Style and substance

Mark Robinson | VOLUME 24, ISSUE 1

For serious wakeboarders, the Matrix Expression MVS is a big boat with big performance.

The Matrix Expression MVS is a good looking boat, with plenty of sweet styling cues and a finish that is right up there with the best of them. It’s also a very roomy boat and, in fact, claims to be the biggest bow rider/wakeboarder on the Australian market. With a length of 6.45m and a beam of 2.35m, that’s probably correct. But there are lots of other good looking boats in its class and, while roominess is good, it’s not the core feature that attracts savvy buyers.

Inexperienced shoppers might be taken in by a particular colour combination or some particularly nice upholstery. Or even a sexy dash layout and a racy steering wheel. Ultimately, though, the decision to buy or not should be based on more substantive observations.

The experienced, no-nonsense shopper is looking for top-shelf performance from their purchase. They look beyond colour, upholstery and dashboard styling. The wakeboarder or skier who wants serious performance from their craft looks closely at the key element of their sport – the wake. For a serious skier, a top-level wakeboarder or even a family-fun wakeboarder, the wake is everything. It has to be.

And this is where the Matrix MVS excels. Not accidentally, mind you, but carefully and deliberately. The South Australian builder has achieved this by adopting the philosophy that by producing an underwater section that creates a wake with all the desirable characteristics that the sport demands, along with providing the ability to alter the wake characteristics for different conditions and individual needs, it would create a winner. And this has proven to be the case, in sales, in industry awards and in being selected as the major towboat in many wakeboard competitions.

Now the MVS model designation stands for Matrix V-Drive Series, which has been designed for high-end wakeboarding and climbing easily out of the hole despite carrying larger loads on board. Matrix says that its wake-enhancing plates, in conjunction with its onboard factory ballast system, allow the craft to readily achieve a variety of wake shapes thanks to the 500lt of pump-in-pump-out factory ballast. This consists of a 250lt bow tank (to compensate for the rear weight bias inherent in a rear-mount engine and V-Drive set-up) and two 125lt rear tanks in either side.

EASY RIDER

The Expression MVS hull is described as a variable Delta Flat, with a 21-19 degree deadrise. It features a deep entry forward, with more than adequate volume to keep the bowriders dry as it carves through choppy water with ease, delivering a surprisingly smooth ride. As the deep entry flows towards the stern, it transitions into a Delta-shaped, flat-planing area, which plays a significant part in the craft’s performance.

Two hull design characteristics worth mentioning are the wide, sharp chines, which begin at the bow and continue all the way to the transom, and the two planing strakes, one of which begins at the entry of the bow, while the other begins about one-third of the way along the hull. Obviously, however, it is the combination of all the underwater section features that delivers the outstanding performance of this top-performing craft.

Speaking of performance, the test craft was running a 5.7lt MerCruiser Black Scorpion rated at 330hp and driving through a Borg Warner transmission and V-drive. Should a buyer want even more ponies, there is an option to fit MerCruiser’s 6.2lt Black Scorpion unit, but so well sorted is the 5.7lt version that I reckon you’d need to be an incurable petrolhead to go for the bigger engine.

Now performance is not only about rated horsepower, but also torque, or pulling power, and MerCruiser Towsport engines, like the Black Scorpion, have been designed to produce maximum torque throughout the rev range required for both wakeboarding and slalom skiing, and the 5.7lt unit tops out with a whopping 365ftlb of hole-shooting torque.

Our test boat was fitted with a four-blade prop, with a diameter of 13.7in and a pitch of 17in. This makes it eminently suitable for waterskiing, while for wakeboarding the recommended prop is a 14.25in diameter unit with a pitch of 14in.

With generous seating from bow to stern, the MVS can carry 12 adults without overcrowding, utilising the spacious bowrider compartment, driver’s and observer’s seats and U-shaped rear lounge.

I mentioned earlier that nice upholstery and glistening gelcoat are not the first features one should look for in a boat. Nevertheless, the Matrix Expression MVS scores highly in these two areas, with a finish second to none. It also has a stylish dash layout that provides the driver with full instrumentation and switches, while the wheel is not only adjustable, but also looks pretty good. So, with the Matrix, you can have your cake and eat it too – top performance with very sweet styling.

Adding to the styling is the tower, which is a standard feature and combines practicality with good looks.

GENEROUS

For the test, we didn’t load the craft up with 12 people, but there is no doubt in my mind that they could all be accommodated in reasonable comfort, as this is a very roomy boat with generous seating dimensions. This is something to which I can personally attest as, at 178cm tall and tipping the scales at 110kg, I was comfortable wherever I sat around the craft.

Additionally, the relatively high sides of this craft allow the driver’s and observer’s seats to be set high enough for good viewing, while still being sheltered from the elements. A nice touch is the door across the forward walkway, which is well mounted and has a secure fastening set-up. This allows for easy movement around the boat, yet protects rear occupants from cold blasts of wind; a factor particularly appreciated on those cooler days when the boarder or skier has just climbed back on board after a spell at the end of the rope.

A significant degree of attention to detail has gone into this craft, beginning with the construction method, which sees virtually the whole craft, including the bow lounge recess, the dash console and the seat bases, formed in two moulds – one for the deck and the other for the hull. This results in exceptional rigidity and reduces the effect of the quite severe stresses and strains put on the craft when travelling through rough water or during large double-ups. Apart from the overall structural integrity this method of fibreglass construction provides, it also eliminates the various annoying squeaks and rattles that often develop in craft built more conventionally and in which seats and other fixtures are moulded separately and then screwed to the deck. As a side benefit, this rigidity results in a greater resale value down the track.

Further attention to detail is found in the moulded icebox in the bow, the numerous well-positioned drink holders that will actually fit a stubby and its holder, as well as the spacious storage areas throughout the craft. The double observer seat lifts to provide access to a large area for board storage, there is under-seat storage in the bow section and rear lounge and a lockable compartment adjacent to the dash can stow valuables securely.

SPARKLING PERFORMER

With a displacement of 1650kg, a draft of 75cm and a fuel capacity of 140lt, this is a solid lump of boat, but, thanks to the torque produced by the Black Scorpion powerplant, it leapt onto the plane with just a light touch of the throttle and demonstrated sparkling performance throughout the rev range. Flinging it into high-speed turns was exhilarating and the hull retained a sure grip, regardless of the antics behind the wheel; a feature which should inspire much confidence.

In summary, thanks to its ability to create various wake characteristics, the Matrix Expression MVS is a true crossover boat suitable for a wide range of needs; from beginning skiers through to hard-core slalom competitors and all the way up to pro tour competitors on the wakeboarding circuit. And, somewhat importantly in these current economic times, it has the finish and capabilities of an imported craft way beyond its price point.

SPECIFICATIONS: MATRIX EXPRESSION MVS

Length: 6.45m

Beam: 2.35m

Weight (BMT): 2150kg

Fuel: 140lt

Performance: 74km/h @ 5000 rpm

Engine (as tested): 5.7lt 330hp MerCruiser Black Scorpion

Price (as tested): $72,000

Contact: Matrix Marine (08) 83500422, www.matrixmarine.com.au


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