Using a 1498cc four-cylinder, water-cooled engine based on the technology found in their successful Ninja road bike range, the engineers at Kawasaki have mated this to a twin vortices Roots-type supercharger to deliver supreme initial, mid-range and high performance thrust, formidable acceleration and controllability plus phenomenal peak horsepower.
All sharing the attributes of this amazing engine, each model in the new 2014 range differs in specification with a machine for the pure sports enthusiast, an entry-level craft and, at the head of the range, a machine featuring Kawasaki’s first ever water-borne sound system.
With its adjustable motocross style handlebars, evocative lime green race image graphics and race-developed seat, the Ultra 310R will appeal to the most sporting of riders. Ergonomically tuneable, the handlebars can be set to any one of eighteen positions in order to create the perfect riding stance. The ability to electronically control trim as a standard features also allows the Ultra 310R rider to obtain the best possible approach angle whatever the water conditions.
For those just taking the step to this next level of performance and specification, Kawasaki offers the Ultra 310X in 2014. Equipped with many of the same features as its two stable-mates, the 310X has electronic throttle valves as standard. This state of the art technology allows the Ultra 310X (and other machines in the range) to respond to even the most subtle throttle input while the common use of Smart Steering/SLO mode allows those with less experience to get used to the art of dockside manoeuvring and hone their marine skills at lower power output levels.
Heading up the trio of impressive machines in the coming season will be the formidable Ultra 310LX. And in the case of this craft, LX certainly stands for luxury with electronic cruise control, heat absorbing LXuryseat material, adjustable handlebars and a selectable economical riding mode all as standard. Delivering the ultimate in Kawasaki Jet Ski technology, the Ultra 310LX sets the bar higher still with the introduction of Kawasaki’s first ever water borne sound system – Jet Sound - as a standard feature.
Offering secure and waterproof storage for the music generating device, be that an MP3 player, an iPhone or even a simple USB stick, the system has a digital display panel on the handlebars and features two hi-fi quality 20w speakers below the rear view mirrors.
Unveiling such an impressive range for the forthcoming season, Kawasaki is entering its forty first year of production. As the innovator of domestic personal watercraft it is proud of this manufacturing feat along with the innovative incoming range, according to Marketing Manager for Kawasaki Motors Europe, David Monbertrand.
“2013 witnessed a milestone for us as a manufacturer, forty years of continuous production of the Jet Ski personal watercraft product. From the early days of solo “stand-up” machines through twin seaters and then three seat craft, customers have asked for more power, more features plus greater technology and innovation to which we have gladly responded. For the coming season, we have three amazing offerings to suit, in turn, the sports oriented rider, the entry-level customer and those that seek the ultimate in Jet Ski technology”.
Jet Ski product profile:
A child of the late 60’s and early 70’s, Kawasaki’s now iconic personal watercraft epitomised the carefree, performance focused attitude of its formative era. With individual then family fun at its core, its performance capabilities would also spawn a vibrant racing community in both America and Europe.
With a debt of gratitude to Snowmobiles in terms of the compact, all-weather two-stroke power units, the first personal watercraft were solo operator devices.
Developed from an idea created by American entrepreneur Clayton Jacobson II, the first twin cylinder stand up WSAA and WSSB skis first saw water commercially in 1973 in very limited numbers. Kawasaki’s initial focus was to adapt the prototype models to a product more suitable to mass production. This culminated in the first solo JetSki in terms of mass production, the JS400 of 1976.
The first multi-seat JetSki was the 1986 X2, a hybrid two person craft with the novel ability to operate in either stand up or sit down mode. Both styles of machine proved immensely popular and the lakes and seaside towns of America and Europe soon played host to a new form of recreational watercraft offering the performance of a speed boat small enough to be stored in a normal domestic garage and light enough to be easily and launched and recovered or towed behind a family car.
In terms of the evolution of the Jet Ski product, solo skis were increasingly seen as the preserve of the expert or dedicated racing owner while the multi-seat craft became the obvious route for developing the Jet Ski product line for the whole family to use allied to desire for extra storage and creature comforts. Of course being such a popular hobby craft in America, it was obvious that performance and excitement had to be retained by the next range of products but so too was refinement.
Given Kawasaki’s notoriety in the field of three cylinder, two-stroke engines, it was wholly fitting that the following generation utilised water-cooled units with the cylinders running front to back starting initially at 900cc in 1995 and evolving the very next year all the way to the powerful 1100cc ZXI.
Using normal engine technology, there was only so far that two-stroke performance could be pushed in light of noise, exhaust emissions and fuel consumption.
Taking the power unit from the road-going ZX-12R, the team at KHI “marinised” the engine and fitted the fuel injected motor into a race-developed hull christening the impressive 250 horsepower personal water-craft (PWC) the Ultra 250X.
Eventually enlarging the Ultra’s engine to 1500cc released more power and torque but, for many, that was not enough, they demanded more than conventional tuning could deliver. With a turbocharger considered, this technology was eventually rejected in favour of supercharging.
The result was an increase to first 260 horsepower and, more recently, a twin vane Roots style supercharger, delivering a considerable 310 horsepower via the Ultra 310 series – including, for 2014, the remarkable 310LX model featuring “Jet Sound” Kawasaki’s innovative water-borne sound system matching style and convenience to Kawasaki’s traditional race inspired performance credentials.
In terms of competition, Jet Ski racing has proved enduringly popular across four decades with numerous race and Championship wins by Kawasaki riders and teams, chiefly in the United States with PWC legend Chris McCluggage who has now amassed a seemingly insurmountable 18 World Championships in various race classes including three of these in 2013 alone.
Of European riders, perhaps the most famous is Jean Bruno Pastorello (Kawasaki Motors France official rider) won at the Lake Havasu world Championships in 2013 (teamed up with McCluggage) .
In fact Pastorello has won the 300 mile race event three times in a row at Havasu making him among the most successful competitors ever in his chosen discipline.
Closer to home, team Pastorello Competition took the 2013 team world title in Vladivostok ensuring that Kawasaki maintains its sporting prowess in the Jet Ski arena.