Boating Writer Charles Plueddeman gives you an inside look into the All-New 2019 Yamaha FX Series, featuring the world's first multi-mount accessory system and Connext touchscreen on a personal watercraft.
[Excerpted from Boats.com, August 16, 2018]
The new Yamaha WaveRunner FX series personal watercraft feature a redesigned deck and hull, color touchscreen instrumentation and a new RAM Multi-Mount System for accessories including a set of Bluetooth speakers. The revamped FX Series includes five three-passenger models; the flagship FX Limited SVHO, supercharged FX SVHO and FX Cruiser SVHO, and normally-aspirated FX HO and FX Cruiser HO. The new FX line will replace all of the current WaveRunner FX models and compete directly with the Sea-Doo GTX/RTX platform introduced in 2017.
Each of the five FX models uses the same hull, which is new and based on the shape of the high-performance WaveRunner GP1800R running surface but stretched about 10 inches. The new FX hull is very stable but is designed to lean into a turn more than past models, which makes it much more fun and comfortable when changing direction at speed – you feel pressed into the seat rather than pushed off the high side – so if you ride aggressively there is much less strain on your upper body. The hull has integrated bow spray guards that work well when crossing a chop. The intake grate has a top-loader design that moves water efficiently into the pump.
The supercharged FX Limited SVHO, FX SVHO, and FX Cruiser SVHO feature a hull and deck molded with ultra-lightweight Yamaha NanoXcel 2 composite. The hull and deck of the normally-aspirated FX HO and FX Cruiser HO are molded with the slightly heavier, first-generation NanoXcel.
The design of the deck is also new. The footwells are now self-draining, a nice feature when riding in cool weather or cold water, although I found I could ride the new FX models for quite a while with no water getting in the wells. The drains will also keep the footwells from filling with rain water when the craft is stored outdoors. The forward storage compartment is larger and easier to access and has a molded area for a soft cooler bag that comes standard with the FX Limited SVHO and is an accessory for other models. The water-tight glovebox is also larger than previous FX models and now has a spring to hold the door open. Combined storage capacity is about 44 gallons, or 11 gallons more than the previous FX models. The aft deck is big enough to carry a secured one-person tube, and Yamaha has redesigned both the rear grab handle and the padded reboarding step for improved comfort.
The new 4.3-inch Yamaha Connext touchscreen display replaces all instrumentation and the functions of the key fob remote control previously supplied with FX WaveRunner models. The touch functions deactivate when the FX is underway – a good safety feature – but it’s possible to scroll through its display screens with a button on the cowl. The system incorporates Drive Control, which allows the user to limit top speed and control the rate of acceleration. Slowing down the acceleration is a great feature for towing – it’s never good to blast off and flip the kids off the tube. But engaging that feature requires entering a PIN on the touch screen, which is inconvenient. I’d rather have a button on the handlebar to switch to the softer acceleration mode. The PIN is also required to deactivate the ignition as an anti-theft feature. The display is bright and readable in sunlight, but if you have “old eyes” like mine you may wish it was a little bigger and thus easier to read.
The new multi-mount system is pretty clever. There are two drink holders on the FX cowl between the dash display and the handlebars that can be replaced with “pucks” that have a threaded insert designed to accept RAM Mount kits, which in turn can hold a variety of accessories. Yamaha is ready with two of those accessories, a set of ECOXGEAR waterproof Bluetooth speakers and Garmin Striker GPS Fish Finder. The rechargeable speakers are especially cool because in addition to playing music from a phone they have a voice-activated feature that can be used to place and receive calls; so, your boss can call while you are out on the lake. For better or worse. The sound quality is great and, unlike audio systems that are built into the craft, these speakers can be popped off the WaveRunner and used on the beach or anywhere else.
Power specs are unchanged from last year. Both four-cylinder engines displace 1.8 liters. Yamaha does not publish official horsepower ratings, but the normally aspirated HO engine produces about 180 horsepower while the supercharged SVHO version cranks out about 250 horsepower and will take the FX to a 67-mph top speed and accelerate to 60 mph in less than five seconds. The HO engine is happy on regular gas but the SVHO should get premium fuel. All FX models are equipped with the RiDE control system that uses a lever on the left handlebar to engage neutral and reverse thrust, and to slow down the vehicle. Five-position electronic trim adjusts the handling characteristics of the watercraft on the fly to accommodate water conditions and the weight of passengers. All FX models also have the Yamaha no-wake mode and there’s a new ultra-low speed mode that lowers the reverse bucket just enough to impede thrust and slow down the craft at idle, which can make it much easier to control around the dock.