|Deadrise/Transom||20 deg.||Water Cap||none|
|Max Headroom||open||Bridge Clearance||
|Std. Power||1 x 220-hp MerCruiser 4.3L|
|Tested Power||1 x 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI|
1 x 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L
Captain's Report by Capt. Steve
Look at that Bayliner 215 BR fly! And cool hull graphics, too.
It's All About the Options
Well maybe not "all" about the options, but the fact is, our test boat was pretty tricked out, much as I'd like her to be if she were my boat -- and it really made an impact. In the 215 BR Bayliner is offering a surprising number of options for being a low-price point boat. We like lots of options, of course, as it lets us fit the boat more closely to our family's watersports needs.
I've never been a fan of the standard seating arrangement of bucket seat for the skipper, and back-to-back port seating for the navigator and spotter which has been a standard among sportboat builders since time began. Aft, the standard arrangement has single seats flanking an engine box.
Here is the standard seating arrangement. Note the L-shaped seating for the companion or observer. Then you have the two helm swivel seats that can be turned aft in order to join the conversation and of course, the sun pad.
Aft, the standard seating is comfortable and not tight, yet it gives a secure feeling to newbies.
At first glance, it seems as if you'd be fairly cramped with the optional Sport Seating, but far from it. I spent the better part of the day onboard this boat, and found the seating to be functional, and comfortable. For towing, the bucket seat gave the observer a relaxing spot to watch the end of the towline from.
Guests can sit around the cockpit table in either the two helm swivel seats, or in the L-shaped seating, and rest their drinks in the cupholders.
The optional Sport Seating provides a sunpad, L-shaped seating and dual bucket seats.
But the seating options have got nothing on the remaining trim packages. And in my book they're all "must haves" to really get the most out of the dock envy that this boat generates.
First is the Preferred Equipment Package (add $1,214). This will give you the Sunbrella Bimini canvas top, a color choice of blue, black or red topsides, and a matching deck gelcoat stripe, as well as the stainless steel package. I can’t imagine going boating without a Bimini top. Safe sun is important for youngsters of all ages, and the shade gives you a choice. And when a summer shower comes over, it gives a place for the wimpiest crew member to cower.
The 215 was able to get our 200 lb (90.7 kg) wakeboarder on top of the water before he even reached the prop wash.
Stainless Steel and Hull Graphics
But the crème de la crème of the numerous options has to be the Flight Series Package (add $3,750). This gives you the Preferred Equipment Package (the Bimini top and boot) plus the cool hull side graphics, the extended swim platform, a collapsible wakeboard tower and the stainless steel package. Throw in the carpet runners (add $379) and a cockpit table ($243) and now you're living large.
The extended platform adds 23" (58.4 cm) to the 21.5" (54.6 cm) molded platform. You can see the walkthrough to the right, and notice the stainless engine vents. This is one of the more attractive extension we have seen.
Optional Swim Platform
Regular readers know that that the folks at BoatTEST.com think that sportboats should have swim platforms that extend past the sterndrive lower unit when it is in the down position. That option is $843 and, I think, worth every nickel. Further, on the Bayliner 215 BR we think that the optional swim platform has been especially well designed to fit in with the overall lines of the boat – it does not look like something that just got bolted on as an after thought. To me it is worth the money just for the enhanced curb appeal even if you never go swimming or tubing.
Bow and Cockpit Cover Option
However, there is another option that I highly recommend: The bow and cockpit cover will add $929 to the bill. Yes, you can buy a boat cover for something on the order of $300 from a good online vendor like Taylor Made, but if you plan to keep your boat on a mooring I would suggest that you go with the factory covers.
Here’s why: They are carefully made and fitted by the builder for your boat and this cover has the best chance of surviving high winds and not being blown off. (I recently watched a sportboat ride out a 60 mph storm on a mooring with factory-made bow and cockpit covers and it made me a believer.)
