|Max Headroom||Open||Bridge Clearance||
|Tested Power||1 x 430-hp Volvo Penta V8-430|
1 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT B3X
1 x 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO ECT B3X
1 x 380-hp Volvo Penta V8-380C DP
1 x 430-hp Volvo Penta V8-430CE DP
Our first test of the new Volvo Penta 6.0 L V8 rated at 430-hp was in the new Cobalt A28 on a hot day in late summer. The results of this single-engine test in a boat weighing 6,048 lbs. (2,749 kgs.) can be found in our Captain's Report.
Mission of the Cobalt A28
Cobalt's A25, introduced over two years ago, captured the imagination of boaters drawn to her classy styling, innovative features and elegant-looking interior. Why not replicate the same look but make the boat 3' (.91 m) longer? Then, owners could bring even more people aboard, more even than on a good-sized pontoon boat.
That is exactly what Cobalt did, and put that 3' right in the middle of the boat. This had the advantage of increasing the seating capacity from the maximum of 15 in the A25 to 20 or so in the A28. (Boats 26' and under must USE a USCG passenger capacity formula and put that number on the boat’s certifying plate. Boats over 26' are considered "yachts" and have no regulated passenger capacity restriction. In the case of the A28 it is pretty much the number of seats available.)
For boaters who want to haul a lot of people out onto the lake for entertaining but who would rather do it in a classy-looking bowrider instead of a pontoon boat, the A28 is a good alternative.
Even though the A28 has a WOT of over 53 mph, she is set-up to be a family lake sportboat with strong watersport features.
●New Volvo Penta V8-430 6.0 L gas engine
●Fit-and-finish, upholstery work, quality hardware
●Construction materials (Kevlar, honeycomb, etc)
●Patented, submersible fold-down swim platform
●Huge seating capacity for a 28’ bowrider
●Extended running surface behind the transom
●Low bow-rise upon acceleration
●Status earned from superior construction execution over the years
The Volvo Penta 430-hp V8-430 comes standard with the EVC diagnostic function and counter-rotating dual props which help keep the boat going straight when at idle speeds.
Mission of the Volvo Penta V8-430
The 430-hp version of the 6.0 L Volvo Penta 90-degree V-8 is to be a replacement for the big block V8s that have been used in the marine industry for decades. The V8-430 engine weighs about 213 lbs. (96.8 kgs.) less than big block engines. Because she has variable valve timing and other modern technological advancements, Volvo Penta is banking on her desirability in the marketplace.
Distinguishing Features of the Volvo Penta V8-430
●Strong low-end torque for fast starts for towing sports
●Because of variable timing, better mid-range power response
●Lighter weight for better fuel economy and higher top speed
●Freshwater-cooled as standard to protect the complete engine
●WOT at 6000 RPMs for max horsepower, speed and torque
●Flatter torque curve for reduced weight sensitivity
●Comes standard with EVC and DuoProp sterndrive
Test day was hot and humid in early September in St. Petersburg, Florida. Temperature was 98F, the humidity was 85% and the barometric pressure was almost 30.0 inches of Hg. All of this meant that no naturally-aspirated engine could perform at its best, and the V8-430 was no exception. After consulting engineering calculators, it appears to us as if the atmospheric conditions on test day robbed the engine of about 3.7% of her max horsepower – 16 horsepower. In other words, while the V8-430 performed very well during out test, we suspect she would have done better under cooler conditions.
Caveat to Consumers. BoatTEST.com tests boats with the weather we get on “test day” rather than the weather we'd like to have. It is the nature of the marine business and the high cost of testing both for BoatTEST.com and the boat builders, that repeatable lab-type conditions cannot be made from boat to boat, or engine to engine. Further, relatively small boats such as the Cobalt A28 are particularly weight-sensitive, as well as being affected by the wind and sea conditions on test day.
Drawings are not to scale! The top drawing is of the Cobalt A28 and the bottom one is of the A25. Both boats have an 8’6" (2.59 m) beam. Use these drawings only to visualize the changes in the main cockpit from the A25 to the A28.
