BOAT TEST: MALIBU WAKESETTER VLX


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Not even wet and freezing Melbourne weather could dampen the team’s enthusiasm for this excellent new offering from Malibu

BOAT TEST: MALIBU WAKESETTER VLX
MALIBU WAKESETTER VLX

I'm a rolling thunder, a pouring rain, I'm comin' on like a hurricane!" That quote from ACDC's classic Hells Bells album is a fitting introduction to this Malibu Wakesetter VLX boat test.

Rolling thunder not only describes this excellent boating package, but also the cold and blustery conditions we endured during the day. But persevere we did, and we proved that the Malibu VLX is much more than a still-water contender. In fact, this beautiful and exciting package handled the rough water in such a comfortable and assuring manner that she would leave many so called bluewater hulls floundering in her wake (pardon the pun).
But tight deadlines and editors wait for no man, so the team was left with little option but to push on. Of course, I'd love to be telling you of an exiting romp around the Caribbean in this beautiful machine - a boat that's equally at home mixing it with the beautiful people on the French Riviera, as it is pulling 'boarders on Lake Eildon. In fact, Malibu boats are regarded as one of the best ski/wakeboard packages right around the world.
Traditionally, these boats are best known to haunt the freshwater scene, but going by the performance this Wakesetter put in on the day, that could be all about to change. And while I love my home state "down south"; on this morning even the Eskimos would have preferred to stay in bed.

 

 

AT FIRST GLANCE


The Wakesetter VLX is a beautifully presented boat, well suited to the family that enjoys watersports in all environments. It's got the looks, build-quality and performance to blow much of the opposition away. Make no mistake, this is a quality product with handling characteristics well suited to all Aussie conditions, including saltwater.
Some readers may be unaware that all vessles from Malibu Boats are totally Australian-built. Yes, they are designed in America, with plenty of Aussie input, but that's where it ends. Every Australian Malibu is handlaid in Albury, NSW, and only her fixtures and fittings are imported.
The all-new 2009 Wakesetter VLX is 6.5m (21.5ft) and offers many excellent new-design concepts combined with advanced-construction techniques to deliver exhilarating performance with an extremely comfortable ride, even in uncomfortable, choppy conditions. What's more - this boat is a work of art! It is simply stunning!
Malibu Boats observes the highest traditional construction standards and has invented a few new techniques of its own. The synthetic Fibex stringer system is patented and the hull and deck are bonded by a fibreglass-welding method, which gives enormous integral strength that's equivalent to one-piece construction. To add to the strength of her construction, all underfloor cavities are injected with closed-cell expansion foam for the highest level of safety and noise reduction.
The Wakesetter VLX's hull is designed to carry weight in the bow. The fullness of her bow entry, combined with big reverse chines on the shoulders, ensures that the hull can safely carry passengers in the bowrider cockpit. Even in choppy water we encountered during this test, she still kept her nose up and delivered an amazingly soft and, more importantly, dry ride.
This boat's hull is a winner. It tracked straight and hangs on in even the tightest of turns at full speed without a hiccup. From a standing start, the boat's power-to-weight ratio punched this big hull out of the hole without a noticeable transition onto the plane.

 

 

SPEED FREAKS


Skiers, wakeboarders, speed freaks and cruisers - everyone will love this boat. Even old fishos like me felt the exhilaration when driving the VLX and the technological features will please Baby Boomers and Gen Ys alike.
Driver comfort, instrumentation and control are without equal. Climbing behind the helm is an experience in itself. The silky smooth fly-by-wire controls allow precise speed and gear selection. The dashboard would give the Starship Enterprise a run for her money. Its innovative display shows all engine and operational controls in both analogue and digital readouts. The MaliView 6.5 computer provides preset-operational settings for the Power Wedge, internal ballast and speed settings. Memorised presets of wake size and speed are available in increments from beginner to professional classes, with individual finetuning at the flick of a switch.
For example, a waterskier will not need ballast or cavitation plate to keep the wake at a low level. An intermediate wakeboarder may choose 50 per cent ballast and a three-quarter cavitation plate to increase wake size, while a professional may choose 100 per cent ballast and plate. Load conditions obviously vary depending on the number of passengers, so fine adjustments are easily available at the helm.
The instrumentation and electronics package is worthy of a Lamborghini! The Malibu gauges are set into an extremely attractive and functional dash and the list of items over and above standard readouts includes full analogue/digital diagnostics, depthsounder and even an iPod dock for the powerful Rockford Fosgate stereo.

