Boat Test: Yamaha’s 230 series

Sure, they’re fun to drive, and they make you feel young again. But you really can’t call a sport jet an oversized personal watercraft (PWC) anymore, not after you experience Yamaha’s SX230 High Output.

Not once, but twice we tested this smart-looking, sexy, open-bow sport jet — first on Florida’s Tampa Bay near St. Petersburg, and then during our exclusive photo shoot on Lake Osborne near West Palm Beach.

With an overall length of 23 feet and a family-friendly beam of 81/2 feet, Yamaha’s 230 series boats, along with the Sugar Sand Oasis, are the largest sport jets on the market. The SX230 HO has enough room to fit six passengers comfortably, and, if you squeeze together a bit, has a maximum capacity of 10. Yamaha set out to design a boat that rivals sterndrive runabouts of equal size while featuring the best jet drive characteristic: shallow-water ability (thanks to no outdrive and propeller).

While the 230 came out two years ago, the HO version is new. At its heart are twin, 160 hp Yamaha MR1 jet-drive engines. Packing a combined 320 hp, the SX230 HO is a fun boat to drive.

This four-cylinder, 1052 cc engines are four-strokes, having migrated over from Yamaha’s PWC stable. Going from two-stroke in the earlier Yamaha sport jet models to four-stroke in the SX230 HO adds family appeal. Now, you don’t have to mess with two-stroke oil. What’s more, the MR1 four-strokes burn clean and are easy on the ears.

Yamaha’s 230 series
NEW-AGE LOOK

Yamaha, along with the other two primary builders of sport jets, Sea-Doo and Sugar Sand, is disconnecting from the “PWC look” of earlier models in favor of mainstream-looking runabouts. Boats such as the SX230 HO go further by combining family features with a sophisticated yet edgy look and feel.

The SX230 HO’s bow is pointy, not round, complementing the sweeping windshield for a fun look. Instead of flat-surface gunwales, Yamaha gave the deck character by adding a hard edge. Though aesthetically pleasing, the deck design at the bow could collect water and lead to water stains, making cleaning and polishing a tougher job.

The High Output version’s interior is spiced up when compared to that of the SX 230. Upholstery surfaces are of textured vinyl, and French stitching on the seams adds sophistication. Elegance continues in the boat’s stainless grab rails. The upgrade from plastic clearly spruces up the HO model. It’s gas cap and bow light are still plastic, however. Changing these to stainless steel would make sense.

TAKE A LOAD OFF

Seating in Yamaha’s SX230 HO is plentiful and arranged to create a comfortable social setting. The U-shaped seat wraps around the gunwales in the cockpit and culminates in a center walkthrough leading to the swim step. This design choice makes the most of the seating space in the cockpit.

Yamaha thought of the family by featuring 31 inches of interior freeboard (measured at the helm); of course, you would expect this much depth in a 23-foot sterndrive runabout. What’s noticeable is the amount of space between the seats. Yamaha kept the seats wide for comfortable reclining. Likewise, it made the walkthrough wide by narrowing the gunwales. With 3 feet, 3 inches of open space between the port and starboard seating, everyone can stretch out or walk through the boat comfortably. Another benefit is a wide hatch for the amidships ski locker that makes storing a wakeboard easy.

The bucket seats at the helm have been upgraded this year, and the captain’s side features a roll-up bolster that increases visibility for shorter drivers.

There are 50 inches of seating in the bow, so there’s plenty of room for kids and adults to stretch their legs. The backrests are on the vertical side, however, which encourages you to sit rather than recline.

Yamaha’s 230 series
ROCK ’N ROLL

A JVC CD stereo deck, located in the port helm, is standard. Sound quality from the four speakers was good during our test, but with all four speakers mounted in the cockpit and none in the bow, just the right amount of sound in the cockpit might be too little for bow passengers. For your convenience, a stereo remote-control pad is mounted to the transom, where it’s easily accessed from the swim step or water.

