To test Suzuki's new 140-hp four-stroke outboard, we chose Wellcraft's new 180 Sportsman — a dual-console, multi-purpose boat that combines the attributes of a bay boat with those of a family bowrider. (For the complete test of the Suzuki 140 outboard, see "Bridge Builder" under Related Items at right.)
Beginning at the bow, there is an abbreviated forward casting platform with a storage compartment below. Padded coamings and bow seats provide a modicum of comfort, and grab handles port and starboard offer a secure grip. The seat pads are hinged to provide access to storage below.
Below-floor storage is offered for skis and kneeboards in a compartment between the twin consoles, and additional storage is available under the consoles. The 180 sports a nonskid sole with optional snap-in carpeting for a softer touch when skiing or cruising. The wraparound walk-through windshield is solidly braced for protection from wind and spray.
The driver's console has a full set of Faria instruments with white lettering on black with chrome bezels. The panel is gray with black trim, with eight accessory switches at the lower edge of the panel. Steering is hydraulic with a stainless steel destroyer-type steering wheel and a direct reading Danforth compass is mounted on the top of the dash just to the right of the driver.
Seats for the captain and mate are mounted on insulated fiberglass boxes. The lids behind the seats provide access to an 18-gallon insulated baitwell on the port side and a 72-quart insulated ice chest on the starboard side. Optional rod holders can be fitted under the gunwale.
Two jumpseats are nestled in each of the stern corners, with lift-up seat cushions providing access to a battery compartment on the port side and rigging compartment on the starboard side. The 49-gallon fuel tank is mounted under the cockpit sole, aft of the in-sole ski locker.
Watch Her Run
With a fully molded interior, the hull has a solid feel and tips the scale at approximately 2500 pounds dry (without engine). Top speed with the Suzuki 140 was a respectable 41.7 mph. Fuel economy was respectable, too. Maximum economy of 4.8 mpg came in at 4000 rpm and 25.6 mph. It is interesting to note that fuel economy remained over 4.4 mpg all the way from 18 mph to nearly 35 mph. Fuel economy at slow trolling speeds is nothing less than outstanding.
With a 0-to-30 mph time of 8.4 seconds, acceleration was good — but probably not quite as fast as when powered by a comparable two-stroke outboard, which offers more low-end grunt. The new Suzuki 140 engine pulls smoothly, steadily and without hesitation. Throttle response is linear and, with EFI, nearly instantaneous.
The 180 Sportsman has a moderate deep-V bottom with 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom. This is a good compromise between a soft ride and lateral stability at rest. The hull carves turns without any tendency to slide or trip.
The Wellcraft 180 Sportsman fills a unique niche in the market, offering a moderate degree of comfort, with a great deal of utility. It is a practical boat that will fill a wide range of applications. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it, too.