By Capt. Steve--
Originally, the mission of the 350 SS was to keep the flock of loyal 310 SS customers from having to go out of brand when they wanted to trade up, but not all the way up to a 37. This 350 filled that gap quite nicely. But now that she's been around a while, her new mission is to remain consistent with the philosophy of maintaining the reputation that Formula was built on… quality. On that task, the 350 fulfills her goal quite nicely.
Handling and Ride
It's always a pleasure testing Formula boats because handling and performance is almost always stellar. In the case of the 350 SS it's business as usual. I found her to be an excellent performer, cutting the wakes of other boats, and even her own self generated wakes, with a clean slice and no pounding. Her 21-degree deadrise at the transom is a winning compromise between the soft ride of a deep-V hull and the speed possible from a flatter bottom. We were testing in a narrow waterway, and that means tight turns, and as expected, she bled off a lot of speed in the turns. You won't be able to crank and bank to the point where everyone and everything gets tossed around, and really… you don't want to. This is a boat that will keep your guests comfortable even if you don't have the presence of mind to do it yourself.
With an empty weight of 13,470 lbs. (6,109.9 kgs.), half fuel and four people onboard, we had a test weight of 14,686 lbs. (6,661.5 kgs.). With a pair of 430-hp Merc 8.2 MAG HO engines tucked into the stern, we reached a top speed of 53.3 mph (85.7 kph) at 4700 rpm. At that speed we were burning a combined 72 gph (272.5 Lph) while getting .74 mpg (.31 kpL) for a range of 114 miles (184 km). Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 29.4 mph (47.2 kph). Now I measured a fuel burn of 24.3 gph (92 Lph), which meant the boat got 1.21 mpg (.51 kpL) and a range of 187 miles (301 km). For a 35' (10.7 m) boat, she had surprising acceleration. We reached planing speed in only 4.9 seconds, cruised up to 20 mph in 7.7 seconds, and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 12.7 seconds.
The Tour Starting Forward
Heading up to the bow, you climb three steps molded into the dash and step through a center windshield walkthrough. The top latch on the walkthrough windshield is interconnected to the bottom, so there’s no having to reach way down to unlock the lower latch. Stainless grab rails are conveniently placed to add safety and security as you head forward up the steps. Up front, minimal bow rails flank the sides. We had the optional remote spotlight (add $780) and Lewmar windlass with chain counter in the bow of our test model (add $5,210). Some may opt for the LED bow docking lights (add $690) and while they weren't on our test boat, believe me, they are blindingly bright.
As you step back into the cockpit Formula has dressed up the dash with burl wood accents and Livorsi instruments. An optional Garmin 740S color GPS (add $2,040) held a position in the center of the panel, and Mercury's SmartCraft display was to the right of that. Mercury’s Digital Throttle System makes engine corrections a comfortable affair with zero feedback. While I found the 350 to have exemplary close quarters controllability, the benefits of the Axius sterndrive docking system joystick (add $16,120) cannot be understated. Among the standard features on the 350 are the Bennett trim tabs and trim indicators for precise control of engine attitude while running.
Comfortable Cockpit for Long Day Trips
Stepping back down into the cockpit, you won’t be struggling to make everyone comfortable while entertaining along the way. Across from the helm is a port side lounger with room for two, but little room for stretching out lounger style. The usual lack of storage is underneath so as to provide headroom in the mid-cabin below.Stepping back to the aft cockpit is a port side wet bar for preparing the cold beverages and maybe a sandwich or two for the crew. A carry-on cooler is standard, but our model had a great space-saving cooler drawer (add $2,000). The Corian countertop has twin hinged lids for access to a concealed trash bin and a sink. In the storage locker below you’ll find the battery switches and main breakers in the aft locker and the carry-on cooler in the other if you don’t opt for the cooler drawer. While you will usually have a large conversation pit in the aft lounger that wraps around from the back of the helm to the port side walkthrough to the swim platform, you can convert the aft facing sun lounger into a full length sun pad or into a cool bed under the stars.
A large sole locker can store any gear you’ve brought aboard, unless you opt for a 7.3kw generator (add $13,545), which fits in this space. I continue to be impressed with the attention to detail and order by Formula. Noise suppression material, wire runs and conduits looked neat and orderly. Bringing up the aft hatch, the optional 496 MAG HOs (add $29,380) had enough room to easily do your daily checks and routine maintenance.
The walkthrough to the swim platform is to port, and this is the boarding area if tied to a floating dock. If you're secured to a fixed pier, a wide non-skid caprail and stainless grab rail lead you to a step into the cockpit. The boarding gate opens inward, as it should. A fresh water shower is right at the entrance making it easy to get the sand off your feet, or wash off the salt water before boarding. The full beam swim platform comes out 32" (81.3 cm) from the transom, and walking space extends off to the sides. While the outdrives are tucked into the extended running surface, I'd like to see the reboarding ladder moved to the side to further protect feet from the sharp edges, but that's my nitpicky side. It's not like I jumped into the water to see if it's a problem. The aft facing rumble seat is very comfortable, and makes an easy conversion to a sunpad. Trunk storage is to starboard and all shore power, TV, and city water inlets are below.
Just behind the stairs in the cabin is the aft cabin with enough room for a queen-sized bed and open enough to prevent claustrophobia. A mirror across the aft wall makes the room seem even larger. Forward of the aft cabin is a port side galley with beautiful cabinetry above in cherry accents and a microwave oven. Open storage across the back of the countertop is large enough for wine bottles or a loaf of bread and spices. In the top is a concealed trash bin cover, a concealed single-burner cooktop and an oversized stainless steel sink. Storage below includes a paper towel holder and three drawers for utensils. The refrigerator/freezer is over on the starboard side within easy reach of the galley.
The forward convertible dinette has Ultraleather upholstery and dual height matching table. This table easily stores away for more room to chat, installs for dinner, or drops down and becomes a large berth with filler cushions. Over on the starboard side above the refrigerator is the entertainment center. Our test model had a large Sharp LCD/TV with a DVD player built in. The standard stereo system is a Kenwood stereo. The TV is mounted on the front of the cabinet cover over the switch panel. The panel uses bright LED lights so you don’t have trouble seeing which breaker you are about to turn off and there is an iPod cradle inside for your MP3 player. The full wet head has a VacuFlush toilet. The molded vanity has a Corian countertop with a separate pull out for the shower and a sink with faucet.
If you’ve been wanting to move up in size, without cutting back on power and performance, you now have a great choice with the 350 Sun Sport from Formula. Pricing with standard 377 MAGs is $319,200. While that may seem pricey, you get a lot of quality and detail which really makes a difference. This boat is built to last, and to think of it, I've never seen a bad looking old Formula.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Formula 350 Sun Sport (2012-) is 53.3 mph (85.8 kph), burning 72.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 272.52 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Formula 350 Sun Sport (2012-) is 29.4 mph (47.3 kph), and the boat gets 1.21 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.51 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 187 miles (300.95 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 430-hp MerCruiser MAG HO.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|10 Years Yes|
|5 Years Yes|
|2 Years Yes|
|5 Years Yes|
|ISO Certification NMMA Certification||Yes|