Scarab 255 Impulse WAKE Edition

Jet-powered wake boarding.

by Alan Wendt
Dismiss previous Jet Ski experiences and forget preconceived notions suggesting a jet boat lacks control unless it’s moving forward.


  • LOA: 25'
  • Beam: 8'4"
  • Draft: 15"
  • Weight: 3,660 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 56 gals.
  • Water Capacity:
  • Power: 500 hp
  • Price: $70,887

Scarab’s new 255 Impulse WAKE Edition equipped with iST (Intelligent Shift & Throttle) will reform your thinking by the second time you dock.

“We are really removing fear barriers of jet boating.”

Admittedly, it took two tries to redeem myself in front of fellow writers and Beneteau reps when we test-drove the new 255. “That’s pretty normal for experienced boaters,” notes Mike Carter, director of business development for BRP, the company manufacturing the Rotax Twin 4-TEC 250-hp engines on this boat. “iST can adjust for wind and current, and eliminates the anti-jet lag (throttle) effect you probably equate with Jet Skis. We are really removing fear barriers of jet boating.”

In other words: The lack-of-control feeling when releasing the throttle and realize your steering is also gone. That doesn’t happen with the Scarab 255 Impulse; it’s quite the opposite. Neutral was just that — no forward, reverse or sideways movement. Mastering iST required a feather touch on the single control for stress-free docking; it reminded me of the short learning curve when moving from traditional throttles to joystick controls on much larger boats. Except this isn’t a joystick — the control has the familiar feel of a side-mounted throttle.

Precise control

With more than half a million Rotax Jet Propulsion Systems sold, BRP engineers improved on the onboard brain, which provides lateral thrust control for left and right movements of the nozzles against the buckets. It also features a downward thrust directional enhancer that responds to a more than 60-degree arc when shifting between forward, neutral and reverse.

Control is precise. Mechanical reverse gates come down over the jet stream and can be adjusted by a single millimeter, which helps compensate for the variables of wind and current — something you can’t do with an outboard or sterndrive engine. Fuel injected and supercharged engines are closed-loop cooling, unless you opt for a saltwater package. Service intervals for the first oil change is at 25 hours, then once a season.

Scarab’s oversized name and beetle logo are part of the WAKE edition graphics, creating the biggest, baddest jet boat in the marina. A bright, color-coordinated gel scheme, a sports tower and a premium sound system collectively heighten the senses for an adrenaline-pumping performance.

We topped out at 48 mph, but probably would have nudged the advertised top speed of 53 mph had we skipped breakfast, hit the gym about 10 years ago and not tested the boat in a 2-foot chop. Even so, we got a great ride. We were really impressed when we found calm water, slowed down, flipped a switch and filled the three onboard ballast fat sacks. The 1,100-pound ballast is equally distributed between the sacks stored beneath the seats and a center compartment. Wake wise, the curve is more than enough for a budding watersport enthusiast. Without props, it’s also a safer ride. After surfing some waves, you can flip the switch and have a sport boat experience. These engines have a very smooth acceleration, which is a totally different sensation compared with Jet Skis, where the throttle control is more abrupt. Getting a young child up on skis or a wakeboard for the first time is easier and physically less demanding since inexperienced skiers often see the tow rope jerked right out of their hands.

Racy features

Scarab is at the forefront of technology adoption with the latest digital speed control. The touch-screen settings offer various modes, GPS, docking and speed controls for wakeboarding and surfing, with adjustability to within one-tenth of a mile per hour. When you are not in a tow mode, the controller offers an eco-mode to calculate the best cruise profile, creating a richer or leaner burn for emission controls.

By the numbers, the 255 Impulse WAKE edition is 25 feet in length, has a very stable 8-foot, 4-inch beam, weighs 3,660 pounds dry and carries 56 gallons of fuel. This boat offers tremendous versatility in its seating layouts and is extremely kid-friendly with high sides throughout. The wide bow design offers higher than normal backrests, which creates two good-sized loungers and seating room for a third or fourth passenger. Beneath these seats are storage, a molded-in cooler, and a concealed anchor locker and fold-down ladder at the bow.

The enclosed head is surprisingly large. Subtle touches, like a sink and accent pieces, turn a necessary feature into a welcome addition.

Dual captain’s seats are plush and back up against two club-like, aft-facing seats. Raise the seat and flip out; the fill-in cushion turns the club into a lounger, or connects the bench seat to create a U-shaped seating configuration. The backs of the bench are hinged and can lay flat for a full sun lounger. In the raised position, transom seats can also rotate forward and aft, allowing you to take full advantage of afternoons in the cove or view the lingering summer sunsets.

Perhaps the best design feature is a fold-down section that creates an easy walkway from the swim platform into the cockpit without stepping on or over vinyl seats. In the down position, this upholstered bolster can double as an armrest.

Like many boats today, storage is cleverly built into the cockpit floor and beneath select seats. A ski locker is even hidden in the SeaDek mat swim platform. Access from the water is easy, thanks to a concealed telescoping ladder. Everything you’d want is within arm’s reach, from cup holders to stereo control.

Options always enhance a boat like this, and the foldable wakeboard tower with Bimini top, mounted wakeboard racks, circular tables and LED speakers would be at the top of my list. The custom trailer is a galvanized GatorHyde featuring tandem axle, brakes and chrome wheels with a swing-away tongue.

Sporty looks, supreme functionality, no propellers, innovative jet power and maneuverability make the Scarab 255 Impulse WAKE Edition a unique addition to the jet drive category.


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