Review: Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX

By: Marlon Platt, Photography by: Marlon Platt


The Malibu Wakesetter has remained a benchmark for wakeboat enthusiasts since the late ’90s. The 2015 Malibu Wakesetter VLX 22 is a new boat from the hull upward and promises to deliver even more excitement.

For many years now, Malibu’s refined centre-mounts (like the sporty Response) have been popular among talented waterskiers. But when the manufacturer answered the call of the diehard wakeboarder, an icon was born.

It wasn’t long before the Malibu Wakesetter evolved as an expression of what the serious wakeboarder desires – a reliable workhorse that produces large, consistent, perfectly-shaped wakes, all day long. And despite a decade of constant innovation and refinement, the latest VLX is a familiar experience, especially if you’ve spent years hopping in and out of Wakesetters.

Although there are some eyebrow-raising additions – the glowing 12in touchscreen slotted into the dashboard, for one – plonking yourself in the captain’s chair feels like home. There’s an instant sense of purpose, reliability and tradition all at once.

So to then hear from David Thorpe (Malibu’s Marketing and Dealer Manager) that you’re sitting in a completely new boat from the hull upward, you finally begin to comprehend the scale of innovation taking place at Malibu headquarters in Albury, NSW.

 

2015 MALIBU WAKESETTER 22 VLX

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX

So what are some of the more notable changes on the 2015 Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX? Well, to start with it’s now 22ft (6.65m), six inches longer than its predecessor. It also has a newly refined multi-sport running surface, designed to accommodate both on-the-plane wakeboarding speeds, as well as the 8 to 9kt mark for the fast-growing sport of wakesurfing. As I ‘touched on’ earlier, the dash now boasts a 12in MaliView touchscreen display, plus a 7in Malibu Touch Command (MTC).

Bolstered smack-bang in the middle of the driver’s line-of-sight, the adjustable, high resolution 12-incher shows speed and revs, as well as touch-keys for filling the ballast, setting cruise, media (tunes) and the all-important Surf Gate and Power Wedge II.

To the right sits the MTC screen. Here you can quickly access custom rider presets, the stereo and satellite navigation all at a touch.

 

NEW BOAT

2015 Malibu Wakesetter

Malibu’s ‘Command Centre’ is a step up from anything we’ve seen before. Its functionality and streamlined usability is as good as any six-figure luxury car. The in-house-designed G3.2 tower has durable powder-coated components, and is easy to collapse for tight undercover storage.

The G3.2 is also the scaffolding for those all-important bolt-ons: tower lights, bimini, clamping spinner board racks, and most importantly, Wet Sounds tower speakers, so you can bop to your favourite beats while you ride.

Last but not least, the new reverse-facing WakeView seating intends to help diminish ‘tennis-fan-neck’. But unfortunately, laterally-strained necks might actually become more frequent for spectators, as they endeavour to follow wakeboarders boosting off bigger-than-ever wakes.

 

MALIBU POWER WEDGE II

Malibu Power Wedge 2

This Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX is easily the most tech-loaded boat to date, Malibu claiming it has more innovations on show that anything before in the company’s 33-year history. Apart from the new array of touchscreens and the now-standard Zero Off GPS speed control for perfectly consistent, easy-to-adjust boat speeds, Malibu has revolutionised its renowned Power Wedge beyond expectation.

What’s a Power Wedge, you ask? While the boat’s wake is generally increased by increasing weight through the Wakesetter’s three-minute-filling Plug ’n’ Play ballast system, Malibu now gives wakeboarders another way to increase wake size – by dropping the wedge.

At the touch of a button, the now-20-per-cent-larger hydraulic foil can displace an impressive 680kg of water.

But what’s really exciting about the new Power Wedge II is the upward angle setting. This momentarily reduces drag while the boat gets out of the hole and onto the plane, then automatically returns to full-drag mode once the boat is comfortably up to riding speed. This means bigger wakes, more time riding and yet better economy. The Wedge’s variations also mean greater wake-size flexibility, further strengthening the boat’s ability to cater for beginner to pro and everyone in between.

