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Review: Scarab 195 HO Impulse

I worked for the Miami Herald's Florida Keys edition in 1984 when the TV show "Miami Vice" premiered. The opening credits featured a Scarab 38KV getting more air than water as it flew across Biscayne Bay off South Beach. Over the six-year run of the hit series, Scarab sales skyrocketed as the name became synonymous with fast boats and the lifestyle that surrounded them. Three decades later, Scarabs remain famous for their sleek styling and performance and are among the most popular "muscle boats" on the water.

While I've since moved back the Heartland, I still have vivid memories of hair-raising rides aboard Scarab models over the years — and even fishing from their tournament-ready center consoles in the 1990s. When I learned that Rec Boat Holdings was now offering a line of jet-powered Scarab sport boats, I was keenly interested in how the resulting watercraft would look and perform.

The new series, consisting of numerous models ranging from 16 to 21 feet in length, merges Scarab's aggressive styling with Sea-Doo's experience powering craft with water-jet propulsion — specifically Bombardier Recreational Products' proven 1503 4-TEC Rotax engines. The new Scarabs also borrow from the hull design developed when Sea-Doo was offering its jet boats, the result being a lineup of quick and nimble performers that look great.

Scarab's 195 HO Impulse is the ultra-premium model in the 19-foot class and is powered by a three-cylinder, supercharged, intercooled Rotax rated at 250 horsepower. Initial tests show the package capable of speeds pushing 45 mph. Of more interest to tow-sports enthusiasts is the rig's hole shot, which has been timed at four seconds, with 0-30 mph speeds gained in less than seven ticks of the stopwatch.

The jet power plant and its configuration also open up the cockpit and transom areas to roomier layouts. The 195's U-shaped cockpit seating area is big enough for four adults, thanks in part to cleverly designed cutouts that maximize legroom around the base of the Versa-Lounge. ("Versa" as in "versatile.") The backrests of the lounge pivot down to create a large sun pad atop the engine compartment, or pivot up to create aft-facing seats overlooking the swim platform.

Filler cushions in the bow area make a large, padded playpen for additional sunning or relaxing, while overhead, a wakeboard tower features a retractable bimini top. The tower can be lowered for bridge clearance, or for trailering and storage. An optional premium sound system kicks things up a notch, with ultra-efficient amplifiers, blue LED backlit speakers and a remote on the transom.

Overall, the 195 HO Impulse earns a lot of style points for its upgraded pearlescent upholstery, metallic accents and chrome logos. It's available in three hull colors — Laser Red, Vivid Green and Sunburst Orange — with custom graphics and color-matched interior vinyl.

The new Scarab is quick, responsive and packs a lot of practical features into a sub-20 foot, sub-$40k package. So, get your Crockett and Tubbs on and enjoy carving a slice of vice on your favorite Heartland waters this summer. www.scarabboats.com

Scarab 195 HO Impulse
Length Overall: 18 feet, 10 inches
Beam: 8 feet
Draft: 1 foot
Dry Weight: 2,600 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 31 gallons
Water Capacity: NA
Price: $39,452 w/250-hp Rotax

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