Admittedly, the differences between Yamaha’s 2015 SVHO-powered FZS and FZR are almost indistinguishable. The prices are identical, with a US MSRP of $14,699. Both come equipped with Yamaha’s most powerful high performance engine and pump package ever assembled – featuring the Super Vortex High Output 1,812cc supercharged dual overhead cam, four-cylinder 4-stroke. Both ride on Yamaha’s purebred closed course-handling, deep-V hull formed from an all-new NanoXcel 2 material. Both share identical cockpits, swim platforms and storage. So what’s there to differentiate the two?
Apart from color options (the 2015 FZR is available in only Torch Red Metallic, as the FZS is sold in either Pure White or Black Metallic and Azure Blue Metallic liveries), the FZS is offered with an extended rear saddle that offers seating (although incredibly snug seating) for three persons. The longer passenger seat also equips the FZS with a useful tow hook, as towing a tube or wakeboarder/skater legally requires a flag person to alert when the towed has fallen into the water, and seating for all three.
Normally, we like to get our hands on a new vehicle and personally beat on it until we can’t see straight. This time around, we wanted to get a second opinion, so we reached out to our friends at Queensland, Australia’s JetSkiShop who introduced us to Danny Dugard, the recent owner of a new 2015 FZS.
When asked we Danny opted for the Yamaha, he replied, “Reliability is everything to me. I’ve always been a stickler when it comes to Japanese quality built/engineered products. The peace of mind that I don’t need to ask a friend to come on a long trip with me just in case. The speed, stability, hole shot, maneuverability, hook up and all of it together works for me. It’s such a versatile ski, you can use it for pretty much anything. The best thing I like about it is it instils confidence in the rider and when a product delivers on its promises then I’m happy.”
This past year has shown the big Yamaha’s capabilities when equipped with aftermarket components. Incredible speeds and handling are within arm’s reach with just a few upgrades, which only testifies to the time and care given in developing the FZ series WaveRunners. Backing the stock FZ skis is a performance-bred 8-vein pump filled with a 160mm impeller, a and 3-degree nozzle featuring diffuser veins and a large 85mm exit diameter. So even in stock trim, the SVHO is a wild ride in and of itself.
“The big plus are the forged internals, which means if I want to do some upgrades down the track I know the SVHO engine is strong enough for a few if necessary,” Danny outlined. “It’s like riding an R1 but on water. The first time I went flat stick for a few seconds my heart was pounding out of my chest, the wrinkles on my face disappeared (for a few seconds) and my adrenaline spiked through the roof. To believe it you just have to get on one of these bad boys and test it for yourself, once you do you’ll be hooked!”
For 2015, Yamaha introduced NanoXcel 2. While the current NanoXcel material reduces the weight of conventional SMC fiberglass runabouts by upwards of 37-percent, Yamaha developed a major revision to their process to shave another 18-percent over the standard NanoXcel. By using a new resin made from “nano” clay and glass micro bubbles that uses less material, NanaXcel 2 permits for stronger, more rigid and lighter decks, liners and hulls. All of this adds up to a weight savings of an impressive 35-pounds off of the previous FZR and FZS.
As this reduction frees up performance, it also increases fuel mileage. Daniel reported, “A full tank will last the day with the family tubing, wake boarding, etc. In saying that if you’re out with a few friends and your making that HKS supercharger work overtime, well then that’s another story. I look at it this way, it’s not a car, you don’t use it every day, maybe once or twice a week (for me anyway) so if I have to fill the 70 litre (18.5 gallon) fuel tank up twice it’s a cheap weekend spent with friends and family.”
Revised white-faced analog gauges make visibility easy. “I love them,” Daniel beamed. “The gauges are clear to read and easy to follow. The fuel gauge is easily visible and a quick glimpse will tell you all you need when doing just over 100kph (60mph).” The hood of both FZ units features a new water-dipped faux carbon fiber cowl that covers the Yamaha’s 21.3 gallons of storage. Likewise, beneath the rear seat is a screw-top, watertight storage bin.
And whether you find yourself only managing once or twice a month, or as often as Danny (“We try get out at least once every two weeks, I would love to go out once a week if I could but life is hectic sometimes so that’s not always possible. The ski does get a good workout during the summer but the winters here aren’t too bad, nothing a wetsuit can’t fix.”), the Yamaha FZS is possibly the most top-end, hard-turning performance available in a three-person runabout.