Sporting proposition

Graham Lloyd | VOLUME 29, ISSUE 1

Malibu’s Wakesetter 20 MXZ is a watersports boat for all occasions.

Malibu’s range of Wakesetters has been very popular and highly successful for quite some time now and is known in tow sports circles as one of the best-performing and best-finished watersports line-ups on the planet.

Built in Australia with the benefits of US research and design, the Malibu Australia facility, based in Albury, NSW, is state-of-the art and produces boats to the highest international standards.

As the smallest in the Wakesetter MXZ fleet, the 20 MXZ is targeted at owners looking for a more compact boat and one that’s a bit lighter to tow. Base price is set at $93,630 ready to go, plus dealer deliveries and registrations.

Included is a 350hp Monsoon V8 engine, precision cruise control with pre-sets, mid and rear ballast tanks, the Illusion G3 tower, board racks, bimini shade cover, Maliview multi-function computer controls, Malibu Touch Command and a galvanized Easytow trailer with alloy wheels and hydraulic disc brakes.

While that’s already a very impressive package, the 20 MXZ can be optioned up into a truly mighty wake and surf boat, as with our test craft, which boasted a Power Wedge and Malibu’s unique Surf Gate, as well as an extra bow ballast tank and upgraded stereo system. With various other upgrades, that took the investment to $109,749 drive-away. The prices noted applied for delivery through Malibu’s Sydney dealer GRE Marine, which did a great job facilitating our test.


In previous reviews we have explained in detail Malibu’s inimitable wake-shaping features but, in case you missed those, here’s a quick re-cap:

The Power Wedge is a foil that can pivot down from the transom to lower the back of the boat to form larger and differently shaped wakes. The Surf Gate comprises two plates that hinge outward from either side of the transom to alter the shape of the wake specifically for wakesurfing. The ballast system also plays a part in wake-shaping. All of these features can be master-controlled through the onboard computers, which offer a number of pre-sets. Settings can also be customised and recalled at any time.

For this review, we were fortunate to have along Kevan and Rebecca Watt with their son Lewy, who is a multi-medal-winning tow sports competitor, and daughter Holly, who has also tasted success in women’s competitions. The Watts own a larger 22 MXZ and are in the process of upgrading to another Malibu, so their views on the slightly smaller 20 MXZ were particularly useful.


Kevan explained: “We’ve had various boats before, but friends had Malibus and just loved them, and I did the same as soon as I got in the driver’s seat. The way they get up on the plane and go, they’re so quick, and they don’t drive like a big boat. They’re smoother and turn on a dime.”

On that note, I concur with Kevan. The hull swept through very tight turns with little loss of speed, while retaining perfect control. There was not the slightest hop or wobble, nor any hint of ventilation or loss of grip by the prop.

Kevan continued: “Lewy and Holly wakeboard (which depends on a good wake), but I like to barefoot (which requires a small wake), and we can do both quite happily behind our Malibu.”

The 20 MXZ might be the smallest in the Wakesetter MXZ range, but it still has a very spacious interior. The pickle-fork bow design carries the beam well forward for added buoyancy and extra room in the bowrider cockpit.

At the transom, there’s a small planing pad and quite low deadrise angles out to the chines, but Malibu has designed the whole so that the ride remains soft and the hull’s undersides work to produce the ideal wake.


The forward cockpit has plushly upholstered cushions forming a large sunbed over the optional bow ballast tank. Moving rear via the walkway, the main cockpit has near full-perimeter seating plus a large sunlounge over the engine hatches. There are drinkholders, stereo speakers and grab handles intelligently positioned throughout, and generous storage spaces are everywhere. The large boarding platform aids tow preparation and the whole boat has clearly been put together by people with a deep knowledge and enthusiasm for watersports. Workmanship and finish are top class.

The Illusion G3 tower is a clever design and looks great. It supports swing-away board racks, large stereo speakers and a bimini shade cover. The tower pivots down to reduce storage height to 2.465m and storage length can reduce to 6.23m with a fold-back drawbar on the trailer and with the boarding platform removed. Depending on options, the all-up towing weight is about 2500kg.

The driving position is among the best around. The seat and wheel are adjustable, the cushioning is supportive and ideal for long stints at the controls, and the dash is a great balance of analogue gauges, digital and graphic displays and touch-screen technology. The raked screen is at just the right height for both normal and bolstered configurations and has vents in the quarter panels.

Both the steering and throttle/shift controls are light and ultra-responsive. Likewise the hull, making the 20 MXZ a delight, and a thrill, to drive. Out of the hole there is minimal bowrise and it cruises very pleasingly. Noise and vibration levels are low.

We were planing easily at 2500rpm and 18.4mph (29.6km/h), with mid-range acceleration between 3500rpm for 28.9mph (46.5km/h) through to 4500rpm and 36.7mph (59km/h) quite potent. Top speed was 41.8mph (67.3km/h) at 5300rpm.

Both Lewy and Holly had great fun doing tricks for the camera. Compared with their slightly bigger 22 MXZ, they found little difference. Lewy noted: “The wake is still big.”

If watersports and family cruising are your thing, the Wakesetter 20 MXZ – or any of the other boats in the Malibu fleet – is worth a look.


Overall length: 6.1m

Beam: 2.54m

Draft: 0.69m

Weight (boat): 1940kg

Weight: 2500kg (boat and trailer)

Capacity: 13 persons

Fuel capacity: 132lt

Power (as tested): Monsoon V8 (261kw, 350hp)

Price from: $93,630, excluding delivery and on-road costs

Price (as tested): $109,749 with listed options, including NSW delivery and on-road costs.

For more information, contact GRE Marine, tel (02) 9898 1010. Web: or