Capt. Steve Says...
It’s hard not to love a job that allows one to walk down the dock, see a boat sitting there that everyone is staring at, and then have the guy in charge walk over to them and hand the keys over. Does it get any better? Now the hard part is trying to put into words the attitude and feeling that this boat projects so well. It’s the cross I have to bear but here goes.
There’s just so much “wow” factor in the 290 FX4 that it’s hard to decide where to begin. So let’s start with first impressions. The high gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint is simply stunning against the red and black accented white upholstery. It's hard not to stare, and that’s pretty much what everyone on the dock was doing. She has a sleek profile, sitting high at the bow and low at the stern. The thought of a 50’s Ferrari comes to mind and one can’t help but picture a Brigitte Bardot-type blonde ala Love Italian Style sitting there waiting for one to come aboard. The low profile curved glass windshield is framed in the Formula trademark heavy-duty stainless steel. Everywhere one looks, there’s another example of custom work that Formula put effort into for this boat alone. Embroidered “FX4” logos in the seat backs, custom logo’d snap-in carpeting… it’s all here as the ultimate eye candy. One almost cringes thinking someone might get it dirty, but then one sees the self draining cockpit scuppers and realize that this a boat intended to be used, even though it looks like it should be under glass. It’s an interesting mix of retro-class and contemporary flair all in one boat.
Highlights of Features
Suffice it to say that there’s too much on this boat to write about, but let’s go over some of the notables. First is the construction. Formula uses a chemical bond to join the hull and deck together and it joins the two as one. This isn’t just talk, it can be felt in the ride and how she handles the wakes. The boater will think that they’re on a much larger boat with a heavy feel, but her empty weight is 8,950 lbs (4,060 kg). That makes her a relative heavyweight in her class, but it’s got more to do with the construction than amenities, and it’s interesting to note that she shares the same weight class with her cousin, the 290BR. The engine intake vents are covered in stainless rails. I thought that was impressive, and tucked behind the port intake rails is a concealed air horn… air horn, not an electric tone cheapy. It sounded very cool, and fitting of this beauty.
The cockpit is a continuous molded liner with more of the high gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint that we saw on the exterior. Imron painted interior? That's right and Formula is once again leading the industry in fit-and-finish details. Throughout the 290 FX4 there are areas of silver carbon-fiber panels covered in an exotic resin overlay. It’s on the cockpit entertainment center, the dash panel, in the cabin highlights, in the head… it’s just something one would never before see on a sportboat, and here it’s everywhere.
Let’s get to the layout. Calling her a cuddy is a bit of a misnomer as that says to me that it’s just got a small berth where most people just throw stuff for the day. Rather, the 290 FX4 is more like a pocket cruiser; she's a mini-cabin cruiser… there’s V-seating forward with a pedestal table in the cabin. As expected, this table lowers to form a berth. Natural light pours in through two Bomar hatches overhead. The sliding companionway hatch is high-gloss silver diamond pearl metallic Imron paint.
The entry steps are cherry wood grain and the cabin is carpeted throughout. The upholstery is Ultra leather and butter soft and I noticed that there is a lumbar support all the way around the seating, and the FX embroidery continues here. The table is a high gloss cherry that matches the steps. It’s just beautiful. Cherry cabinetry and Corian countertops round out the high class look of the cabin. A flat screen LCD TV is mounted to the forward bulkhead. The head compartment is to starboard, and while it’s not suitable for standing, one is not crouching either. There is a porcelain head plumbed to a 22 gallon (83.3L) holding tank, a molded vanity with sink and mirror, Corian countertops and cherry flooring.
The cockpit is entered via the portside entry from the swim platform. There’s a double wide aft facing rumble seat, which is only appropriate to use while the boat is not making way. To the starboard is a trunk storage locker with dedicated holders for the fenders.
A U-shaped settee (or maybe C-shaped, I get those confused) lies to starboard, with more logo’d upholstery, only since it’s exposed to the elements the Ultra leather is replaced with weatherproof Prefixx treated vinyl, DriFast foam, and StarLite XL synthetic marine panel construction . There is storage underneath and a removable 17qt (16L) Igloo cooler. The cocktail table is dual height to facilitate the addition of filler cushions making the area into a large sunpad. Where’s Suzanne Somers now?
To starboard is an entertainment center, with the carbon fiber countertop I mentioned earlier, sink, another 17qt (16 L) Igloo cooler trash container, and chrome safety rail. Ahead and to port is a bench seat with additional storage underneath.
If they ever gave out awards for helm beauty, this would take the prize. The carbon fiber with clear overlay looks amazing against the Livorsi gauges. There are two oversized Livorsi Mega-series gauges for engine tachs and a third oversized GPS speedo in the middle. The speedometer has a “max recall” feature, but I couldn’t see how to access that (nor did I care as I had my own on the radar gun).
The remaining critical engine gauges were in two slanted rows to starboard, the fuel and a depth gauge were to port. A double wide helm seat with separate bolsters gave good reason for two stainless drink holders, and by the way… all drink holders had drain hoses leading into the bilge. Lighted rocker switches were on either side of the silver and chrome steering wheel. A stereo remote (the stereo is in the cabin) is below to port. To starboard are the dual Livorsi chrome engine controls, as seen on all Formula’s, with Lenco trim tabs with indicators just ahead and individual outdrive and trailer trim switches next to that. Combined outdrive trim is via a thumb switch on the port throttle. At the top of the panel are molded in trim gauges resting on either side of the Ritchie compass.
A touch of a helm rocker switch lifted the electrically actuated engine hatch revealing the twin Mercury 320-hp 377 MAG’s. They were attached to Bravo III outdrives. I found plenty of room to access all sides of the engines and daily checks were front and center. I wasn’t thrilled with the fire extinguisher discharge ports. There are two screw-type hatches, one top and bottom. The boater can’t get them both out from a single side. Of course my concerns were alleviated when I noticed the fixed fire extinguisher system mounted in the engine compartment. When will I remember that Formula does nothing halfway?
It's Good to Be King
Overall, not only was this a cool looking boat, it just feels cool operating it. It changes one in ways that are not common and that is hard for me to describe. The fact is, I drive a lot of boats, and when one gives me any kind of feeling past the forensic I’m tasked to explore, then it’s saying something. This one felt good to me, both in its handling and general attitude. What exactly is that attitude? Well, just imagine what it must feel like when one knows that they have the coolest, most-state-of-the-art, and sexiest boat on the water?
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Formula 290 FX4 (2014-) is 54.5 mph (87.7 kph), burning 50.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 190.01 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Formula 290 FX4 (2014-) is 29.5 mph (47.5 kph), and the boat gets 1.69 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.72 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 168 miles (270.37 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 320-hp MerCruiser 377 MAG ECT.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!