Starting with style

Graham Lloyd | VOLUME 28, ISSUE 3

Cobalt’s entry-level 200 bowrider is still dripping with class

Based in Neodesha, Kansas, Cobalt has been building quality boats for over 40 years. Every Cobalt I’ve reviewed has impressed and the 200 bowrider is no different, despite serving as Cobalt’s entry-level craft.

At 6.35m in length the 200 has more room than most boats of this size but, if that’s not enough, Cobalt has other bowriders ranging up to 30ft (9.15m), as well as an impressive range of cruisers.

Forget the ‘entry level’ tag, the 200 is still a stand-out in its class. Priced at $59,990 registered, on a trailer and with a 220hp MerCruiser 4.3lt V6 engine, the 200 represents good value. It’s an ideal first family boat or a top option for experienced owners looking for a step up in quality. It’s perfect for cruising, entertaining, and social watersports.

The layout features the usual forward seating, amidships main cockpit, aftsun lounge and boarding platform – but it’s in the execution where Cobalt excels. The hull design also delivers the goods, with a soft ride through rougher waters, plenty of forward buoyancy to ensure those up front remain dry, and strong performance.

The helm features a simple but effective dash layout with all the gauges easy to read and in clear sight above the smart, tilt-adjustable wheel.

The throttle/shift control is neatly integrated into the side of the cockpit and its ergonomic placement complements the very light steering; both controls give a good sense of what the engine and hull are doing.

The hull prefers full in-trim of the Alpha 1 sterndrive when accelerating from rest and even then there is a small amount of bow rise for a moment before the hull returns to an efficient running angle. However, the bow rise isn’t enough to limit forward vision to any significant degree – and it may not occur at all with a passenger or two in the forward seating.

SMOOTH OPERATOR

Once on plane, trimming out the drive had the Cobalt 200 running very smoothly and with and a feeling of security. It’s responsive and the hull banked moderately into tight turns while maintaining a solid grip on the water, with no untoward slipping or lurching.

It was best to trim the drive back in for tighter turns, the prop only ventilating slightly if too much out-trim was used. That was with a standard alloy prop; an upgrade to a stainless prop could well negate it entirely. But really, mastering the appropriate amount of trim for any given situation was a quick and easy affair.

Skippers of any degree of experience will immediately appreciate the 200’s handling and performance. The V6 delivers enough grunt for enjoyable mid-range acceleration and higher cruise speeds.

The 200 was on plane at 3000rpm and 43km/h before heading up to 3500rpm and 54km/h. That rev range was probably ideal for normal cruising, but the V6 was entirely happy when taken up to 4000rpm and 63km/h for a faster run to the next destination. Full throttle brought up a still-smooth 4600rpm and 73km/h.

The skipper’s seat comprises a supportive bucket with firm upholstery that would keep you comfy on long cruises; it had a flip-up bolster at the front and it can be adjusted fore/aft or swivelled for easier conversation when at anchor. Controls for the ignition and ancillaries as well as the stereo remote were clustered conveniently on the dash near the wheel and there’s plenty of nearby storage for phones, wallets and other odds and ends.

In fact, the 200 boasts generous storage throughout, with lockers under most seats as well as a large compartment for bulky items like skis and lifejackets under the port passenger lounge. There’s a huge locker under the sunlounge to starboard, complete with removable Igloo cooler.

There’s also easy access to the engine bay for routine checks and maintenance; all the visible engineering was of a high standard. The deck hardware was of the same quality with cleats and grab handles at sensible spots.

SOLID CONSTRUCTION

Cobalt builds fully hand-laid hulls with Kevlar reinforcing over a full fibreglass stringer system. There are aluminium backing plates for all the through-bolted hardware and all the seat bases are in StarBoard/Kelron rather than wood. The 32oz vinyl upholstery is also a quality affair, and should stand the test of time well.

While the Cobalt 200’s features and performance will surely impress, the real test of this boat can only be made at the wheel out on the water – and it would be a rare skipper indeed who didn’t then find themselves with a smile on their face and a true appreciation of the joy of life.

SPECIFICATIONS: COBALT 200

LOA: 6.35m

Beam: 2.54m

Weight: 1588kg (dry)

Power as tested: MerCruiser 4.3lt MPI (164kW/220hp) with Alpha 1

Performance at planing speed: 3000rpm at 43km/h

Performance at WOT: 4600rpm at 73km/h

Fuel capacity: 151lt

Berths/capacity: 0/11

Priced from: $59,990

Price as tested: $59,990

For more information, contact: JD’s Boatshed, tel: (02) 9525 3166, or go to: jdsboatshed.com.au.


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