Capt. Steve Says...
Larson did its homework on how to make a good-looking boat. Practically the whole Larson line is eye candy in my book. Need proof? When we were towing the Senza 206 to the launch ramp, the occupants of every car we passed rubber-necked to see more. Clearly, this boat would make one take notice at the dock as well.
Larson's fleet master handed me the keys and looked the other way. I basically put the 206 through the wringer cranking and banking. Her turns were rock solid and she handled high speed maneuvers as if on rails. To be sure, the best way to handle the turns is to either tell everyone to hang on (tightly) ahead of time or slow down to a more docile speed before entering the turns, for the Senza 206 can handle more than your passengers probably can. But for the record... at speed, if you put the 206 into a hard turn, the boat banks into the turn roughly 5-degrees, which is standard. At the same time, she starts to come around through the turning arc. At about 20 degrees into the turn the bank she will reach her peak from the momentum of the outboard gunwale rising. Then it starts to fall off slightly, and it’s at that point that you better be hanging on. Once it starts to fall, the lifting strakes take hold and really grab the water as if it were rubber meeting the road. The result is an exhilarating performance turn that was almost at the limit of my being able to hang on (kids, don’t try this at home).
When stopping from a high-speed run, the Senza 206 will continue on its own momentum for quite a way before finally bleeding off speed and settling back into the water. Do not expect a quick stop when pulling power off. This is indicative of a hull that is made for running, is easy to push and therefore efficient, which is a good thing -- just realize that quick stopping requires planning ahead.
Slow speed maneuvering is predictable and manageable. There is a slide when you turn the wheel at this speed, so approaches to the dock can be thought of as a controlled skid. Turning into the skid will stop the slide and you can lay up to the dock gently. When backing down, a turn of the wheel will have the bow come around like the end of a whip, only much slower. If you then reverse the direction of the helm, you can pull the stern over as the bow continues its little swing and the boat moves sideways towards the dock and you look like a pro. It takes a little practice to get the timing right but when you pull it off it looks great as you back into a slip. In the wind, the Senza 206 presents her entire beam, so be prepared for that when docking in a breeze. If you plan on docking against the wind, head into the wind as long as you can before cranking around and sliding against the dock. Be quick on the lines because she will blow back off quickly.
Our test boat was powered by a 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI EC with a Bravo 3 outdrive. With ¾ of the 35 gallon (132 L) fuel capacity, two people and gear added to the 3,050 lbs empty weight, our test weight was just over 3,550 lbs. We reached a top speed of 51.2 mph at 5050 rpm while burning 20.5 gph. Pulled back to a more economical cruise of 3500 rpm we were running at 35.5 mph with a 6.4 gph fuel burn, getting 3.84 mpg. At that speed we had a range of 175 miles with a 10-percent reserve. We reached planing speed in 2.9 seconds and accelerated through 30 mph in 7.8 seconds. Those are very good numbers, folks!
The forward cushion lifts to reveal a non-skid raised surface that will serve to either set up a dive off the bow, or aid in boarding from docking bow on. Under the two side seats is self-draining storage that is finished inside with gelcoat, making them easy to clean. It also makes the compartments equally functional for ice and drinks as well as basic storage. The cushions were held in place with a pin and socket system that I’ve had trouble with in the past. Here again, while it wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected, it was still awkward to get my fingers under the cushion to provide pressure for lifting. I think I’d prefer the basic snap with hinges at the back but others disagree and prefer this system.
To the Cockpit
Our test boat was equipped with the optional low profile tinted sport windshield and it looked amazing. I would have appreciated it so much more if it had been a hot day as it deflects the wind into your face nicely when sitting on the bolster. This would provide ample cooling on a typical boating day, but in my case, it lowered the already cool day to an uncomfortable wind chill. Flipping the seat bolster down solved the problem of wind, but reduced visibility a tad. Sole storage between the consoles wasn’t quite wide enough for wakeboards, but if wakeboarding is your thing, you’ll be adding the optional tower with racks to your Senza 206 anyway. It rocks the looks of the boat and adds so much to the watersports functionality. I was happy to see that the sole storage featured padding at the base over the already smooth interior of the VEC hull.
