Captain's ReportBy Captain John B. WenzWith about 70 different builders making over 500 different models of center console, there is something for everyone. Each individual model has its selling points, and they range in price point from basic budget to high-end luxury. Back when I was a kid, we thought of the center-console as a boat for fishermen -- rugged and functional, they offered plenty of cockpit space in a no-nonsense layout. The focus was on a basic helm console and sturdy seats or a leaning post.
A luxury, in those days, was a T-top, to keep the sun at bay. These days, that’s all changed. The variety of innovative features you’ll see out there is a result of competition among those 70 builders. And the list of options available from builder to builder is extensive.
An Industry Trend Setter
MasterCraft’s CSX 265 is a center console replete with both innovations and options. It was MasterCraft’s designers who first got the idea of taking Italian designer/racer Molinari’s 40-year old pickle-fork idea and putting it on something other than a race boat. Since introducing the concept several years ago, several other boat companies in the U.S. have copied the bow concept on sport boats. The next innovative thing MasterCraft did was to make a center console, all-purpose “Cross Sport Xtreme” boat, thus the nomenclature “CSX.” A boutique ski/wakeboat builder making a center console? Wow, that was out of the box! And the third innovative thing that the whiz-kids at MasterCraft did was make a long list of options available so buyers could almost “custom build” a boat to their purpose -- making it a dive boat, fishing boat, ski boat, wakeboard boat, wake surf boat, speed boat, love boat or a whatever boat.
As far as we know, MasterCraft is the only builder to offer such a unique array of features, and has yet to be copied by other builders. This is somewhat astonishing, given the “me-too” character of the boating industry. Our guess is that center console builders are fixated on fishing, and skiboat builders are fixed on wakeboarding, and no one except MasterCraft is thinking about the Renaissance sportspeople who want to do it all.
The CSX 265 measures 26”6” in length, and has a beam of 9’6”. She features twin inboard motors in gas or diesel; several options are available to suit your needs. The deep-V hull delivers a comfortable ride in chop, and the quality of MasterCraft’s construction will assure you that this is no rattle-trap. Everything, from the gleaming gel coat to the luxurious upholstery, is executed by men and women who care about what they do and have the skills to back it up. The CSX 265 weighs 7,750 lbs., has a fuel capacity of 125 (473 L)gallons and draws 32 inches(0.81 m).
The “pickle-fork” bow provides a huge forward cockpit area. Our test boat had a fully cushioned lounge, and a hydraulic table which pops up in the middle. Wide side decks allowed easy movement fore and aft. There’s plenty of seating aft, with a number of different options available to suit your family’s activities.
Create the Boat You Want
Speaking of activities, what does your family like to do out on the water? Fish? Dive? Wakeboard? Whatever the activity, your family can set this boat up to suit your needs. Scuba tank racks, rod holders, board racks, a bait well, underwater lighting -- the list goes on and on. The T-top is larger than many that you’ll see, and it has the look of quality metalwork. As for comforts and conveniences, how about a fully enclosed head with Vacuflush under the console for starters? The sink and shower can be upgraded to include hot water. Add a refrigerator, if you like. And it’s all nicely finished and seems like it will provide season after season of dependable use. The only item I didn’t quite understand is the LCD-TV screen that drops down from the t-top. But, then again, my family doesn’t watch much television at home, so I don’t think we’d get much use out of it on a day boat. The advice I can give you is to choose your options carefully from what’s available. Some of the optional configurations may be great for some activities, but not so good for others.
Under the Engine Hatch
MasterCraft’s CSX 265 is fitted with a pair of 350-hp Vortec V8 inboards as standard power. Options include two gas-powered choices: 310 and 400 horsepower. All three are from Indmar, MasterCraft’s power choice for years. These motors feature multi-port fuel injection and are built to handle the demands of the punishing saltwater environment. If you’re interested in diesel, you can set-up your CSX 265 with a pair of 225’s from Volkswagen. There’s a lot of heitage here, so you can expect these diesel motors to be dependable, and the service network is expanding world-wide.
The Test Ride
We went for a test ride in the CSX 265 on a breezy, cold day. There was some chop on the lake, and the 265 took it well. It likes to go in a straight line, so don’t expect the lively feel you might recognize from some of MasterCraft’s other models. I suspect this feel is because the chines are carried right up to the tongs of the pickle-fork rather than disappearing at the stem. But there’s nothing wrong with a boat that likes to keep going in a straight line without much effort, because it will carve a nice curve as well!
VW Diesels – Dependable Bug Power!
Our test boat was outfitted with the VW diesel option. That’s the most fuel-stingy option available, so we didn’t expect this boat to reach the top speed numbers it is capable of with gas power. We planed-off in 5.4 seconds and hit 30 miles an hour in 7.6 seconds. Our top speed was 38.1 miles an hour, which was respectable for a pair of 225’s pushing almost 8000 pounds of boat.
I liked what I felt and saw in the ride, however the day we tested we couldn’t find any nasty stuff to punch her through. As far as fuel economy, our pair of diesels turned in an impressive performance: at 3000 rpm, running at 25 mph, we calculate our useable fuel (90% of capacity) range to be 239 miles.
In short, this boat has got something for everyone.If you’re in the market for a suitable platform for your family’s many adventures, or you’re looking around at center console to optimize for your choice of activities, then you should absolutely not miss taking a close look at the CSX 265 from MasterCraft.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the MasterCraft CSX 265 SS (2009-) is 38.1 mph (61.3 kph), burning 23.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 88.95 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the MasterCraft CSX 265 SS (2009-) is 25.0 mph (40.2 kph), and the boat gets 2.13 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.91 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 239 miles (384.63 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 225-hp Volkswagen Turbo Diesel.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|