By Capt. Steve
Chaparral’s mission with the 246 is to provide a super-sized family bowrider with a dose of elegance thrown in. She is also intended to be used on bigger water and that is why her freeboard is higher than the first generation of deckboats that were often wet. Her careful styling and hull treatments, such as the stainless steel engine room vents, break up her topsides lines and make her look low and sleek.
Extended V-Plane hull.
By carrying the running surface well past the outdrive collar, Chaparral has created a boat that gets on plane quicker, and has less bowrise when hitting the throttle. All of this has been confirmed by our tests on other Chaparral models. •
The full beam sunpad allows for lounging out in the conventional way, or by flipping up the outboard sections, boarding through the walkthrough, or relaxing on the chaise lounge. •
Uniquely adjustable seats.
Yes, everyone has seats that slide and swivel, but how do they slide and swivel? By reaching under the seat and feeling around for one of the two levers only to finally find one that ends up being the wrong one? Sound familiar? Not if you own a Chaparral. Their premium bucket seats have the adjustment levers right on the tops of the seat, in clear view, and they’re clearly labeled as to which one does what. And while these seats may be an option, every Chaparral I’ve tested seems to have them. •
Coolers fore and aft.
No one goes on the water for the day without loading up the cooler with drinks. But don’t you hate being in the bow, blocked by the cockpit table, and another person in the V-seat, and you need a refill? So do I. That’s why I really like the insulated bow cooler, and a carry-on cooler at the stern. •
Wide and long swim platform.
Chaparral claims that its molded-in integral swim platform is the largest in class. While we haven't done a comparison on this feature, it is certainly large, and most important extends past the lower unit in both the up and down position. •
Kevlar laminate in the keel.
Chaparral is one of the few builders of sportboats that puts a layer of bulletproof Kevlar in the keel. This provides good protection when hitting submerged objects and also makes the boat a bit lighter.•
Virtually all boats should have a Bimini top and on the 246 SSi a color-coordinated one comes standard. The standard isinglass front windscreen is much appreciated on cool days or when a rain storm kicks up. This is a feature not offered on most boats in this class.•
Huge seating capacity.
By having a U-shaped "couch" in the cockpit and the Wide Tech bow design in addition to the two bucket seats, Chaparral has been able to get a USCG max capacity rating for this boat of 14. Amazingly, there is actually a place for all 14 to sit.
By filling instrument gauges with nitrogen the entrance of moisture and internal fogging of the optics is prevented. In addition, filling with nitrogen prevents fungus growth and by definition are waterproof.
Chaparral always seems to get the size of their swim platforms right as they can accommodate two people walking in opposing directions at the same time. A rubber non-skid logo’d mat is offered as an option ($338) and I’d highly recommend it.
Under the sun pad is a place for a carry-on cooler to port. Both gull-wings of the pad lift with the port side locking into position to form a chaise-type seating arrangement. An optional transom shower ($405) gets connected to a 10 gal. (38 L) tank. The starboard side of the pad lifts to access the walkthrough to the cockpit. There are two versions of the walkthrough offered, one with the starboard quarter seatback in place, and one with it removed. I’d rather see the seatback in place and be removable by me.
I think Chaparral really got it right when they designed this cockpit. Wraparound seating with dual bucket seats that swivel to face the crowd will hold ten. Side panels are one piece molded structures that have a clean look. The cockpit table is standard, a rarity in class, and dual pedestal mounts allow you to transfer it to the bow. Chaparral uses 36oz Dura Life Max vinyl with a stain inhibitor that resists even a sharpie. I actually took a ball-point pen and signed my name to the sunpad on a Chaparral, and while some may appreciate the “limited edition” increase in value that such a signature presents, it was quickly removed with a squirt of regular cleaner.
The port console has an access door that allows entry to the interior that can be used either for storage, as a head, or for that matter… both. The door is lockable, and the compartment offers a full fiberglass lined interior with a Porta-Potti with opening portlight, hanging rod and interior lighting. Toilet options include a Porta-Pottie with pump-out ($492) or the VacuFlush head with holding tank ($1,951).
I’ve always found Chaparral’s helms to be quite comfortable and ergonomically correct from a visibility standpoint. The square gauges give a bit of a different look, and I think, a more contemporary one. Due to the high end of the brand, and in some small part the fact that this is the flagship model of the SSi series, many items usually relegated to the options list are now solidly bound to the standards list. A digital hour meter, power steering, an instrument dimmer switch, and fully molded dash are some of the features that come to mind. In the center of the panel is a blank area that is designed specifically to house the optional Garmin Echo 70S GPS ($1,200). The steering wheel partially blocks the display, which is a small gripe, but when the GPS is not fitted, Chaparral has a hard time deciding what to do with the emptiness. I’ve seen a logo’d panel and a rather hard to access glove box style storage. In my opinion, Chaparral needs to keep it simple and just put in an open insert to drop “stuff” into and leave it at that.
The bow area is really one of the high points in the Wide Tech series. Chaparral carries the beam so far forward that the bow area becomes huge. Some may incorrectly refer to the bow as a pickle-fork, due to the nature of the bow above the waterline, but below she’s true deep-V with a 21-degree deadrise at the stern.
There are long extended stainless rails serving as grab handles, but the Chaparral difference is that they’re not sticking out past the heavily padded gunwales, so leaning back will not equate to hurting your back. They are also not round, but rather, elliptical in shape, which makes them more comfortable in the hand and more pleasing to the eye.
Pricing and Options
Of the 16 engine choices offered, six are available in the US ranging from 300-hp to 320-hp. Base price with the 300-hp Volvo Penta V8-300C is $69,734. The 320-hp Volvo Penta V8-320C will bring you up to $76,031. Now while the 246 is delivered nicely equipped, there are some options that are worth considering. Among them are...
There is the Preferred Package, which includes a digital depth gauge, transom tilt switch and stereo remote, a helm stereo remote, docking lights, 8 pull-up cleats, speaker covers, bow scuff plates, and a galvanized anchor ($1,454). Other available packages are the Deluxe Package ($4,200) and the Elite Package ($7,238). I never really cared for bow filler cushions, but if the aft sun pad isn’t enough for you then go for it ($366). I also wouldn’t want to be caught dead, so to speak, without the dual batteries and crossover switch ($431) since a day at anchor listening to tunes will take its toll on a single battery. I’d like to see the fire extinguisher system as standard, but here it’s an added $500.
I’m quite impressed with the Chaparral 246 SSi, and mostly to the attention to the little things that really make a difference. Things like no sharp edges in the compartments, extra padding in the seats... etc. These thoughtful touches are seemingly everywhere on the 246, and for that matter, on Chaparral’s line-up in general. The 246 is the largest boat in the popular SSi line so if you are thinking about buying a boat in this 6-boat series we would urge you to give the largest boat serious consideration. Because it has so much seating, you won't have to move up a year later to accommodate all of your new-found friends. At 4,400 lbs. (1,996 kgs.) it is the heaviest in the series so she will also be the best riding in big water. Once again, better to get it right the first time rather than come back and move up later. Finally, remember Momma and the kids. They will love the large head/changing compartment on the 246 SSi. For most families, this will be the most important feature of all and the reason that the boat gets lots of use.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|