International PWC aficionado Tim Plumpton extols the virtues of Kawasaki’s return to the UK market and celebrates such with a look at 3 models of these supercharged beauties. 

For a number of years, people have lamented: ‘Why are Kawasaki Jet Skis not sold in the UK?’ The response has been, over the past six years at least, ‘Kawasaki simply don’t have any representation in the UK.’ But now, this has changed, thanks largely to Boats.co.uk of Essex, who have taken on the sole UK distributorship of the ‘original Jet Ski’ brand. In turn, an ‘A-list’ of dealers have been appointed to sell and represent the Kawasaki product line-up countrywide. The fact that Kawasaki are back ‘in the game’, especially with brand-new offerings, has caused much excitement within the PWC/jet ski community. 

Throughout the pandemic, ski sales went through the roof. It was difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get hold of certain models from BRP or Yamaha, Kawasaki’s chief peers. A culmination of strong sales and difficulties in the supply chain contributed toward the perfect storm. In the throes of all this, if you were someone that particularly wanted to purchase a Kawasaki product, it necessitated a trip to Europe in order to procure one of these elite craft. The extraordinary thing is that hundreds of avid buyers have actually done just that in recent years – until now … 

The models

Currently in the UK there are four models to choose from: the Ultra 310LX, the Ultra 310X, the Ultra 310LX-S and the SX-R stand-up ski. A technical masterstroke on the part of Kawasaki is the fact that almost all of the 310 models share the same proven engine and the very same dynamic hull. This is apart from the stand-up SX-R, which is a different platform entirely to suit the stand-up rider. But this cross-utilisation of technology makes for ease of manufacturing and a streamlined supply chain. 

Ultra 310X 

Ultra 310X

The Ultra 310X series boasts a liquid-cooled, supercharged, inline 4-cylinder, 1498cc engine with digital fuel injection. Riders can select from four power modes (full, middle, low and SLO) to suit their skill level. The craft’s race-inspired hull allows the Jet Ski Ultra 310 to be handled with accuracy and precision. Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM) offers two modes to benefit acceleration, while Kawasaki Smart Reverse with Deceleration (KSRD) allows for reverse assist options when navigating tight spots. A 7in TFT instrumentation adorns the dash of the Ultra 310 series and features Bluetooth connectivity as well as multiple display modes. Generous storage is provided within the front compartment, along with two clever watertight compartment side pods. This ski, like the other models in the range, is ‘mind-blowingly’ fast. Nonetheless, the ride the hull generates is also very smooth, and sea-kindly too in a chop. Thanks to its ability to dissipate impact, the Ultra 310X series can undoubtedly take on a force 4 in style and yet still deliver a high degree of rider comfort.  

Ultra 310LX

The Ultra 310LX takes luxury and style to the next level, featuring all of the great performance and convenience of the Ultra 310X and Ultra 310LX-S, while adding an incomparable seat and sound system. The industry-first three-position ERGO-FIT adjustable luxury seat is designed for comfortable cruising for up to three people. Jetsound 4s is a highlight of the Ultra 310LX, making it the first standard-equipment four-speaker integrated audio system with jog-dial control and Bluetooth connectivity on a personal watercraft. It’s an impressive sound system with the speakers up close and personal. You could have a party on the beach with these – but mind the neighbours!

Ultra 310LX-S 

Ultra 310LX-S

The flagship Ultra 310LX-S includes all of the great features offered on the Ultra 310 series as well as an exclusive Ultra Deck with an extended rear deck and 7.9in of additional staging platform for water play and storing gear. Two multi-mount rails are built into the Ultra Deck to accommodate additional accessory slide mounts and provide accessible tie-down points. It also comes equipped with a rear-view camera that can be monitored on the instrument panel when in use – a very clever and useful addition to safety. If you’re towing, as you should, with a spotter accompanying you, you will no doubt be constantly looking over your shoulder to see whether everything is OK. With this camera, you can glance down and check while keeping an eye on the water ahead. The stylish LED accent lights added to the front of the Jet Ski are no gimmick either. Tested on a dull, overcast day, these LEDs helped me immensely to identify my riding buddies in the distance amid the gloom and swell. These lights should become standard on all models in my view.

