The Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX is a well thought-out, cleverly designed family jet-drive sport boat built with some of the best materials available. After experiencing this boat first hand, we feel safe in saying that consumers now have another viable option when contemplating a jet-powered sportboat. From the Kevlar reinforcement to the special design of the hull and high freeboard, this new model brings a long list of features to the table. This is our first look of what will we be a three part series on this new boat.
- Powered by jet-drive
- U-shaped cockpit seating with crossover switch
helm bucket seat
- Exterior color packages available in Stealth Grey, Blue, Aqua, Lime, Red, and Yellow
- 4 LED cockpit courtesy lights
- Removable 25 quart cooler under bench seat
- Premium Sound System
- Snap-in cockpit carpet
- 4 water resistant speakers
|Length Overall||20 ' 3'' / 6.17 m|
8 ' 0''
7 ' 7''
2.31 m (max)
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.2 sec.|
|0 to 30||7.7 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 4/5 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||70 deg., wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm|
1 x 250-hp Rotax 1.5L supercharged High-output CAT
1 x 250-hp Rotax 1.5L supercharged High-output CAT
By Christopher Hughes
The mission of the Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX is to be a luxury, high-performance jet-drive sportboat designed to provide maximum usable room and comfort for a family to spend the day on the water. Further, Chaparral will introduce to the jet-powered boat class all of the hull design features and interior amenities that have made its boats so successful over the years.
Not the easiest feature to quantify, my first impression of the Vortex VRX was how good it looks, not just the graphics and upholstery, but the quality of the execution as well. Jet-drive sportboats are about several things on the water: looks, performance, comfort and functionality. The Vortex VRX is well-styled for this roll. Available in a variety of bright colors and graphics, and in my opinion, the team at Chaparral has done a wonderful job keeping the interior interesting and modern-looking. On closer inspection, I discovered the level of execution and the materials used were very well done.
Flip-up Port Side Seat.
This is a Chaparral innovation that transforms a forward-facing companion seat and a flat pad for sunning.
Hull and Freeboard Design
Designing a jet-drive boat that will handle well at any speed, be responsive, and provide control at the dock has never been easy. The hull of the 203 Vortex VRX delivered exceptionally well on my first test drive with low bow rise, a level running angle and quick responsiveness to the helm in turns. The high freeboard offers a dry ride, even in a cross wind and makes the cockpit feel even deeper and safer for kids.
Choosing to power this model with a single jet-drive power package provides boaters with several advantages, not the least of which is a safety factor for those with small children as there is no external prop. The jet pump impellor is housed internally.
The positioning of the jet pump unit provides a thrust point that is just above the bottom of the hull, not below it as with sterndrive, outboard, and inboard-powered boats, thus maximizing the energy transfer. The positioning combined with the steering being achieved through the thrust vectoring of the jet pump nozzle provides responsive turning capabilities. And I am always a fan of the skinny water advantage of a jet boat.
Because this boat is built by Chaparral, they are able to leverage their volume and use the best materials available which include all premium stainless hardware, even in locations you can’t see. All the upholstery work, gelcoat and graphics utilize premium-rated materials. They have even used Kevlar to reinforce sections of the hull at the keel.
With two people, 4/5th of a tank of gas, and 50 lbs. of gear on board, we set out to test the 203 Vortex VRX on a beautiful 70-degree day with calm waters. This first item to note is the BRP digital throttle control which is smooth and precise. Adjustments to the supercharged 250-hp engines are easy and crisp.
Off the line our average time to plane was 4.2 seconds and our time from 0-to-30 mph was a respectable 7.7 seconds. There is noticeably less bow rise than you would expect and it is brief as the 203 Vortex VRX gets on plane. There is also a solid feel as she pulls herself out of the water.
We reached an average top speed of 44 mph turning 8000 rpm while burning only 18 gallons per hour which provided a range of 77 statute miles when calculated with a 10% reserve. When driving between 25 to 27 mph, which we felt was the most comfortable cruise speed, she was turning 6000 rpm while burning only 7 gallons per hour for a range of 115 miles.
Chaparral has a lot of experience building boats, and good-handling boats at that. The 203 Vortex VRX continues that tradition with a hull that delivers a smooth comfortable ride with control and stability. Jet boats traditionally take some time getting used to, but the 203 Vortex VRX is a little different. Although a single jet drive, the large reverse bucket provided ample turning control at all speeds, including around the dock.
Turning is crisp and smooth with the 203 leaning only about 4% at speed. The hull feels firm to the water even when making rapid turns port and starboard in an "S" pattern. While speed does bleed off in a sustained hard turn, as with most jet boats, the 203 is quick to recover when you straighten her back out and she levels off.
Overall, the 203 Vortex VRX is a comfortable, controlled, and well handling boat with an almost level driving attitude at speed. If described in one word, I would have to say solid.
In my opinion, one of the best features of the 203 Vortex VRX is the use of space. Chaparral has listened closely to the market and designed in plenty of the right kind of seating and storage. On the port side is integrated storage for a cooler, with an insert, as well as wet storage under the port companion seating. Although there is limited storage to port, every other space, such as under each console, most seats and in the deck, it is abundant.
As with most jet-drive designs, the compact nature of the engine allows the designers to better use the stern space and the 203 Vortex VRX takes advantage of this with aft-facing seats and storage underneath.