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Formula 400 Super Sport (2010-)
(w/ 2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6)

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The Formula Difference

Capt. Steve takes us aboard a Formula to show us some of their high-quality fit and finish.
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Brief Summary

We tested it first! The Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick has been installed for the first time in a production powerboat and BoatTEST was there it see how well it works and to bring you the video results. The test boat was a 2010 Formula 400 SS with twin Volvo Penta 370-hp D6 diesels, so not only did we want to see how the new Formula performed, we also wanted to check out the new system and see how well it handled in close quarters... and remember, no bow or stern thruster this time. It’s all independently steered outdrives. We also check out the full performance figures and see what sort of economy you can expect from this 17,000+ lb (7,711 kg) boat.

Key Features

  • Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick available
  • Imron standard graphic & cockpit accent striping
  • FAS3TECH hull
  • Heavy-duty PVC gunwale with stainless steel insert
  • Stainless steel hardware & 316L stainless steel welded rails
  • Extended integrated swim platform with concealed stainless steel swim ladder & pull-up cleats
  • Garmin GPS navigational system with color chartplotter
  • Bennett trim tab switches & indicators
  • Aft-facing sun lounge with storage below for tables, cushions & four fenders- converts to full-length sunpad
  • Entertainment center in high-gloss Deep Cherry finish with Corian countertop & 26" LCD HDTV/DVD combo player with dockside access cord
  • 16,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioner with digital climate control
  • Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo with changer control, 400W amplification, 10-disc CD changer & iPod docking station
  • Bennett hydraulic trim tabs
  • Chemically bonded & thru-bolted deck-to-hull joint
  • Foam-filled continuous molded structural grid
  • Specifications

    Length Overall 41' 6''
    12.65 m
    Beam 11'0''
    3.35 m
    Dry Weight 17,000 lbs.
    7,756 kg w/ ht
    Tested Weight N/A
    Draft 36''
    .91 m
    - Draft Up N/A
    - Draft Down N/A
    - Air Draft N/A
    Deadrise/Transom 22 deg.
    Max Headroom 6' 2''
    1.88 m
    Bridge Clearance 11' 6''
    3.51 m
    Weight Capacity N/A
    Person Capacity N/A
    Fuel Capacity 250 gal.
    946 L
    Water Capacity 50 gal.
    189 L
    Length on Trailer N/A
    Height on Trailer N/A
    Trailer Weight N/A
    Total Weight
    (Trailer, Boat, & Engine)
    N/A

    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.

    Engine Options

    Std. Power Not Available
    Tested Power 2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6
    Opt. Power 2 x 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG High Output Bravo Three X
    2x MerCruiser 8.2 MAG High Output EC Bravo Three X
    2 x 525-hp Mercury Racing EFI Bravo Three XR
    2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6

    Test Results - Change Measurement Unit

    RPM MPH Knots GPH MPG NMPG Stat. Mile NM dBa
    600 4.8 4.1 0.6 8.6 7.5 1943 1690 62
    1000 8.0 7.0 2.4 3.4 3.0 766 666 69
    1500 10.4 9.0 7.8 1.3 1.2 300 261 78
    2000 17.8 15.4 14.0 1.3 1.1 285 248 79
    2500 28.8 25.0 19.0 1.5 1.3 341 297 81
    3000 38.0 33.0 26.0 1.5 1.3 328 286 82
    3500 46.1 40.1 38.0 1.2 1.1 273 237 86
    3590 47.2 41.0 41.0 1.2 1.0 259 225 88
    RPMNMKMKPHLPHKPLdBA
    600 1690 3127 7.70 2.27 3.67 62
    1000 666 1233 12.90 9.08 1.45 69
    1500 261 483 16.70 29.53 0.57 78
    2000 248 459 28.60 53.00 0.54 79
    2500 297 549 46.30 71.92 0.65 81
    3000 286 528 61.20 98.42 0.62 82
    3500 237 439 74.20 143.85 0.51 86
    3590 225 417 76.00 155.20 0.49 88

    All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.

    Performance Chart

    Performance Chart

    Acceleration Times & Test Conditions

    Time To Plane 5.5 sec.
    0 to 30 N/A
    Ratio N/A
    Props N/A
    Load 2 persons, Fuel: 75%, Water: none, Gear: minimal
    Climate Temp: 68 deg., humidity: 35%, wind: calm, seas: calm

    Captain's Report

    Formula 400 SS
    By combining the Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick to a diesel application, we should get great economy and easy handling.

    Capt. Steve Says...

