Legend has it that blues great Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads to do a deal with the devil to achieve his life’s ambitions. You won’t have to sell your soul when you own a 2010 Malibu Response LXi.



The team at Malibu says, "compromise is a copout" and it's certainly not an option with the quality and versatility in this aquatic dream-machine. This is the boat for the family at the boating crossroads in life. It has all the elements of a legend, with comfort, style, power and performance for the full range of watersports.

To quote David Thorpe, Malibu's marketing and dealer development manager: "When a family are at the crossroads, the Malibu Response LXi is the mid-mount skiboat that will allow them to do everything. Yet most of the buzz it generates is in the performance - for pros and families, wakeboarders and skiers alike."

Whether it's a sociable cruise around the local harbour, an exhilarating run down your favourite estuary, or the constant battle between skiing and wakeboarding on your chosen piece of sweetwater, the Malibu Response LXi will do it all with the style inherent in all Malibu boats.



I felt like I was at the crossroads when I travelled to Taylors Lake Recreation Reserve, deep in Victoria's broad acre north-west Wimmera region. The track into the Lake off the Western Highway lies 20km east of Horsham and runs through golden plains of grain, turned stark by the summer heat. In the background, the majestic Grampians mountain range provides a bold contrast to the sun-soaked plains.

Our boat test was to coincide with the tenth annual Malibu Just Ride Tour, a national roadshow where a team of waterski and wakeboard professionals travel to regional areas to exhibit Malibu boats with demonstrations, boat tests and watersports schools.

The Response LXi is one of the models highlighted on the tour, and it has been enhanced with a number of new features for 2010. The package now comes standard with a mid-mounted Indmar 330hp Multi Point Injected LCR salt-water series V8 marine engine and F-N-R transmission.

There are optional 350hp Monsoon and a 400hp Hammerhead engines, but after driving the package I don't think I'd bother. We found a top speed of 40kts (about 74kmh) with the standard engine, but more importantly it had all the grunt in the world to pull several skiers, plus plenty of passengers. I do, however, understand that when you make up your mind to purchase one of these big boy's (and girl's) toys that the petrolhead in all of you will invariably exert itself, so the larger options are indeed popular.

When you hear the sound produced from the Rockford Fosgate audio system you'll understand why it's standard equipment. It comes with a four-speaker system and it rocks! However, should you opt up for the racy new G3 wakeboard tower, you might like to add more doof-doof from a sub woofer, tower speakers, and booster amps. The standard unit also has a 1Gb hard drive as well as separate USB and iPod ports in the glovebox.

While we're in the glovebox area, I have to mention an item that blew me away. Malibu shows its commitment to saltwater use, and overall longevity in ways that are not always immediately obvious. It wasn't until I opened the glovebox and realised by the weight of it that both the door and indeed the dashboard surround, were made from heavy-cast, polished-stainless steel. That's just one of many features that ensure that Malibu boats are a life-long commitment that will still be providing years of enjoyment long after I'm in a hole in the ground.

The new Illusion G3 tower is available as an option but wasn't fitted to the test boat. Once selected, the G3 includes a stainless steel framed bimini and swing-in board racks. I suggest that Malibu buyers take a close look at this beautiful piece of functional and attractive engineering, the design and construction of which are a credit to Malibu's research and development.



Most of all, this is a fun boat with a very classy personality. Our demo unit had an optional Power Wedge that answered all the questions for an avid skier's growing family. It creates the crossroads capability through its 20ft6in (6.25m) Cut Diamond Hull to provide both tournament-capable ski and wakeboard alternatives.

The Malibu caters for beginners, intermediates or advanced skiers and/or wakeboarders. Opting for the Power Wedge allows variable wake height, size and thickness to please just about everyone. The settings are programmed from the dashboard-mounted LCD screen where individual presets can also be programmed.

In the car, truck or boat, I love cruise control. As you need to get used to cruise in vehicles though, particularly in hilly conditions and turns, the same is true of a boat. It takes you by surprise on the first turn when the engine revs up to compensate for the speed loss of turning drag. Once you're expecting it though, it's a wonderful piece of standard equipment to enhance your skiing and driving enjoyment.

The progressive nature of this company shines in its product. I recently took the tour of the Malibu factory in Albury (NSW) with David Thorpe and was amazed at the advanced technology being utilized throughout the range. The composite materials, innovative construction and premium componentry were outstanding. Perhaps even more outstanding was the pride each employee takes in his or her respective positions and trade.

Quality of construction ensures that this boat not only outperforms its rivals but has the feel of a luxury sports machine. There's virtually no hull noise, even in choppy conditions, and when cranking it at full steam the powerful and comfortable hum of the big V8 is the only intrusion to the Rockford Fosgate. Solid, timber-free construction, acoustic material in the laminate, and fully compartmentalised foam-fill are just some of the secrets to the riding comfort and safety. You can actually have an unhindered conversation at full speed - provided you turn off the rock box.



