CROWNLINE

Packed with quality features and fittings, the Crownline 190 LS stacks up well in the ever-increasing market of Amercian bowriders
Almost $57,000 might seem like a lot of lolly for a bowrider a touch under six metres, but when you have a good look at the quality of the chocolate you get with the Crownline 190 LS, you'll be a lot more comfortable writing out the cheque.

This is one of the most complete and best-finished bowriders I've ever tested. It was great fun to play with and I was hard-pressed to find any downside at all. For example, many bowriders, especially those built in the highly competitive US market, don't have bow storage lockers for anchor and rope. But the Crownline does, without impinging on space.

This may be a small point, but consider this: on the same day I tested another American bowrider of exactly the same size and its anchor storage was under the bow seat in a rather cursory cradle. The rope, once it's been hand-retrieved had to be forced through a hole not much bigger than the diameter of the rope into an unseen part of the hull under the liner. How long before that exercise drives you crazy?

Crownline is an independent, family-owned American builder - the fourth largest builder of five to 10m sterndrive-powered boats in the US. One can only assume that to survive against the likes of a giant multi-brand manufacturer such as Genmar you would have to do something extra to win customers. Crownline seems to succeed admirably in this regard.

 You would be very pleased to own a car as well-appointed and finished as the Crownline. For example, there is hardly a square inch of interior GRP not covered by quality padded vinyl, complete with colour-matching piping. It's worth noting that the upholstery has a five-year warranty against manufacturing defects, seam tears and thread separation. And that's just one of an impressive list of warranties that the builder offers.

The bow U-seat is big enough to sit three adults comfortably and probably five if two or three are wearing bikinis. The entire boat is upholstered in off white, beige, and brown colours, including the clip-on, rubber-backed, quality, practical deck carpet. Seats are comfy and have well-padded backrests. The two cupholders are stainless steel and pop-up cleats either side of the bow are 316-grade stainless, as are the handrails and bowrail. Now there's a quality touch. There's a horn in the bow, too.

The centre panel of the five-piece screen flips open for access to the bow and is held in place by an auto catch. The screen, which slopes back along almost three quarters of the boat's length, is well supported by two stainless steel poles either side of the centre section.

The driver's position is very comfortable and practical, featuring a fully-adjustable creamy, leather-look seat with swing-up bolster for over-the-screen viewing.

 The dash moulding is a colour-matched beige/grey with an imitation woodgrain panel incorporating eight dials for information on trim, trip, volts, revs, speed, fuel, oil, and a Faria depth gauge. It looks great but, in the days of one digital dial telling all, this display is perhaps a little redundant. This, however, is not meant as a criticism. All the information you need is but a glance away.

The steering wheel (one hesitates to call it a helm) is tilt-adjustable and looks like something from a sports car. There are two drinkholders nearby. The coamings are covered in a bone and bright red vinyl, which adds a nice splash of colour to the classy (if boring) beige of the rest of the boat's upholstery.

The other forward seat is identical to the skipper's, with a small lockable glovebox in a woodgrain panel in front, two cupholders and two stainless steel grabrails. There is a very large central in-floor ski and wakeboard locker between the seat, black carpeted and fitted with a gas strut, which means you can use both hands to extract stuff without having to hold up the lid.

The rear bench seat is wide enough for two blokes and their bikini-clad partners. And, with fold-down extensions, it becomes a very comfy sun lounge. Again, more cup holders, a couple of small carpeted sidepockets for odds and ends, and storage bins under the lounge.

Speakers for the quality Sony sound system are under the front dash (next to the fire extinguisher) and in the rear quarters.

 A large sunpad on gas struts sits over the powerplant. Lift one end of the ‘lid' and you have a carpeted walkway from the swim platform. Prop up the little flap and you have a raised headrest. Nice touch. The swim platform is large, non-skid, and has a solid stainless steel ski rail and hook, as well as a telescopic boarding ladder under its own hatch.

The engine and battery are easily accessible under the sunpad hatch and there's another storage compartment next to the motor.

It's the little things that highlight the Crownline's quality, like the full-length stainless steel piano hinges on the hatches and seats. Then there's the polyurethane foam-filled hull, interlocking glass-encapsulated wood grid stringer system of 119 to 25mm thickness and which has a lifetime warranty against rot. This grid is fixed to both the hull and the inner liner in a hybrid process that Crownline claims to be unique in its marketplace. All through-hull fittings are chrome over brass.

The 190 LS has what it terms a FAST (Fin Assisted Safe Turn) Tab hull with vented and reverse chines and delta performance pad, which Crownline says provides superior planing efficiency, increased stability in high-speed turns, slow speed stability (less sterndrive ‘wander') and improved fuel economy. Maybe so. I found that the boat was terrific fun to drive, achieving more than 75km/h at 4800rpm on rev limiter and an easy 40km/h at 3000 rpm.

 The five-litre Mercury MPI sterndrive was swinging a 19-inch stainless prop and I really had to throw the boat around to make it let go.

Just one little moan: When will American boat builders discover finger-tight plastic bungs? Brass bungs that require a wrench are an absolute pain in the behind.

American boat trailers don't quite fit Australian regulations without some significant modifications, so BL Marine prefers to sell the boats on Australian Dunbier models.

In summary, this is a quality craft and probably one of the best in its class.


HIGHS

  • Overall quality
  • Performance
  • Bow anchor locker
  • Seat bolsters
LOWS

  • A little slow out of hole
  • Brass hull bungs

Crownline 190 LS
Price as tested: $56,920
Options fitted: Five-litre MerCruiser MPI, s/s bimini, upgraded Sony sound system, bowrails, windscreen lock, bow and tonneau covers, s/s prop.
Priced from: $47,790 with 190hp 4.3lt MerCruiser
 
GENERAL
Material: GRP
Length overall: 5.9m
Beam: 2.3m
Deadrise: 19 degrees
Rec. max HP: 260
Weight on trailer: Approx 1750kg
 
CAPACITIES
Fuel: 102lt
 
ENGINE
Make/model: MerCruiser
Type: Sterndrive 5.0 MPI
Rated HP: 260
Weight: 433kg
Drive: Alpha One
Prop: 19-inch s/s
 
SUPPLIED BY: BL Marine, 612 Plenty Road, Preston, Victoria. Tel (03) 9478 1420 www.blmarine.com.au




Published : Thursday, 1 June 2006

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. boatsales.com.au makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.

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