Word is getting around on Formula's stunning 290 FX4. Not only is this 29-footer an exciting advancement in American sportboat design, but it is merely the first of a number of new boats Formula is building with new lines and styling, that is sure to send our friends in Milano and Torino back to their drawing boards and CADs.
Imron FX Graphic with Silver Diamond Pearl Metallic hullside, deck and full cockpit with red and black accents
This was the first-ever photo taken of the new Formula 290 FX4 in the builder's test tank at the factory. The builder released these pictures and others last Friday after a strict news blackout.
Capt. Steve Says...
It’s hard not to love a job that allows you to walk down the dock, see a boat sitting there that everyone is staring at, and then have the guy in charge walk over to you and hand you the keys. Does it get any better? Now the hard part is trying to put into words the attitude and feeling that this boat projects so well. It’s the cross I have to bear but here goes.
There’s just so much “wow” factor in the 290 FX4 that it’s hard to decide where to begin. So let’s start with first impressions. The high gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint is simply stunning against the red and black accented white upholstery. You can’t help but stare, and that’s pretty much what everyone on the dock was doing. She has a sleek profile, sitting high at the bow and low at the stern. The thought of a 50’s Ferrari comes to mind and you can’t help but picture a Brigitte Bardot-type blonde ala Love Italian Style sitting there waiting for you to come aboard.
The low profile curved glass windshield is framed in the Formula trademark heavy-duty stainless steel. Everywhere you look, there’s another example of custom work that Formula put effort into for this boat alone. Embroidered “FX4” logos in the seat backs, custom logo’d snap-in carpeting… it’s all here as the ultimate eye candy. You almost cringe thinking someone might get it dirty, but then you see the self draining cockpit scuppers and realize that this a boat intended to be used, even though it looks like it should be under glass. It’s an interesting mix of retro-class and contemporary flair all in one boat.
Highlights of Features
Suffice it to say that there’s too much on this boat to write about, but let’s go over some of the notables. First is the construction. Formula uses a chemical bond to join the hull and deck together and it joins the two as one. This isn’t just talk, you can feel it in the ride and how she handles the wakes. You’ll think you’re on a much larger boat with a heavy feel, but her empty weight is 8,950 lbs (4,060 kg). That makes her a relative heavyweight in her class, but it’s got more to do with the construction than amenities, and it’s interesting to note that she shares the same weight class with her cousin, the 290BR.
The engine intake vents are covered in stainless rails. I thought that was impressive, and tucked behind the port intake rails is a concealed air horn… air horn, not an electric tone cheapy. It sounded very cool, and fitting of this beauty.
There are multiple raised highlight areas molded into the hull, and the rubrail follows a graceful curve aft until it makes a bee-line to the integral swim platform. And check out the stainless Corsa side exhaust.
Here you can see the concealed air horn tucked into the port intake vent.
The cockpit is a continuous molded liner with more of the high gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint that we saw on the exterior. Imron painted interior? That's right and Formula is once again leading the industry in fit-and-finish details.
Throughout the 290 FX4 there are areas of silver carbon-fiber panels covered in an exotic resin overlay. It’s on the cockpit entertainment center, the dash panel, in the cabin highlights, in the head… it’s just something you’d never before see on a sportboat, and here it’s everywhere.
Let’s get to the layout. Calling her a cuddy is a bit of a misnomer as that says to me that it’s just got a small berth where most people just throw stuff for the day. Rather, the 290 FX4 is more like a pocket cruiser; she's a mini-cabin cruiser… there’s V-seating forward with a pedestal table in the cabin. As expected, this table lowers to form a berth. Natural light pours in through two Bomar hatches overhead. The sliding companionway hatch is high-gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint.
Here you can see the port side bench seat with storage below, and custom logo’d carpeting. Notice the molded in steps to the bow walkthrough with courtesy lights at each step. Below you can see the table lowered to accommodate the filler cushion and custom embroidered pillows.
The entry steps are cherry wood grain and the cabin is carpeted throughout. The upholstery is Ultra leather and butter soft and I noticed that there is a lumbar support all the way around the seating, and the FX embroidery continues here. The table is a high gloss cherry that matches the steps. It’s just beautiful. Cherry cabinetry and Corian countertops round out the high class look of the cabin. A flat screen LCD TV is mounted to the forward bulkhead.
The head compartment is to starboard, and while it’s not suitable for standing, you’re not crouching either. There is a porcelain head plumbed to a 22 gallon (83.3L) holding tank, a molded vanity with sink and mirror, Corian countertops and cherry flooring.