Here the 215 BR is docked with the optional Bimini top and bow well and cockpit covers in place.
How About s Trailer?
Lastly, your 215 BR comes standard packaged with a painted trailer with swing-away tongue and single axle brakes. If your boat is in salt water you'll be happy to see that Bayliner offers you a galvanized trailer at no additional cost. You can opt for tandem axle with dual brakes for an additional $793.
Mix and Match
But what if you don’t want the hull graphics and the wakeboard tower? No problem. Bayliner will let you break down the packages and pick and choose exactly what you do want. How is that for a level of service on an affordable boat? There are several other options that you may want and you should check them out on Bayliner’s website.
Notice how the observers seat is close enough to the bench seat to recline when facing aft. The usual open bulwarks storage that Bayliner is famous for, can be seen behind the seat.
Since our test boat was fitted with the Sport layout, I'll focus on those features. You have roomy boarding from the aft platform, and it's even more accessible with the extended platform. Being so low to the water, the extended platform also makes a great staging area for putting the boards on.
The cover to the concealed re-boarding ladder on the molded platform is screwed down, as the ladder is relegated to the underside of the starboard corner of the extended platform. It probably wouldn't take too much to make the original ladder compartment into a small wet storage locker, or cooler and I'd like to see Bayliner consider offering such as an option.
The starboard side of the sunpad flips open to reveal a non-skid walkthrough with storage underneath. The starboard bench seat and seatback are also removable to reveal a non-skid step into the cockpit.
In the Cockpit
The port side of the L-shaped seating offers additional storage, while the center is reserved for a carry-on cooler. I found the latch for the engine hatch to be a bit difficult to operate simply because it's tucked away up underneath the hatch. There's a small recess just off the center to the port side, and you must reach your hand in and bring your fingers way up to release the latch.
Once the hatch is open you have easy access to all sides of the engine for both regular and preventive maintenance. By releasing the gas-assist struts you can fully open the engine hatch for major overhaul. Additional storage is to both sides, one of which is easily accessed via the walkthrough.
The battery is visible aft and to port and while it was secured sufficiently I would like to see Bayliner add battery post covers. The batteries switch was just ahead of the battery and a little bit difficult to reach.
Way in the back you can see the battery with the hard to reach battery switch just ahead. Plenty of storage lies to both sides.
The roomy cockpit measures 6'8" (2.03 m) across, and the observer gets a bucket seat that swivels around for easy viewing of the towline while relaxing with his or her feet up. The helm bucket seat is standard; the observer’s is optional with the Sport Seating. Both bucket seats feature flip-up bolsters that I found to be slightly uncomfortable while offering a much better view above the windshield frame.
The collapsible wakeboard tower is arched forward and very strong. The tow point is 6'8" (2.03 m) off the deck. I've always had the attitude that a forward raked tower makes a boat look so much better, and this 215 is another example of that line of thinking.
The instrument gauges on the Bayliner 215 BR are by Faria, the same brand you will find on the most expensive sportboats.
Bayliner went with good-looking Faria gauges with chrome bezels and black faces. The look is outstanding against the silver panel surrounded by black vinyl. Molded sun shades are over the top gauges. A depth gauge is optional (add $307), and I always recommend adding it to the list.
Capt. Steve is sitting on the bolster here, placing his line of vision above the windshield frame. There are a couple of things he would change at the helm.
Visibility was excellent and while seated I was looking directly through the windshield, rather than at the windshield frame. (This is a biggie, folks.) I found myself having to look for the engine control rather than just reach for it naturally. It seemed just slightly aft for my taste and I'd like to see it moved slightly forward slightly.
My knee kept hitting the engine control. I'd like to see it moved a bit forward both for comfort and to eliminate this unintended trim adjustment.
While the seats swivel and slide, I was pleased to see that they did not wrap-around which allows you to swing your body out and easily get up from the seat without having to swivel it. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is flattened at the bottom to further accommodate swinging your legs in and out.
