Formula created the 270 Bowrider to serve as an upscale open platform bowrider with plenty of seating for friends while still allowing room for everyone to move about. Being designed and built by Formula, she also has the premium fit-and-finish that we’ve come to expect from the Decatur, Indiana builder. But the real news is in the redesigned layout that adds functionality and the styling treatment and upholstery design looks rich and plush.
Choice of Graphics.
Many builders have a “one-and-done” policy regarding hull graphic choices. Not so with Formula. Formula's leading position in design appeal is confirmed in fresh new updates combined with a unique flexibility program, FormulaFlex™, for exterior, cockpit and cabin offerings. The FormulaFlex allows the a specific look that owners are striving for.•
Definitely a feature that separates Formula Boats from the rest of the pack. Look at most any boat in the marina… closely. Notice the graphics are applied with a decal. Formula paints the graphics on with high-quality AXALTA™ Imron. It’s as durable as a polyurethane paint can be. •
Polished to Perfection.
Formula’s are always easy to spot among a throng of boats. They’re the ones that look far and away better than the rest. On our tour of the Decatur Formula plant, we paused at the end of the line to watch a boat being finished out. No less than four workers were at the hull with orbital buffers bringing out the perfect shine. When one of them stepped back to admire her work, we joined in and looked at the mirror-like shine. We saw no flaws or imperfections in the reflection. Looking at it from the side showed no waving or distortion whatsoever. This process goes on for hours achieving a gloss and shine that belies the man-hours it took to achieve it. It’s that good.
Formula Cast Cleats.
The cleats have the Formula logo cast into them. Not a big deal but indicative of the lengths this company will go to ensure that its boats are classy and different. •
Polished Stainless Steel Engine Vents.
Where we often see chromed plastic vents that peel over time, these vents not only look good, they’re durable. •
Extended Integrated Swim Platform.
This not only adds to the usable space to enjoy the platform, but keeps the sharp edges of the outdrive well clear of any swimmers boarding from the concealed ladder. •
Digital Depth Sounder.
This is part of the standard equipment package. And it’s one of the most looked at gauges on the panel. Bar none. •
Waterproof Stereo Components.
While the stereo itself is not protected, and therefore remains concealed, the remote at the helm is, as are the four 6 ½” (16.5 cm) marine-grade speakers. Naturally, an MP3 port and 12V supply for the player are included but we’d like to see Formula join the trend of Bluetooth-enabled stereos so the music can be controlled from anywhere, by anyone.•
All-Weather Cockpit Seating.
These are made to withstand the elements. It starts with seat bases fabricated from StarLite XL synthetic marine panels. Top it off with DriFast foam that allows water to flow right through to drain holes underneath. Then upholster it with marine-grade vinyl covered with PreFixx stain inhibitor and stitch it together with Tenera UV resistant thread, and voila, a seat that can last.
L-Shaped Aft Lounge Seating.
Provides maximum use of available space and includes molded in cooler and trash container below. •
Aft-Facing Sun Lounger.
This lounger converts easily to a full sun pad now and there’s storage below. As it’s right over the engine compartment, it makes a great place to store wet bathing suits and towels to dry off thanks to the heat of the engine. •
Bow and Cockpit Covers Included.
It’s very surprising to see this as a standard feature but Formula apparently doesn’t want to run the risk of a short-sighted owner failing to cover this premium boat. These aren’t giveaways either… they’re color matched, and made from non-fading Sunbrella acrylic fabric with SeaMark and vinyl undercoating. •
Automatic Discharge Engine Room Fire Extinguisher.
Another item often set as an option but one we’d never want to be without. Likewise, for the standard engine room fume detector.
It should be noted that on test day in south Florida it was 45-degrees with calm seas. The Formula 270 Bowrider has a LOA of 27’ (8.23 m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m), and a draft of 40” (1.02 m). With an empty weight of 6,200 lbs. (2,812 kg), half fuel and 2 people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 6,890 lbs. (3,125 kg).
With the single 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG turning a B3 outdrive we reached a top speed of 52.1 mph at 5000 rpm. At that speed we were burning 32.3 gph giving us a range of 145 miles.
came in at 3000 rpm and 25.8 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to 10.6 gph, which meant a range of 220 miles and an endurance of 8 ½ hrs while still holding back a 10% reserve.
We reached planing speed in 3.4 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 6.2 seconds. 30 mph came and went in 8.6 seconds, and we continued through 40 mph in 12.4 seconds.
