Having driven the Sunsation 28’ Intimidator many times during my days as an editor/writer for now-defunct Powerboat magazine, I have to admit I had high expectations for the Algonac, Mich., company’s new 29 CCX center-console when I got my hands it at this year's Miami International Boat Show.

Dealer demand fueled the release of the “entry level" Sunsation 29 CCX.

Dealer demand fueled the release of the “entry level" Sunsation 29 CCX.

I also have to admit I had a few reservations. The 29 CCX is based on the 28’ Intimidator hull, and that 28-footer is like of those longtime friends you hold special in your memory. With such friends, change isn’t always welcome. I wasn’t so sure I’d appreciate an aquatic sportscar dressed up as an SUV.

The good news? By using the hull of the 28’ Dominator as the foundation for the 29 CCX, the builder was able create an exciting new model that blends sportboat handling and performance with center-console versatility.

“We went with that hull for the 29 CCX because it’s a proven hull,” explained Joe Schaldenbrand of Sunsation. “So what you have is a sportboat lower hull combined with a center-console deck. It works so well. It’s a true ‘sport console.’

“The addition of the 29 CCX was fueled by our dealers,” he continued. “After we released the 34 CCX—we created a completely new hull for that one—they told us they would like something smaller, something in the low $100,000 range. I would call the 29 an ‘entry-level’ boat, but one that presents a lot of value for the money.”

Joining me for my run in the 29 CCX on Biscayne Bay was Bob Teague, a seasoned test driver and my former colleague at Powerboat. (The founder of Teague Custom Marine, Teague is an offshore racing world champion and the technical editor of Speed On The Water digital magazine.) Also on board  was Jared Morris, who with Joe and Wayne Schaldenbrand owns Sunsation Boats.

Even at just 29 feet long, the 29 CCX feels like a much bigger boat.

Even at just 29 feet long, the 29 CCX feels like a much bigger boat.

I mention the passenger manifest because it accounted for more than 600 pounds of weight on a boat that tips the scales at 4,200 pounds dry, and with that load plus more than half of its 110-gallon fuel tank filled, the 29 CCX still managed to hit 59 mph with a pair of economical 150-hp Mercury Four Stroke outboard engines (not to be compared with their more expensive 150-hp Verado outboard siblings) on the transom. And despite the fact that the 29-footer has a higher center of gravity than its closed-deck sportboat cousin, the boat whipped and carved through hard turns with ease. The boat was rock-solid in boat wakes and light chop, and its T-top never made a sound, much less creaked or rattled when the ride got bumpy. In short, it was a kick to drive.

Sunsation offers the 29-footer twin outboards up to 300 hp. Based on what I saw, I think the boat could handle bigger power. But in addition to more top-end speed and stronger acceleration, more power would translate to a higher retail price. Frankly, for its intended purpose I think the boat is powered perfectly with the twin Mercury Four Stroke 150s.

Displacement (dry)4,200 lbs.
Fuel Capacity110 gallons
Base Power(2) Mercury Four Stroke 150 outboards

The “CCX” designation stands for “Center Console Extreme,” which is a key feature of Sunsation’s first center-console, the 34 CCX it released last year at the Miami event. In the CCX concept, Sunsation does everything it can to maximize cabin space inside the console, and the builder definitely nailed it again in the 29 CCX. The cabin, which features two facing benches and a portable head unit stashed away in a cabinet, boasted almost six feet of headroom. With an optional filler cushion, the benches convert to a sleeping berth.

“There’s plenty of room in there to get out of the elements, or for the kids to play,” said Schalendbrand. “We put the head in a cabinet because no one wants to see that—something that’s used less than one percent of the time—when they open the cabin door.”

In keeping with the entry-level theme of the first model, Sunsation left the helm station of the 29 CCX wide open and uncluttered with unnecessary instruments. The dash could easily handle a medium-sized GPS unit, a fishfinder, and a VHF radio. Additional electronics would find a home in the box integrated into the T-top above the console.

According to Schaldenbrand, Sunsation has sold five 29 CCX models since the first was introduced in Miami—and I have no trouble seeing why. It truly is what he calls a “sport console,” one that’s based on a tried-and-true sportboat hull.

For more information, visit Sunsation Powerboats.