    Not many boats really excite me, but this...this was such a nice handling boat that I just shook my head and thought “the guy who bought this is one lucky S.O.B.” Rarely have I come across a boat that handles so smoothly and cleanly that I actually caught myself thinking that these guys at Formula really get it. And for the first time, I’m straying from my long held policy that when a boat reaches 30’ (3.1 m) it’s time to move to inboards for the close quarters handling. For me, this boat changed everything. Let’s get into this story and I’ll explain how this boat has a lot going on for a fortunate operator.

    Formula 400 SS
    The aft seat on top of the engine hatch converts to a full sunpad effortlessly. Note the curved cockpit walkthrough door. It has a micro-switch that prevents opening the engine hatch when in the closed position. Notice the handrails all around the portside entertainment center. Pull up cleats for your tender are on the swim platform and notice the boat’s cleats higher up out of the trip zone. To starboard, above the triple shore power sockets, is dedicated fender storage.

    A Few Tricks up Her Sleeve

    Starting with the most obvious, this Formula 400SS represented the first installation ever of the new Volvo Diesel Sterndrive Joystick. This turns a 41'6" (12.65 m) boat into an easy handling pussycat. Now, joysticks aren’t new so I won’t bore you with the pontification of how easy it is and how the boat can move in any direction… blah blah blah. Suffice it to say that it does exactly what it is supposed to do, and it does it quite nicely. The fact that this is connected to sterndrives hanging off of Volvo Penta D6 engines is, however, noteworthy. I look at this system as having multiple advantages. • Reliability • Fuel savings• Ease of handling• And the ease of transitioning from a smaller yacht to one this size is a substantial advantage and those who might have been nervous about their docking ability need only schedule a trial to be convinced. And it does all this without the expense of a bow thruster. That said, as well as the system worked, I think it can use one more feature. Joystick operation with one engine out. It shouldn’t be hard to program the system to disable a dead sterndrive and maintain control over a remaining operating engine, but for now, with one engine out, the joystick disengages.

    Formula 400 SS
    While this shot doesn’t show the Diesel Sterndrive Joystick (trust me, it looks like a joystick) you can see the EVC control inside the right side of the steering wheel. You can trim both up and down together, by hitting the arrows, or separately, by hitting little bumps on the outside of the arrows. The dual gauges to the upper right are the trim indicators that give digital angle readouts of the drive positions. Between the engine controls and the cup holder is the control for the Bennett trim tabs.

    But Wait, There’s More

    The thought of having to trim the outdrives on a 40 something yacht is enough to make one cringe. I liken it to driving a Bentley with a stick shift… it just isn’t done. And that was a real deal breaker for me until I saw the EVC… Electronic Vessel Control. Basically, it’s an auto trim feature for the outdrives. Sitting idle, the drives are resting at -3 degrees, which will give you a decent hole shot, if you can call it that. As you come up on plane, the system reads the hull angle, with what I can only assume to be the electronic equivalent of a bubble level, and automatically starts trimming for best performance. And there are gauges for each outdrive that show you the changing angle of the drives.

    Formula 400 SS
    Down below is luxurious and finished to perfection. The triple tables have a high gloss finish and lower to form a forward berth. Note the coffee dock forward of the sink. And you can just make out the large fridge/freezer combo to the left.

    If desired, you can override the system and make your own inputs, but I saw no need to do it in my trials, and you won’t either. There are trim tabs as well, but they would only be used for handling varying sea conditions or uneven distribution of weight. This was a cool boat and getting cooler by the minute. Adding the diesel sterndrive joystick has its expenses, the first of which is the engine upgrade. Base engines for the 400 SS are the MerCruiser 496 MAG High Output with Bravo III outdrives. Converting to the twin D6 370DPH engines which includes the EVC power trim assist will run you an extra $76,700. We haven’t got a firm price on the Diesel Sterndrive Joystick option as yet, but the most obvious move is to make a comparison with MerCruiser’s Axius which adds $23,740.

    Formula 400 Super Sport Floor

    So What If We Do Lose an Engine

    I’m glad you asked. Normally we don’t bother cutting out an engine on a test boat but this was a unique circumstance. This 400 SS was recently sold, and knowing it was about to be tested, the buyer added the caveat that if the boat were delivered with more than a certain number of hours, then a substantial reduction of price would apply. This would, in effect, prevent me from taking the boat to, say, the Bahamas (a very real concern). Not wanting to inflict this penalty on Formula, but still needing to allow for time to test, I ran out the channel to the test area on one engine, and back on another (sneaky bastards aren’t we?). It begs the question, what does it feel like if you lose an engine? The answer is, not much.

    Formula 400 SS
    The mid cabin features a queen sized berth and a 19” flatscreen TV.

