BOAT TEST: AXIS A22
Malibu Australia now makes the US-designed Axis A22 wakeboat in its Albury (NSW) factory. We pushed it hard at Lake Eildon to bring you this report.
TEST: AXIS A22
It's always exciting to see a new American boat released on the Australian market, but it's even better when an Australian manufacturer gets onboard and decides to build it here. That was the case with the Axis A22 wakeboat, an intriguing boat that first came to my attention under bright lights at the Melbourne International Boat Show in July.
Malibu imported two boats as prototypes, and then released them onto the Australian wakeboard scene. Wakeboarders are known for their "new wave" obsessions, and most boats are equipped with humping sound systems, outdone only by the loudness of their fashion sense.
Batman would be proud of the new black and white Axis AX22. Its striking appearance is accentuated by unconventional white lightening blazes. Its lines and decals are ultra-modern. In short, it looks horny!
Those horny looks come to life with the Axis "pickle fork" bow, as well as a unique combination of the frameless windscreen, laser-cut stainless trim, futuristic FatAX tower, stark colour accents and a very classy upholstered finish. The concept was developed by US-company Axis Wake Research and is now manufactured locally under licence by Malibu Boats Australia at its Albury (NSW) facility. The result is a unique design that screams attitude and has a look that turns heads. Malibu has been a leading Australian boatbuilder for many years and its products are built to the highest standards, so rest assured you'll find the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in the Axis.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
As luck would have it, the test at Lake Eildon in southern Victoria coincided with one of Victoria's first warm spring days. It was a far cry from the winter chill of previous months and conditions were perfect, with very little wind, calm water and plenty of sunshine.
The Victorian Malibu/Axis dealer is Regal Marine, one of the State's longest standing and most successful dealerships. When I arrived it was great to see the smiling face of Regal's experienced boating consultant, Ross McAllum, who greeted me at the Eildon Boat Club before I got to grips with this latest wake weapon.
But enough of the background, let's get into it. After a good session of tearing up Lake Eildon's formerly serene waters and playing with every feature the A22 has to offer, I was sufficiently impressed to find my thoughts turning to my chequebook. Yep, this is one amazing boat, loaded with great features, and all for a very reasonable price.
Of particular note is the Wakebox 900 Ballast System - the only hard-tank, sub-floor wake enhancing system available at this price point. The Wakebox consists of three hard ballast tanks mounted below the floor in the rear and centre of the boat, totalling some 400kg. Operated with a flick of a dash-mounted trio of switches, the system allows the driver to customise the wake to suit a rider's preference. Axis also features an optional A22 Plug N' Play ballast system which can add an additional 590kg of ballast.
The Skybox Slide Seating arrangement is another winner. Basically, the rear seat can slide from the rear of the boat to near the centre, so those in the back don't miss out on the action. Alternatively, if passengers are content to sit back and enjoy the cruise, it can slide back to the rear again. This provides a high level of seating flexibility and comfort that saves your passengers from straining their necks. It also gives you even more flexibility to set up the load in the boat to maximise that all-important wake.
You get cruise control as standard, and there's an optional stereo for belting out those tunes. The water and air temperature gauges are a nice touch too, while other standard features include a removable fibreglass boarding platform, Axis board racks, and a bimini top for the FatAX wakeboard tower.
The 22ft (6.7m) Axis A22 is, in my opinion, the ultimate wakeboarding machine. When I returned to shore later I watched it glide down the lake at 18.9kts (35kmh) and roll out a smooth, perfect wake. This particular model caters for a large share of the wakeboarding market because it's also a great family-oriented boat with heaps of space both in the main section and the open bow.
One of the most exciting features you can add to this boat is the Auto-set Wedge, which adds another 450kg of displacement. Just drop the wedge by undoing its clips and it provides a perfect wake with no additional ballast required.
The Axis was great to drive, with handling that was very similar to the predictable precision of one of Malibu's most popular boats, the VLX, but without the price tag. The steering was light and the throttle responsive, with great feedback thanks to its shift-by-cable/throttle-by-wire systems.
Powering it is a 335hp Indmar EFI engine fitted with a 14.5in/14.75in tractor prop that gives strong, grunty power for big loads. It did take some time to plane when fully loaded, but you'd expect that in a wakeboat. A booster seat for the helm could have been handy at times, although that's less of an issue if you sit tall. The bow sat high off the water, keeping the passengers up front nice and dry. The slide seating is a terrific innovation although it's not immediately obvious, and the pickle fork bow allows for plenty of party room up front.
All in all I was impressed with the Axis A22, a wakeboat that'll please diehard wakeboarders and families alike, at the same time leading the market with hi-tech design, presentation and innovation.
On the plane...
Dragging the chain...
Could do with a booster seat
Specifications: Axis A22
Priced from: $68,499
Options fitted: Registration, paint over gal trailer, tricked-out gelcoat design, Auto-set Wedge, removable carpet, Plug N' Play ballast system, stereo amps and speakers upgrade
Price as tested: $83,080
Type: Rear-mount wakeboat
Length (LOA): 6.7m
Weight (boat only): Approx. 1680kg
Weight (on trailer): Approx. 2281kg
Rec. min. HP: 335
Rec. max. HP: 400
Make/model: 335hp Indmar EFI
Type: V8 petrol
Rated HP: 335
Gearbox Ratio: 1.5:1
514 Canterbury Rd,
Vermont, Vic, 3133
Phone: (03) 9874 4624
813 Hope Court,
Albury, NSW, 2640
Phone: (02) 6040 1174
Originally published in TrailerBoat 262.
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