By Charles Plueddeman
The Personal Watercraft Expert: Yamaha Reveals New Models for 2009
New FZ series personal watercraft and FX model to be released in spring. Boats.com gives you the exclusive first look.
Yamaha will drop its big 1.8-liter engine in four new WaveRunner models for 2009. Photos and some specs were released at the annual dealer meeting last week. I’ll get to ride these new boats for the first time in early September, but until then, here’s a quick run-down based on an interview with Yamaha media manager Andrew Cullen. Look for these new boats in dealers in the late spring.
All-New FZ Series: These two models, the two-passenger FZR and the three-passenger FZS, are slotted into a new category Yamaha is calling “Super Sport.” They share a new hull that is designed to deliver quick steering reflexes. The chines (the sharp, flat edge at the outside of the hull) have been cut away, which will sacrifice some stability, but allow the FZ boats to bank into turns. The new running surface also has a longer keel and hull-length strakes that should lift the hull higher in the water at speed, reducing drag. The pump intake is also much larger than the intake on Yamaha FX models, an effort to improve acceleration.
The hull will be manufactured from the same lightweight Nano-Xcel SMC material Yamaha debuted last year on the FX SHO. Power is provided by the supercharged 1.8-liter SHO engine, which makes about 210 hp. Because performance-oriented riders spend a lot of time standing in the cockpit, Yamaha has designed a new telescoping (not tilting) steering column for the FX series that can be locked in one of three positions, the highest being designed for ideal comfort and control when standing. The FZ models will not have the drive-by-wire speed-control features found on the FX SHO models, but will have a new-style instrument display.
At just over 11 feet, the FZ models are about the same overall length as the FX boats, but the running surface is significantly shorter, another change designed to enhance agility. The FZR and FZS will use the same hull but have unique decks, and a profile that is reminiscent of the previous GP models. Both boats have 21 gallons of combined stowage, and fuel capacity of 18.5 gallons. Price and weight is not yet available.
New FX HO 1.8: Last year Yamaha gave us a new FX hull with the old 160-hp FX engine. For 2009, both the standard FX and Cruiser FX get a non-supercharged version of the 1.8-liter engine that was introduced in the FX SHO boats last year. Sticking to its corporate policy, Yamaha has not announced a horsepower rating for this normally aspirated engine, so we’ll have to figure that out later. Cullen did say that the 2009 FX models will be four to five mph faster than the 2008 FX, and about 0.5-seconds quicker in 0-to-30 mph acceleration. Along with the new motor comes all of the drive-by-wire enabled features offered on the SHO, including Cruise Assist speed control, No Wake Mode, and an rpm limiter for reverse. These boats continue to use the Nano-Xcel hull material. Other carry-over features include adjustable trim and steering, a boarding step, and a remote transmitter for the security system and low-rpm modes. The FX Cruiser HO 1.8 has a supportive Cruiser seat, higher handlebars, and pull-up cleats.
The FX SHO/Cruiser SHO and VX series return essentially unchanged for 2009 except for some new graphics and colors. And the stand-up Super Jet stays in the line-up for another year, but it could be its last unless Yamaha can clean up the emissions of its two-stroke engine.
Editor’s Note: Charles Pluddeman is the editor ar large for Boating, the nation’s largest recreational boating magazine.
- Charles Plueddeman is Boats.com's outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.