Kawasaki’s Ultra 310 line is known for its distinct sound. The engine, the highest horsepower model currently in production, produces a throaty whirr as the supercharger almost instantly churns out the power. It’s a sound instantly recognizable to performance enthusiasts, and one sure to put a grin on any new driver’s face.
The 2017 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX, however, adds yet another sound to the mix…the driver’s playlist.
Ski Be Jammin’
Engine: Three-cylinder 1,498cc
Fuel Capacity: 20.6 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 56 gal.
Seating Capacity: 3
MSRP: Starting at $17,999
Yup, Kawasaki has put an honest-to-goodness sound system into a PWC. Dubbed Jetsounds, it’s no add-on, but instead a complete integration into the 310LX design. A pair of chrome-bezeled, 60-watt waterproof speakers are located just below the rearview mirrors. The round head unit fits seamlessly into a specially molded handlebar pad; a 40-watt amp is hidden below the surface. The source of those tunes resides in the glovebox, either Kawasaki’s included memory stick (housed within an aluminum screw-top cylinder) or the driver’s phone or iPod, secured within a small waterproof dry bag.
What’s it like having a sound system on your Jet Ski? Not all that different than having one in your boat. Despite the far more open environment, speakers appear to be well aimed at the driver, delivering clear output at most all speeds. I found the music slightly harder to hear during the most aggressive, top-speed runs, but other than those few moments output is surprisingly crisp and clear. I also didn’t note any skipping, even in rough water, quite an accomplishment given that I can’t even seem to drive down my street without hearing my Bluetooth-connected phone skip a beat. I also noted I was still able to stay aware of my surroundings and not annoy the neighbors, in part because the volume stays at a responsible level. Both are key to the long-term success of a sound system on a style of craft that already has already overcome its share of noise concerns in the past.
The “other” sound the 2017 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX makes should be familiar to performance enthusiasts’ ears…the throaty whirr of Kawasaki’s supercharged, 1,498cc engine. Rated at 310hp, the four-cylinder is well known for its power, rocketing out of the hole with arm-stretching power and no hesitation while hitting that electronically limited cap of 67 mph. It’s an engine that still holds the highest stock horsepower rating at 310. It’s also proven strong and reliable over the years, albeit a little thirsty for gasoline at those top-end speeds.
That engine has made the craft a favorite of performance junkies, but so too has the hull. Featuring a deep 22.5-degree deadrise, the Ultra has cemented a relationship as an offshore monster, venturing into rough ocean conditions with no trepidation. Pick a line and the Ultra delivers, rarely if ever getting knocked off its course and rewarding the driver with a confident, secure feel at the handlebars. Numerous offshore championships fill its resume, but that same confident performance is a boon to less-experienced riders as well, particularly given the power on tap.
In smooth conditions, that size isn’t a shortcoming either. While the 2017 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX is no question a big craft, it handles with nimble manners in flat water, carving a tight precise turn. Just remember to use the craft’s electric trim to your advantage. With a quick response, you can trim down for hard corners and then trim up for a fast escape. The only minor drawback is that you do have to take your eyes momentarily off the water to check the trim position on the info display.
No One-Hit Wonder
Clearly Jetsounds is one big reason why the 2017 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX carries a premium $17,999 price tag, but in addition to that hull and engine, you also get Kawasaki’s full complement of features. Electronic additions include cruise control and no-wake mode, both of which can take the “throttle-finger” fatigue out of extended trips. Cruise also proves quite beneficial when towing, as it holds a steady speed for skiers and boarders far better than most drivers can duplicate manually. An ECO setting also finds the most fuel-efficient power delivery while maintaining some of the Ultra’s sporty response.
Reverse? Sorry, it’s still manual. It works well, but Sea-Doo’s iBR and Yamaha’s RiDE are showing what’s possible. On a flagship like the 310 LX, the advanced capabilities of those two systems are missed.
As to more practical features, that same handlebar pad that houses the sound system controls also includes a removable panel for a handheld GPS cradle. Behind, the saddle is tiered and generously bolstered, particularly for the driver and aft-most passenger, and made of a heat-resistant material that promises not to burn your buns after hours in the sun. Other standouts are huge storage (56 gallons), tilt steering, and Kawasaki’s magnetic key system. Both keys lock the engine against unauthorized use, while one also limits top speed to act as a governor when turning the craft over to less-experienced riders.
If all that doesn’t justify the price to you, by all means look elsewhere. But if instead that’s music to your ears, we suggest – what else – hitting play on the 2017 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX.