha’s FX Limited SVHO has long paired a luxurious ride with exclusive extras, but the 2019 model is arguably the most well-thought-out version to date. Yes, that extras list has grown, but it’s become more focused and now caters to the growing demand for music and fishing capabilities. Yamaha also significantly made over both the hull and deck, giving the craft a more refined ride, and also a more refined look and feel. The end result is a PWC that not only continues to redefine the Limited concept, but also proves one of the smoothest-handling three-seaters we’ve tested to date.
The hull redesign was informed by Yamaha’s own GP1800R, a nimble, performance-oriented two-passenger craft, stretching dimensions by 10 inches and tweaking the design to match the FX’s larger footprint and crew capacity. At this end of the spectrum, performance is always a goal, but the overriding targets were increased stability, particularly in rough water, as well as enhanced comfort and confidence-inspiring handling. Designers hit the mark. Integrated spray chines at the bow produce a drier, more comfortable ride. A top-loading intake grate better feeds the pump, improving not only the craft’s hookup but also overall stability. Hull sponsons likewise aid the craft’s cornering ability, but also provide increased stability when riding with a full complement of crew or towing tubers, skiers and wakeboarders.
Handling is an interesting mix of the familiar FX of old and the aggressive GP. The overall ride remains plush and comfortable, with Yamaha’s trademark stability and a predictable line in rough water, but in the turns the craft reveals (and rewards) an even more pronounced inside lean. Crank the bars hard over and shift your body weight to the inside of the corner, and the craft literally flows in and out of the most aggressive maneuvers. The lean-in style takes further strain off the upper body, allowing riders to push the craft’s limits without tiring as fast or relegating themselves to more time at the gym.
Top speed from the carryover 1,812 cc supercharged/intercooled Yamaha Marine engine peaked at an even 68 mph with my 155-pound load and calm water conditions. Acceleration is brutal out of the hole, reaching 30 mph in as little as 1.5 seconds. Though horsepower numbers are no longer quoted, 260 hp is a realistic ballpark. Yamaha’s lightest-weight NanoXCel 2 hull material guarantees the power-to-weight ratio is pushed to the absolute max, with the FX weighing in at only 822 pounds.
Yamaha retained the FX’s masculine feel but streamlined the bow. Gone is the massive, triangular impression left by the oversize stowage lid and integral rearview mirrors. The updated design physically and visually narrows the front of the craft. Interestingly, that visual may be sleeker, but Yamaha actually increased the compartment’s capacity by almost 9 gallons. Note the aggressive angles of old on the bond line, which now features angular trim pieces at the bow and stern that sharpen the looks of the deck. Other tweaks include adding nearly 3 gallons of capacity to the glove compartment along with a new watertight, gasketed lid. Yamaha also brought back a feature last seen on the long-departed four-seat SUV—drains in the footwells. These prevent water from becoming trapped within the well’s curvy confines whether on the trailer or on the water.
A significant change is reserved for the information display. Following in the footsteps of Yamaha’s jet-boat line, the FX adopts an industry first—an LCD color touchscreen. The 4.3-inch rectangular Yamaha Connext display keeps the traditional speed, rpm, fuel-level and trim-angle readouts front and center, but it can also be used to access a deeper pool of features and information, including the choice of different acceleration profiles, governed top speeds, and fuel-consumption data.
Perhaps the most intriguing change, however, is in how owners can now accessorize the craft—and how Yamaha incorporates these accessories without commitment to a permanent feature. Cup holders prove key. The pair forward of the handlebars are repurposed to serve as the mounting point for industry-standard, ball-and-socket RAM Mounts to which owners can attach a variety of accessories. Standard on the Limited are a pair of waterproof EcoXGear Bluetooth speakers to stream music off your phone, a Garmin Striker GPS fish finder (with through-hull transducer) to please the angler, and a beverage holder, all of which can be stashed in the glove box when not in use. Owners can further accessorize with items such as an action camera. The availability of music in particular brings the FX Limited in line with Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited ($17,099), a comparable luxury flagship three-seater with a permanently integrated sound system as well as modular saddle and platform accessory mounts. Both approaches allow these craft to be tailored more than ever to the needs of their owners.
- RiDE control system includes separate throttles for both forward and reverse, simplifying low-speed maneuvering in tight quarters and allowing for rapid deceleration from speed when desired.
- Included watersports package features a single-rider tube, inflator, tube holder, towrope, soft-sided cooler, 12-volt outlet, matching cover and two fenders.
- Hey Siri! Included EcoXGear speakers also allow riders to take phone calls and ask for directions without removing their phones from storage.
- Touchscreen is a welcome addition, but we’d appreciate a much brighter display.
- Speakers are not as neatly integrated into the craft’s design as competitive offerings from both Sea-Doo and Kawasaki, but the versatility and portability are tough to beat.
Available Power: Jet Drive
How We Tested
Engine: Super Vortex High Output 1,812 cc supercharged Yamaha Marine Engine with external intercooler
Pump/Impeller: 160 mm high-pressure pump with stainless-steel impeller
Gear Ratio: 1.00:1
Fuel Load: 18 lb.
Crew Weight: 155 lb.
Yamaha Motor Corporation – Kennesaw, Georgia; 800-962-7926; yamahawaverunners.com