By Christopher Hughes
What you don’t get in the VXR WaveRunner:
Yamaha designed this as a no-frills model, and with a starting price of $11,699. What has Yamaha left out of the VXR? The driver doesn’t have cruise assist, trip control, or an adjustable handlebar. But since this watercraft is intended to be driven hard, cranking and banking, those items are not needed.One doesn’t get the supercharger with VXR, which at first left us wondering how this little package would perform. But after the test, we realized that there is no need for a supercharger on this unit. Since the design is shorter (128.7''), and thinner (46.1'') and less weight (728 lbs.), almost 10 lbs. lighter than the entry level VX Sport, the 1812cc power plant is more than enough to give any rider the thrill they are looking for. Further, as we often mention, all of the leading PWC builders purposely limit their units to a top speed of about 65 MPH.
There isn't a fancy multifunction display, but for the way the boater will ride the VXR, all that is needed is the speed and the gas gauge. Speaking of gas: Yamaha has optimized the VXR engine to run on 87 octane regular unleaded gas, and our tests showed an advantage to not having that supercharger -- a WOT fuel burn of only 13 gph.
One also doesn’t get the large fuel tank -- the VXR sports an 18.5 gallon (70 L) tank -- but as mentioned above, fuel is not an issue on this watercraft as one can run it at WOT for over an hour. The rider's bottom will probably give out before the fuel does.
What You DO Get:
First and foremost one gets performance; the VXR wants to go fast and wants to turn. In our test ride we spent half of our time standing and the other half sitting -- the VXR was equally comfortable in both positions. When turning the VXR is very stable and the hull's nose stays up with no plowing, even if the power is let off a bit after entering a turn. There is some storage, but only 15.1 gallons in the forward compartment, just enough to bring along the essentials. And since the VXR is designed for three riders, there is a seat that is ergonomically contoured for three people.
Styling and overall looks are always subjective, but we think the VXR delivers on that as well. The sharp angular bow has pleasing lines that look great even from the drivers seat, (which has a scalloped backrest). In fact, of all the vessels on the water, probably nothing is as futuristic and as fast-looking as the current models of PWCs.Did I mention that the VXR is stable? Stability is probably this vessel's most outstanding characteristic, so pardon me if I repeat myself. And frankly, I can't think of any attribute for a PWC that is more important, particularly one this narrow. Stability is what keeps the rider out of trouble and it is the element that makes the VXR so "forgiving" when one does something stupid. Our test included hardover turns at 10 mph, 25 mph, 40 mph, and 55 mph, all delivering the same predictable stable, carved turns without sliding or digging in. Now it is a jet drive, a short-based watercraft, so we don’t suggest hard over turns below 10 mph with anyone else on board, unless one likes testing their balance.Now, all of this is not to say that it is impossible to fall off the VXR. In fact, one of our crew managed that trick. That's when we put to the test the VXR's reboarding step -- this one swings down low enough to actually be helpful. Inadequate reboarding steps on PWCs have been a pet peeve of some of the crew at BoatTEST.com for years. I'm happy to report that the one on the VXR actually makes reboarding relatively easy.
If I couldn't find something to quibble about on the VXR I wouldn't be earning my paycheck. What I don’t like are these: First off are the rearview mirrors. I appreciate that they are set inboard of the rub rail and up out of the dock strike zone, but if one is going to have them, then they should be adjustable. Who ever heard of rear view mirrors that are not adjustable?Another item is the latch to open the forward storage cover; we would like to see the small latch replaced with the same style as on the FX series. These are much easier to open while sitting in the driver’s seat and leaning forward.
The engine compartment is very well laid out; abaft the divider bulkhead is an easily accessed battery, which is protected and convenient. There is enough space between the engine and body of the PWC to allow one to get their hands on everything, especially the oil filter, which can easily be removed without spilling oil. The engine oil dipstick is convenient on the starboard side, forward of the engine, and the air filter is right on top. What could be better than that?
Another "must mention" is the VXR's speed and fuel consumption. Her top end speed of 68.4 mph is nothing to sneeze at and getting from 0-30 mph in 1.8 seconds is also commendable. Now add to that a starting price under 12K and the economical fuel burn (be sure to study the "Performance Tables") that one gets because there is no supercharger, and it is a nice package, indeed.
Don't take Yamaha's "no-frills" approach to the VXR to mean that it has cut corners. It has not. Everything that is there with the exception of the two things I mentioned above are top notch. If the rider is a beginner or even a reasonably proficient PWC rider, and want something fast, simple, stable, and affordable that can hold three people, they won't go wrong with the Yamaha VXR. If one is looking for the cheapest PWC on the market, the VXR at $11,699 isn't the least expensive, so perhaps the buyer should look elsewhere. Our suggestion is to take a look at the VXR first, so that one will be able to tell exactly what they are not getting with the lower-priced units. If one is a veteran PWC rider and like all of the bells and whistles on more expensive PWCs and won't be confused by them -- and will actually use them -- then the VXR might be too basic for them. Nevertheless, even in this case, I would recommend that one carefully examines the VXR and use its price as a benchmark when researching bigger, far more loaded PWCs.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Yamaha VXR (2014-) is 68.4 mph (110.1 kph), burning 13.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 51.1 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Yamaha VXR (2014-) is 38.0 mph (61.2 kph), and the boat gets 7.74 miles per gallon (mpg) or 3.29 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 111 miles (178.64 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x Yamaha 1812cc, four cylinder, four-stroke.
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Yamaha VXR (2014-) is 1.8 sec. seconds.
Standard and Optional Features