When a boat builder says they've redesigned a successful deckboat like the Bayliner 215 DB, you know it’s going to be a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes the main “improvement” is a mere color change on the hull, or a new cup holder here or there. Other times, it’s truly a “new” boat, with multiple improvements, tweaks, and feature changes. So where does the new 215 DB fall in this range? While it isn’t exactly what you’d call a shocking development, there are some significant advances to cover—let’s get started.

bayliner 215 db

The Bayliner 215 DB brings out the best in a deckboat.

One of the most important changes is under the hood. The last time we tested a 215 DB it was powered with a MerCruiser 4.3 MPI, but this time, we had one of Merc’s new 4.5L V-6 stern drives, producing 250 marine-dedicated horses. Yes, marine-dedicated. Unlike the GM powerplants previously marinized for use on the water, this engine was designed for boaters from the ground up. As a result, it's significantly lighter and more efficient than a V-8 like the 5.0L, yet when run side by side, offers similar performance. (See New Mercruiser 4.5L V6 Promises V8 Performance, our head-to-head comparison of two identical boats rigged with a new 4.5L and the existing 5.0L, for some exact numbers). And, performance here is plenty sporty—at cruise my GPS read around 30 MPH, and at wide-open throttle, hit 42.9 MPH.

215 db

There's even room for a head on the 215 DB, inside the passenger's side console.

At the wheel of the 215 DB, the most noticeable difference I felt was a reduction in sound levels. In fact, when I mentioned the lack of sound-deadening insulation in the engineroom, the Bayliner rep on-hand said “Don’t worry, you don’t need it. This engine is that much quieter.” He was right. The motor’s scroll-type intake manifold (which places the throttle body aft), improved motor mounts, and rigid cast-aluminum oil pan do shush the engine as it runs. And it’s also a lot quieter shifting into and out of gear, thanks to a lighter-weight flywheel that dampens the usual “clunk” you hear and feel.

After examining the 4.5L and slamming that engineroom hatch closed, look to starboard, and you’ll find a nifty example of some clever engineering: Bayliner has built a swing-out table into the inwale here. You have to turn the helm seat out of the way and un-snap a cargo net to deploy the table, but it’s one heck of a lot easier to use than the common alternative, a removable pedestal table. It’s also a lot better, IMHO, eliminating the usual pedestal-wobble that invariably leads to spills and messes.

The stowage designed into the port side of the cockpit is also clever. It incorporates one of those handy plastic tubs, just like the ones you find at Wal-Mart, under the seat. The down-side here is that the tub is, well, just like one of the ones you find at Wal-Mart. There’s also bulk stowage for larger items, like wakeboards and water-toys, in a deck compartment.
Deadrise20 degrees
Displacement4,027 lbs
Fuel capacity55 gal.

The bow cockpit offers yet more stowage, but this isn’t the real attraction to be found up forward. That would be the fill-in sections which allow you to turn seating for four into a surprisingly large sunpad. It gets super-sized (considering this is a 21-footer) thanks to one of the main advantages of a deckboat; unlike the pointy bow of a standard bowrider this area is more square, and enjoys much more beam than would otherwise be possible. With the fill-in cushions deployed, there’s room for several people to stretch all the way out. And when you want to maximize seating capacity, the whole affair stows neatly away under the seats. Either way, the clever engineering Bayliner applies to the new 215 DB makes it a notably improved party platform.

Other Choices: If you find the Bayliner 215 DB interesting, chances are you’ll also want to look at the Stingray 215 LR Sport Deck. The Sea Ray 220 Sundeck OB offers a similar option, but with an outboard powerplant.

See Bayliner 215 DB listings.

For more information, visit Bayliner.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.