The Cobalt A25 vs. A28
A25 Redux. The Cobalt A28 caught the eye of a lot of boat show-goers two years ago and it is not surprising that the builder is trying to capitalize on that success. Cobalt states that it added 3' to the A25 and kept many of the other things the same (if it ain't broke…). The beam is the same 8'6" (2.59 m), the draft with the lower unit up is the same 30" (75.7 cm) and the A28 weighs only 335 lbs. (152.2 kgs.) more than the A25. The stern treatment from the back bench seat to the flip down submerged swim platform is the same. The bow is essentially the same although some changes were made there.
So, What is Different? Actually, some important things. First, and most important, Cobalt has doubled the seating capacity of the boat's main cockpit. The A25 comfortably seats five or six adults. The portside seating has been more than doubled and now this long, versatile bench seat is where five or six can now sit. The transom seat stays the same, seating three, but the starboard bench seat now comfortably seats two. So now the cockpit seats 10 or 11 people.
The Cobalt A28 has a large main cockpit that is made to hold many people for entertaining or watersports activities.
Capt. Steve demonstrates the reversible companion seat back. Here is the chaise lounge position which is ideal for spotting the person being towed. Note the wet bar at right.
Wet Bar. Secondly, abaft the helm seat the builder has installed a wet bar, complete with sink, running water, a cutting board, bottle holder container, and storage underneath. An optional refrigerator ($1,970) will fit below. For those who would like to grill, in the aftermarket a rod holder can be added to the starboard gunwale along with a charcoal grill.
With the optional fridge and aftermarket grill, plus the standard cooler under one of the seats, the A28 is ready for light snacks, burgers, and cocktails a la carte.
The A28 has a clever cockpit table which easily flips out from under the bench seat and stows away in a jiffy.
The standard cockpit cocktail table can serve four people at arms’ length.
Fold-Out Cocktail Table. Opposite the wet bar is a concealed table that lives under the long port bench seat. Lift up the cushion and the table swings out and locks into place. It’s effortless. Now several people can sit around this table for lunch or snacks.
Other Changes. The boat has been improved in other places as well. Not all of the 3 extra feet went into the cockpit, about 4" (10 cm) went into making the head compartment larger, and the builder tells us the bow area is a bit wider. But there is more…
The cockpit’s transom seat back serves triple duty. Here we see it in the straight up position where it serves as a seat back for those sitting in the cockpit.
Position #2 we have the seat back in a chaise lounge position in the cockpit. Note passage to the cockpit at right.
Position #3 is in sun pad/lounge mode facing toward the stern. Note the two transom speakers which are standard.
Reversible Seat Backs. The companion seat back has two positions -- back so two people can face forward, and aft creating a chaise with the bench seat behind. Likewise the seat back for the aft bench seat has three positions – straight up so three people can sit forward, aft creating a chaise for lounging or sun bathing in the cockpit, and the #3 position is with the back forward which creates a chaise facing aft.
The bow in the A28 is slightly wider than the one in the A25 and its configuration is a bit different as can be seen here. A bow cocktail table is an option.
By raising the starboard seat back Capt. Steve can access storage and swing out the standard filler cushion that turns this position into a lounger.
The lounge arrangement was ergonomically correct for our test captain. Note the position of the hand rail and the deep nature of this well-padded cockpit.
Bow Changes. Cobalt has also changed the bow seating in several minor ways from the A25. In addition to allowing the starboard seated person to be able to face forward there is a filler cushion to port to be swung out, creating a chaise. The cushion across the bow of the boat is larger and more comfortable than the one on the A28.
An optional fiberglass cocktail table is available for the bow of the A28, and we would get it for $264. Four people can sit around this table and our bet is that it will be the most popular place on the boat. With the table aft it means on the A28 eight people can be seated within arms length of a table.
The head compartment is about 4” (10 cm) longer than the head in the A25. We like the solid-surface counter inside as well as the standard snap-in carpet.
Head Compartment. This is one of the most important places on the boat – when it is needed! That could be for changing out of a wet bathing suit in privacy as well as the more obvious use. Cobalt has put about 4” (10 cm) of added length in the head which makes it one of the largest in class. A Porta-Potti comes standard but it can be upgraded to a pump-out version for $563.
A larger, more comfortable electric porcelain head with macerator and holding tank can be added for $3,084. There is a long solid-surface counter and stainless steel sink. Most importantly, there is full sitting headroom.
For those considering a pontoon boat, we would point out that this fully enclosed compartment is larger and has more privacy than a curtain “changing room.”
Cobalt’s “Swim Step” is an exclusive. It comes standard on both the A25 and A28.