There is a lot to like about the walkthrough -- its width and the strength of the windshield supports, for example. But we would like to see a device to close off this passage when it is cool or in sloppy conditions.
At the Bow
20" (50.8 cm) separates the two consoles at the walkthrough. The opening windshield is gasketed on both sides so that in the closed position you will not be bothered by any annoying rattles. The windshield supports are aluminum and very thick and easily held my weight. I would like to see a strap and snap securing the window in the open position. While I've never had one blow closed on me, my obsessive compulsive side would just drop a notch with the added security.
The bow seats are 17" (43.2 cm) apart, so if you plan to sit facing another person you'll be knocking knees together. This is not unusual, and no one typically sits this way. You will normally be lounging out with your feet on the cushions, and in that position I had room to spare.
The bulwarks measured 15" (38 cm) high which gave a great feeling of security in addition to the comfortable and lengthy stainless steel grab handles. Note that Capt. Steve’s feet have another 6” (15 cm) or so to go before hitting the bow cushion.
I found all of the cushions in the bow very difficult to remove and replace. The side cushions are tightly wedged underneath the padded side bolsters, and the forward cushion is tightly wedged between the two side cushions. The usual storage is underneath the side cushions, and under the forward cushion is a non-skid hatch cover that allows you to step to the non-skid platform at the bow. Under the hatch cover is wide open anchor storage.
Powered by the 5.0L engine the 215 BR moves. Note how the extended swim platform fits in nicely with the styling.
Performance and Handling
Our test boat was equipped with the optional 5.0L 260-hp MerCruiser (add $2,929. A 4.3L 220-hp MerCruiser is standard.
I was quite pleased with the handling characteristics of the 215 BR. It had a very solid feel, and I was able to carve through the self generated waves with ease. Water was thrown well to the sides and try as I might I failed at getting any spray on the windshield.
With an empty weight of 2,838 lb (1287.3 kg), full fuel, two people and test gear we had a test weight of 3,435 lb (1558.1 kg).
I measured a top speed of 46.7 miles per hour at 4850 rpm. At that speed we were burning 19.4 gallons per hour while getting 2.4 miles per gallon for range of 80 miles. Best cruise came in at 2500 rpm and 22.2 miles per hour. Now the fuel burn was only 5.2 gallons per hour which meant that we were getting 4.3 miles per gallon for range of 144 miles. This is good fuel mileage for a sterndrive and notice it is with the larger engine.
Time to plane was 4.2 seconds, we reached 20 miles an hour in 7.2 seconds and accelerated through 30 miles per hour in 9.8 seconds. Full test results are available by clicking the "test results" tab at the top of this report.
It is hard to resist the hull graphics option, which help to make this a pretty exciting boat in our book.
The 260-hp 5.0L engine also made short work of towing. I noticed no difference in acceleration after we put a wakeboarder on the end of the towline. While he was carving turns back and forth across the wake, I was able to maintain a straight track with the 215 requiring no corrections to the steering. Backing down the speed to roughly 18 miles per hour created a decent enough wake for our boarder to actually get some air and fly from one wake to the next before making a gentle re-entry.
The Whole Enchilada
With a base price of under $35,000 plus dealer prep and freight, Bayliner is hitting a sweet spot in the bowrider category with the 215. Certainly the options will add more to the base price but it still remains a competitive choice with a competitive price. If you want your 215 with all the options that were fitted on our test boat you'd be looking at about $44,556 including freight and dealer prep.
The way we would rig this boat – covers, table, depth sounder, , swim platform and sport seating – with the 220-hp 4.3 L engine the total MSRP is $39,753 with dealer prep and freight. This will probably serve most people’s needs. If you are going to do some serious wakeboard towing, and you want to hot-dog, then perhaps the 5.0 L engine would be more satisfying.
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
= Standard = Optional
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Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!