    I did notice that the boat has the normal slow back and forth oscillation that you normally find on a single engine sterndrive. But more importantly, I also noticed that the steering was equally easy on both engines. In other words, Formula installs the power steering pumps on both engines, so that if you lose one, the other works as a backup. Not bad. I expected to have to drive like a trucker with two hands cranking the wheel and what I got was fingertip steering regardless of which engine was shut down. Then I decided I’d take it a step further and actually dock the 400 SS on one engine. I already mentioned my disappointment that the joystick auto-disabled itself, but I was not to be denied. As it turns out, docking on one engine was as effortless as with both due to the fact that we are still controlling an outdrive. Thus, handling and docking on one engine was a non event. Sorry.

    Handling

    This is where the 400 SS really shines. She handled solid as a rock through all maneuvers. We had a 31 PC as a chase boat for the cameraman and I had the driver speeding up and slowing down to create varying wakes. Then I tried to plow through, jump over, and otherwise soak the 400 SS in any way I could. It was not to be.

    Formula 400 SS
    Notice the salon TV is mounted to a cabinet door. Behind it is the ships electrical panel.

    She took everything I could give it with a solid feel and a gentle ride through everything. Not a drop of spray on the deck or windshield. Not a single slam into a wave, I didn’t even have to over steer to prevent getting pushed aside while surfing down a wave. Heck, for that matter, I didn’t even spill my Coke that I laid on the dash. It was the smoothest, most graceful performing boat I’ve tested. This was a seriously cool boat. Still not to be content, I decided that this is a Formula and they’re known for taking whatever gets thrown at them. So I decided to drive it like a sportboat. I was going to crank and bank it until she showed her frailties. I made a max speed run (hitting over 47 mph) braced myself, and threw the wheel over to the stop. As if to roll her eyes and say “whatever”, the 400 SS carved through the turn just as if she were happy to do it. There was about a 10 degree heel and around we went without even needing to hang on. Cranking over to the opposite travel of the wheel, and she simply rolled to the opposite direction and made a graceful curve the other way. It was like we were on the dance floor. I was holding the wheel with my fingertips and hanging onto nothing. There was nothing I could do to generate an uncomfortable ride.

    Formula 400 SS
    Below the V-berth deck is dedicated storage for the triple tables. Check out the finish.

    Performance

    The Formula 400 SS has an empty weight of 17,100 lbs (7,756.4 kg) and with 3/4 fuel, and two persons, her test weight was 18,575 lbs (8,425.5 kg). She had a top speed of 47.2 mph (76 kph) and a best cruise reached at 2500 rpm of 28.8 mph (46.3 kph). At that best cruise, the 400 SS was burning 19 gph (71.9 lph) for a range of 341 miles (549 km). Clearly, I found the Formula 400 SS to be nothing short of a lady. True, I may have treated her rather unladylike at times, but she never faltered and stayed true to her pedigree. I was totally impressed with what I saw and could only reflect on how her new owner would receive her. I’m sure that I was just at the beginning of a long list of people that she was about to impress.

    Test Result Highlights

    • Top speed for the Formula 400 Super Sport (2010-) is 47.2 mph (76 kph), burning 41.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 155.18 liters per hour (lph).
    • Best cruise for the Formula 400 Super Sport (2010-) is 28.8 mph (46.3 kph), and the boat gets 1.52 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.65 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 341 miles (548.79 kilometers).
    • Tested power is 2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6.

    Standard and Optional Features

    Marine Electronics

    GPS/Chart Standard
    Radar Optional
    VHF Radio Optional

    Systems

    Air Cond./Heat Standard
    Battery Charger/Converter Standard
    Head: Fixed Standard
    Shore Power Standard
    Trim Tabs Standard
    TV/DVD Standard
    Water Heater Standard
    Windlass Standard

    Galley

    Coffeemaker Optional
    Icemaker Optional
    Microwave Standard
    Refrigerator Standard
    Stove Standard

    Exterior Features

    Hardtop Optional
    Outlet: 12-Volt Acc Standard
    Swim Ladder Standard
    Swim Platform Standard
    Transom Door Standard
    Transom Shower Standard
    Wet bar Standard

    Canvas

    Bimini Top Standard
    Cockpit Cover Standard

    Boats More Than 30 Feet

    Bow Thruster Optional
    Generator Standard
    Vacuum Standard

    Warranty

    Hull Warranty
    Transferable
    10 Years
    Yes

    Deck Warranty
    Transferable
    10 Years Yes
    Engine Warranty
    Transferable
    5 Years Yes
    Powertrain Warranty
    Transferable
    5 Years
    Yes

    Gelcoat Warranty
    Transferable
    2 Years
    Yes

    Blistering Warranty
    Transferable
    2 Years Yes
    Accessories Warranty
    Transferable
    5 Years Yes
    Certifications
    ISO Certification NMMA Certification Yes

    Price

    Pricing Range: $574,630.00

    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.