“Formosa’s new crossover X series combines some bright ideas with features from existing models to create a new concept. We sent John Ford…” Review and Photography By JOHN FORD for Tradabouts.com.au. June 2017
View Model specs: X Bowrider
It’s pretty refreshing when someone comes up with a new idea for a boat and then goes on to include it as a new model. After all, one of the foundations of our judging criteria is innovation. By basing the new X series on the proven Tomahawk 580 hull, the team has raised the bar for the crossover concept while pricing the package within range of many family budgets.
The Formosa Tomahawk Classic X 580 Bowrider might be a bit of a mouthful for most, so for our purposes let’s just call it the 580 X.
BUILT TOUGH, SMOOTH RIDE
Formosa’s mid-range hull is a tough plate boat built from 4mm aluminium and is one of the nicest riding and most bluewater-friendly alloy models around. This builder’s genuine plate construction is centred on a grid of longitudinal stringers and a sub-frame that is welded directly to the hull.
A raised sheer line, distinctive reverse chine and fastback transom achieve looks that were amplified by the test boat’s standout lime green wrap.
It’s available in various guises – it comes as a half cab, centre cab, runabout and a bowrider, as well as side and centre consoles, all of which perform well but are compromised somewhat when pushed outside of their intended roles.
For example, the side console is great for fishing but lacks creature comforts and room for family wakeboarding, whereas the bowrider suits the family but isn’t actually set up for offshore fishing, meaning compromises must, unfortunately, be made.
Jason figured that, with a few new ideas, the factory could introduce a boat that would work well in all areas. Reasoning that offshore users would like improved vision over the standard bowrider screen, along with the ability to stand up while driving, the design team raised the console some 200mm and included custom sports seats on sturdy storage boxes. So as well as improving the view forward, it also added better weather protection from the higher screen.
Sun and weather protection are necessary when you have the family along, so the Transformers-influenced wakeboard tower with its built-in alloy hardtop is an inspired design feature, and it gives the 580 X a modern, youthful appeal.
Right throughout the boat are features that support both fishing pursuits and family fun. The lush bow seating has a full infill to turn the area into a big sun lounge while the soft padded coamings all around the sides and high seat backs against the console will be popular for relaxing and enjoying the ride. Low rails will help keep youngsters on board, and there’s a great Fusion speaker low down to share the full benefits of the upmarket stereo.
On the other hand, the fishos can have just as good a time. Remove the cushions and you’ve got a spacious casting platform with good storage options below. Drop the 80lb Minn Kota i-Pilot Riptide, and you are ready for a session of estuary fishing.
This same versatility applies down the back, with a fully plumbed live-bait tank, a deep kill box in the floor, a transom door and a custom bait table. And then for entertaining you simply lift the arena seating and use the in-floor tank for drinks and food.
Even the wake tower fills a double roll – big LED-lit speakers are right at home but the rocket launcher is equally matched to the versatile boat.
The helm is an entertaining mix. The Fusion sound system with upgraded speakers throughout the boat will keep you entertained while the Raymarine A7 series electronics include a seven-inch touchscreen sounder and GPS that should help you find some fish.
To add a bit of zing and toy-pulling capacity, the engineering around the transom has been beefed up to allow the fitment of outboards up to the 200hp of the Honda on our test boat. I’m told the outfit performs well with a 150 and I could well believe it.
Performance from the Honda 200 was impressive as we set off on the Hawkesbury River at Windsor, west of Sydney, in conditions that were ideal for skiing or simply enjoying the ride.
A four-blade 17in stainless steel Solas prop seemed an ideal choice as it delivered quick acceleration, good top-end speed and hung on tenaciously in high-spirited turns.
According to my new accelerometer app, from rest, we were on the plane at 12kt (25km/h) in 2.05 seconds, which sounds impressive. Heck, it felt quick anyway, and at only 2500rpm it demonstrates a very efficient hull.
Slow cruising at 3500rpm showed 23kt (43km/h) for a fuel usage of 23L/h, or an impressive litre per nautical mile (1.86km/L). Pouring on the coals will bring up a fast cruise at 4500rpm of 31kt (58L/h) and on to a WOT speed of 41.5kt (77km/h) at 6000rpm.
Even at these higher speeds, the drive was safe, predictable and smooth. Sure, we were on calm water but it was impossible to find fault in wide sweeping turns, full-lock, full-power figures of eight or over the resultant wake we stirred up in the river.
With Minn Kota, alloy trailer, superior sound system, electronics and the big Honda BF200, our fully-loaded test boat tipped the scales at A$71,990. Packages start at A$59,990 with a 150 engine and a gal trailer, which is very competitive. The BMT weight should be in the 1550kg range, so there is the added benefit of only needing a medium-sized vehicle for towing.
• Quality build with a fully welded deck
• The innovative design should suit fishing and family fun
• Modern styling with a versatile options list to personalise further
• Dash could do with being bigger
Formosa Tomahawk Classic X 580 Price $71,990
A$59,990 with 150hp Honda, galvanised trailer, base Fusion sound system, 7 inch Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder
Engine upgrade, Raymarine A7, upgraded Fusion 650 sound system, plumbed live-bait tank, alloy trailer, wrap and more
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL 4mm aluminium
TYPE Crossover monohull
LENGTH 5.95m LOA
MAKE/MODEL Honda BF 200
RATED HP 200
GEAR RATIO 1.86:1
PROPELLER Solas four-blade 17in
Formosa Marine, Queensland