Stingray Powerboats
Pure Muscle

Popular Mechanics - March 2003

Testing four compact muscle boats that ooze horsepower.

March 2003 - Popular Mechanics

How fast do you wanna go? How much do you wanna spend? We were eager to see what kind of performance is available from a single V8 sterndrive pushing the smallest hull capable of running offshore. There are no ill-handling bass boats here.

We ended up testing four representative 5-passenger runabouts, all between 20 and 25 ft. long, all weighing between 3000 and 3500 pounds, all powered by a production MerCruiser V8 and Bravo 1 sterndrive. Size wise, consider them to be the entry tickets into the muscle boat club.

Baja 20 Outlaw
At just under $25,000, Baja's smallest Outlaw is well-made, nicely finished and while not lavishly equipped, has everything you need for a play boat that can tow a couple of skiers or carry five adults to 62 mph. The large area under the forward deck is finished off as a convenient storage area. MerCruiser's fuel-injected 5.0 MPI is built around a General Motors 305-cu.-in. small-block V8, so it should be economical to run—and bulletproof.

The lightweight Outlaw had a very wet and bumpy ride. At 40 mph in a short chop, everyone on board found their sunglasses obscured by salt spray within a few minutes. And despite having a hull configuration visually similar to the other boats in this group, the 20 Outlaw was like riding a bucking bronco whether there were five passengers or just the captain aboard. A windshield and accessory trim tabs might make all the difference.

Stingray 220SX
The Stingray's hull, a patented design called Z-plane developed by legendary boatbuilder Bob Walwork, is incredibly smooth and stable. Whether running straight and true or carving a tight turn, from idle to 65 mph, it's totally predictable. This is one of the best small-boat monohull designs in production.

Slightly longer and wider than the Baja, 300 pounds heavier and powered by a 377-cu.-in. version of the same fuel-injected GM small-block V8, the Stingray feels like a much larger and more substantial craft. It's beautifully equipped throughout and includes a V-berth under the forward deck. At just $36,000, the 220SX is a bargain.

Velocity 220
With its foot throttle, rumbling high-mount exhaust pipes and American flag paint treatment, this Velocity 220 has the ambience of a high-profile race boat. It's powered by a MerCruiser/GM 496-cu.-in. big block V8. In our test, the Velocity reached 75 mph, but was noticeably sluggish in acceleration.

The 496 MAG MPI adds not only 55 hp, but $14,400 to the price of the same Velocity hull with a MerCruiser/GM MX 6.2 MPI small-block V8. By comparison, when we ordered a new Chevy Silverado HD2500 pickup truck, the price difference between a small-block V8 and this same 496 big-block V8 was $850.

Talon 25
Talon Marine's innovative catamaran hull is amazing. At 102 mph, we kept banging into the rev limiter because we thought we were literally going 50 mph slower and something was wrong with the engine. The Talon also cornered like a Corvette, perfectly flat and pulling g-loads no other type of hull can approach.

The Talon's supercharged engine costs $55,000, twice as much as the whole Baja 20 Outlaw and the trailer it rode on. Obviously, a $120,000 handmade production racer is not something everyone can afford, but if you ever get the chance to drive—or ride in—a Talon catamaran, grab it. You'll never be satisfied with a conventional powerboat again.

Baja, Stingray, Velocity, Talon


The Baja was the least expensive and slowest of the lot. It also suffered from the worst ride. The Stingray was the bargain of the pack with the best-riding monohull. The real fun began with the big-block V8s. The Velocity upped the top speed ante to 75 mph. Our hands-down favorite, however, was teh Talon with its 550-horse supercharged engine and amazing cat hull.

Rich Taylor
Popular Mechanics

SPECIFICATIONS AND TEST RESULTS
Make/ModelBaja 20 OutlawStingray 220SX Velocity 220Talon 25
Length20 ft 4 in21 ft 6 in21 ft 6 in25 ft
Beam94 in97 in95 in100 in
Dry Weight3000 lb3320 lb3300 lb3500 lb
Merc Engine Type5.0 MPI V8MX 6.2 MPI V8 496 MAG MPI V8HP 575 SCi V8
Displacement305 cu in/5000cc377 cu in/6200cc 496 cu in/8100cc502 cu in/8200cc
Power260 hp@5000 rpm320 hp@5200 rpm375 hp@4800 rpm 550 hp@5200 rpm
Drive SystemMerc Bravo 1Merc Bravo 1 Merc Bravo 1Merc Bravo 1 XR
Fuel Capacity50 gal39 gal50 gal 110 gal
Base Price$24,995$36,012$68,500$94,850
Price As Tested$24,995$39,695$68,500$119,595
Acceleration
(plane/30/50 mph)

5.19/7.18/10.46 sec

3.20/6.00/10.92 sec

4.70/8.27/12.96 sec

2.73/4,81/6.68 sec
Top Speed61.6 mph@5200 rpm64.9 mph@5150 rpm 75 mph@4800 rpm102 mph@5350 rpm

Testing was conducted under clear weather conditions, temperature 70 degrees, humidity 60 percent. Wind from the north-northwest at 5 mph. Water conditions: light chop. Our test course headings were north-northeast at 30 degrees and south-southwest at 210 degrees. Each boat made three runs in both directions (six runs total).



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