Larson went with two large Faria gauges in the center of the panel with four molded spots for smaller gauges off to the two sides. Engine gauges were to the left and a depth gauge and trim gauge were off to the right. Our test boat had the optional "Convenience" package which consists of tilt steering, depth finder, hour meter, passenger seat flip-up bolster, and a transom tilt switch. The reason I bring this up now is that I noticed that there were two blank spots in the panel, one of which could easily hold the optional hour meter, but for reasons known only to Larson, they chose to mount it in the engine compartment. Having the gauge at all is still a great feature as it makes keeping track of your maintenance a breeze.
Families will love the Senza 206 cockpit as it is deep and will keep curious kids who like to lean over to see the water in check and onboard. Ample bench seating runs across the stern. Under the bench is storage to both sides that is open to the front. Cargo netting keeps your gear stowed in place and allows you to see at a glance what is in each compartment without having to open anything. This arrangement keeps gear dry and unmoldy. In the center is a carry-on cooler.
I’m slightly conflicted with the storage of the cooler. You lift the center seat to access it and the cooler itself is held in position with a 2” (5 cm) rotocast lip fastened to the bottom of the seat. This means that the cooler is held firmly in place, and lifting the cushion makes for an easy access. However, you now have to ask someone to get up to get a beverage. A slide-out tray would solve that problem, but to be sure, it’s not much of a problem. Nitpicking is in my job description, so mission accomplished.
Abaft the bench seat is an expansive sunpad with a flip-up center cushion that reveals a walkthrough to the swim platform. The bench center cushion lifts out to reveal a non-skid step to the walkthrough. Under the sunpad is the engine compartment, and while it’s easy enough to lift the engine hatch, the pull straps do not leave much room for getting the fingers into for lifting. However, I never use these anyway, preferring to lift the sunpad walkthrough cushion and pushing up on that to add more leverage and making the hatch lift even easier. Works every time. Once inside, there is ample room for mounting either the base 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L, our test 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI EC, or the top of the food chain 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7L GI C DP or 300-hp MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI EC. To either side of the engine was ample storage space that is kept separated from the engine by cargo netting. While the cargo netting is such a simple addition, you just don’t see that on a lot of boats. I think it is both nautical and practical.
The Senza 206 does not come standard with any canvas. I can appreciate that as not everyone stores their boat outside, and not every captain is a fair skinned Irish boy like me who always that needs a Bimini. All the same, a certain amount of canvas can, and should, be considered and there are several options to choose from. Unless you are fortunate enough to take advantage of rack storage, you may want to opt for a trailer. Larson does not cut corners on their trailers and each one must have five features to qualify for adding a Larson decal to the frame. 1. It needs to be color matched (unless you require galvanized).2. It needs to have a swing away tongue.3. It needs to have chrome wheels.4. It needs to have retractable stern tie downs.5. It needs to have a 5-year warranty to match the boat’s components warranty. We discussed the convenience package that I feel is a must have. The last option I’d hate to leave off my 206 is the stainless steel package consisting of a control plate, grab handles, cup holders, speaker grills, and pull-up cleats. Perhaps dock lights could be left off the checklist, but they do look good.
As mentioned above, Larson has what amounts to a stem-to-stern 5-year warranty on parts that it manufacturers. Be sure to check the warranties on the engine, and all major components for OEM warranties, and be sure to read the fine print so you won't have any surprises.Overall, the Senza 206 has a lot of things going for her and that is why she is such a good-selling boat.I found the Senza 206 to be a very desirable package. The handling was spot on, she has looks to die for, and is it’s full of dock appeal that adds to the pride of owning a Larson in the first place. But there’s more to the picture than that. This boat is made with VEC technology that brings a huge amount of computer controllability to the manufacturing process of the hull. If you haven’t checked out our video on the VEC story, please do so.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Larson Senza 206 (2011-) is 51.2 mph (82.4 kph), burning 20.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 77.59 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Larson Senza 206 (2011-) is 28.6 mph (46 kph), and the boat gets 4.47 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.9 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 141 miles (226.92 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0 MPI.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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