Take a bow

Chris Beattie | VOLUME 30, ISSUE 4
In combination with Mercury’s new 4.5L V6, the Crownline 19SS is a great family boating package.
Crownline and Mercury deliver a winning combination that promises family fun in a compact, affordable package.

When it comes to a boat with something for the whole family, it’s really hard to beat a bowrider. The layout is ideal for a typical mum, dad and the tackers-type day on the bay, with the kids loving the thrill of their hair in the wind in the bow cockpit, while there’s plenty of relaxation and comfort available for the adults behind the screen. And the overall layout lends itself to moving freely around the boat. A bowrider, more than most other trailerable layouts, makes the most of the available space between bow and stern.

So it was with some anticipation that I accepted Mercury Marine’s offer to spend a day or two in company with a new Crownline 19SS bowrider, powered by Mercury’s recently introduced 4.5lt, 250hp, MerCruiser V6 sterndrive engine.

The mission was two-fold: put the Crownline through its paces; and get to know the new Merc and its place in the overall inboard scheme of things.

OZ-ONLY MODEL

There is an interesting back-story to the American-built Crownline that comes with an Ocker angle. In fact, for the first few of years of its life, the 19SS was only sold in Australia as it featured a couple of very Down Under-friendly features not found in US Crownline models.

Australian Crownline importer, David Fraser, takes up the story: “We initially talked to Crownline about having an Australia-only 19-footer (5.8m) with an anchor locker on the bow, a walk-through transom, a swimplatform for wakeboarding and it had to be narrow enough for Australian towing regs (2.4m),” he explained.

This was in 2006 and the boat that resulted was initially christened the Crownline 190LS. It was only available in Australia and has proved to be quite a popular combination, especially as it was powered by a 5.0lt petrol sterndrive which, at the time, was unusual for a boat of that length.

Then along came Mercury last year with its new V6, intended to supersede its venerable 5lt V8. The 250hp 4.5L V6 offers almost as much power and torque as its eight-cylinder predecessor, but with a substantial weight saving of 60kg in a more compact package.

The mostly cast iron powerplant, which Mercury says offers improved corrosion resistance properties over aluminium when used in engine blocks and cylinder heads, also employs traditional pushrod valve actuation for its conventional valvetrain system.

A long-runner, scrolled intake manifold and comparatively large displacement for a V6 contribute to the new sterndrive’s impressive performance alongside the V8.

Other design innovations include a rear-facing throttle body and anti-whistle throttle plate for reduced noise and a lightweight flywheel for improved throttle response. The result is an engine that delivers a superior idle and smoothness, along with low noise and vibration for a better boating experience, says Mercury.

SPACE SAVER

The V6 is very compact in comparison to the V8, allowing more room in the cockpit, as seen on the 19SS, which has considerable cockpit room for a boat of its size. It’s connected to MerCruiser’s proven Alpha sterndrive and has a low-maintenance closed cooling system.

Mercury has also launched a new throttle system with the 4.5L. Called Adaptive Speed Control (ASC), it automatically maintains a set speed regardless of load or condition changes, such as in tight turns, when performing tow sports or when running at lower speeds on plane. Basically, once set by the driver, the throttle body will adjust rpms to maintain the speed. In practice, the boat maintains the desired speed with no input from the driver, leaving them free to concentrate on steering or towing.

Mercury says engineers paid particular attention to ease of maintenance when designing the MerCruiser 4.5L V6, eliminating the need for the traditional 20-hour service. This new engine features a ‘maintenance centre’ near the top-front section of the engine, ensuring that consumer touch-points – including oil filter and fill – are easily identifiable and accessible. Additionally, the valve train is maintenance-free for the life of the engine.

We spent two days sampling the engine and the Crownline 19SS and they certainly proved to be a competent partnership.

AMERICAN STYLE

The Crownline is a typically stylish American family dayboat, with potential for watersports fun and even a spot of fishing, should the urge take you. And, as stated, unlike most American bowriders, which are designed typically for freshwater boating, which invariably involves running a line to shore or simply parking on the sand, it actually has provision for anchoring, albeit with a moderately proportioned bow anchorwell.

It is a compact craft, but can still accommodate up to eight people comfortably within its 5.8m length. It is very plushly upholstered, including the dash and other surfaces, and the skipper’s perch is particularly well laid out and comfortable. The sporty wheel is a nice touch and the low seating position is comfortable, with good visibility, although docking and retrieving can be a bit awkward if you want to stand for a better view of proceedings.

I particularly liked the standard detail touches on this boat, including the pop-up stainless steel cleats, along with heaps of cupholders and well-placed grabrails. The quality stereo system also adds to the family fun focus of the boat.

At the rear of the cockpit is a comfortable, full-width bench lounge backed by a wide sunpad leading to the inset swimplatform, which incorporates a stainless boarding ladder and sturdy tow point.

The sunpad lifts on two struts to reveal a large engine bay, which has a deep stowage space to port. Speaking of stowage, there is a pocket under the cockpit lounge, a central ski locker in the cockpit floor and two smallish pockets under the seats in the bow.

SMOOTH OPERATOR

We put the Crownline through its paces on the southern end of Port Phillip Bay, with a bit of chop thrown in for good measure. It rode and steered very well, although the ride tended to be a bit harsh as the wave height grew above half a metre. To be fair, this is a boat intended more for smooth, flat waters and with towsports in mind, so it’s more an observation than a criticism.

With towsports in mind, I tried Mercury’s Adaptive Speed Control and it was initially a bit counter-intuitive to heel the boat into a tight turn and have it maintain the speed without touching the throttle. I had to consciously avoid adjusting the throttle to begin with, but I’d think ASC would be a welcome enhancement to a day of wakeboarding or skiing.

The V6 certainly delivered V8-like punch out of the hole and strong mid-range, with sharp throttle response at lower and mid rpm. We managed a top speed of 52mph (84km/h) at 5000rpm, with the engine remaining surprisingly quiet, due to Mercury’s sound-muting efforts.

At a more sedate cruising speed of around 45km/h (3000rpm), the engine was getting through around 22lt/h, which works out to plenty of time on the water from the 102lt tank.

With a price of around $61,000 (incl GST), including a Dunbier roller trailer, this is a boat that packs versatility, affordability and quality into a very compact package, underpinned by Mercury’s 4.5L V6, which delivers solid performance, great fuel economy and ease of maintenance. That’s a lot of boxes ticked for family fun on the water.

CROWNLINE 19SS

Length: 5.8m

Beam: 2.33m

Weight: 1346kg (boat only)

Capacity: 8 persons

Fuel capacity: 102lt

Power: MerCruiser 4.5L, 250hp V6 with Alpha One sterndrive.

Price: $60,900 driveaway.

For more information, contact Vail Imports, tel: 0408 532 342, or go to: mercurymarine.com.au.


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