By: Charles Plueddeman
A top speed of 65 mph is the benchmark for a PWC seeking admission to the ‘high performance’ club, and the new Honda AquaTrax F15-X makes the cut. With a full load of fuel and 185-pound me in the saddle, I averaged 64.8 mph on GPS aboard the new Honda at its media debut at Lake Havasu, Arizona.
Honda appears ready to again take the PWC market seriously, with a boat that offers a nice combination of performance and features that should make it appealing to all kinds of riders, not just the go-fast crowd.
The F-15X has a new fiberglass hull that’s 133.8 inches long, or about eight inches longer than the F-12X , and not quite an inch longer than the Kawasaki Ultra 250X, previously the longest boat on the market. Honda no longer publishes a dry weight spec., preferring to list curb weight, or ready-to-ride trim including a full fuel tank, oil, and battery. That weight is 955 pounds, but with a little extrapolation, I’m figuring dry weight of the F15-X is 842 pounds. That’s 62 pounds lighter than the Ultra 250X, about the same weight as the Yamaha WaveRunner FX SHO, and 24 pounds heavier than the Sea-Doo RXT-X.
An all-new 1470cc engine is very compact. To minimize turbo lag – which is pretty pronounced on the F12-X – the IHI turbo and intercooler have been located as close as possible to the single, 54mm throttle body. Boost is just 10 psi, compared to 13 psi on the previous engine. With typical Honda precision, the engine is rated at 197.3 hp.
If you’ve ridden an AquaTrax in the past the F15-X will feel familiar. The handlebars are not adjustable and still too low if you want to ride any distance while standing – like across Lake Havasu in an afternoon chop. The seat has a good bolster for the rider and just-right density. A new 1.7-gallon glove box has a little upper slot that’s just the right size for a wallet in a Ziploc bag. My favorite feature is a new ‘time-to-empty’ display on the scrollable digital dash. It calculates in minutes how long you can ride at your present speed given your remaining fuel. For example, with 7/8 on the fuel gauge, the display told me I could ride for two hours at 30 mph, 1.5 hours at 45 mph, or just one hour at 50 mph.
Crack the throttle and the F15-X pulls away smoothly. The turbo kicks in at 2500 rpm and lag has been eliminated from the new motor, which should make this boat much better suited for towing than the F12-X. Hole shot is not as furious as that of the Sea-Doo RXT-X, but the Honda is quick enough to be fun. Its handling is very linear and predictable. Aggressive turns produce a progressive slide in the tail, which will finally break loose if you push it very hard. In chop, the boat tips a little side-to-side, but the ride is dry and plush. The F15-X feels lighter and more nimble than the Yamaha SHO or the Kawasaki Ultra, and not as racy and hard-edged as the Sea-Doo RXT-X. The new Honda hits a sweet spot right between hot rod and family cruiser.
Originally published in PersonalWatercraft.com