And of course, the next time you do the ring-around, don’t forget to invite your waterskiing buddies along. You’ll only need a few minutes to turn thigh-high kickers into ankle-biting ripples, that even your inline swerving friends can enjoy.

 

MALIBU SURF GATE

Malibu Surf Gate

The other defining piece of hardware is Malibu’s famed Surf Gate. What was once simply a sideline activity reserved for when the wind made a mess of the water, wakesurfing has now truly stepped into the spotlight.

The basics: when a boat is weighted and driven at a low speed, a wave is created a few metres from the stern. Using a board specifically designed for this small, yet infinite wave, there are hours of fun to be had for the whole family.

A shortened rope will help beginners stay on the wave, while advanced riders can challenge themselves with dozens of tricks, all propelled by the wave’s power rather than being towed by the boat.

Following this recent surge in popularity, manufacturers have been scrambling to accommodate wakesurfers, but first on the scene was Malibu with its Surf Gate. Gone are the days of loading the boat on one side while driving in a stupidly large circle.

 

LAYOUT

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX layout

Malibu claim a total capacity of 14 people, and although heavy-set types can be a wakeboarder’s best friend, be mindful of your occupants’ varying dimensions. It could be that 8-10 people is a good number for a happy day on the water.

Typically, there are cupholders galore, lots of speakers and plenty of stowage for gear (and beer) under the seats and in the rear compartments.The helm is a pleasant place to be, and particularly practical, with glare-proof dash and a soft arm rest to give your throttle arm a breather.

The three-spoke steering wheel is sweet, slightly more refined than the previous, while the dash is luxuriously padded, complete with French stitching.

Getting your board in-and-out of the racks couldn’t be easier with the anodised-aluminium Clamping Spinner Racks. Simply unclamp and swivel towards you, grab your board and go. So easy, industry heavyweights have been talking about them. Nice.

 

ON THE WATER

Wake of 2015 Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX

While the VLX has grown in length, Malibu has made a point of keeping its width within Australia’s legal towing regs – something a lot of other American-based builders don’t consider. With a recent crackdown on such rules, as a Wakesetter owner, you can be sure you’re on the right side of the law.

The Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX rides smoothly and feels just as responsive as the shorter forerunner. You’ll look good towing it, too. Even with the cover on, enthusiasts can spot the classic silhouette of a Wakesetter a mile off.

Under the rear hatch sits a fuel-injected Indmar Monsoon 410 V8 engine coupled with FNR transmission. The throttle response is smooth, and the Indmar confident getting out of the hole.

Partnered with the upward lift of the PowerWedge II, a straining-to-plane fully-loaded boat is a thing of the past.

But another aspect vital to owning and maintaining a quality wakeboard boat, is having dealer and service support on hand at all times – which Malibu customers do enjoy.

Need your rig serviced, or more importantly, a spare part? No worries. Being entirely built here in Australia means you have access to service and spares.

 

THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT

2015 Malibu Wakesetter VLX

There’s no question the excitement surrounding the new Malibu PowerWedge II is justified. And yep, eventually, rivals will probably come up with something similar. But the Wakesetter’s reputation of being a leader of innovation and technology in its class is irresistible.

New boats will inevitably come and go, but the Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX will always be the standard of what the pros and families alike have come to expect from a wake-specific boat. 

 

MALIBU WAKESETTER 22 VLX SPECS

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX price: $137, 602 (price as tested)

 

OPTIONS FITTED

410hp saltwater engine upgrade, sports dash, Alpha speakers, rotary joystick, WakeView seating, Power Wedge II, SurfGate, bow ballast, LED lights, 15x12 Torque propeller, sub and speaker power.

 

PRICED FROM

$103,730

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull wakeboat

LENGTH 6.65m

BEAM 2.5m

DRAFT 0.7m

WEIGHT 2650kg (approx)

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 14

REC. HP 350

MAX HP 555

FUEL 181lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Indmar Monsoon 410

TYPE Fuel-injected marine V8 marine engine

RATED HP 350

GEAR RATIO 1.5:1

 

SUPPLIED BY

Malibu Boats Australia

813 Hope Crt, Albury, NSW, 2640

Phone 02 6040 1174

Email info@malibuboats.com.au

Web malibuboats.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #466, June / July 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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