Review: Scarab 195 HO

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

Scarab 195 HO jet boat accelerating Scarab 195 HO jet boat accelerating
Bow seating on Scarab 195 HO jet boat Bow seating on Scarab 195 HO jet boat
Rear storage on Scarab 195 HO jet boat Rear storage on Scarab 195 HO jet boat
Scarab 195 HO jet boat on the water Scarab 195 HO jet boat on the water
Scarab 195 HO underfloor storage Scarab 195 HO underfloor storage
Steering on Scarab 195 HO Steering on Scarab 195 HO
Throttle of Scarab 195 HO Throttle of Scarab 195 HO

The 195 HO from Scarab Boats takes its name from the famous ’80s go-fast boats. Today’ Scarab jet boat still packs a high-octane punch.

American boatbuilding conglomerate Rec Boat Holdings — it also builds Glastron, Four Winns, and Wellcraft — has brought new life to the flagging jetboat fleet abandoned by BRP when it discontinued the Sea-Doo range in 2012. Rec Boats promptly brought some of the defunct models’ technology and styling cues to its newly-designed range of hulls from 4.8 to 6.4m.

In doing so it reintroduced the Scarab brand that had been in hiding since the extravagant ’80s, when its petrol-guzzling Cigarette-boat style monsters came to the end of their fashion cycle.


Scarab boats

Scarab 195 HO jet boat

The brand’s revival is appropriate as it takes its name and scarab beetle logo from the ancient Egyptian symbol for rebirth or regeneration. But these new sportsboats also earn their Scarab badge by offering a taste of the performance that made their ’80s predecessors famous. There’s some sting in this beetle’s tail.

This Scarab 195 HO sits in the middle of a range that offers various options of power and features. It has the upgraded 250hp engine as opposed to a 200hp in the standard version, and includes flip-up bolsters on the bucket seats, clip-in carpet and a bimini, but misses out on the colour choices, cruise control and wake tower of the higher priced HO Impulse.

Our review Scarab 195 HO boat also lacked the lurid colours and tribal graphics of the Impulse, but still managed to look striking finished in jet black against white topsides and bottom. If you find the black a bit stark, it’s also available in blue.


Rotax engine

Rotax engine on Scarab boat

All Scarab boats use the rev-happy Rotax 4-TEC 1503 engines that are found in thousands of BRP products, including high-performance snow mobiles.

The Scarab 195 HO’s 1500cc three-cylinder four-stroke comes as a 150hp version in standard form, the 200hp with  supercharger, and of course our test boat’s banshee-wailing 250 thoroughbred horsepower. On the trailer, the unusual lines of the hull are evident. Creating a tunnel effect under the hull, extreme reverse chines run along the sides providing lift and stability, while the central deep-vee runs from a sharp entry up front to a flatter but still sharp 20° deadrise at the transom. Inside the chines are a pair of deep strakes that give lift at higher speeds and plenty of grip in turns.

The beefy chines run high up into the bow either side of the sharp entry, but above that the bow splays wide to allow a broad interior right to the front for extra seating room in the bow.



Scarab 195 HO cockpit

With two helm seats and a U-shaped lounge wrapping the cockpit, there’s more than enough seating for the 195 HO’s capacity of eight. Where seats meet at an angle, the bases have been scalloped out to allow more legroom. It’s one of the small innovative touches that add to the appeal, while maximising comfort and space.

The Scarab 195 HO manages to squeeze a lot of room in its 5.73m length by carrying the 2.43m beam a long way forward and keeping the sidedecks very slim, with accommodation right to the edges.

Scarab 195 HO bow

Scarab has taken the sportsboat bowrider concept to the edge as well, with extremely modern styling and an image focused on one thing – the boat’s sporty appeal. It’s all about summertime fun, getting out onto the water on a hot day, towing wakeboards or skis and making the most of the impressive speed and handling.

The compact size of the Rotax engines means more space for occupants, which Scarab has optimised by including its low-profile Versa-lounge. It’s a two-section sunpad, with either side quickly converting to a rear-facing lounge to combine perfectly with the wide swimplatform.


Handling and ride

Scarab 195 HO jet boat on the water

Driving a boat pushed by a jet rather than a propeller is a very different experience. The jet’s propulsion comes from a flow of water through a pump driven by the engine and forced out through a nozzle or jet. So whenever the engine is running, the boat wants to go with the flow.

Rotax’s solution is to lower a flap over the jet to force the water stream downwards, which minimises movement. Similar flaps come in from the side to allow reverse, but with steering wheel movements reversed to what you might expect from a propeller.

Applying the throttle gives an immediate response as the revs climb instantly on the tacho to more than 7000. The hull lifts imperceptibly onto the plane and surges forward. There’s no trim to adjust, as revs and speed climb to a maximum of 39kts at 7500rpm.

Dash on Scarab 195

If this sounds quick – and it is – then be prepared for even more impressive figures as the engine wears in. After 10 hours use the computer allows revs to increase to 8000 where speed should approach 40kts. Maybe it’s not the 70mph of the old Cigarette-style Scarabs, but try turning one of those babies full-lock at wide open throttle, let alone chipping in for fuel at the bowser on the way home.

Because the jet achieves change of direction by moving the nozzle from side to side steering is very direct allowing the hull to turn in its own length at slow speeds and acting like a merry-go-round on ice when the revs are piled on.

In faster manoeuvres, the jet and hull of the Scarab 195 HO combine for incredible turning ability as it leans confidently and carves its way through the water, applying a strong sideways force on passengers and only loosing a couple of knots on the way out.


The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Scarab 195 HO at boat ramp

The thrill of sitting low to the water at 40kts and charging into full-speed turns won’t wear off on the Scarab 195 HO. The top-quality interior will also last for years with judicious care.

So, far from being a disappointment the Scarab 195 HO is a thrilling but slightly more sensible ride and a worthy addition to the Scarab fleet. Price is also considerably cheaper than a Scarab 215 and at $65,900 on a trailer with registration for both, I’d say that’s plenty of bang for your buck.



• Family-friendly rocket ship

• Superior finish

• Rev-happy engine



• Low-speed handling can be tricky


Scarab 195 HO sea trials



























7500 (WOT)


* Sea-trial data supplied by author.


Scarab 195 HO specs

Scarab 195 HO price: $65,900

Priced from




TYPE Monohull jetboat

LENGTH 5.74m

BEAM 2.44m

WEIGHT 1557kg (BMT)




REC. HP 200


FUEL 117lt





TYPE Supercharged three-cylinder four-stroke marine engine





Sydney Powerboat Centre

d’Albora Marina, The Spit,

Mosman, 2088, NSW

Phone (02) 9997 7797




See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #469, on sale September 3, 2015. Why not subscribe today?


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