Upon hitting the throttle, the bow of the 270 Bowrider will come up 16-degrees, which brings her just under the level of the horizon, so there’s no concern about loss of visibility. Once up on plane, just a couple of shots of up-trim will move the spray from the helm to the aft quarters and the boost in speed can easily be felt. If the trim is brought up any further, then the 270 starts to porpoise rather than ventilate the propellers.
With 2 ½ turns
on the steering wheel from lock-to-lock the 270 Bowrider is quite responsive. She has comfortable turning characteristics in that she doesn’t dig in to the turn to the point where everyone and everything gets tossed to the outside. Rather, she has a slight slide and comfortable 22-degree max bank angle that keeps everyone settled into the seats. She also tends to stay stabilized in the turn, as opposed to oscillating throughout the turn.
As for visibility
, at no-wake speed the windshield frame is only slightly above my line of sight. However, in cruise mode, the bow is at a 5-degree bow high attitude, which had me looking right through the dead center of the windshield. Of course when sitting up on the bolster, I was above it all.
A Remarkable Swim Platform.
The optional extended swim platform on the 270 Bowrider is a "must-have" option for owners planning on engaging in serious watersports. It is here that all of the staging and preparation takes place for waterskiing, wakeboarding and general swimming and frolic. For that reason, the swim platform needs to be large and functional and with the 2'3" (.69 m) extension, it is.
With the extension
the platform is over 7’ (1.82 m) wide and 5’ (1.52 m) fore-and-aft which creates a huge staging area for all sorts of watersports activities. This platform design extends well beyond the lower unit which means swimmers can slip into the water without worry about cutting a foot on metal.
The reboarding ladder
is now in the center of, and right underneath, the platform, making it much easier to deploy from the water. The 270 Bowrider is one of the few boats in class that has the reboarding ladder on the centerline – due primarily to the fore-and-aft dimension of the extended platform.
This optional extended platform
has all been gracefully sculptured by the much-acclaimed yacht designer John Adams, Formula's exclusive designer. It looks like an integral part of the boat and not an ugly bolt-on -- something that is often long on utility but short on beauty. We think Formula has done a masterful job tooling this fiberglass extension to fit snug and not look like an afterthought (even though it was, by popular demand).
Two Hand Rails.
A stainless steel grab handle surrounding the platform serves to absorb errant hits into the dock -- that is why it is so large and robust -- as well as to be a place for swimmers to hang on. In addition, designer Adams has insisted upon a second, recessed stainless steel hand hold in the surface of the platform along both the trailing edge and on the sides. Belt and suspenders? Maybe, but we think it is more as a (successful) design element to break up what might otherwise be a visual excess.
In the center of the platform is a mount for an optional ski-tow pylon that has dedicated storage. Two drink holders are accessible from the water as well. These together with the ss hand-holds make in-water entertaining another virtue of the 270. There are blue courtesy lights to both port and starboard. Imagine how cool that is at night?Teak-grain vinyl decking is available for the swim platform in several shades, $2,760.
The Sun Pad
A sun pad/aft chaise
on top of the engine box utilizes a flip-seatback which replaces a rumble seat in the previous iteration. The beauty of the new design that now there is both a sun pad, and an aft-facing chaise that serves much the same function as the rumble seat. It’s double-wide and makes a good place to watch the kids swimming off the stern, or the sunset over the horizon. Formula is quick to state that this seat should not be used while the 270 Bowrider is underway, and they are correct to do so.
When the cockpit bench seat back is moved forward, the bench seat automatically comes up into position to meet flush with the sun pad. Poof, that’s all there is to it. This even exposes storage under that aft cockpit bench seat. And the whole setup is much more comfortable and looks like it was more purpose built, which, of course, it is.
is under the aft facing sun pad, and this is a good place to dry out wet bathing suits, as well as holding fenders, lines, towing equipment and tools.
The cockpit is accessed via a starboard side walkthrough and features L-shaped seating, with storage for a cooler and trash receptacle underneath. Opposite is a single seat to starboard with an opening seat base for accessibility to the storage beneath. A pedestal base is located in the center of the deck for the standard table.
New Seat Design.
The 270 Bowrider's cockpit seat design has changed in three major ways.
, the buckets seats on pedestals have been replaced with seats on stationary fiberglass bases. Since the seats don't have to swivel and turn, they can be made far wider than before.