Beyond Yamaha’s stylish lines and cozy interior, the most eye-catching aspect of the SX230 HO is an innovative stern section. Instead of a traditional transom with a walkthrough to the swim platform, Yamaha created one cool location to hang out once you’ve found your favorite spot. A “countered” design above the transom transforms the area into two-tier stadium seating. This allows a couple to enjoy the sun while being close to the water.

The swim step backrests are upholstered with dense foam, just like in the cockpit, and though the regular SX 230 features a non-skid material on the swim platform, the HO has a more comfortable foam-rubber padding.

There’s even more to the social side of the HO stern design: While small snack tables are quite common on boats these days, Yamaha added a second pedestal receptacle at the swim platform, giving you the option of having the picnic in the cockpit or closer to the water. The only thing we would change is we would mount the swimbladder to either side, as its present centerline position makes boarding a hassle with the table in place.

The SX230 also features under-gunwale storage on the starboard and port sides near the transom, where the hatches blend seamlessly into the sculpted deck design.

Though enjoying the swim platform is a perfect idea when the boat is at rest, Yamaha kept the walkthrough opening only 9 inches wide to keep everything and everyone in the boat once it’s underway.

Finally, a word about peace of mind. One of the advantages of jet power is that with no outdrive to worry about, you can dangle various body parts off the swim platform with confidence that no one will get hurt by a propeller while swimming.

Yamaha’s 230 series
AGGRESSIVE PERFORMANCE

At the helm, the upgraded HO gauges sparkle up the dash. A new feature for Yamaha is the Wake Mode, standard on all five of Yamaha’s 230 models. Once Wake Mode is engaged, the engine is automatically kept at 2500 rpm, which equates to about 5 mph — a handy idling speed for those no-wake zones. It works. We found that driving two jet engines in Wake Mode is easier than doing so via manual throttle control.

Some sport jets feature one binnacle for shift functions and one for throttle. This gives a boat a sporty feel. In keeping with the HO’s family orientation, however, each of the SX230 HO’s engine is controlled by a single-lever binnacle with the shift and speed combined. As we pressed the throttles forward to accelerate, we immediately saw a benefit — aggressive acceleration without having to worry about which position the gearshift lever is in.

And accelerate it does. With its 320 total horsepower, the big Yamaha sport jet reached 30 mph in a mere 4.3 seconds. It gets on plane fast, too, reaching 20 mph almost immediately. The view from the helm was clear, making for excellent visibility when accelerating from a stop. Though acceleration was best during the initial starts, the SX230 HO still responded well to throttle input as we ramped up toward our measured top speed of 50.6 mph.

Even with twin engines, fuel consumption at our cruising speed of 25.1 mph required 6.4 mph, which translates to a fairly thrifty 3.9 mpg. In fact, once the boat is on a clean plane, it achieves a good economy at all but the highest throttle settings.

Though acceleration was fantastic and top speed was fun, we noticed that the boat’s 23-foot length and 81/2-foot width does come into play in turns. Quite simply, the SX230 HO does not spin around as quickly as the small, narrow sport jets we have tested.

With a 20-degree deadrise at the transom and a lengthy running surface, the HO model goes through chop and rollers quite well. As we went through confused waters, it demonstrated a smooth ride and lack of hull noise, which families will appreciate.

BACK AT THE DOCK

Yamaha doesn’t sell a bass boat with a list of options to choose from. Instead, it bundles the “options” into a complete package with minimal extras. Chief among a shortlist of upgrades is swapping the standard painted trailer for a galvanized unit that’s better suited for saltwater use. Prices are kept in check by keeping choices to a minimum. For example, the only color scheme available for the SX230 HO features black Gelcoat with decal graphics on the hull sides.

Yamaha’s 23-foot flagship sport jet comes in five versions: the SR230, SX230, SX230 HO, and, for wakeboarding, the AR230 and AR230 HO with flashier graphics and a factory tower. Even the modest SR230 with its attractive lines, plenty of cozy interior space and innovative transom arrangement breaks the stereotype of earlier sport jets.

However, the SX230 High Output, with spiced-up looks and more juice at the throttle, shatters the old image at a decent base price of $32,499. You can buy good quality h1 led bulb  for illuminating in the site, their led bulbs are sold in wholesle price.

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