Swim Platform Playground
Patented Submersible Platform. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the A25 and the one that made it a hit at the boat shows, is the patented swing down submersible platform that Cobalt calls the “Swim Step.” It easily swings down 10” (25 cm) and is below the surface. Few things are more refreshing on a hot summer day than emersion in cool lake water.
Many Uses. Kids will love this innovation, but so will the parents. Not only is it a good place for young Johnny and Suzy to learn how to swim within reach of the underwater “Swim Step” and swim platform, but it is also a fun place for the parents to have cocktails at sun down…maybe with just their feet and ankles in the water.
Swim Platform. The swim platform itself is integral to the hull bottom and not an add-on. It extends beyond the lower unit when it is in the down position which is an important safety feature. Swimmers will not be hitting any metal when slipping into the water. A Soft-Trac mat is available for $1,005. We would be sure to add the optional transom shower for $576.
A hydraulic submersible platform can be added as standard which creates a large and versatile watersports launching pad.
Hydraulic Platform. A hydraulic platform is also available for $6,673. This is actually not a bad price for this complicated apparatus. On express cruisers they normally run from $30,000 to $40,000 in the aftermarket. It has several uses – it is a larger, deeper version of the standard “Swim Step”, and scuba divers will love it. Taken together, both the integral platform and the optional hydraulic platform create a teak beach (or a fiberglass one) that is nearly the width of the boat and is 39” (98 cm) fore and aft. That makes a huge staging area for watersports of all kinds.
The handsome transom gate is optional and if we had children on the boat we would get it for $308, otherwise it’s probably just in the way.
With a top speed of 53.1 mph and a best cruise speed of 28.0 mph, the A28 will be one of the hottest large bowriders on the lake. Note its high freeboard and deep bow cockpit for the kids and Mom.
Cobalt went with a wide, pleated helm seat with a logo’d headrest. The sides wrap around the body slightly for added support in the turns. The flip-up bolster was well padded for sitting on for extended periods and showed no tendency to fall back down unintentionally.
The helm seat is at the top of the scale being at or more comfortable and luxurious than any we’ve seen in class.
There are two armrests added to the side bulkhead allowing for a relaxed arm position at both no wake and cruise throttle settings. The digital engine controls provided a no feedback feel to the settings.
Cobalt’s fit-and-finish is exemplified at this beautiful helm with all aluminum and composite construction.
As for the panel, Cobalt went with a soft-touch vinyl over a composite eyebrow and both the dash and panel are set in soft tones to reduce glare. Dual multi-function gauges are to either side of an optional Garmin 640 to eliminate clutter. The waterproof pushbutton switches are all perimeter lighted when active. The trim tabs and EVC displays are to the right of the wheel. The Rockford Fosgate stereo remote is to the left and the stereo is equipped with Bluetooth streaming audio to stream you playlist from a phone. The 6-spoked leather-covered wheel is mounted to a tilt base. Below, a footrest is covered with an optional stainless steel foot tread with rubber stripping added.
Below the helm panel is a circuit breaker plate, stainless speaker grille and an optional stainless covered footrest with rubber stripping.
The Cobalt A28 had a LOA of 28'6" (8.69 m) and a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m). With an empty weight of 5,460 lbs. (2,477 kg), 30 gal. (114 L) of fuel and 2 people onboard, we had a test weight of 6,060 lbs. (2,749 kg).
With the Volvo Penta V8-430 turning a duo prop outdrive we reached a top speed at 6000 RPM of 53.1 mph. At that speed we were burning 34 GPH giving us a range of 126 miles. Best cruise came in at 3500 RPM and 28 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 9.35 GPH which translates to a range of 243 miles and an endurance of 8 hours and 42 minutes while still maintaining a 10% reserve.
We had a time to plane of 3.7 seconds, accelerated through 20 mph in 5.9 seconds and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 8.6 seconds.
With heavy chop and the "drive it like you stole it” mentality of a test captain, the handling was not the A28's forte. But with normal driving and calmer water the handling was more of the way we would expect to see in a boat like this. Even better was the match between this A28 and the Volvo Penta V8-430, mostly having to do with acceleration. Thanks to the engine’s high torque there was a noticeable difference in the feel of the boat upon hitting the throttle. Times to plane were measurably quicker than what we’re used to seeing with big block V8s as were the times to 20 and 30 mph.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the Volvo Penta V8-430 provided a much better mid-range response. It was noticeable as soon as the throttle was advanced from cruise speed. Acceleration was quick and crisp pressing us back into our seats.
