The tranquil shores of Lake Macquarie were somewhat less tranquil for the launch of Yamaha’s 2017 WaveRunner line-up, headed by the company’s new GP1800 performance-focused model.
At this point I need to declare an alignment – as opposed to a conflict – of interest. I’m a PWC tragic from way back, so any invitation to throw a few WaveRunners around was bound to receive a positive response. Even more so when the folks from Yamaha hinted that a new performance ‘ski was about to be launched.
The ‘GP’ designation actually comes with a little history, given that Yamaha released a range of GP-badged models 20 years ago. The idea was to create a race-spec machine for riders with a serious need for speed and the GP models developed quite a following, although the range was dropped from the line-up a few years ago.
But it has been reborn with a bang in the form of the muscular GP1800, which displays much of the racing and performance pedigree of its predecessors, albeit with a degree of sophistication and comfort compared to the more hard-edged models of yesteryear.
Based on Yamaha’s VX hull and featuring modified strakes, softer bow chines and a performance-enhanced keel, the GP1800 also boasts what Yamaha calls its NanoXcel 2 hull material. Yamaha says NanoXcel 2 offers high strength, combined with light weight (349kg), resulting in a pretty impressive power-to-weight ratio.
And speaking of power, there’s plenty on offer from the racer-derived SVHO (Super Vortex High Output) 1.8lt four-stroke, four-cylinder, supercharged mill, which has been boosted further with a new higher-pressure supercharger. It’s the biggest-capacity donk around, so it
might be a tad thirsty, although Yamaha has also incorporated a large 70lt tank, so fuel top-ups shouldn’t be too frequent.
Other features and enhancements include RiDE (Reverse with Intuitive Deceleration Electronics) dual throttle controls (the left throttle engages the brake and reverse) and electric trim.
On the relatively placid waters of Lake Macquarie, the GP1800 proved to be the consummate high performer. With a vast reserve of torque on tap, it literally lunged forward from standstill, though I wouldn’t call its power delivery savage – more even-tempered, though you are, nonetheless, into triple-digit speeds in eye-wateringly quick time. Flat out I managed around 112km/h, which was more than enough in the conditions.
Reassuringly, at no time did the GP1800 feel threatening in terms of its stability at high speeds. In fact, the hull felt very forgiving and comfortable in light chop and was confidence inspiring in its handling, steering and braking. Braking power was certainly impressive, although maybe not quite as potent as the system used on rival Sea-Doo’s performance craft.
The other new kids on the block come from the all-new EX range of WaveRunners, which Yamaha is aiming squarely at newcomers looking for a budget entry point to PWCs.
EX models are noticeably smaller than the higher-priced WaveRunners, but are still able to carry three in relative comfort.
Promoted as great family-friendly craft, Yamaha says the EX range has been designed to deliver fun and agility, without being too threatening in terms of outright performance.
Powered by a three-cylinder, naturally aspirated 1049cc TR1 engine, the EX still manages to deliver a lively level of performance, yet would be easily manageable by novices and those seeking a more leisurely ride.
As with the brutally fast GP1800, the hull is fairly forgiving in a chop, but still offers quick response and pin-point turning when required. It also delivers good fuel economy, which is an important consideration if you’re planning on spending a day in the saddle.
Two models are on offer: the base EX and the optioned-up EX Deluxe, which also boasts RiDE. Buyers will have three colour options.
Based on my time on the new EXs, I’d think we’ll see more than a few on the water this summer. They are extremely agile, easy to ride, offer great stability and have plenty of potential for fun for beginners. And there is more than enough power on tap for the more adventurous.
Yamaha’s existing sporty and luxurious FX Series remains unchanged for 2017, aside from some new colours and graphics.
The same goes for the popular VX and VXR Series craft, while Yamaha will continue to offer the two-stroke powered Super Jet, the industry’s only stand-up PWC.
For more information on prices and availability, cruise to: Yamaha-motor.com.au.