Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
Personal Watercraft have come a long way since the 80’s and 90’s. When I see people shopping at boat shows I actually see them shopping for a PWC as their family boat because of how fun and convenient they are. Depending on how many features or “bells and whistles” a PWC has can certainly drive up the price to make it the same as a very nice used boat. The problem with this, is that it is hard to attract new boaters to the industry. Sure they love the idea of a PWC from afar, but might get sticker shock when they get up close.
Yamaha realized this and decided it was time for a change. That, and they obviously were feeling the pressure from Sea-Doo and their uber popular Spark Yamaha knew it was time to make some moves, but they were set out to not become another “me too.”
They decided to come up with a whole new segment of their watercraft lineup - the “rec-lite” category, consisting of 3 new models for 2017: the EX, EX Sport and EX Deluxe. I was able to get my hands on the latter of which, the EX Deluxe to take a closer look to see just what this new line was all about.
Something that impressed me about the EX Deluxe was that when I approached it from the dock, it was grouped in amongst a number of WaveRunners and it was hard for me to determine which one was the EX Deluxe until I got closer to read the ID badge. It has curb appeal and striking design.
You have a choice of grey or blue for your base colour and then Yamaha uses a mix of black and red for accent to create a sporty style and a look that looks more expensive than it costs. The first noticeable difference of the EX Deluxe is that it is noticeably smaller. And it is when you compare its overall size to the other craft in the line up. When you sit down onto the one piece seat of the EX Deluxe it feels smaller but it doesn’t feel cheap. It feels lighter and sporty. It’s as if the big 3-seater craft were a clydesdale horse, the EX would be like a colt. Small and scrappy and ready to perform in a different way than the big guys.
You do have to make some compromises with that reduced size however and that comes in the way of less storage. There is a small storage bin under a cowling flap forward of the handle bars, an impressive sized glove box, accessible from where you would be seated, and another important items tray under the seat itself. There’s 29L of total storage, not the most but it is standard. When you compare that to the EX Deluxe’s direct competitor where storage is an option, you’re already ahead of the game.
Gone are expensive options like adjustable handlebars, but from sitting at the dock I found the default rider position comfortable and ergonomic.
There was still plenty of room in the footwells, and moving towards the back of the craft I liked how much space Yamaha was able to create on for the swim deck of the EX Deluxe. The passenger handle was comfortable to grip either facing forward or facing behind if a skier or tuber was being towed. The EX Deluxe is a 3-seater so you are legal to tow a single skier or tuber. It would be a tight fit for 3, but it would work.
Staying at the swim deck, I liked what Yamaha did with the creation of a boarding step. Instead of an entire bar that hinges down, there is a single step to the starboard side of the craft that flips down, giving you a foothold to lift yourself back up onto the craft. Simple yet ingenious. Removing the seat I found the aforementioned items tray along with a separate tray holding the fire extinguisher. Both of these easily lift out, giving you complete access to the TR-1 motor. To access the motor on the Spark, you have to remove the entire top deck - not ideal. For the EX you take off the seat, pull out the two trays and there it is. This is a slightly ironic advantage as Yamaha is known for their reliability, so you probably won’t need to access the engine often, but it’s nice knowing it would be easy to do so at will.
Speaking of the motor, powering the EX Deluxe is a restricted version of the TR-1 marine engine. This 3-cylinder workhorse is 20 percent lighter and 40 percent smaller than the MR-1 four stroke so it is a perfect power choice for this new Rec-Lite segment.
Something that Yamaha has included standard on the EX Deluxe is their RIDE system or Reverse with Intuitive Deceleration Electronics (that’s a mouthful, so we’ll stick with RIDE.) This is noticeable right away when you fire the EX Deluxe up as it has neutral, reverse and forward, all controlled from the handlebars. You want to go forward, squeeze the right throttle, you want to shift to neutral or reverse, use the left throttle. It’s really quite simple and makes close quarter handling much more confidence inspiring.
As I idled away from the marina to where it was appropriate to light the EX Deluxe up, I noticed immediately how stable it was even at low speeds. I weigh every bit of 200 pounds and I felt completely stable on the EX Deluxe, even as I purposely rocked from side to side. This was a particularly spectacular late September day on Lake Simcoe. There was no breeze so the lake was calm, the sun was out, everyone else was at work, and it was now time for me to do the same.
Squeezing the trigger style throttle the EX Deluxe shot to life with a computer controlled acceleration. It had enough get up and go to get me excited, yet it wouldn’t be overwhelming for new riders. I settled into a steady speed of mid-30-mph and I was blown away with how straight the EX Deluxe tracked. I was able to hold on with only one hand and it held the line with ease thanks to perfectly placed rear sponsons.
I tried to trip it up with some quick left and right handlebar turns, putting me into an S riding pattern and never once did I feel like the EX wanted to dig in and throw me from the craft or kick out. When I ceased this behaviour it settled back into the line I was riding, as if it was set in autopilot. This was a great start.
As fun as riding in a straight line it, I also like to get aggressive and beat the machine up a bit so it was time to really see what this craft could do. Taking my feet from the up front cruising position I bent my knees and pulled my feet back behind my body, I gripped a little tighter and cranked the handlebar hard right.
The EX responded with a “Sure thing boss” and we were in a tight turn. I held the throttle down and the TR-1 motor held up it’s end of the bargain, providing power the entire way. I switched directions quickly to form a figure-8 and I began to appreciate the lighter hull of the EX Deluxe. With the bigger crafts you have to use a little more muscle to whip them around and it felt effortless to do so on this one. I quickly shifted my feet forwards and back depending on which way I was turning and when I stopped for a minute and let out a satisfactory “hmphh” and started to head back into the marina.
I was sold. The on water performance of the EX Deluxe matched it’s on paper stats. It’s going to be a rockstar for Yamaha as it has everything you would want in an entry level craft, and then some. It’s fun to ride, has plenty of power and still offers practical features like storage, comfortable cruising and economical fuel economy.
|Dry weight:||599 lbs||272 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||7.7 US gals||50 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||TR-1 Four Stroke|
|Engine HP:||Twin 380|