Much as we pride ourselves in our ability to test boats, magazine boat tests are limited. What you read in any boat review is what the reviewers found out about a given model on a given day. No one can guarantee how well it will hold up, or how you'll feel about it a few years from now.
That's longitudinal survey work, the stock and trade of J.D. Power and Associates, which gave Cobalt Boats its 2001 Highest Customer Satisfaction Award for Runabouts. No surprise here. We've been praising Cobalt products for years—but it's nice to know others agree.
We found additional validation in the Cobalt 240, a spectacular 23'9"-long, 8'6"-wide bow rider we tested this year in Placida, Fla. Quality always costs, and the 240 was priced at $63,216 with options that included an engine upgrade. With the base Volvo Penta 5.0-liter GL SX motor and no options, the boat still costs $53,378. But then, you get what you pay for.
In terms of power, Cobalt equipped the 20-degree, conventional V-bottom with a relatively tame package: a 300-hp MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI engine with a twin-propeller Bravo Three drive spinning 14 1/4" x 24" and 15 1/2" x 24" three-blade stainless-steel wheels through a 2:1 reduction. Still, our lead test driver was impressed.
"The boat does everything perfectly," he said. "So if they do offer it with a bigger engine, that's the way I would go."
Cobalt does, in fact, offer the 240 with up to a 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag HO or 420-hp Volvo Penta 8.1 GXi engine and DuoProp drive. Either motor would likely push the boat beyond 60 mph, based on the fact that our 300-hp test model ran 53.4 mph at 5,000 rpm on a 90-degree, miserably moist Florida day.
The Bravo Three drive provided such solid bite that the 4,240-pound boat came on plane in 3.8 seconds. A steady accelerator, the 240 reached 47 mph in 15 seconds. It ran from 20 to 40 mph in a respectable 5.3 seconds. Power fell off predictably—for the small-block package in a relatively heavy boat—at the upper end, requiring 10.2 seconds for the boat to run from 30 to 50 mph.
When it came to handling, however, there were no losses—the 240 aced all of our agility drills. In slalom turns at all speeds, it had that hooked-to-tracks, amusement-park-ride feel. It banked into corners, held a reasonable inward lean throughout and gently leveled off at exit. In cruising- and full-speed spirals that started wide and gradually tightened, the 240 didn't slide, hook or hop.
The manufacturer dressed the 240 in brilliant yellow and white gelcoat. Those colors, as well as the bow rider's flawless mold work and stainless-steel rubrail with indexed screw heads, gave the boat an elegant look and feel.
The manufacturer provided a detailed lamination schedule for the 240. A hybrid barrier backed the gelcoat in the hull, followed by AME 1000 resin, 1 1/2-ounce mat, 24-ounce woven roving, 1 1/2-ounce mat, Spraycore, P9252 resin, two more layers of 1 1/2-ounce mat, 24-ounce woven roving, 1 1/2-ounce mat, a final layer of 24-ounce woven roving and knitted Kevlar in the chines. The deck also started with gelcoat and a hybrid barrier, which were followed by 24-ounce woven roving, chop, Spraycore in select areas, honeycomb coring, aluminum tapping plates for hardware where necessary, 24-ounce woven roving and more chop.
Hardware was abundant. Ahead of the anchor locker, with a hinged lid supported by a gas strut and rubber matting inside, were two cleats and a nav light. A cleat was installed on each side of the walk-through windshield, two more were on the stern.
Relatively small, the engine hatch raised on two gas struts. About the only aspect of the boat's construction that said "production" was the engine compartment rigging. The engine was lag-bolted to the stringers and the wire looms were loosely supported in a few spots—by no means bad, but not quite up to the standard set by the rest of the boat.
Stepping off the docks and into the open bow of the Cobalt 240, the first thing we noticed was perfect snap-in carpet covering the cockpit sole. The second thing? Long sculpted lounges with hinged bottom cushions covering stowage lockers.
A stowage area under the forward-most cushion would have worked as an anchor locker—had there not already been one in the boat's nose. To eliminate the wind-tunnel effect in the bow walk-through, the manufacturer installed a solid bifolding door.
The co-pilot's console to port housed a giant head locker, complete with a headliner. The locker was behind a substantially hinged door with an equally substantial handle. A bucket seat with a flip-up bottom, as well as a gunwale-mounted grab handle, was supplied for the co-pilot.
In the cockpit sole was a ski locker with a hinged lid. That's a fairly common feature for runabouts. Not so common, however, were its twin gas struts that supported the lid.
The 240 wouldn't have been a Cobalt if it didn't have real woodgrain instrument panels at the helm. Privately labeled with the Cobalt emblem, all gauges were set in silver bezels.
An L-shape lounge with stowage areas and a draining cooler under the bottom cushions was aft. Access to the swim platform was provided by a transom door to starboard. All the way aft were two trunks, one for wakeboards and one for wet stowage.
Attention to detail and expert craftsmanship abound in the Cobalt 240. Polished performance makes it a pleasure to drive. You won't find a better bow rider in its class.
Hull Information and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||20 degrees|
|Hull weight||4,240 pounds|
|Engine||MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI|
|Lower-unit gear ratio||2:1|
|Propeller||Mercury 14 1/4" x 24" and 15 1/2" x 24"|
|Price as tested||$63,216|
Volvo 5.0-liter GL SX engine, 12-volt accessory power plug, compass, water/air temperature gauge package, depthfinder, hour meter, wood dash/trim package, AM/FM CD stereo with remote, anchor locker, bow scuff plate, concealed boarding ladder, amidships cleat, swim platform wet locker, transom walk-through door, bow walk-through doors, dinette table, ice chest, L-lounge seating, Porta Potti, removable carpet in cockpit and bow, battery switch and fire extinguisher.
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI engine ($5,395), removable swim platform ($2,482), docking lights ($755), cockpit tonneau cover ($527), telescoping light ($370), bow tonneau cover ($217) and transom tilt switch ($92).
|3 seconds||17 mph|
|5 seconds||25 mph|
|10 seconds||39 mph|
|15 seconds||47 mph|
|20-40 mph||5.3 seconds|
|30-50 mph||10.2 seconds|
Rpm vs. Mph
|Radar||53.4 mph at 5||000|
|Nordskog Performance Products GPS||52.8 mph|
|Time to plane||3.8 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||16 mph|
|At 25 mph||3.8 mpg|
|At 35 mph||3.8 mpg|
|At 45 mph||3.1 mpg|
|At WOT||2.3 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||55 gallons|
Test conducted at Placida, Fla.
For More Information
1715 N. 8th St.
Neodesha, KS 66757