Cobalt debuted its “R” series of runabouts with the R5 a couple of years ago, and then again with the R7—and the series must be working because now Cobalt has introduced the R3, a re-imagined runabout with all the hallmarks of a Cobalt. That means rich gelcoat colors, tasteful appointments inside, custom stitching, and materials selected as much for their durability as for their look and feel.

cobalt r3

The Cobalt R3 is the smallest of the R series, but it's big on features and comfort.

Because the R3 is the smallest of the series, it benefits from the use of the blade-style windshield, which is key to the spaciousness of the interior. It’s a design that creates less of an intrusion into the interior space than traditional wraparound glass.

Not only is the cockpit spacious, but so is the bow. With seating for three, it's also equipped with a full-featured anchor locker that has a notch to let you close and latch the lid when the anchor is out, and rubber stanchions and an eyelet inside to attach the rode. You can even get a windlass as an option.

At the stern, the R3 comes with a reversible backrest that lets you face forward in the cockpit while in motion or to the rear while at rest. What’s more, there’s a cushion that flips up from the sun pad to create yet another rear-facing lounge.

Cobalt designers reimagined the swim platform with its innovative swim step, which functions much the same way a “swim out” does on an in-ground swimming pool. The swim step swings up, out, and down to create a comfortable underwater platform. Best of all, it’s a standard feature.

“The swim step has been a huge hit,” said Gavan Hunt, Cobalt’s vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s a game changer. Once you have a boat with that swim step, you could not imagine having a boat with a ladder anymore.”


Inside the R3, the passenger seat backrest also articulates fore and aft to transform the cockpit into a conversation pit.

Cobalt really packed a lot of seating into the R3, with a two-wide passenger seat, and jump seats on both gunwales in addition to the rear bench. Cockpit carpeting is a standard feature, but a Bimini top is optional, which really should be the other way around. Ask people who go boating in the south in the summer if they’d rather have shade or carpeting and they invariably opt for shade.

The base engine is a MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI with a Bravo Three drive. With 300 horsepower and twin propellers, the base engine should be suitable for most buyers. For those who crave more power, there are engine options for 320, 380 and 430 horsepower. Increasing horsepower, naturally, also means increasing cost, and the R3 starts at an MSRP of $83,655.
Deadrise21 degrees
Displacement4,450 lbs
Fuel capacity50 gal.

Cobalt also offers an extensive list of options like underwater lighting, an arch with an electric folding Bimini top and a transom shower, but the boat in standard trim is plenty well equipped, save for that optional top.

The Cobalt R3 succeeds a successful line of runabouts that benefits from fresh thinking about what a runabout should be — about what it can be.

Other Choices: Another high-end bowrider in this size range is the Formula 240 Sport. Shoppers may also want to look at the Cruisers Sport Series 238.

See Cobalt R3 listings.

For more information, visit Cobalt.

Written by: Brett Becker
Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for, he regularly writes and shoots for Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.