by Tegan Lawson

Jet-powered boats have been around since the 1950s and became part of the mainstream boating industry, especially in the US, in the 1990s. Since then they have had a chequered history with the popularity of these exciting machines ebbing and flowing like tide. In the past couple of years they have started to make another comeback, this time with the support of some big industry names like BRP and Rec Boat Holdings. This partnership led to the return of Scarab Jet Boats in late 2013.
With an impressive combination of power, speed and agility, its easy to understand the attraction to this style of boat. And while the performance is hard to match, they also have some compelling safety aspects that make them attractive to families. You only have to look below the waterline and see that there are no spinning propellers to appreciate how much safer they are if you have young children.
And they are available in a range of hard-to-miss colours like laser red, vivid green and sunburst orange that make them standout in a crowd.
BoatAdvice got to spend some time in a sunburst orange Scarab 215 HO Impulse, a twin-engine 21-foot boat that is ideal for watersports or more sedate family outings.

WHAT YOU GET
It’s hard to start without mentioning the pearlescent orange and white upholstery that really makes the interior of this boat sing, without appearing gaudy. The test boat also featured the optional Scarab Beetle graphics.
On a more practical front it has a deeper-than-expected cockpit that offers twin ComfortRide captain’s chairs with bolsters and a u-shaped lounge with clever cutouts that create more legroom — a feature found in the bow and cockpit seating.
Up front, there is seating for four people, an anchor locker and a boarding ladder, something that will be really appreciated when you beach the boat. You can also fit a table and filler cushions, depending on whether you want to lay down and enjoy the weather or entertaining.
All up the 215 can carry 10 people, so more than enough for a family excursion, a social day out or wakeboarding with friends.
There are stainless steel cup-holders, a stereo with a remote at the helm and grab handles that all add a little bit more style and comfort.
Overhead is an aluminium wakeboard tower, that can be lowered, with a black Bimini top. This is also fitted with a wakeboard rack, premium speakers for the sound system previously mentioned and a high towrope attachment point.
Scarab 215 HO 4
Scarab 215 HO 2There also is an in-floor locker designed to carry wakeboards and other gear, however you have to get your fingernails under the floor covering to get into it, making it a little impractical.
At the back the Scarab there is a full-size sun pad that can be set up in three different positions. Behind the transom there is a second boarding ladder concealed in a spacious swim platform that also offers a wet stowage compartment.

POWER
Under the platform lies twin 200hp intercooled, supercharged in-line three-cylinder Rotax engines that gives the Scarab a top speed of about 46 knots (85km/h).
The engines can be set in three different modes — eco for when you’re cruising about and want to conserve fuel, ski mode that has five different acceleration speeds or docking mode to help avoid any accidental mishaps on the throttle.

ON THE WATER
The 215 HO Impulse feels lithe on the water. It gets up on the plane within a few seconds and sits nicely in the water. Tight turns are a breeze with the boat remaining stable through the corner, the revs drop during the turn but a jab on the throttle when you’re pointed in the direction you want to go, and it powers out well.
Scarab 215 HO 16
Scarab 215 HO 6The seats were beautifully comfortable which is a good thing because it does tend to bang a bit over choppy sections and the cushioning took the sting out. I managed to stay completely dry even through the turns, which was great.
I stuck at around 60km/h (32 knots), though it is certainly capable of more, and at that speed it was smooth on the water.
The steering took a little bit of getting used to, it handles far more like a personal watercraft and the steering is incredibly light and sensitive.
There are also a couple of things new drivers need to be aware of when at the helm of a jet powered boat. At low speeds they are not as responsive as a propeller driven boat so you need turn a lot earlier than you normally would. When reversing they steer opposite to what you would think — turn left and the stern moves right. It is not difficult but it takes a little time to adjust.

ON THE TRAILER
Each Scarab comes with a custom trailer, complete with chrome wheels and swing-away tongue. The trailer weighs 508kg. Add that to the 1474kg weight of the boat, and you’ll need a vehicle with a 2000kg braked towing capacity to handle this one.

OVERVIEW
The 215 is a lot of fun to drive and you can throw it about easily while feeling solid and stable on the water. It performs well and would be an excellent choice whether you’re into watersports or just enjoy cruising.
I loved the colour theme and the way it flowed throughout the boat, from the trim on the seats to the scarab graphics, it’s a fantastic looking machine.
Having a young child I also liked the fact there was no prop.

POSITIVES
Scarab 215 HO 14
Looks great
Light and responsive on the water
Jet engines offer safety and agility.

NEGATIVES
A little fiddly to get under floor covering to storage area.

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (from) $56,152
Length Overall: 6.4m
Beam: 2.5m
Engines: Twin 200 HP Rotax
Fuel Capacity: 155-litres
Passenger Capacity: 10