 

 


LOOKING GOOD


Malibu sets an industry standard for presentation and the Wakesetter VLX looks great. The Targa-style waketower is beautifully moulded and boasts wakeboard racks, a tow-rope mount and positions for lights and speakers.
Malibu's racked and vented windscreen protects those in the cockpit from the slipstream - boy did we need it during this test - and offers excellent visibility to the driver. Thickly padded upholstery has been used throughout the boat and the upholsterers used plenty of imagination in the ultra-modern internal design and layout. There's storage everywhere with ski lockers, iceboxes and storage hatches in every nook and cranny. It's an extremely social layout with a U-shaped rear lounge that extends right through to the observer's seat on the passenger side and stops short of the driver's swivelling shell-type helm seat. You jump in this boat and you just want to party!
And so does the engine. The VLX is fitted with a rear-mount MerCruiser 350 Monsoon 320hp, V8 EFI with Vee Drive. It supplies the sophisticated V8 grunt that Malibu owners demand and still has the ability to carry large loads even with a wakeboarder hanging out the back.
I felt sorry for Aaron, our wakeboarder on the day, who was confronted by a wild Port Phillip Bay and drizzle that turned into a continuous curtain of soaking rain. But he and the boat took the conditions in their stride and both put in an impressive performance.
Getting into the boat from the water is easy thanks to the stainless steel ladder and grabhandles on the large removable-ski platform. There's a Gorilla Grip style access-way over the rear sunlounge for boarding and entry to keep wet and dirty feet away from the plush upholstery.

 

 

THE WRAP


The overall appearance and presentation of this boat deserves much praise. The package is visually stunning, the hull lines are timeless, yet more than a little unique, and the colour scheme matches its performance in a statement of pure strength and speed.
 There are no cheap tricks to make this boat look more than it is. This is a state-of-the-art boat that will appeal to those who want the best in life. It is certainly in the "big boys toys" category, but the girls will also love this Wakesetter.
She's like a sleek European sports car that turns heads wherever she goes, with the V8 power to knock your sock off.
 Even on that drizzling, cold Victorian morning, I really enjoyed experiencing the pure excitement of the Malibu Wakesetter VLX. Yep, Rolling Thunder is certainly in my veins!

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


Advance construction
Exhilarating performacne
Dry ride even in choppy bay conditions
Driver comfort, instrumentation and control is without equal
Australian product highly sought after overseas

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


None evident

 


SPECIFICATIONS


Price as tested: $95,000
(plus dealer delivery)
Options fitted: Power Wedge, and GRP platform
Priced from: $82,958
(plus dealer delivery)

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Monohull wakeboard/ski 
Material: GRP
Length overall: 6.55m
Beam: 2.54m (Note: over
std towing width)
Weight: 1633kg; 2233kg (BMT)
Deadrise: Moderate

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 174lt 
People: 12

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Malibu Indmar Monsoon 350
Type: V8 petrol
Rated HP: 320
Displacement: 5.7lt 
Weight: Approx 400kg 
Gearbox ratio: 1.5:1
Propeller: 13.5in x 16in four-
blade Nibral

 

 

Supplied By


Regal Marine,
514 Canterbury Road,
Vermont, Vic, 3133
Phone:  (03) 9874 4624     
Email:  sales2@regalmarine.com.au

 

 

Manufactured By


Malibu Boats, 813 Hope Court,
Albury, NSW, 2640
Phone: (02) 6040 4656
Website www.malibuboats.com.au

Find Malibu boats for sale.

 


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