The 2010 LXi turns confidently at all speeds, including flat out. Thank goodness for the vented pillars that actually release the vacuum behind the windscreen. This guarantees a very comfortable environment at the helm position. The screen's frame is made from powdercoated ABS and stainless steel, and all of the glass is safety toughened, including the centre-opening doorway.

I'll go so far as to say that I believe the quality of the Malibu dashboard layout, appearance and instrumentation far exceeds that of some of the world's most respected motor vehicles. So too does the comfort factor for both driver and all those aboard.

The dashboard features two 5in, and three 2.5in servo-driven Malibu Medallion analogue and digital instruments, giving the full operational story at a glance through their diagnosis software. This software includes a "guardian" mode for safe engine management. There's an LCD screen for the cruise control, as well as two separate digital switch panels integrated into the system for full control of everything on the boat, including the Power Wedge, sound system, horn, navigation lights and dimmable courtesy lights. Incidentally, the package comes with an automatic bilgepump and blower, and all fuses are resettable circuit breakers.



The allure of the helm is accentuated with the tilting leather-wrapped Isotta sports-steering wheel, while the thickly upholstered driver's seat has a flip-up bolster, lumbar support, and adjustable slide and swivel. Malibu's in-house upholstery shop produces some of the finest workmanship I've seen. The entire package is presented with 38oz Duraguard G&T vinyl, and a French-stitched interior that takes trailerboat quality and comfort to a new level. Even the enginebox is thickly upholstered and reverse-moulded to present a professional finish, inside and out. The premium 32oz poly/heat set marine carpet invites you to remove your shoes and feel its warm, thick pile.

I found that every time I reached for something to hold on to during high speed turns that it was there, no matter where I sat. Everywhere I looked I saw sensible storage, like ski lockers under the floor and behind the observer's seat, and a large ski/wet box area under the double opening rear sunlounge. This is really handy for storing skis and wet items from the rear platform before entering the boat. There are large sidepockets for all of those boating knick-knacks, and even an underfloor icebox conveniently mounted in the underfloor storage area within easy reach of the helm.



Malibu's popularity is increasing in coastal bays and inlets, so extra thought has been given to saltwater use where anchoring is often essential. There's room to store the anchor, rope and chain under the forward seat cushion, although saltwater boaters would be advised to opt for a pop-up style bollard on the bow. There are recessed bollards in the gunwales to secure the boat from the sides.

Even the solid core 2.5in (6.35cm) brushed aluminium skipole looks great, and it comes with a ball-bearing top mount to eliminate rope wear at the tie point. There's a secondary skihook and boarding-handle on the transom, where the large platform becomes the staging area for all of your on-water action (the platform is available in a choice of fibreglass or teak construction, and is removable for compact storage).

Of course, the driver can keep a close eye on the comings and goings behind the boat from a large adjustable Cipa convex ski-mirror that is centrally mounted on the windscreen.



Overall, the Malibu Response LXi performs as well as it looks - and it looks sensational! I watched and spoke to the guys in the spray shop responsible for the moulds and gelcoat finish. They're skilled workers who take pride in the finish they produce for Malibu. The colour schemes and gelcoat quality sets the standard for the rest of the boat, and the anniversary Response decals look great.

With so many brands and models on the market it can be a difficult and often confusing task to sort the wheat from the chaff. Not with Malibu. These are the boats that were once the province of the wealthy but now are quite competitively priced. Malibu's designs are timeless because character, class and premium quality never go out of date.


15.6kts @ 2100rpm (planing)

21.6kts @ 2500rpm

26 kts @ 3000rpm

30.5kts @ 3500rpm

34kts @ 4000rpm

37kts @ 4500rpm

40kts @ 4900rpm


Performs well with weight in bow

Sophisticated electronics and controls

Beautiful presentation

Exhilarating performance

Stylish comfort


It's not mine!



SPECIFICATIONS: 2010 Malibu Response LXi



Price as tested: $67,942 (plus on-road costs)

Options fitted: Power Wedge, GRP Platform, four pull-up cleats, paint / galvanisation

Priced from: $62,949


Type: Monohull wakeboard/skiboat

Material: GRP

LOA: 6.28m

Beam: 2.37m

Weight: 1270kg (boat only); approx 1900kg (package weight with trailer)


Fuel: 155lt

People: Eight

Rec. min HP: 330

Rec. max HP: 400


Make/Model: Indmar 330hp Multi Point Injected "LCR" salt-water series

Type: V8 petrol marine engine

Rated HP: 330

Displacement: 5.7lt

Weight: Approx 400kg

Gearbox ratio: 1:1


Regal Marine,

514 Canterbury Rd,

Vermont, Vic, 3133

Phone: (03) 9874 4624



Malibu Boats,

813 Hope Court,

Albury, NSW, 2640

Phone: (02) 6040 1174





Originally published in TrailerBoat #255.


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