By: JOHN WILLIS, Photography by: JOE PRESS

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As John "Bear" Willis found out, Malibu’s spacious and power-packed 2012 Wakesetter 22 MXZ will rock your world...

Malibu Wakesetter 22 MXZ wakeboat. A serious fun machine.

Malibu's 22 MXZ is the latest addition to the firm's Wakesetter range, and it's sure to grab plenty of attention from large families and socialites alike. That's because its single most noticeable feature is its broad and super-deep bowrider section, which has a sizeable horseshoe seating arrangement that could just as easily pass for a rear lounge. A removable insert quickly and easily transforms the space into a bed, further adding to the boat's versatility.

The depth of the bow and cathedral-style hull is specifically designed to carry plenty of weight forward, in a boat that is ideally suited to big-water applications. Its overall design is classic Malibu, but from the helm it's easy to imagine you're sitting at the wheel of a Corvette, thanks to the curvature of the Malibu's long, rolling guards.

Malibu likes to describe the boat's massive seating as having three individual zones - the bowrider, the cockpit and the rear sundeck with rear facing "dickie seats". The sundeck is a thickly upholstered affair positioned over a split engine hatch, while the rear-facing dickie seats are just the place to prepare to get wet before moving onto the removable fibreglass swim platform. Combine a full wraparound cockpit lounge and independent helm seat, and the seating alternatives for a big swag of revellers - up to 15, in fact - are endless.


Our test boat sure wasn't lacking in the performance department. The standard engine is a 350hp Indmar saltwater-specific fuel-injected marine V8 engine (freshwater cooling optional), but our test boat had been upgraded with a 6lt L96 V8 that pumps out 410hp - that's grunt with a capital "G"! Combine that ballsy powerplant with a new-generation hull and you've got a true waterborne thoroughbred, born to perform.

I've tested wakeboats that give a beautiful, high wave but take a heap of encouragement to turn. There have been others that have rolled on their sides, upsetting both the rider and the passengers. Not so with this Malibu - for such a big boat it's energetic and agile, and it takes a tight corner with a very flat attitude.

As you'd hope, the 22 MXZ produces one hell of an impressive wake. Malibu's marketing manager, David Thorpe, claims the boat has the biggest, cleanest and widest ramp of any stock, wake-specific boat he's ever seen. "Even our pro team is happy riding behind an MXZ with standard ballast," he said, adding: "Our Malibu designers have also worked hard on producing a clean wake at low speed for beginner boarders and wakesurfers alike, with no extra ballast required."

When it's time to party, you needn't worry about spilling your drink - the 22 MXZ is solid as a rock at rest. This boat offers everything a large family could want, also catering to boarders ranging from novice through to expert.

While many watersports boats these days seem to project a sharp-edged, high-tech image, Malibu has headed away from that, producing boats that to my mind embody sheer indulgence. The 22 MXZ's upholstery is plush, gentle and luxurious; it has a timeless yet modern look, but it has obviously been created and fitted with an old-fashioned eye for detail.


Our test boat came packed with features, such as the Malibu Touch Screen Command console with keyless ignition, the polished 5in and servo-driven Medallion instrumentation, the LCD screen with digital gauge read-outs and diagnostic software, the optional MaliView system with programmable rider settings, and the leather Isotta sports steering wheel.

The driver's swivel seat is thickly upholstered and comes with a flip-up bolster. The bolster is handy, particularly if there are a lot of passengers at the rear, as it lifts you up so you can see well over their heads to keep an eye on the rider behind - the big mid-mounted ski mirror also plays its part in this respect.

A high degree of forethought has gone into the dash, which has a nice layout and features easy-to-read LCD screens plus an array of digital and analogue instruments. The subwoofer is in the footrest bulkhead and while the cover seems quite strong, I must admit I was a little concerned about putting my foot through it.

Speaking of sound systems, the standard Rockford Fosgate system simply thumps with four flush-mounted 8in speakers. Throw in the optional subwoofer and twin Alpha 2 tower speakers and you'll really rock the river - or Lake Hume, in our case (the poor old fishos, however, weren't so impressed).

Malibu's Illusion G3 waketower is a wonderful example of "less is more". Strong, attractive, functional and classy, it also provides the mounting point for the factory standard bimini and "Swing In" board racks.

The vented windscreen looks great, works well and feels strong and secure, even when the walkthrough is opened. All internal mouldings are sensible and stylish and the fully moulded floor is trimmed with hardy Aquamat Fusion clip-in marine carpet.


As with all Malibu Wakesetters, the 22 MXZ features the firm's unique "Unibody" one-piece construction. A new FibECS (fibreglass Engine Chassis System) foam-filled stringer system is laminated to the hull, forming a bond that becomes an intricate part of the boat's construction. The hull is exceptionally quiet on the water, partly due to the Unibody and FibECS, but also because of the solid laminates that incorporate an acoustic suppression layer.

Part of the multi-stage ballast system is under the cockpit floor, with other tanks in the rear and under the bowrider seats (the latter an option). The optional MaliView "Digital Ballast Monitoring System" has rider pre-sets for ballast, speed and control of the optional Power Wedge wake plate.

The quality of the fittings, the endless storage compartments and the sheer dimensions of the interior make the Wakesetter 22 MXZ one sociable, spacious, comfortable and entertaining package. The combination of ebony and grey gelcoat with the three-tone upholstery is striking, while attractive graphics and stainless steel accents add a classy finishing touch.

The whole shebang rides on an Aussie-made and fully galvanised Easytow tandem-axle trailer. It's also a classy job, with 15in alloy wheels, a Dexter electro-hydraulic four-wheel brakes with Breakaway system, a pivoting drawbar and matching graphics.

From my perspective, I say stuff getting out the back - I just want to drive the Malibu Wakesetter 22 MXZ! The sheer joy and exhilaration of that alone makes this boat one enticing proposition. 

On the plane...
* Sophisticated electronics and controls
* Beautiful presentation
* Exhilarating performance
* Stylish comfort for 15 people!
* Big, grunty horsepower

Dragging the chain...
* A 2.59m beam means "wide load" towing regs apply




Price as tested: $100,327 plus all dealer and statutory costs
Options fitted: L96 410hp engine, MaliView, Power Wedge, bow ballast, Alpha 2 tower speakers and painted trailer
Priced from: $89,034

Type: Cathedral-styled wakeboat
Material: Fibreglass
Length: 6.78m
Beam: 2.59m
Weight (BMT): 2374kg
Deadrise: 27°

People 15
Rec. HP: 350
Max. HP: 555 (supercharged LSA)
Fuel: 189lt
Ballast: 586.5kg (inc. optional bow ballast tank)

Make/model: 410hp L96 V8 (350hp Indmar V8 standard)
Type: Marine V8
Displacement: 6lt
Gear ratio: 1.46:1
Propeller: 14.5in x 14.25in four-blade Nibral

Malibu Boats
813 Hope Court
Albury, NSW, 2640
Phone: (02) 6040 1174

Source: TrailerBoat #284, July 2012.

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