Scarab’s new flagship jetboat has the size, style and capability to turn heads and change minds.
When Sea-Doo exited the jetboat market a couple of years ago, its parent company, BRP, made its proven Rotax engines available to other builders with jetboat ambitions. Meanwhile, Scarab, the once-proud go-fast icon, was in need of a new identity beyond its outboard-powered tournament fishing boat line. Cue the sound of a forehead being slapped: Scarab was reborn as a stylish, high-end jetboat builder whose line comes to fruition with the new 25-foot-long 255 Jet series. It goes to great lengths, if you’ll pardon the expression, to make the 255 the largest jetboat in the fastest growing segment of the pleasureboat industry.
The twin three-cylinder BRP Rotax engines are so compact they create space where bulkier sterndrives would take up valuable real estate. Scarab designers used these wide-open spaces to great advantage in the stern. Our test boat was equipped with the Versa-Lounge seating option ($580), which has flippable backrests on the stern bench that create comfortable rear-facing seats or that lay flat to form a sunpad for tanning. The center filler section between the twin rear jumpseats is upholstered in Chilliwich flooring fabric and can be folded down so passengers can enter the cockpit without stepping on the metallic accent upholstery.
The huge swim platform, clad in custom logo-imprinted padding, sits low to the water for easy immersion therapy. The four-step stainless steel boarding ladder is on the centerline, but it is tucked under the swim platform, which makes it a little tougher to deploy. Twin wet storage lockers are set into the swim platform, which means dripping tow ropes and ski vests never have to enter the cockpit.
The 255 has three available versions of the 1.5L BRP Rotax 4-TEC four-stroke, aluminum block three-cylinder engine. The base 255 Jet version features twin 150 hp engines, but our test boat had the 200 hp SC models, which are supercharged and intercooled. You can upgrade to the hair-on-fire 250 hp HO variant (bigger supercharger, external intercooler), but the twin 200s seem to be the sweet spot. Our test Scarab got on plane in 2.5 seconds with virtually no bowrise to obscure the horizon. The power rolled on smoothly and strongly to take the 255 to 30 mph in 4 seconds flat, and it topped out at 54 mph. All Scarab engines have Closed-Loop Engine Cooling systems — like your car — making them saltwater-ready. The high-revving engines are really loud, but Scarab did an admirable job of sealing in the noise with rubber gaskets around the engine hatch and additional foam insulation. I measured the same engines on another boat brand at an ear splitting 106 decibels; on the Scarab, they measured 98 at WOT, which is still louder than a sterndrive but not obnoxiously so. The fuel tank only holds 41 gallons, which limits your wide-open-throttle cavorting ability to little more than an hour.
For skiing, get the optional Digital Speed Control package to help you harness all that power. Of particular usefulness is Ski Mode, which has three “ramp” settings that control the rate of acceleration and maintain whatever speed you select. Such control would come in handy on the 250 hp version, since its power comes on too quickly for skiers if the driver jams the throttle. There’s also Eco Mode, which limits the amount of torque expended to give you the best mileage possible. Docking Mode limits the rpm but also spreads it out over the entire throw of the throttle lever; the power doesn’t blast on at the worst possible moment, so even rookie drivers have excellent throttle control.
On test day, Lake Cadillac in Michigan was, for once, as calm as a koi pond, so we didn’t get to test the 255’s ability to slice through the chop. It has a deep-V hull with 20 degrees of deadrise and enough heft, at 3,800 pounds, to yield a smooth ride. On smaller jetboats, when you throw the wheel hard over at speed you can scare the bejeebers out of your passengers. The 255 has incredibly smooth cornering that is very predictable throughout its arc. And while it can wow riders with its stick-to-itiveness, there is nothing abrupt about the event. To keep things simple, a single throttle controls both engines, so they’ll always be in sync.
Handling a jetboat around a dock can be unnerving for rookie drivers, but in addition to Docking Mode for precise throttle control, the Rotax jet has Lateral Thrust Control at low speeds, which directs some of the thrust out of the sides of the jet for better maneuvering.
The 255 is rated to carry 13 passengers, and thanks to its seating arrangement, there’s a place for each derriere. In the cockpit, a clever innovation — a hidden sectional — quickly turns the rear-facing club chairs into rear-facing chaise lounges. This also creates a U-seating arrangement for maximum occupancy situations. There’s a copilot bucket seat, identical to the captain’s, to port, and both can swivel 180 degrees to face rearward when appropriate. Up front, the beam stays wide for extra passenger room, and like in the cockpit, gunwale height is high for passenger security and better kiddie containment.
Although there is a standard ski tow, watersports fans can upgrade to a wakeboard tower for $3,400 and add racks for another $573. Wakeboard enthusiasts can add the Wake Blast System — three separate reservoirs with a total of 1,150 pounds of jump juice — for increasing the wake size. For storing skis, there’s a really deep centerline locker.
Although the twin 200 hp 4-TEC engines performed well, going for an extra 100 hp is surprisingly affordable — a $4,635 upcharge — but the 250s need premium fuel to operate at peak output. Adding the Digital Speed Control package, which includes Docking, Ski and ECO modes, runs an extra $1,067 but is a bargain considering its many benefits. The Platinum trim package adds a touch of luxe for $1,467 with features such as Cabana mat flooring, Savannah interior, upgraded seating and a custom deck color. The 255 even has a head compartment in the port-side console, but to properly equip it, get the sink, pumpout Porta Potti/transom shower bundle for $607. The four-speaker stereo Bluetooth stereo with transom remote comes standard, but this is a Scarab, which requires more attitude in the form of the upgraded Sony Premium Sound System ($2,000), which includes a Kicker amp and subwoofer and lighted speakers. Speaking of lights, for nighttime excursions, you can get a beautiful glow going with underwater lights (including docking lights) for $433. The 255 is ready to roll with a standard twin-axle trailer with chrome wheels, but if you are saltwater dipping, get the galvanized model with the GatorHyde finish for $887. And because you know you will be parking this rig in the driveway for all to see, add the aluminum mag wheels for $600.