The Yamaha VXR is powered by a 1.8-litre four cylinder, four-stroke, normally aspirated marine grade engine that has been tuned to run efficiently on fuel as low as 87 Octane. Yamaha claim it delivers the largest displacement of any PWC engine and is the most fuel efficient in its class. It’s also been purpose built and was designed and conceived purely as an engine to drive a jet pump. It’s also without a transmission, instead running a shaft drive connected directly to the impellor inside the jet pump unit. The jet pump spins a three-blade stainless steel high output impellor. A redesigned aluminium intake grate has improved water flow through the jet. What’s most surprising about this engine is the size. It fits neatly in the engine bay with access all round it.
On the water the Yamaha VX18R is built on the NanoXcel hull platform that is claimed to be lighter and stronger than other construction materials. This offers the VXR enormous advantages when combined with the normally aspirated engine. It responds exceptionally well to shifts in weight and can be ridden hard around corners with the right application of weight on the outside of the hull. Lean in a little and a sporty personality comes to the fore with slides and exciting spins and turns.
That being said, the hull is eminently fun and responds better to rider input than the more luxurious and longer Cruiser model minus the acceleration. Like the Cruiser tested previously, the VXR trim capability which can change the ride considerably. It also gets the new Yamaha RIDE incorporating a brake, on the left handlebar, that brings you to a stop in a short space and predictable manner from all speeds. It also gives you reverse and neutral which makes the craft easier to manoeuvre at slow speeds such as docking and/or tying alongside another vessel.
The handlebars are not adjustable but this did not present any problems during the test. The centre of the handlebars are padded which is essential if you find yourself heading over them, which I almost did after some more adventurous riding nearly got the better of me, unexpectedly. Ahead of the rider is a small storage bin for wallets and keys, while at the bow another large storage area will accommodate towels and larger items required for a day on the water. The final storage bin is located under the rear seat and lifts out to reveal access to the battery.
The digital readout on the VXR provides a quick glance update on key performance points such as speed, trim, fuel with low fuel warning (which will give you a decent period of time to find additional fuel), hours, voltage and an engine warning light. Located directly either side are rear view mirrors that enable you to monitor the back of the craft and the water behind you. They are non adjustable but provide a decent enough window behind.
For avid riders, the foot well and rear of the Yamaha VXR are finished in what Yamaha call Hydra-Turf. It is extremely comfortable under foot and provides such good grip when riding that you almost feel like it would be impossible to slip off. The ridges provide fantastic grip whether riding in booties or barefooted and doesn’t get uncomfortable with the latter.
The hull itself is a new design and has been geared towards aggressive/performance riding despite the normally aspirated engine. The new semi V multi chine hull delivers sharp handling and has a sweet spot all to itself in terms of sliding or gripping in turns.