Ride and performance

So what’s the ride like? Well, firstly, these new models all feature the same top deck design. With adjustable steering and the ability to position yourself securely fore or aft in the footwells, their design also affords the rider the ability to stand up comfortably at the helm when running in a chop. This, in part, is thanks to the adjustability of the steering system. The width of the seating units is noteworthy too as it maximises comfort and helps to reduce fatigue on extended passages. Deep cushioning and a rear moulding to hold you into the seat likewise play their part in delivering a superior ride. 

The hull design to these craft provides for a very sure-footed ride and gives the user a lot of confidence. Whether slow-speed manoeuvring or running wind over tide through a 6ft swell, these machines give you a sense of riding on air. You really feel you could ride anywhere, with the ocean and its coasts becoming your oyster at the nudge of the throttle. Such is the Kawasaki’s prowess and supreme ability amid the elements. 

The 310 Ultra craft are designed to go all day, and if long-distance adventuring is your particular passion, then I would whole-heartedly recommend these skis. The Ultra is an exceptionally well-thought-through and sure-footed machine. It can turn and bank on a sixpence, and for a big ski, it’s incredibly nimble. Even so, it feels sublimely stable both at high speed and in cruising mode. In fact, I would say it’s akin to a Grand Tourer sports car. By way of an example, aboard a Kawasaki Ultra model, cruising around the Isle of Wight is perfectly feasible. In fact, on the day of the test, I genuinely didn’t want the day to end, and guess what, smiles to the gallon were huge! With a supercharged engine such as the type employed across this new model range, at a typical cruising speed of between 30 and 35 mph, you can reckon on burning something in the region of a litre a mile. 

Did you know? 

The descriptive term ‘Jet Ski’ is owned and registered exclusively by Kawasaki. As a consequence, ‘Jet Ski’ is a Kawasaki trademark.

Technical Fact File

  • Engine type: Water-cooled, inline 4-stroke
  • Compression ratio: 8.2:1
  • Valve system: DOHC, 16 valves
  • Bore x stroke: 83 x 69.2 mm
  • Displacement: 1498cm³
  • Fuel system: Injection – Ø60mm x 1
  • Ignition: Digital
  • Starting system: Electric
  • Max. torque: 277 N•m {28.2 kgf•m} / 6000rpm
  • Max. power: 221kW {300 PS} / 8000rpm

Conclusion

In a market that’s growing and hungry for more choice, Kawasaki are rejoining the UK market with an innovative and unique line-up of products – craft possessing fantastic hulls that are both capable and competitive. The clever and insightful design features these products boast will help significantly push innovation forward right across the wider PWC market. In terms of their standard of finish, engineering and the all-important matter of ergonomics, these craft knock spots off the design and finish of many boating brands and come in at price points that are ‘keen’ to say the least. 

‘You may stand’ 

If you’re more energetic and like a challenge, whether out for some weekend fun or even racing competitively, this standing-style Jet Ski SX-R 160 personal watercraft features powerful thrust and agile rider-active handling. The craft benefits from a dynamic V-shape hull and produces plenty of low- to mid-range torque from its 1498cc 4-stroke engine. It’s a craft that makes stand-up personal watercraft riding a lot of fun, and thanks to its long and super-stable hull, it’s well-matched to a variety of abilities, including beginners. While sharing the same engine as the other three new Kawasaki models, the SX-R 160’s engine is tuned down to 160bhp. But don’t worry, it will still pull your arms off!

Distribution

Boats.co.uk is a dedicated nautical business based on the River Crouch at Wallasea Island in Essex. Selling sport boats from £3,000 up to 85ft motor yachts for £3 million, the business is a privately run family affair with over 50 years’ experience in boat sales and repairs. Besides the Essex premises, Boats.co.uk also has a sales and showroom established in Cala d’Or in Spain, which provides clients with a dedicated spacious, air-conditioned showroom to showcase the Kawasaki Jet Ski line-up. The company’s UK dealership network extends as far afield as Loch Lomond in Scotland, Wales, the south coast and Wiltshire too, with more companies coming on stream in the months ahead. 

Prices 

  • Ultra 310LX: £22,099
  • Ultra 310-X: £20,099
  • Ultra 310LX-S: £21,099
  • SX-R 160: £11,369
  • All prices include VAT.

Contact

  • Visit www.boats.co.uk for further information on nationwide dealership network representation.