By Captain Steve
Shock And Awe
We can always see the logic behind a builder coming out with a smaller boat. It's more affordable, usually entry-level for any given category, and it can build brand loyalty. But anyone who gets into the under 20' (6.09 m) market is going to have to deal with some pretty tough customers, and I'm not talking about the competition, but they're tough, too. People in this market are notorious for making sure that they are getting the most bang for the buck.The "shock" came when I first saw the new Yamaha had but a single engine, not only that but it was the same one that was part of the twin-engine system that powered Yamaha's larger watercraft. The "awe" came later, after I tested the boat and looked over the speed numbers, time to plane and 0-to-30 numbers on my clipboard. But more on that below.
A Single Jet Drive
With the 190 Series, Yamaha has kept the trademark sportboat handling characteristics. Further, the two new 19' (5.79 m) models are feature-loaded. But the one thing that separates the two new Yamaha models from most of the other boat models on the market is that it is powered by a single jet drive. Single jet drives have been tried before and there are even a couple on the market today, but for Yamaha to build a single -- given its success in the 20' to 24' market -- had me excited to how it would perform. Could the Yamaha SX190 become another giant-killer? The first boat of this two-boat series that I looked at was the AR190 with the wakeboard tower. Not only was Yamaha introducing a single jet drive boat, but it was going to make one model for pulling a wakeboarder, which is one of the most difficult tasks to ask a small boat to do.
First Things First
Since it's rarely prudent to jump aboard and head off, let's take a look at the layout of this newest launch. As I started my look-see at the bow, I noticed that there's the usual seating, two loungers and a forward pad. But under that forward cushion wasn't the usual uselessly small storage compartment. This one had an anchor locker with brackets to hold a Danforth in place. That's a rarity on many 19' (9.8 m) boat.
Between the bow cushions I measured 18.5" (47 cm) and while that's more than I've seen in some boats, it's still not enough to sit facing each other without knocking knees so you'll still be sitting in the lounging position. While stretched out I measured 13" (32 cm) of height to keep you secure, and a stainless grab handle. Under the cushions I found the usual storage space.
Between the dual consoles is a walk space measuring 20" (50.8 cm) across. I've seen this space as low as 16" (41 cm) on 19' (9.8 m) boats. The walkthrough windshield is held open against blowing winds by a snap and strap. There is no air dam to block the wind below the center windshield. To port is console storage that continues forward under the port bow seating, which means that you can even store skis in this compartment.
You'll likely just use the sole storage locker for skis. Yamaha carries the 8' (2.4 m) beam well forward, and this is how Yamaha is able to allow for 20" (50.8 cm) of space between the consoles. The sole storage hatch is cut almost to the sides of the console, allowing for a wide entry to the compartment itself. The hatch cover is supported by a gas strut, the opening is gasketed all around, and a gutter channels water away from the opening.
Yamaha went with the simplistic mindset for the 190 helm and I think that's always a good idea. The more basic things are, the fewer problems you're likely to have with them. Here, there are only two gauges, but Yamaha stepped up and added a digital multi-function gauge to the tach which allows you to scroll through a myriad of parameters including gph, time to empty, distance to empty, fuel remaining… etc. Above the sunscreen is a small eyebrow to add shade, but the digital gauge is readable in direct sunlight. (I was happy to see that eyebrow is slightly curved as opposed to high and pointy as I've seen in other Yamahas.) Below and to the left of the standard tilt wheel are rocker switches for the blower and bilge pump with circuit breakers right beside. To the right are switches for the courtesy lights, nav lights, and horn as well as the switch for "no wake" and "cruise" mode. The single engine control is mounted on a 20-degree angle but the shaft is long enough to remain comfortable and easy to use from either the seated position or up on the bolster.
The comfortable captain's seat wraps around, has an open back for better ventilation on hot days, it swivels and slides, and has a flip-up bolster. From the seated position, my line of sight was just above the windshield frame, and of course on the bolster, I was looking well above it.
Here again, you can see how the sole storage hatch goes right to the sides of the consoles. The helm is appropriately very basic and the tilt wheel and bucket seat with bolster are standard.
Cockpit Seating and the Spotter
It's very unusual for a boat in this size range to have "J" seating, and it's only possible with Yamaha's proprietary low profile engine that eliminates the need for a bulky engine box that takes up so much space. What would be the aft facing observer's seat is not really able to be used while facing aft do to the windshield hitting the back of your head, and a grab handle hitting your lower back. For that reason, the observer will be sitting facing the captain on the 190 and that also has another advantage. Now the observer can more easily glance at the course ahead and see when the boat is about to reach the end of the run and alert the guy or gal on the towline that the boat is about to turn. Under the observer's position is open space that begs for a cooler on a slide-out tray. Enclosed storage is underneath the seats to either side of the engine hatch seat. Snap-in carpeting can be seen all around. I’d like to see the center aft cushion be reversible to a carpeted side so that we have a non-skid entrance to the cockpit from the aft platform. Currently, you're resigned to stepping on the cushions which, being a neatnik, I would rather avoid if possible.
