Quick off the mark and sharp in the turns, this versatile boat has got it covered. Greg Copp reports on the latest bowrider from the Monterey stable …
If you have ever wondered how many times the bowrider can be reinvented, take a look at Monterey’s new outboard-powered range, in particular the 215SS. Like some of its siblings, it has been crafted from an existing sterndrive design, in this case the Monterey 218. For a 22-footer rated for 10, this craft is bristling with sensible features, while providing a genuinely punchy 45-knot performance from a 225hp Mercury V6.
Stepping onto this boat from the stern quarters does make you question the benefits of a sterndrive set-up. Unlike many outboard vessels, the 215SS has a whopping bathing platform, which is bigger than that on quite a few stern-driven boats. The bathing platform is in effect a hull extension – the lower half being one piece with the hull, while the top section is part of the deck moulding. Though this boat uses every inch of space from stem to stern well, the practical application made of the void left under the sunbed from the absence of a sterndrive engine is particularly impressive. There is space for the freshwater tank, a large self-contained storage section and the facility to securely stow the ‘drop-in panel’ that is used to separate the bow section from the cockpit. In the port quarter sits another storage locker that you can be forgiven for overlooking, as it lies under the port-side sunbed section. Opening this from the bathing platform reveals a cavity with a mesh-lined bottom, designed for stashing wetsuits, ski vests and anything wet that you do not want to bring into a dry cockpit.
Stepping through the starboard walkway into the cockpit on the spongy SeaDek synthetic decking requires the removal of the starboard section of the sunbed if you do not want to clamber over it. If you were using the boat for water sports or bathing, storing this section in the port-side ‘water sports cavity’ or the long ski locker that sits under the cockpit floor would be advisable. The aft bench seat is deeper than normal because it provides enough space beneath for the removable 48L Igloo cool box, as well as providing an easily accessed location for the battery cut-off switch and the system fuse panel.
The cockpit has that big luxury saloon car feel to it. Internally it sports thick, padded upholstery and a pair of large inset speakers aft, while cup holders lurk in convenient locations. The helm is constructed in the same character, though with a bit more retro flavour. Its anodised and illuminated primary switch panel sits beneath three old-school analogue gauges, which are capped off with an upholstered dash overhang above. USB and 12V charging sockets are sited below the wheel on the right-hand side, so you can conveniently drop your phone in the drinks holder while it is on charge. The wheel is fully adjustable, the seats can be altered in height, and both have flip-up bolsters should you want to stand. The only criticism I have of the helm design is that the only place to mount a chartplotter is on the starboard side of the dash, and a small bracket-mounted one at that. The co-pilot has the Fusion hi-fi to play with, and two storage compartments, one of which can double as an ice cooler if you want to keep your drinks close at hand.
In keeping with this company’s design ethos, the bow section is no less innovative. As well as the expected below-seat storage, lockers sit hidden behind the forward-facing seat backs, and a self-draining icebox compartment lies beneath the forepeak seat section – just in case the Igloo box is not enough. An interesting feature is the optional bow ladder underneath the anchor locker hatch – handy for beach access if the water is too deep at the stern. A small drop-in table that otherwise lives in the aft storage cavity provides enough dining room for three at a pinch. One aspect that becomes apparent in the bow section is the high-quality stainless work, notably the drop-flat cleats and the neatly crafted oval grab rails.
Though Montereys have in the past been offered with Yamaha engines, Mercury is the current outboard fitment. The 215SS is offered with either a 200hp V6 FourStroke or a 225hp V6 FourStroke. Both are excellent engine options, offering very good fuel efficiency. The V6 3.4L FourStrokes weigh in at 216kg (lightest version), making these engines the lightest in their class. Both offer a broad spread of power, so they are perfect ski boat engines. Considering this boat’s ability to swallow up crewmembers comfortably, I would advise the 225hp option. Though fuel efficient, it does have a fairly modest 36-gallon fuel tank, so this needs to be considered in terms of where you intend to use it.
Driving the 215SS
This boat quickly picks up and planes at around 13 knots quite happily. Having little bow-up attitude in the transition to planing, you do not necessarily feel the need to stand while climbing the hump. With plenty of torque from the V6 Mercury, it is off past 30 knots in 7 seconds, so it is ideal for water sports. It has good fore and aft trim, helped by having the lightest engine in its class. The hull evidently produces plenty of lift at low planing speed – no doubt helped by the fact that the hull actually extends to the end of the bathing platform.
Being a relatively beamy medium-vee boat, you do not get the softest of rides running into the weather at wide open throttle, but you do get the feeling the boat can take it. However, compared to its slightly bigger sibling, the Monterey M225, which I drove immediately before, the 215SS provides a softer ride past 30 knots, and is quicker in the process. Like the M225, provided you do not overtrim the engine, the ride is reasonably steady at wide open throttle. It needs very little trim out on the outboard leg, so if you do overdo it in this department, notably when running into the wind, you will get some chine walk. You need to come to terms with keeping the trim meter under 50%; however, in reality, this boat can be best enjoyed with a small amount of trim, providing an easy point-and-shoot driving experience. In the turns it provides a steady, responsive ride with limited hull slip. The steering is balanced and composed, and not overly light.
Available with a wide range of colour schemes and extras, like the all-important wake tower and synthetic decking, the 215SS is still a competitively priced boat. It focuses on the water sports experience, while still providing plenty of sunbathing space. It is capable of accommodating seven comfortably – though its rated maximum capacity of 10 would be a squeeze. It is well constructed, well finished and utters few complaints when driven to its full potential. It is a typical American bowrider, as evidenced by its sumptuous ‘Havana Upholstery’, which is available in a selection of schemes, matched by a wide range of innovative storage features.
What we thought
- Solid construction
- On-board space
- Fuel efficiency
- Big bathing platform
- Would benefit from more space for a chartplotter
- Relatively limited fuel capacity
- LOA: 7.52m
- Beam: 2.54m
- Displacement: From 1588kg (dry with Mercury V6 engine)
- Draught: 0.8m
- Air draught with wake tower: 2.2m
- CE rating: C for 10
- Outboard power options: 200hp Mercury V6 – 225hp Mercury V6
- Fuel capacity: 136L
- Test engine: 225hp Mercury V6 FourStroke
- Transom deadrise angle: 19 degrees
- 45.0 knots (2-way average), sea conditions F3, crew 2, fuel 50%
0–30 knots: 7 seconds
Lowest planing speed: 13 knots at 2400rpm
- As tested: £85,000 (inc VAT)
Boat Shop, Littlehampton Marina, Ferry Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex BN17 5DS