Travel in style and arrive in style – that pretty much sums up the appeal of Sea Ray’s new generation of SLX sports bowriders. I certainly got that impression when taking the helm of one of these very stylish, high-end sportsboats.
The Sea Ray SLX 250 makes a statement on the water, with its appealing mix of raceboat lines and luxury interior. Indeed, it’s a great choice for boaties wanting something special that’s small enough to visit beaches with, while delivering some really exciting performance.
This boat is all about making the most of watersports, be it skiing, diving or towing the kids on water toys. The spacious interior can accommodate up to 15 people and there’s a rear playdeck incorporating a swimplatform and sunlounge. It’s also got an electrically adjustable Power Tower, which combines a sun bimini with a tow post for wakeboarding.
For boaties wanting to step down from a larger cruiser, the SLX 250 is a great choice, delivering maximum dayboat pleasure while being fairly hassle-free in terms of maintenance as it’s perfectly suited to marina dry-storage.
The Sea Ray SLX 250 is a brand-new 2017 model and carries a number of the marque’s innovations, including Quiet Ride hull technology, Dynamic Display at the helm, and the Power Tower.
ON THE WATER
Sea Ray has been a world-leader in sports boats for more than 50 years, and that’s evident in the classic American speedboat lines of this new model. I reckon if Hollywood were a boat, this is what it would look like – glamorous, with a touch of drama in the sweeping, low-slung hull tailing off into a pretty fastback transom.
The black onyx topsides and beige leather-like upholstery add to the classy appearance. And performance is assured, too, with a choice of four inboard Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives from 300 to 430hp.
Sydney dealer Mark Chapman says the owner of our test boat chose the 350hp version, based on a 6.2lt block, to ensure they’d have plenty of performance sparkle under load. Matched to a Bravo Three sterndrive running a stainless steel three-blade prop, it certainly delivers on speed. Even as we idled out of the marina dock, you could feel the power of the big MerCruiser. However, it’s a pleasantly quiet and smooth installation, thanks to the Omni transom, which muffles motor noise and vibration, and acoustic insulation around the engine bay and bulkheads.
There’s loads of seating, so our group of six was easily accommodated in the big interior. A party group doesn’t seem to bother performance, which we tested by opening up the throttle for a high-speed run on Sydney Harbour.
Flat out, we were easily topping the 40-knot mark, which is more than fast enough for cruising. The busy harbour’s bumpy water wasn’t a problem for the big, deep-vee boat. At around 2.7 tonnes, it sliced easily through the chop and wash, while delivering impressive acceleration out of the hole. In this respect, the SLX 250 lives up to the definition of a sportsboat – fast, and fun to drive.
The official performance figures for the 350hp MerCruiser suggest a 42 to 44-knot top speed – a bit more attention to trim and more time on the water would’ve got us there. We didn’t get a chance to run fuel consumption figures, but my best guess is you could get around 35lt/h cruising at around 30 knots.
There’s the option of two bigger MerCruiser engines – 430hp or 480hp, based on a 8.2lt block – that would lift performance, but I doubt most buyers would need that.
I enjoyed the driving experience. You get a luxury helmseat with electric fore/aft and vertical adjustment and a flip-up bolster, while the helm’s touchscreen includes GPS chartplotting and controls for the boat’s main functions. There’s cruise-control for the throttle, as well as controls for the electric Power Tower, electric anchor winch at the bow, bow headlight, and switches for lights, electric bilge pump, and electric power hatch over the engine bay.
Despite the chill of an autumn morning, we felt comfortably accommodated, with well-padded seats that feel ultra soft and are very comfortable, with lots of leg room. The big, curved windscreen provides shelter from the breeze when driving, and by midday we were glad of the shade provided by the overhead bimini in the Power Tower, which can be lowered to provide rain protection.
The walkthrough design lets guests spread out over three social zones, including on the aft sunlounge and swimplatform. The latter has a slide-out swimladder and a transom shower, making it a natural place to spend time while at anchor.
Those wanting the ultimate beach experience can choose an optional automated submersible swimplatform, originally designed for wakeboarders.
Another great onboard feature is the enclosed dayhead, with vacuum-flush toilet and holding tank. Meanwhile, a roll-out, 34lt cooler behind the helm stores cold food and drinks.
The interior design confirms why Sea Ray is so highly regarded worldwide. The ergonomics of the interior is excellent, there are an abundance of stowage compartments under seats and in the cockpit floor, and no less than 10 drinkholders throughout. Dining aboard is comfortable, too, with stowaway tables for the bow and stern cockpits, while a premium-quality, stereo sound system with remote is at the transom.
Options include an air compressor to pump up water toys, and a special fixed tower with swivel wakeboard racks on each side. A set of covers is standard, including cockpit cover, bow tonneau and mooring cover.
For those wanting to add some fun to their summer (or autumn) boating while making the experience as fuss-free as possible, the Sea Ray SLX 250 could be the answer. Quality this good doesn’t come cheap, though, with a base price of $153,931 (300hp MerCruiser) and $214,161 as tested, but it’s good value for the money – and you’re getting a stylish boat that delivers on performance, convenience and comfort, plus loads of fun to boot.
SEA RAY SLX 250
Weight (dry): 2,631kg
Crew capacity: 15
Fuel capacity: 283lt
Water capacity: 76lt
Power (as tested): 350hp MerCruiser
Price from: $153,931
Price as tested: $214,161
More information: Mark Chapman Marine Group, tel: (02) 9818 2000. Web: chapmanmarinegroup.com.au.