Stingray boats tend to bring out the best in small-block engine power — at least that's been our experience.
A couple of years back, we tested the Stingray 220 SX with a 360-hp Mercury Racing Scorpion 377 motor under the hatch,
and the boat delivered explosive performance.
For 2001, we tested the company's 230 LX powered be a 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2 MPI engine. And though the performance
of the 22'8"-long, 8'-wide bow rider wasn't quite as potent as that of its smaller, more powerful closed-deck sibling, it
was plenty snappy and loads of fun.
How much fun? Fun enough to be worth the $35,592 as-tested price, to which the MX 6.2 MPI contributed a little more
than $4,000. Go with the base boat equipped with a 260-hp MerCruiser 5.7-liter EFI engine and you're looking at $29,724.
Without question, the MX 6.2 MPI motor is this year's darling from MerCruiser. We saw it in several boats during our 2001
Performance Trials. Nowhere was the engine—outfitted with a Bravo One drive spinning a Mercury Mirage Plus 13 3/4"
x 23" three-blade stainless-steel propeller through a 1.65:1 reduction—better suited than in the 230 LX.
With the fuel-injected small-block providing the juice, the 230 LX broke the 60 mph barrier with a top speed of 60.7
mph at 4,900 rpm. But that was just one part of the bow rider's performance story. It hopped on plane in 4 seconds and shot
to 54 mph in 15 seconds. Consistently potent in midrange acceleration tests, the boat sipped from 20 to 40 mph in 5.2
seconds and from 30 to 50 mph in 6.9 seconds.
Like all Stingray runabouts, the 230 LX ran on the company's vaunted "Z-Plane" hull. That meant the 20-degree bottom
had four full-length ZP strakes, a radiused keel and slightly negative 2- to 3-inch wide chines.
The bottom design contributed as much to the deft handling of the 230 LX as it did to its top speed and acceleration
numbers. Although slalom turns at 20 mph earned simply solid marks, those same maneuvers at 30 to 40 mph were first-rate.
The boat carved through those maneuvers with a comfortable inward lean and nary a twitch or slide, just as it carved its
way through ever-tightening circles at cruising and full speeds.
In his quest for maximum speed, our lead test driver trimmed out the 230 LX "to the moon." Even with the drive trimmed
out to its limit, the boat tracked perfectly, as it did at all speeds and trim settings. Wind gusts and passenger weight
shift also did nothing to affect the boat's ability to run in a straight line. There was a tiny pull to the right during
sudden deceleration tests, but it was mild and not in any way unsettling.
Understand, the 230 LX boasted a two-tone beige-and-cream gelcoat accented with vinyl graphics. Mold work was several cuts
above production-boat standards, as was the installation of the boat's aluminum rubrail with rubber insert, and the Water
Bonnet walk-through windshield.
The manufacturer didn't supply detailed lamination schedule information. However, a representative from the company did
say the 230 LX was handlaid with multiple layers of woven roving and had a fiberglass stringer system.
The engine hatch raised manually on tow gas struts. That gave us access to the top of the motor. Two fold-down panels
gave us access to its sides. With those panels folded down, we could see that the engine was secured with lag bolts driven
into the stringers and the standard transom assembly. The boast's liner gave the engine compartment a neat appearance, as
did the black gelcoat over the bilge and the competently routed and supported wiring.