Advantages of the Volvo Penta V8-430
Time to Plane. Cobalt installed the V8-430 in our test boat so that we could confirm that the attributes of this engine. Advantage #1 is her time to plane of 3.7 seconds. This is quick for a boat of this weight.
Mid-Range Performance/Fuel Efficiency. Other advantages were found in the important mid-range where most people cruise, the V8-430-powered A28 had its best cruise speed of 28.0 mph at 3500 RPM. When it came to fuel consumption at best cruise the V8-430 in the A28 got 2.99 mpg which was better than most boats her weight, even ones with 375-380-hp big block engines.
Compared to the other boats we studied, the A28 got .47 mpg more than their average, or 18.6% better mileage.
WOT Speeds. 53.1 mph on a 98F day speaks for itself in a boat over 6,000-lbs.
The leather-wrapped wheel and the GPS moving map display are standard on the A28.
The engine compartment is accessed by a switch at the helm which electrically actuates the hatch that compromises the aft seat and sun pad. Cobalt designed the access so that the cockpit can still be entered to the side of the open hatch. Inside the installation of the Volvo Penta V8-430 still allows plenty of room to work all around the engine, and even stand to the port side. With the forward bulkhead cut low, the entire front of the engine can easily be reached, and that means easy changeouts to the serpentine belt and water pump impeller.
Notice how with the hatch in the open position there is still access to and from the cockpit. And with the access kept low, service points at the bottom of the engine are well within reach.
Proof that the Volvo Penta V8-430/Cobalt A28 combination is a well thought out one as there is even room to enter the compartment to the sides of the engine.
Major features of the A28
●AM/FM single CD stereo with 6 speakers
●iPod and MP3 ports
●Bow scuff plate
●Extended running surface
●Dedicated fender storage
●Electric engine box left actuator
●High freeboard, deeper cockpit
●40-oz. snap-in carpet
●GPS and scrolling map display is standard
●Most other major features are mentioned in the text
Construction of the A28
Hull Materials. Cobalt is one of the industry’s leading companies when it comes to the construction of its boats, and A28 is no exception. Its hulls are hand lay-up glass and resin to reduce weight. Its use of Kevlar along the keel of the boat is unusual and we can think of only a few other builders who use it in class. The Kevlar not only saves weight but it also provides puncture protection during a hard grounding.
A cut-away of the deck in a Cobalt showing the composite construction with honeycomb in the deck for light weight, stiffness and longevity.
Honeycomb. Cobalt is the only builder of bowriders that we know of that uses honeycomb in the cockpit sole – a technique used in both commercial and general aviation. This keeps the deck light yet rigid and unlike plywood it will not soak up water over the years.
Cobalt prides itself on its fine hardware. The quick-release fender hook at left is a Cobalt innovation. (The A28 has dedicated storage for fenders.) In the middle is the ss latch that holds open the windshield. We think it’s the best one in class. (R) Cobalt has its ss hardware electro-coated to keep the stainless from staining.
Cobalt has 10 colors as options for its hull color scheme. A cool function on its website lets the viewer mix and match the colors to see what the boat will look like. Our favorite is dark blue…
…but some of our friends prefer “arrest-me-red” (aka “Knock Out Red.”) This is probably the right color to have if powered by the big 430-hp Volvo Penta V8 that we tested. In any case we’d have a dark color for the boot stripe.
As regular BoatTEST.com readers know, we like colored hulls and so do the folks at Cobalt. It is one of the reasons their boat’s always look so inviting at boat shows. Cobalt offers a three-color custom.
Cobalt offers these 10 classic colors for both the hull and boot stripe.
Special Gelcoat Process. Cobalt is particularly proud of its gelcoat finishes and in our opinion they are certainly among the very best in the industry, much less just in class. It employs a “buffback” process that is heavy in man-hours, but which gives the Cobalt boats a glossy look – and one that generally lasts longer than boats built without the process.
Cobalt’s “buffback process” resists fade longer. Further, because Cobalt management is particularly concerned with the look of its boats in the aftermarket it is glad to offer maintenance tips to owners.
This images shows the Geneva dark tan upholstery option that we think gives the boat a classy, elegant look. There are three other choices.