You enter the cockpit via the portside entry from the swim platform. There’s a double wide aft facing rumble seat, which is only appropriate to use while the boat is not making way. To the starboard is a trunk storage locker with dedicated holders for the fenders.
Notice the custom molded non-skid on the integral swim platform. To the right is the trunk storage and concealed swim ladder.
A U-shaped settee (or maybe C-shaped, I get those confused) lies to starboard, with more logo’d upholstery, only since it’s exposed to the elements the Ultra leather is replaced with weatherproof Prefixx treated vinyl, DriFast foam, and StarLite XL synthetic marine panel construction . There is storage underneath and a removable 17qt (16L) Igloo cooler. The cocktail table is dual height to facilitate the addition of filler cushions making the area into a large sunpad. Where’s Suzanne Somers now?
U-shaped seating with storage underneath lies across from the wetbar. Notice the cockpit drains and custom carpeting. You can also see the seam of the engine hatch running from just under the top of the step across the seat bottom.
To starboard is an entertainment center, with the carbon fiber countertop I mentioned earlier, sink, another 17qt (16 L) Igloo cooler trash container, and chrome safety rail.
Ahead and to port is a bench seat with additional storage underneath.
If they ever gave out awards for helm beauty, this would take the prize. The carbon fiber with clear overlay looks amazing against the Livorsi gauges. There are two oversized Livorsi Mega-series gauges for engine tachs and a third oversized GPS speedo in the middle. The speedometer has a “max recall” feature, but I couldn’t see how to access that (nor did I care as I had my own on the radar gun).
One of the best looking panels we’ve seen. Clean and uncluttered, and all backed by carbon fiber.
The remaining critical engine gauges were in two slanted rows to starboard, the fuel and a depth gauge were to port. A double wide helm seat with separate bolsters gave good reason for two stainless drink holders, and by the way… all drink holders had drain hoses leading into the bilge. Lighted rocker switches were on either side of the silver and chrome steering wheel. A stereo remote (the stereo is in the cabin) is below to port. To starboard are the dual Livorsi chrome engine controls, as seen on all Formula’s, with Lenco trim tabs with indicators just ahead and individual outdrive and trailer trim switches next to that. Combined outdrive trim is via a thumb switch on the port throttle. At the top of the panel are molded in trim gauges resting on either side of the Ritchie compass.
Here’s a better look at the carbon fiber that is seen throughout the FX4.
A touch of a helm rocker switch lifted the electrically actuated engine hatch revealing the twin Mercury 320-hp 377 MAG’s. They were attached to Bravo III outdrives. I found plenty of room to access all sides of the engines and daily checks were front and center. I wasn’t thrilled with the fire extinguisher discharge ports. There are two screw-type hatches, one top and bottom. You can’t get them both out from a single side. Of course my concerns were alleviated when I noticed the fixed fire extinguisher system mounted in the engine compartment. When will I remember that Formula does nothing halfway?
It's Good to Be King
Overall, not only was this a cool looking boat, you just feel cool operating it. It changes you in ways that are not common and that are hard for me to describe. The fact is, I drive a lot of boats, and when one gives me any kind of feeling past the forensic I’m tasked to explore, then it’s saying something. This one felt good to me, both in its handling and general attitude. What exactly is that attitude? Well, just imagine what it must feel like when you know you have the coolest, most-state-of-the-art, and sexiest boat on the water? It's like that old Tom Petty song, "It's Good to be King."
In case you have forgotten, here are the lyrics...
It's good to be king, if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give 'em a smile
It's good to get high and never come down
It's good to be king of your own little town
Yeah, the world would swing if I were king
Can I help it if I still dream time to time
It's good to be king and have your own way
Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day
And when your bulldog barks and your canary sings
You're out there with winners, it's good to be king
Yeah I'll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time
It's good to be king and have your own world
It helps to make friends, it's good to meet girls
A sweet little queen who can't run away
It's good to be king, whatever it pays
Excuse me if I have some place in my mind
Where I go time to time...
...Yeah, the 290 FX4 is that cool.
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) is 54.5 mph (87.7 kph), burning 50.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 190.01 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) is 29.5 mph (47.5 kph), and the boat gets 1.69 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.72 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 168 miles (270.37 kilometers).
Tested power is 2 x 320-hp MerCruiser 377 MAG.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Standard and Optional Equipment
Dripless Shaft Seals
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
= Standard = Optional
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Warranty
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Price
Formula 290 FX4 (2010-) Price
Base Price (MSRP)
Price as Tested
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
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