The Engine and Engine Compartment
It's still surprising to see a single engine on a Yamaha sportboat but there it is: A single 1812cc, four-stroke, four-cylinder, High Output, Yamaha marine engine. It's important to note that this is a purpose-built engine, not a marinized car engine, and the fact that it's built by Yamaha means that the company that stands behind your boat also stands behind your engine and drive.
The layout of the compartment lends itself to easy maintenance. The dipstick is in the front of the engine and colored yellow for visibility. The oil filter is to the side and the air filter is mounted forward. A white hose runs next to the engine (at right) and its mission is to divert cockpit water out the transom. That's a nice touch, and a nice departure to the practice of simply channeling water into the bilge that I often see in boats in this class. (I have seen enough boats sink at their mooring during a thunderstorm to know that sometimes the battery for the automatic bilge pump will simply run out of juice before the rain stops.)
Anyone who is familiar with Yamaha boats will be equally familiar with the award-winning transom seating layout. It's flat-out the coolest spot to hang out and watch the water, or the kids swimming off the stern. With comfortable seat backs, two levels of deck, drink holders, and a partridge in a pear tree, there's little more to want.
It's a rare occurrence, but once in awhile you may find that you ran your Yamaha through grass or seaweed. If you should clog your jet pump, then it used to be a chore to shut down, get in the water, and swim under the boat to unclog the port. Yamaha fixed that with a clean-out port that is accessed via a hatch in the upper deck of the transom seating. Once the hatch is opened, an engine cutoff switch engages to cut power to the engine. Then, you simply reach into the pump and pull out the weeds, replace the safety plug, and go on your merry way.
Performance and Handling
So now we get to the meat of things and see if this single engine has the stones to get this boat where we need it to be. Top speed came in at 7400 rpm and was 43.2 mph. At that speed the 190 was burning 11.9 gph while getting 3.65 mpg for a range of 98 miles. Best cruise came in at 6000 rpm and 28.4 mph. Now we were burning only 6.3 gph while getting 4.51 mpg for a range of 122 miles. With the single engine, acceleration was not as fast as the larger twin-engine boats in the Yamaha line, but still faster when compared with other boats in its single-engine class. We reached planing speed in only 3.3 seconds and accelerated through 30 mph in 6.8 seconds. In case you didn't know it, this is fast, folks.
Because the impeller doesn't really load up the engine at the high revs, I find that the 190 didn't lose rpm in the turns but it did bleed off speed. If you continue the hard turn then you'll bleed off enough speed to "spin out" and then you can take off in the other direction. The 3/4 turn wheel has a lot to do with this exhilarating turning performance, and it's difficult to ease off and just make a gradual turn. I'd like to see the wheel do more than 3/4 turn to make cruising turns easier, but the truth is, you'll be cranking and banking all day anyway.
Towing -- The Moment of Truth
Ok, the new 190 performs great on her own, but does she have the power to jump a heavy wake dude and his board up on the water without a long painful drag?To find out I fetched a board and an eager 200-lb. wake dude. And just to do it the hard way, I decided to use the SX version without the tower.
Sure enough, that high output engine popped the boarder up in no time. I could feel the boat surge slightly when he got up, but it all happened lickety-split. Then my boarder started showing off, doing jumps, spins, and anything else he wanted. Is it good enough for competition? Probably not, but this is not a competition boat. It's an entry level bowrider that is able to tow with the standard single engine -- something that says volumes about the propulsion system and the boat itself. In fact, I wonder why I am even using the term "entry level". This boat will be fun for anyone and will obviously be the second or third boat in the stable for a number of people I know.
As I toured the two 190s I noticed a lot of items that have a permanent address in the some of the competition's options list. Items like snap-in carpeting, no wake and cruise mode, Bimini top… it begged the question, how much of this is optional on the 190s? So, I asked. The answer is… wait for it… "none." Everything on this boat is standard, including the color-matched painted trailer, and there are no options. Period. That's the way Yamaha does business.This is one of the ways that Yamaha is able to keep the price down. If you want different features, you move to a different boat model. This SX190 is a prime example. What if you want to get a wakeboard tower? Well it's no problem; you just have to get an AR190. It's the same boat with a tower attached. In my opinion Yamaha seems to have hit yet another one out of the park with their newest and smallest offering. My concerns about the single engine performance were unfounded and it not only performed well, but turned out to be a terrific watersports platform.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Yamaha SX190 (2016-) is 43.2 mph (69.5 kph), burning 11.9 gallons per hour (gph) or 45.04 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Yamaha SX190 (2016-) is 23.4 mph (37.7 kph), and the boat gets 4.46 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.9 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 120 miles (193.12 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 1812cc High Output Yamaha Marine.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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