Most boat builders make their own upholstery and Cobalt is no exception.
But importantly the company is located in Neodesha, Kansas which is a long way from any big city. The result is that Cobalt has a steady, loyal, workforce many of which have worked building Cobalt boats for over 20 years. This is particularly important in the upholstery shop, where getting the stitching perfect on its classy diamond patterns and double stitched seams requires a steady hand that knows how different material must be worked.
Look closely and see the four different shades of vinyl which come with each of the options. This is one element that makes the A28’s upholstery treatment distinctive.
In our opinion Cobalt upholstery work compares with the best found in luxury automobiles such as Aston Martin and Bentley.
Choice of Colors. The colors of the upholstery seen in our test boat were the standard ones, but others are available and we prefer them because, in our opinion, they make the boat look richer and classier. Options include Geneva, Terra Brown, Sand and Summit Gray. Sea Grass and Cesara carpeting are also optional.
Cobalt A28 Warranty
No report on a Cobalt boat would be complete without an explanation of its warranty program which is one of the best in the boating industry. Cobalt calls it their “10-5-3” warranty because most major components fall into a warranty of those three different lengths.
10 Year Warranty Items. Hull and deck structures, bulkheads, transom, motor mounts and all deck and hull joints.
5-Year Warranty Items. The major items covered are the engine, lower unit and drive train, including steering, power trim, electrical, fuel delivery and controls. On its website, Cobalt lists all of the specific covered components of these systems.
The 5-year warranty also covers—
●Accessories, such as the battery charger, stereo amplifier/CD player, toilet, stainless steel hardware and much more.
●Electronics, such as the GPS moving map display and other things installed at the factory.
●Instrumentation which covers all the gauges.
●Non-Defect Failures. This is an important category because it covers many costly engine repairs. Failures included are over heating, burnt valves, carbonized rings, scored pistons or cylinders and many other things. See the Cobalt website for a complete list.
●Additional Benefits. Towing, dockside assistance, filters, spark plugs, engine belts, engine tuning and many other items.
3-Year Warranty Items. These items fall into three basic categories—
●Gelcoat Finish. Warranties against stress cracks, air voids or blisters.
●Upholstery and Canvas. Warranty against defects in material or labor.
●Components Manufactured By Cobalt.
The instrument panel is clean and functional. We like the dark dash which will cut down glare in the windshield. The ss foot tread is a $428 option.
Price of the A28
The base MSRP of the Cobalt A28 powered by the Volvo Penta 430-hp V8-430 engine with EVC and DuoProp is $146,866. By dropping down in horsepower to the Volvo Penta 380-hp V8-380 with DuoProp the MSRP is $136,094. An asterisk on the builder’s website beside these prices says “See your dealer for special promotional pricing.”
Cost of “Basic” Options. When we went down the option list and put on “basic” things we feel are necessary for the enjoyment of this boat by the average family we added optional items such as the 3-colored hull, Bimini top, mooring cover, bow tonneau cover, gate on the transom walkthrough, transom shower, bow table, dual battery switch and trim tabs, we got a total MSRP price of $156,127 powered by the Volvo Penta V8-430 and $145,355 when powered by Volvo 380-hp V8 engine.
With a high passenger capacity, the A28 is a good alternative for people who want to host lots of people in a bowrider rather than in a pontoon boat.
The Boat. Clearly, the strong suit of the A28 lies in her fit-and-finish, over-all looks, construction details, and her load-carrying capacity. Boaters looking for high-load capacity in grand style for lake, rivers and protected water have a viable alternative to other types and brands with the A28.
As for performance she has a fast top end, a superior time-to-plane, and at best cruise is one of the most fuel-efficient boats in class with the Volvo Penta V8-430 engine. We think this is a good propulsion system for the A28, particularly for people who will be doing lots of watersports or hauling big crowds.
The Engine. As to the three important questions we had about the new Volvo Penta V8-430 before the tests, the data speaks for itself. Her time to plane, mid-range fuel efficiency and WOT speeds were not only competitive with other boats in class, but superior to most in all three ways we measured performance.
Clearly, the V8-430’s light weight, high power-to-weight ratio, the variable valve timing and other new technology in the Volvo Penta V8 makes this 6.0 L engine competitive with the big blocks.
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
= Standard = Optional
|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.|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!