Yamaha SX230 — No Wrong Turns: Performance Test

It would seem that Yamaha's new SX230 can do no wrong.

29th January 2004.
By James Corns

Top speed for the Yamaha SX230 was 47.2 mph.

Top speed for the Yamaha SX230 was 47.2 mph.

Night and day. That’s the difference between the two-stroke engines on previous Yamaha boats and the four-strokes found on the company’s new models. The difference is undeniable — and even if you’re already a fan of jet-powered boats, you’re going to go gaga when you get behind the wheel of the new Yamaha SX230.

Yamaha knows engines (duh!), so it only makes sense that the company would make sure that any boat that bears its name is going to have the cr?me de la cr?me of power packages. That’s exactly the case with the SX230, which is powered by two Yamaha MR-1 engines.

The MR-1 engines are compact, ultra-lightweight and liquid-cooled, for peak performance. The 140 hp, four-cylinder engines give the boat a powerful out-of-hole shot that takes you by surprise. In fact, we timed the boat from 0 to 30 mph, and it only took 6 seconds. We can’t recall a boat that we’ve ever tested that could beat that time.

If you doubt that there’s a significant difference between the two-strokes and four-strokes, do what we did and test the Yamaha LX210 at the same time that you test the SX230. The LX210 has the older three-cylinder two-strokes, and while it’s still a very good boat, it makes you really appreciate how truly exceptional the SX230 is. You have to see (and hear) it for yourself to believe it.

But what do those engines give you, besides a quiet ride? Plenty.

Even with three adults and a full tank of fuel, the boat was able to hit a top speed of 47.2 mph. With a little less of a load, it could probably hit 50 mph. The engines work in unison with the hull to give you a ride that you won’t soon forget. We had a blast.

The boat has dual throttles that give you an excellent amount of control. It’s great fun, during turns, to slightly pull back on the inside throttle for a sharper reaction from the boat. Then, as you straighten out, push that inside throttle forward and you’ll feel the extra boost. We could have played around with that all day long — and we practically did.

When we were running along at 47-plus mph, we had to double-check our GPS to make sure it was working right, because the ride was so smooth. Even at top speed, hard turns were comfortable — and that’s a rare feat.

Jet drives are known for sometimes sucking lines, seaweed, etc. into their jet pumps, which can put a damper on the day. However, that’s not a problem with any of Yamaha’s boats, because every model has a set of jet pump clean-out plugs that allow for direct access to the inlet duct cavity. This feature makes it easy to clear any debris from the pumps while you’re still safe and dry aboard the boat.

The jet drives also make the SX230 great for shallow areas. The boat has a draft of just 1.5 feet.

You Know It’s Good When

A few days before we tested the SX230, we were testing another boat built by a competitor. When we mentioned that we were going to be testing the SX230 later that week, the man we were speaking with couldn’t hide his interest in (and admiration for) the boat’s innovative swim platform. If the competition envies it, you know it must be good.

The SX230′s open transom turns the stern platform into a private patio on the water. Four backrests are built into the back side of the transom and a short pedestal table can be placed in the center, making this a perfect place for a family powwow when the boat is moored or drifting on a quiet lake.

This is, without a doubt, the standout feature on the SX230. The unique swim platform was actually available on Yamaha’s similar SR230 last year, but it’s still sure to set tongues wagging.

The SX230 ($29,999) is a slightly more luxurious take on last year’s SR230 ($26,999), and if you want to upgrade even further, you can get the AR230 ($31,999). The only major difference between the SX230 and the AR230 is a wakeboard tower, along with some slight differences in the gauges.

The craft comes with an astonishing 15 storage compartments, including an anchor stowage locker, storage under each seat, and carpeted compartments under the starboard and port consoles.

The full-size ski locker built into the deck is long enough to carry skis and wide enough to carry wakeboards and kneeboards. Two cockpit gunnel inserts provide additional storage, and the dual glove box built into the port console provides additional storage space and serves as the home of the premium AM/FM CD stereo. That stereo, by the way, comes with four speakers and two remote controls (one at the helm and one at the stern, so you can access the radio even when you’re in the water).

Yamaha claims the SX230 can hold up to ten passengers, and we’re sure it can, but it seems like eight or nine would be a more comfortable maximum. You could sit two or three passengers up at the bow, one in each of the two bucket seats behind the consoles and four more on the U-shaped settee that wraps around the stern side of the cockpit.

Every SX230 comes with your choice of either a custom-matching painted trailer or an anodized aluminum trailer. Other standard features include a well-positioned telescoping re-boarding ladder, sport dashboard controls (4-inch dual tachometers, 2-inch fuel level gauge, low level warning light, dual ignition switches and three-lever shift/throttle control), an adjustable tilt steering wheel, a depth finder, filler cushions (for both the cockpit and the bow seating area) and a Berber carpet kit that places removable carpeting throughout the cockpit.

One of the best things we can say about the SX230 is that it is virtually foolproof. You could hand it over to a complete novice who has never been behind the wheel of a boat before, and he or she would be hard-pressed to do something wrong. It’s just that simple to run.

Boaters looking for an entry-level boat will find it in the SR230; those who want a boat that is a bit more upscale can take comfort in the SX230; and wakeboarding enthusiasts who want one heck of a ride can choose the AR230. If any of those descriptions fits you, chances are that one of the boats in Yamaha’s 230 series will, too.

Yamaha SX230 Specifications

Length 23′
Beam 8’6″
Draft 1’6″
Weight 3,000 pounds
Fuel capacity 50 gallons
Maximum power 280 hp
Base price $29,999

Engines (2)

Model 140-hp Yamaha MR-1 with jet drive
Horsepower 140
Cylinders 4
Gear ratio 1.47:1
Compression ratio 11.4:1
Max. engine speed 10,000 rpm
Fuel system EFI

Standard Features

Custom-matching painted trailer or anodized aluminum trailer, telescoping re-boarding ladder, sport dashboard controls (4-inch dual tachometers, 2-inch fuel level gauge, low level warning light, dual ignition switches and three-lever shift/throttle control), adjustable tilt steering wheel, depth finder, filler cushions (for both the cockpit and the bow seating area), Berber carpet kit, premium AM/FM CD stereo w/four speakers and two remote controls.

Performance

Top speed,47.2 mph at 10000 rpm
Cruising speed,26.5 mph at 7000 rpm
Miles per gallon at 26.5-mph cruising speed,3.4
Gallons per hour at 26.5-mph cruising speed,7.8
Range at 26.5-mph cruising speed,170 miles

Speeds As Tested

Rpm Mph
2,000 2.8
3,000 5.4
4,000 6.4
5,000 7.4
6,000 9.4
7,000 26.5
8,000 34.1
9,000 40.8
10,000 (wide-open throttle) 47.2

For More Information

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA
1270 Chastain Road Northwest
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(800) 962-7926
www.yamaha-motor.com


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