Savage is one of the oldest names in the Australian boating industry, having started building timber boats at Williamstown in Victoria in 1898 and remaining a family-owned business for over 90 years. After a brief period under the Brunswick umbrella, Savage was purchased by Telwater and today its large range of aluminium boats, along with a handful of fibreglass models, is manufactured at Telwater’s factory on the Gold Coast.
A new addition to that compact Savage fibreglass range is the very sporty and smart-looking 175B Bowrider. At 5.2 metres, this model slots right into one of the most popular entry-level markets for family powerboats, which means there is plenty of competition from local manufacturers and the big name imports, including Bayliner and Sea Ray.
At $31,775 as tested, or $28,995 for the base model powered by the carburetted TKS (Turn Key Start) 3lt MerCruiser (in lieu of the same 3lt MPI engine as tested), the Savage 175B is very competitively priced. It is a couple of grand cheaper than some of the equivalent imports and provides much the same fit-out and performance.
But it should also be remembered that this is a very competitive part of the market and prices are going to fluctuate, with occasional special offers from manufacturers and dealers, so these price differences are going to vary.
However, price aside, I have to say the 175B is a very well-built, nicely-finished and nippy little family day boat.
The only issue I had with this boat is engine noise. Engine noise suppression is an issue that the imports have dealt with well and is, I believe, something that Telwater could pay more attention to. They have isolated the engine bay, but they need to seal all unnecessary gaps and add sound-absorbing material to the face of the bulkheads and against the transom to prevent the engine noise reverberating throughout the cockpit.
The reason I bring it up is that the rest of this boat is so good, that the sound issue stood out for me. Having said that, engine noise doesn’t necessarily restrict conversation, but is still a bit on the high side at full throttle.
Otherwise, on the water, this boat is a very brisk and nimble performer. The Telwater PR department says that “driving the 175 is like driving a sports car” and that analogy isn’t too far off the mark.
The 3lt/135hp four-cylinder MPI MerCruiser and Alpha drive seems like the ideal engine package for this boat. It gives exceptional acceleration out of the hole as well as a very lively response to any throttle increase right through the range. Our test, with two adults on board, produced a top speed of just over 62km/h, with a good cruise range between 3000 and 4000rpm of 35 to 51km/h.
The boat seems to be nicely balanced as the hull slides onto the plane without any effort and with the low-set deck lines around the bow seating, the high-set driver’s seat ensures the driver always has a good, clear view of the waters ahead.
This boat can really be thrown around and there is never a doubt that it is going to do exactly what the driver wants. It has a good, firm hold on the water right through any power turn, though too much engine trim will produce prop cavitation.
The power steering has a good feel to it, and I’ve no doubt anyone would love driving this boat during a family day out on the water.
The tilt-adjustable helm is a good idea. With the front edge of the bimini top set back a bit from the screen line, the driver has space to stand between dash and canopy and with the tilt facility on the wheel, it can be set ‘bus-style’ so the skipper is far more comfortable and has better control of the helm. This can be good when coming dockside or going around to pick up a skier.
It’s worth noting that, while power steering is standard with the MPI MerCruiser, it’s only an option with the cheaper TKS MerCruiser package. The MPI engine is also SmartCraft-compatible, should buyers want to upgrade the instrument and information package.
The fit-out is fairly standard for this class of boat and let’s face it, there’s not much room for seating creativity in a 5.2m bowrider. Two swivel pedestal seats for driver and passenger are up front and aft a full-width lounge stretches across the cockpit in front of the engine. The lounge takes up significant space when compared to a conventional twin aft quarter jump seat layout, but the compensation is the additional seating space, enhanced by the full-width sun lounge that sits across the top of the engine bay and side quarter decks.
BIG UP FRONT
Up front, the bow seating is surprisingly deep and comfortable for what is nowadays classed as a small bowrider. While an adult can spread out up front, it’s the kids who will be spending the most time up here, and there is plenty of buoyancy in the hull to give a good, clean ride with passengers in the bow.
The usual storage space can be found under the bow seats, as well as in the side shelving pockets and in the under-floor locker.
The moulded fibreglass interior is quite smart and well finished, with the usual upholstered cockpit sides and clip-down cockpit carpet. The bimini top, bow tonneau and a complete travel cover are all included in the as-tested package.
Both the driver and passenger dash consoles are fitted with Roto-moulded components. The driver’s module contains the cluster of standard analogue gauges and a small built-in hood does offer a limited amount of glare protection. The glove compartment storage locker on the passenger side allows the Fusion CD/MP3/AM/FM stereo to be kept away from the elements.
The Savage 175B is a great little bowrider. It runs and handles without any issues and is certain to attract entry-level buyers with its competitive pricing and good range of standard equipment and fittings. ¿
SPECIFICATIONS: SAVAGE 175B BOWRIDER
Length on trailer: 6.9m
Deadrise at transom: 20 degrees
Weight (hull only): 785kg
Max persons: 7 (or 945kg max load)
Rec and max power: 135hp sterndrive
Max engine weight: 315kg
Test engine: MerCruiser 3.0MPI with Alpha sterndrive
Price as tested: $31,775 (BMT package)
Base package: $28,995 (BMT package)
Test boat supplied by Get Wet Boating, Ashmore, Qld tel (07) 55396477. For more information, go to: www.savageboats.com.au.