The first impression we had when we saw the Cobalt 276 is that she is “big.” Her beam is the standard, trailerable 8’6" (2.59 m), yet somehow she appears more beamy than that. Certainly her high freeboard and navy blue hull contributed to her look of sportboat gravitas.
Cobalt’s designers have created a rather unusual cockpit which has wraparound seating that is almost in a perfect U-shape, except for the passage to the transom. The wide companion seat to port has a swing back that allows the backrest to double as a lounger. Likewise, the seatback across the aft section of the cockpit flops forward to give the stern sunpad a backrest. These two devices give the cockpit added utility over what would have otherwise been there.All around is Cobalt’s double-stitched upholstery, which is one of the best in the business. On the sole is 40-oz, snap-in carpet which is heavier than what most builders install. Cobalt’s technique of using tufted vinyl on the bulwarks and cabinet doors, along with a stitched-in diamond pattern exudes luxury. Cobalt wants to give you the impression that you are sitting in a Bentley on the water, and indeed you are.
There is a mini wet bar in the cockpit just abaft the helmsman’s seat which can be optioned up a number of ways. On the port side is a place to install an optional teak table ($774). It stows in the console forward of the driver, and we would recommend getting the table. The top of the windshield frame is 49”(124 cm) off of the deck on the centerline. The cockpit depth aft is 34-1/2” (50 cm) (87 cm).
The helm seat on the 276 is a work of art. It is massive, comfortable, and remarkably sturdy. It slides fore and aft, has a high back and a flip-up bolster that is padded in all of the right places. The one drawback is that it can not be raised and lowered. The distance from the deck to the bottom of the seat is 17-1/2” (44 cm) by our measure which is perfect for most adults, but if you are short you may want to have the dealer modify this in some way. Visibility out the windshield was good and we were not looking at the windshield frame at rest.
The helm console and instrument panel is a study in simplicity. There are only four dials with both analog and digital readouts. To the right are brushed metal buttons that activate most of the vessel’s electrical systems and light up when they are on.
The head is forward of the companion seat and has a door that is carefully made to make it as easy as possible to get into the compartment. The opening of the door is 23” (58 cm) wide, which is pretty good on a boat with an 8' 6” beam and pretty much was wide as we have seen on any boat in class. The distance from the deck to the overhead is 45” (114 cm) which means that an adult will have comfortable sitting clearance. There is a small sink to port. The boat comes standard with a porta-potti. If you want a porcelain toilet with macerator that will be a $2,893 option.
The distance between the consoles moving forward is 21”(53 cm) which is good for a boat with this beam. Cobalt was one of the first builders to recognize that the bow of a bowrider was usually not used by four or five people, but only two. And those two were sitting facing forward with their backs against the consoles and their legs extended out on the seats. Naturally, Cobalt added the inclined backrest, something that is done now by virtually all builders. Cobalt has made another innovation to the bowrider design, and that is to eliminate the forward part of the U-shaped seating – where people rarely sit! Good thinking, Cobalt. The result is a boat with a lot more utility for a couple of reasons. First, passengers can sit facing forward with their feet on the deck. Second, the crew can easily get to the anchor locker and drop and retrieve the anchor in a standing position, rather than having to do it on one’s knees. Once you’ve done it this way, you’ll never go back to kneeling.
The 276 has an anchor system that projects through the stem of the boat so that you don’t have to have it on the deck. This is cool and more and more builders are installing this system. We like it, but would recommend that you get an optional stainless steel plow anchor in keeping with look of the rest of the boat. An anchor windlass is optional, but most people won’t need it.
Let us not mistake “beef” (i.e. strength) for just sheer weight. The fact is Cobalt has gone to considerable expense to take weight out of the boat without sacrificing strength. After all, the more weight a boat has to carry around, the larger the engines have to be and the more fuel they will burn -- or the slower it will go. The trick is to build a boat that is light and strong.Cobalt does just that in a number of different ways; First, its cockpit sole is not made out of marine plywood or even solid fiberglass, rather, it is a glass laminate using an ultra-light honeycomb material that was first used in aircraft.
Second, Cobalt also uses Kevlar in its hull. A sheet of Kevlar has the strength of two or three layers of fiberglass material, but because it does not need a lot of resin as would three layers of glass, it saves weight. In addition to the Kevlar, Cobalt says it puts 8 layers of “Hydrolam hand-laid fiberglass” in each hull. Cobalt uses the best materials in boat building as a general rule and needless to say, they are more costly.
As one would expect on a boat the price of a Cobalt, the 276 has a number of items as standard equipment that we often don’t see on boats in class. It has molded-in graphics, its motor box has an electric riser, the swim platform is fully integrated into the hull and extends beyond the lower unit when it is in the down position, and the boat has a fiberglass liner. The engine room has a gel coat liner so it is as pristine as can be. There is also plenty of room in the engine room.
Frankly, as good as the standard list is, we were surprised that several other items were not also on it. For example most bowriders, even inexpensive ones, have a standard Bimini top. On the 276 it is a $2,090 option. Granted, it is the Rolls Royce of Bimini tops with anti-sway bars, super strong fittings and the absence of straps, nevertheless… do you want a cover for your boat to keep all of that fine upholstery looking new? A mooring cover is $1,290 extra. A $120,000 sportboat without a transom shower? No way. Add $540. Trim tabs? Add $1,263. We have already mentioned the $774 dinette table for the cockpit. We know why Cobalt makes these items optional, and it is not because they are close with a buck. It is simply because everyone uses their boat in a different way, and not everyone would use all of the items we feel are “basic” equipment on a bowrider in this size and price range. To load them up with equipment that will not be used is wasteful for all concerned. All told, the items listed above come to only slightly over $6,000, so this is not a biggie.
Base Price and Engines
The base MSRP price of the Cobalt 276 powered by a single MerCrusier 8.2 L gas engine driving through a Bravo III dual-prop drive is $120,606. You can get Merc’s HO version of the same block that is said to develop 430-hp for $129,115. A middle course would be the Volvo Penta 400-hp 8.1 L option with Duo-prop for $119,800.
Cobalt has long offered one of the best warranties in the boating business. Cobalt has a 10-year limited warranty on the hull and deck, 5-years on the engine, 5-years on the accessories, and 3-years on the gel coat. This is the longest gel coat warranty we have ever seen. All of these warranties are transferrable. Not everything in the boat is covered, so read the fine print.
Okay, let’s talk turkey: Is the Cobalt 276 worth the $120,606? Only you can answer the question. Is a Mercedes, BMW, Lexus or Bentley worth the money? Not if you don’t value design, quality, reliability, style, and one of the best warrantees in the business. If all you want a boat for is to go out and blast around for a few minutes each week, or tow the kids on a doughnut, the Cobalt 276 is not for you. On the other hand, if you appreciate the finer things in life such as a Steinway piano, a vintage Chateau Margaux, or a Cuban Cohiba, perhaps you should think about a Cobalt.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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