The Scarab brand has been reintroduced this year with the launch of 3 new jet boats. These jet boats are the spiritual (and in many respects, literal) successor to the Seaddoo line of Jetboats that BRP discontinued at the end of 2012.
layout), the 195 (a 19 foot model) and the 215 (a 21 foot model with 2 Rotax engines).
As a current (and happy) owner of a 2011 Seadoo 150 (and occasional user of the Seadoo Challenger), I can say that the general build quality of the new Scarab line is substantially superior to the Seadoos. This com
The 215 is the most gorgeous boat I’ve ever seen
Scarab has launched with 3 models: The 165 (Which is an updated version of the Seadoo 150 with a different
es in the form of more (by default) sound insulation, better trim work, snap in carpet (by default), better usability detailing and significantly better seats.
I agonized a bit over whether to get the 215 or the 195. Ultimately, I decided I wanted the fastest boat I could get and that meant the 215 with dual Rotax 250HP engines. With a top speed of about 60 MPH, it’s as fast as I would ever want to go on our inland Michigan lake.
What I like
Mine came with the premium sound system and it is amazing. There are several speakers throughout the boat and 3 sets of controls around the boat for controlling sound. The Sony stereo was a snap to setup Bluetooth Audio with my iPhone.
I also really like the Bimini top. It’s very firm and holds up well to going high speed. It also provides the driver and copilot a nice bit of shade. It’s fairly easy to take down if you choose not to be covered. Having it up does cost you about 5MPH in top speed.
Probably my favorite feature is the stern deck. The adjustable seats make it easy to sit back in the back as well as get in and out of the water. For such a sporty boat, it’s also a remarkably practical boat for taking guests out on the lake. In fact, it proved to be so practical that it made my Bennington pontoon boat obsolete and caused me to sell it. I can do everything in this boat that I could in the pontoon.
The adjustable seats are also a major highlight for me. I’ve read people on forums calling them a “gimmick”. They’re not. While they can be a bit clunky, they make the boat so much more enjoyable to use because you can use the back of the boat as a lounge area or a reading area. Frankly, after having used these, I grew fairly disgusted with the state of pontoon boats which still lack this kind of simple flexibility.
It also have a lot of compartments that seem really well thought out. This was one area that it really beats the Seadoo boats they replaced. That isn’t to say that Seadoos and Yamahas don’t have plenty of storage area too. The difference here is the thought behind the storage areas. There’s lots of small spots to place things that are quite useful (the anchor locker, for instance, is a nice touch).
While not a new feature per se, the drive system supports Cruise, Eco, Ski, and Docking modes. I found the Cruise and Ski modes to be kind of gimmicky but the Docking and Eco modes are immensely useful. These modes, in effect, give the onboard computer more say over how the engine runs.
The docking mode made low speed maneuvering extremely easy. I’m pretty versed in jet boat use at this point but I was struck by how much more precision the docking mode gave me.
The eco mode gives the computer more control over how the engine runs in order to save a great deal of fuel. I have only done some testing with this but I would guess that it’s about a 20% savings on fuel. The only downside is that you can’t run the boat as fast.
There are also a number of small touches I appreciated. The ladder system is strapless and a cinch to extend and retract. The captain and co-pilot chairs came with built in seat bolsters that let me quickly and easily fold in the bolster and sit up to get a much better view. There is included side “webbing” around the boat to make it easy to store things.
What I didn’t like
You might have gotten the impression that I think the boat is perfect. It’s not.
The 215’s super charged Rotax engines are very loud. Even with the extra sound insulation Scarab put in, it’s louder than I would like. It’s a non-trivial problem to solve because the engines just barely fit in the engine compartment. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re incredibly loud in general. They’re quieter than a similarly configured Seadoo would be. But I had read online that the Scarabs were noticeably quieter but I’m not seeing that.
The cockpit display is disappointing. There is real limit in how much information is displayed at once (like water temp and water depth – choose one). In fact, the cockpit in general is surprisingly chintzy. The switches for turning on lights and using modes looks like something I might have built back in EE class.
It uses physical keys (two of them) to start up. Seems like I should be able to plug in a fob or something and then press two buttons to start up each motor.
It rattles at higher speeds. I can’t quite pinpoint where the loud rattling comes from but it detracts from my enjoyment. I think it’s them windshield but it seems to be on well. Nevertheless, my Seadoo doesn’t rattle.
The snap in carpet doesn’t have nearly enough snaps. Wind can (and does) get under the carpet causing it to come up occasionally if going high speed (60MPH for extended periods).
The radio “controller” at the captain’s location has no display. So I can’t tell what station I’m on. This seemed like an unnecessary cheap out that has a material effect on enjoying the music system.
The adjustable seats are clunky. That is, they’re a bit of a pain to adjust. I’m thankful that they can be adjusted. I just wish they were easier to do so.
There is no way to get on the boat without crawling over the seats. This eliminates it as a touring boat for older passengers. This is a real shame because the boat is so practical in every other respect.
Don’t like my criticisms scare you off. It’s a great boat. But this is a review and one of the things that prompted me to write it was out vapid the boat reviews I’ve seen so far have been.
I’m loving my time with the boat. My above list of nits are not show stoppers. It’s definitely the most enjoyable boat I’ve ever owned. It’s gorgeous, fast and remarkably practical as a touring boat. And thanks to the ECO mode, it’s also not the gas guzzler you’d normally expect out of this type of boat.
Here I have the seats down so that my wife can sunbathe while our daughter swims around. You can also see the two rear speakers. In the center there you can see the tow line for tubing. I was not terribly happy with it being so low on the boat as it makes it easier to accidentally run over the line (Since the captain can’t see the line connection from his position).
Just a close up of the side. You can see the Bimini top which is very firm and one of my favorite features of the boat.
View of the front. This is a fantastic design. Most jet boats have something similar but it makes touring on this boat so much more enjoyable than say a Pontoon.
This is the built in Bolster seat. You just fold it up to give you a booster to sit on. It’s remarkably comfortable and made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the boat.
Here is the control console here. Overall, it’s fine. But I had wished that it was a but more sophisticated. My biggest gripe is how ghetto the stereo controller is here. But in terms of controlling the boat, it’s all fine.