Tested by Capt. Vince DanielloIn the past, when I went snow skiing my goal was as many fast, hard runs as I could squeeze into a day. Over time I mellowed. I still ski hard, but have learned to appreciate a relaxing break between runs. Serious participation in watersports is no different. For those who enjoy their time inside the boat as much as their time behind the boat, Malibu offers the Sunscape Sport V series. It’s like the summertime version of your favorite ski lodge.The smallest of Malibu’s luxurious Sport Vs, the Sunscape 21 LSV does not compromise skiability. Built with the same SV23 Diamond hull as her professional grade sisters, some would say she is the perfect size ski boat. At only 2900 pounds, slalom wakes are extremely smooth, yet the company’s Wedge and MLS options quickly convert her into an aggressive wakeboard boat. (See the article for our test of the Wakesetter 21 XTi for more information about these innovative systems.) The biggest difference between the Sport V and the rest of Malibu’s line, the V-drive propulsion system places the engine at the stern of the boat, rather than in the middle. This creates a spacious center seating area for warm interaction between family or friends. Malibu has (up-scaled) the interior too. Kick back and close your eyes in the hand sewn, heated driver’s seat and let the forced air heater warm your toes on a cool morning. Remind you of that cozy chair by the fireplace? Other luxuries include a hand sewn upholstered dash and an optional hot water shower. Special attention is given to reducing engine noise, (for a totally relaxing experience). The huge lounge wraps around three quarters of the cockpit, and includes a removable snack table. The rear facing section of the lounge lifts for access to a cavernous storage compartment beneath the windshield, intended to keep all wakeboards, skis, and equipment out from under foot when not in use. A cooler is concealed under starboard aft section. While the cooler is generously large, those of us in Florida might appreciate a bit more insulation at the expense of a few cubic inches. The remaining seats conceal additional storage.The bow seating area includes a removable insert to form a cozy (lounge). The windshield hinges for access to the bow, and a Plexiglas panel closes off the section beneath the windshield on chilly mornings. There is storage beneath the forward seats, and additional ski storage under the deck in the walk-through.To make full use of the luxurious helm seat, it swivels around to face the seating area, including the driver in conversation, or lunch. The bucket style seat can be locked forward, keeping the driver in place during high speed turns. The seat slides forward to precisely position the driver at tilt steering wheel, and includes adjustable lumbar support. As with all of Malibu’s boats, switches and controls are close at hand, and the large instruments are easy to read. An large sunpad covers the engine at the stern, and creates two storage areas on either side of the engine. At the front of the sunpad, the ski pylon swivels on exceptionally smooth needle bearings and retracts when not in use.Malibu is known for employing technology in design, construction, and manufacturing, but the company gives comfort a technological boost as well. Hydroponic dampening system – All Sunscapes are equipped with Malibu’s silent rider mufflers for further noise reduction, and can include the Perfect Pass cruise control system, allowing the driver to dial in an exact speed or RPM and return to it at will.The V-drive powered Sunscape I tested was not as perfectly balanced as Malibu’s midship engine models, the trade off for having the engine in the stern. Otherwise she performed impeccably, with better performance and enhanced safety over what is expected from sterndrive boats. Because the rack and pinion steering controls just a rudder, not an entire out drive, steering was extremely smooth and nearly effortless, even at full throttle. The boat planned off quickly at 2.7 seconds but with the weight of the engine in the stern, her bow rose a bit more than the company’s straight inboard boats I tested. Once on plane, the boat ran remarkably level. Our test boat was equipped with a 375 horsepower Corvette engine, taken right off GM’s assembly line and custom built for Malibu, which propelled us to a top speed of 49.1 miles-per-hour at 5500 RPM. The boat cruised economically too. At 3500 RPM we made 34.5 miles-per-hour, burning 8.7 gallon-per-hour, making four miles per gallon of gasoline. At 25 miles-per-hour, the boat’s most economical speed, it was making better than five miles per gallon.Malibu’s Sunscape 21 LSV fills an important niche quite well. Her compact size and inboard engine are well suited for aggressive skiing, while the stern engine V-drive configuration makes her a great family boat. Add in the versatility of huge wakes from the Wedge and MLS systems, and the extra poshness of the Sunscape line, and she offers something for everyone in the family.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Malibu Sunscape 21 LSV is 49.1 mph (79 kph), burning 26.1 gallons per hour (gph) or 98.79 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Malibu Sunscape 21 LSV is 34.5 mph (55.5 kph), and the boat gets 3.99 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.7 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 126 miles (202.78 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 375-hp Corvette LSI EFI.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!