The helm seat is double-wide
and can hold both the captain and a co-pilot. The companion seat to port is extra-wide. Both seats have bolsters.
, Formula has created two convertible chaise seats in the cockpit. Because both of the forward seat backs rotate fore and aft, they serve double duty, and in the forward position create
two chaise seats, one port and one starboard
. When towing, the companion seat can be turned into a chaise for the spotter.
, both the
design of the seats and the styling of the upholstery
have been re-invented. Formula has long been an industry leader in seating execution and with the 270 Bowrider it has opened a new chapter. Not only have the colors of the vinyl been changed, but also their texture, shapes, décor and styling. Proud pads with contrasting color piping have been placed on the shoulders of the seats and centered. Dark, horizontal stripes have been placed midway up the seat backs and elsewhere to create what look to be plush, yet firm, seats made for both running and relaxing.
. With the aft bench seat, the bench seats to port and starboard facing inward, and the helm and companion seats facing aft, eight adults can comfortably sit in the cockpit of the 27-footer (8.23 m). In entertainment mode, the cockpit becomes a cozy place for a small cocktail party or a picnic lunch at anchor. Even at the dock, the cockpit of the 270 Bowrider will be an inviting place to hang out.
Engine Room Check
A switch at the helm activates the electric lift hatch to the stern providing a sizeable opening for daily engine room checks and maintenance. We'd like to see hatch open a bit higher to make the engine room easier to enter. But once inside, this compartment offers a roomy installation that even includes dedicated storage for the cockpit table and pedestal. This is one of the advantages to having a large boat with a single engine.
Details of Installation.
The interior of the compartment is completely finished off thanks to the back-gel. Cockpit, and storage drains all lead overboard, rather than into the bilge. Batteries are easily accessible and secured properly with all terminals covered. Formula went the extra step to ensure that all hoses are double clamped. The automatic discharge fire extinguisher is mounted to the forward bulkhead. There is also a fume detector. Courtesy lighting makes work easier inside both day and night.
All veteran boaters know that Murphy's prevails no place more ardently than on boats. For that reason, Formula has added an access port right next to the top of the hydraulic ram supporting the engine hatch. Should the motorized opening device fail for some reason, the hatch can still be opened manually.
The head compartment in the port console on the 270 is standard, as is the portable head unit. Formula includes an opening portlight for ventilation, and a grab handle. Cargo netting is secured to the back of the door for those occupants that like to take their time and read while… well, you know. The door itself is contoured to open past the observer’s seat. We'd be hard-pressed to say that the compartment lends itself to a changing room as the headroom is only 3’9” (1.14 m) but as a head it’s well suited, as there is adequate sitting headroom.
The helm console is a single dark fiberglass piece and the trim is grey to reduce the glare effect in eyes as well as in the reflection on the windshield. The 270 Bowrider’s helm presents an uncluttered layout with dual columns of rocker switches to either side of the panel. Instrumentation includes two SmartCraft gauges in the center allowing selectable data to suit the operator’s taste/needs. Ancillary gauges are below with a depth gauge and trim gauge above. Centered in the top of the panel is an aircraft-style compass.
three-spoke cast Isotta steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base. The stereo remote is to the left with a horn button correctly standing out in red directly adjacent. To the right is the control panel for the engine room fire extinguisher discharge, and next to that are the trim tab rockers.
While our test boat was equipped with Bennett hydraulic with the trim tabs we never used them. However, we could easily tell that they would come in handy to level against an uneven distribution of weight. There’s more seating offered to the port side of the 270 Bowrider centerline, so if there’s a likelihood of loading up, then we’d give serious consideration to adding this optional feature ($1,060).
There’s no strap-n-snap for Formula. This windshield is held open by a latch at the bottom. When closed, rubber gaskets ensure that there’s no vibration to drive anyone nuts. With the top section closed off, a lower air dam will completely block the wind on chilly days.
Helm Console Storage.
With the air dam opened, there’s good access to the interior of the helm console. Formula also added the thoughtful touch of adding a switch to the doorjamb to automatically turn on the interior light upon opening the door. There’s also a removable panel to allow separating the storage for the filler cushions.
