If you didnít know better, you would think that the passengerís eyebrows are being controlled by the
handheld GPS, because as the digital display climbs toward 60 mph, the eyebrows also continue to rise.
Whatís the big deal? Going 60 mph in an almost 20-foot performance boat with a 300-hp V8 isnít that
unusual. True, but when the boat is actually a reasonably priced Stingray bowrider with only a 225-hp,
4.3L V6 in the engine compartment, then you definitely have something special.
How does the Stingray 195LR do it? Little rockets on the transom? Nope, just the newest, most
efficient Z-plane hull Stingray has ever made that allows the driver to trim it up so that the hull,
for all practical purposes, is touching the surface of the water in only three places ... barely.
Stingray likens it to "riding on air," and rather than being hyperbole, itís actually a pretty accurate
description. The Z-plane was originally designed to improve handling by utilizing strakes that didnít
disturb the flow of water like conventional ones, but as an added bonus, engineers found that it also
improved top-end performance. What they discovered was that air bubbles under the hull cause the prop
to slip, like a carís tires on ice. So with the Z-plane hull knifing though the water cleanly without
forming bubble-creating vortices, the prop gets a better bite in the water.
In addition to the ZP hull, the 195LR has a notched transom ó like those found on racing boats ó
allowing the outdrive to be mounted higher for minimal drag. Having a relatively narrow 7-foot-7-inch
beam, like you find on Allison bass boats, which are some of the fastest on the water, doesnít hurt
either. One thing Stingray didnít do is give buyers an insubstantial, light hull in order to eke out
a few more mph. Weighing 2,580 pounds with a 4.3L sterndrive engine, the 195LR has enough heft to make
the ride feel solid.
Sitting down in the captainís throne, a pleasant surprise is the adjustable bucket seat that not
only lets you choose how far away from the sporty Dino sport wheel you want to sit, but also has an
optional pedestal that allows you to adjust the height of the seat. This is a feature that should be
available on all boats to avoid being visually impaired by the windshieldís header. The no-nonsense
dash layout gives the driver a totally unobstructed view of the Teleflex gauges, which are set beneath
an overhanging panel whose dark color also helps to reduce annoying windshield reflections. The
accessory rocker switches are on the dash under the instrument array, and are out of the way to avoid
accidental engagement, although using most of them requires reaching around, or through the steering
wheel that features a sculpted shape with thumb rests that promote a "10 and 2" driving position.
Putting the 195LR in gear, the Volvo Penta 4.3L MPI with a single-prop SX outdrive registers a
quiet 61 decibels at idle and moves the boat smartly on plane in just a little more than three seconds.
The fuel-injected V6 gives the driver a linear power curve and the Stingray hits 30 mph in around six
seconds, which is impressive acceleration. Forty mph is a very happy speed for this boat; the engine
doesnít feel like itís being taxed, and the hull is largely out of the water, giving passengers a
smooth ride. And according to Stingray performance bulletins, youíre getting more than 5 miles per
gallon at this speed, which is phenomenal economy. At cruise trim, the 195LR turns better than you
would expect with such little wetted surface, and trimming it down a little allows it to be thrown
lustily into hard turns without blowing out, thanks to its ZP hull.