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March 12, 2007 – A look at the low-end market

March 9, 2007
Filed under Features

By Jeff Hemmel
PWC Editor
Introductory four-stroke models, priced below $8,500, continue to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the personal watercraft market for 2007.
A trend that arguably began when Kawasaki lowered the price of its once flagship STX-12F, it truly took off when Yamaha introduced the then two-boat VX series, the base model of which started at only $6,999. While those prices have increased in the following years, the success of those models, along with the Sea-Doo GTI that joined the entry-level fray in 2006, have been all that manufacturers needed to increase emphasis on this lowest end of the price scale.
Here’s a closer look at the bargain models your customers will be asking about this year.

YAMAHA
Not so long ago, to get a four-stroke powered PWC meant customers were looking at a price tag in the neighborhood of $10,000. For 2007, no less than seven models can be had for under the $8,500 price mark.
Yamaha continues to offer the lowest price model, the base VX, which starts at a mere $7,399. Geared primarily for the rental market, the VX lacks many of the features even entry-level riders have come to expect, like mirrors or reverse. The VX also comes with only a white hull, as opposed to the color-thru hulls that grace the rest of the manufacturer’s line. The craft is powered by Yamaha’s proven 110-hp, 1052cc MR-1 engine and features 19 gallons of stowage space. It’s joined by the similar VX Sport ($7,599), a model that adds the color-thru hull. The third model in the Yamaha line, the VX Deluxe ($7,999), adds rearview mirrors and reverse. The Deluxe also includes Yamaha’s remote transmitter, which can be used to trigger a security lockout as well as activate the boat’s low rpm mode, which lowers the craft’s top speed by nearly 30 percent.
The overwhelming success of the VX line has prompted Yamaha to add yet a fourth model for 2007. The VX Cruiser pushes that price point as high as $8,299, but adds Yamaha’s ultra-supportive cruiser seat style to the basic Deluxe platform. The addition makes the boat a much more comfortable cruiser for those who desire to travel longer distances, as well as makes a more supportive alternative to the stock VX saddle. All use the same engine platform, which turned a 55mph top speed at Watercraft World’s 2007 Dream Demo, and produced a 2.9-second time from 0-30 mph.

SEA-DOO
Sea-Doo also has elected to expand its GTI platform for ’07, returning the two basic, 130-hp models that debuted in 2006 with an all-new 155-hp alternative that actually reaches outside the entry-level price point.
Of the two base models, the GTI carries the lowest price point at $7,699. Like Yamaha, Sea-Doo utilizes a milder variant of the versatile 4-TEC engine, in this case a 130-hp version of that 1494cc package that garners a CARB Three Star emissions rating. At Dream Demo, the GTI recorded a 54.8 mph top speed, and ran the distance from 0-30 mph in 2.8 seconds.
Sea-Doo also makes reverse standard on its lowest-price model, but foregoes a speedometer, offering it only as an option. Mirrors, a reboarding ladder and a ski tow eye also are optional. Sea-Doo does offer its O.P.A.S. off-power steering solution, as well as the digitally encoded lanyard system that doubles as both a security device and a RPM limiter. Sea-Doo includes 13 gallons of stowage on the GTI, much of which is contained within a lift-out bin that stows in the front storage compartment. The GTI SE ($8,499) is priced the highest of these entry-level contenders, but includes the speedo, a water temperature sensor, and all the extras optional on the base model, including the reboarding ladder, mirrors and ski tow eye. Premium traction mats also are included.

KAWASAKI
As previously mentioned, Kawasaki chose
not to produce an all-new entry-level model, but instead lower the price of an existing one. The STX-12F retails just below the $8,000 mark ($7,999), offering a 125-hp, 1199cc engine that produces the best performance of the entry-level contenders. The STX-12F posted a 56.2 mph top speed at Dream Demo, but its 2.4-second acceleration from 0-30 mph truly sets it apart in terms of performance. Like Sea-Doo, the Kawasaki also lays claims to a Three Star CARB emissions rating.
As its one-time flagship status would attest, the STX-12F comes in one, full-featured version. Rearview mirrors, reverse, off-throttle steering, a spring-loaded boarding ladder and a programmable speed limiter are all standard issue, as is a versatile display. Kawasaki also owns the storage title in the low-price arena, offering 23.5 gallons.

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