Bow Riding Seating
Moving forward, the bow seating offers some versatility. Seats can be configured in the “normal” layout with lounge seats wrapping around from one side to the other. A pedestal base allows for the installation of the cocktail table. Flip-down armrests (which are superior to flip-up armrests as they don’t need to be unlatched to stow) are comfortable and a space in the bolsters would allow for holding a drink. Stainless steel rails are outside the armrests for added security without affecting the comfort.
The next configuration is for two forward facing seats. By removing two cushions, one to either side, these two seats allow sitting, facing forward with feet on the deck rather than stretched out. We find this the most comfortable way to ride in the bow, particularly at high speeds. The forward seats also provide a convenient footrest.
Engine Choices and Pricing
The MSRP base price of the Formula 270 Bowrider is $134,420 when powered with a Volvo Penta 300-hp V8-300C with Duoprop. Our test boat powered by a Mercury 380-hp 8.2 L V-8 with Bravo II drive has a MSLP base price of $146,530. Formula makes available eight engine choices ranging from 300-hp to 430-hp from its two engine suppliers -- Volvo Penta and Mercury. For those who want to be the fastest 27-footer on the lake, we suggest consideration of the optional Volvo Penta V8 430-hp 6.0 L engine which will give the boats an MSRP of $157,940. However, we suggest that only for people who can handle all of that power -- and the price tag.To find out more about these engines visit BoatTEST.com's engine section under MerCruiser and Volvo Penta.
Optional Equipment to Consider
Here is where boat selection gets interesting. Most builders leave expensive options off the base boat both to keep the price down, but also to not waste buyers' money on equipment they will never use. For the buyer, the pocket-book decisions on optional equipment force a decision as to what the real mission of the boat will be. Is she for watersports, entertaining, family cruising, or blasting around to be the biggest, coolest boat on the lake? Here are some options--
•Bennett Trim Tabs $1,060 •12V Inflator for water toys $260 •SS custom arch/light/swivel $7,490 •Extended swim platform $5,000
•Woven cockpit mat $1,145 •Bow seating filler cushions $730 •Bimini top $1,795
•Manual Porcelain head with tank $1,600 •Bow beach ladder with grab handle $435 •VHF radio $1,410 •Removable ski/wake pylon $945 •Transom gate $290 •Front and side curtains for Bimini $2,460
•Remote control fob for blue courtesy lights $520 •200W cockpit subwoofer $620 •Polished SS windshield header $1,380 •Razor wake arch/Halogen lights/speakers $8,675 •Tea-grain vinyl for swim platform $2,760
The most important option for any Formula boat is not on the list above. It is DuPont Imron polyurethane paint on the hull sides. Formula offers 24 combinations of two-tone colors, for $3,155. This is roughly 2% of the price of the boat. Imron, plus Formula's process for applying it and buffing it to a high shine, should keep the boat looking like new for nearly 10 years with minimal maintenance. Imron oxidizes far slower than does even the best gel coat. Boat buyers who cannot afford this option, in our opinion, should consider another brand.
From the consoles forward the inside of the new 270 Bowrider model is pretty much the same as the previous version -- except for the upholstery. The new model has a different approach to the cockpit, the stern, and the external graphics and paint colors. Also, there are some new engine options, including the new Volvo Penta V8 6.0 L 430-hp engine.We would recommend one of the mid-hp engines for all but the hot shots. Those planning on filling every seat and towing might want to consider a larger engine.
The Ride Counts.
All Formula boats are built for both freshwater and saltwater applications. As a result the 270 Bowrider has a deadrise at the transom of 22-degrees. She is also one of the heaviest boats in class and her added material and equipment is one of the reasons she costs more. On the other hand, that deep V, plus her tested weight of 6,800 lbs. (2,812 kg) will give her an optimal ride in choppy conditions at speed. That is the strong suit of Formula hulls and the 270 is no exception. Sunshine sailors on small lakes probably don't need all of the capabilities that the 270 Bowrider has to offer.
Then there is the value of the 270 Bowrider as perceived beyond her bill of materials. That is where her design artistry, many man-hours of buffing, compounding and dry sanding, comfortable rough-water ride, and sheer status come into play. For those who want the very best, boats such as the Formula 270 Bowrider have a value that is personal, and can't really be objectively compared.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Formula 270 Bowrider (2014-) is 52.1 mph (83.8 kph), burning 32.25 gallons per hour (gph) or 122.07 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Formula 270 Bowrider (2014-) is 25.8 mph (41.5 kph), and the boat gets 2.44 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.04 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 220 miles (354.06 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG BIII .
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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