Captain's ReportBy BoatTEST.com staffRemember the luxury tax? That was the Federal Government's revenue-raising debacle that brought the marine industry to its knees. The deal was you had to pay an extra "luxury" tax on boats that cost more than $100,000, and to survive, some builders cut corners and introduced new models just under that price point.Today, the luxury tax is gone and so is the $100,000 barrier. But one builder--Tiara--has rolled out a new model just under the $100,000 mark, not because is has to, but because it wants to. And the reason has everything to do with brand loyalty. The company figures that once a boater owns a Tiara, he'll stay with Tiara. But to get them into the Tiara family, the company needed a competitive, multipurpose, "entry-level" model. Well that new model is here in the form of the 2900 Coronet.To keep the Coronet rugged, affordable, and at the same high-quality level for which Tiaras are known, the company tackled the problem from several fronts. First, it saved money by streamlining the Coronet's manufacturing process. There are very few options on the Coronet, so production lines will roll along smoothly without interruption. Next, the Coronet has the same hull and helm console as Tiara's 2900 Open, so the use of common molds also added to the cost savings. And lastly, Tiara put sensible limits on what the Coronet was designed to do. Can you fish the boat? Absolutely--her cockpit measures almost 54 square feet. Cruise? More than 200 miles on a single stop at the fuel dock. But at 29 feet on deck, the Coronet is no long-term cruiser--rather, she's a high-end, multi-purpose dayboat or overnighter, but with many of the quality touches found throughout the Tiara line.One of the first things you'll notice about the Coronet is her transom--it's rounded, not square as in most open-type fishing boats. The curve gives the boat a little sex appeal, but from a practical standpoint it diverts water smoothly around the hullsides when the boat is in reverse. This design--combined with the integral swim platform and ladder--will keep anglers from getting soaked when backing down hard on a fish. In addition, the heavy-duty transom door--with rugged stainless steel hardware--does not extend all the way down to the platform and cockpit-sole level. Rather, it sits atop a step between the two which keeps sea water out of the cockpit. If the cockpit does take on water, it quickly drains via two scupper tubes that exit along the hullsides--not the transom--way aft. Again, this is to prevent water from entering the cockpit while backing down.As for amenities, the Coronet's cockpit is not tournament-ready but it's fine for casual day trips. Tiara's famous diamond-pattern nonskid is here and on all deck surfaces, and four Lee rod holders are an option for the gunwales. Another option is twin L-shaped benchseats that come out in seconds simply by pulling four quick-release pins. Behind these seats are two removable tilt-out stowage boxes built into the transom, and these are handy since you don't have to go out on the swim platform to access your docklines, fenders, and other gear. Bigger-boat touches here include stainless steel hawsepipes for the stern lines, and the standard cockpit bolster pads are at mid-thigh height (27-inches) for security when gaffing a fish or simply retrieving a lost hat.While there is no insole fishbox, I appreciated the gasketed hatch that provides direct access to the fuel lines and shutoff valves atop the single fuel tank. Other pluses include a two-person aft-facing benchseat for watching baits and an optional cockpit shower.Moving forward, the 2900 Coronet differs from most Tiaras in its deck design. Instead of being raised, the bridge deck is at the same level as the cockpit, so it's a straight, level walk from transom to cabin. But like most Tiaras, there's no need to fumble with engine hatches--the bridge deck tilts up using a single-ram electro-hydraulic lift to reveal the twin inboards below.Our test boat had a pair of Crusader 454XL is in the compartment which was finished in white gelcoat throughout. Prop pockets in the hull allow a straight inboard powertrain configuration, and dripless shaft seals are standard equipment. While it was an easy reach to the dip sticks, oil filters, and cooling-water reserve tanks, it's tough to get at the starboard fuel filter since it's way outboard. Fortunately, there's a hatch in the bridge deck for headroom while you're in the compartment, so you can easily walk forward between the engines and then turn around and reach anything you want. All wires are neatly bundled and wrapped, and hoses are double-clamped for safety.Back up top, the bridge deck has a raised L-shaped lounge to port with a smartly designed chart table/stowage area forward, and a helm seat and refreshment console to starboard. The console has a cold-water sink, a large icebox that's 15-inches deep, and a second, smaller icebox. Though it lies beneath a combination of hinged, "starboard" covering boards that fold in an awkward way, the console is functional and provides a big cutting-board area when not in use.Up forward, the helm console is traditional Tiara. It tilts aft for easy electronics installation and maintenance, and features VDO instruments and rocker switches right at your fingertips. The reach to the Morse controls is easy, and though the stainless steel wheel does not tilt, it's fine for either sitdown or standup driving. The entire area is protected by a rugged, three-panel windshield that's custom made for Tiara, and the deflector on top sent wind flying over my head even while standing. It's two-steps down through a 20-inch wide companionway to get to the cabin. Though the Coronet is technically a day boat, that doesn't mean Tiara skimped on the interior craftsmanship or treatments. The sole is teak-and-holly, and shelves and countertops are trimmed in maple for a wood-on-white look. All pop-out latches lock securely, and locker doors are hung with stainless steel hinges.Finish aside, the cabin is functional but basic. The Coronet sleeps two in a forward V-berth (great for naps), and the galley is limited to a cold-water sink and single-burner stove but plenty of undercounter stowage space. Likewise, the head--though fully enclosed--is basic with just a sink, fixed head, and mirror. But remember the boat's purpose; for day trips or even a dockside overnighter, this is about all you'll really need.As far as performance is concerned, the Coronet hopped onto plane in less than four seconds with minimal bow rise. Once on plane, her steering was very light to the touch, and she spun a tight, 360-degree turn at speed in just three boat lengths. Though she has a smooth ride with no tendency to pound and good lateral stability both at speed and at rest, the Coronet is not a particularly quiet boat, registering 97 decibels at wide open throttle. Against that, her top speed of 37 mph should be plenty for most family outings, and her handling is so predictable that both you and the kids will have fun when its your turn to take the wheel.In retrospect, everyone agrees that the luxury tax was a bad idea. But because it got Tiara thinking about a new model for less than $100,000, at least something good came out of it.For more information contact Tiara Yachts, (616) 392-7163. Fax: (616) 394-7466. http://www.tiarayachts.com/
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Tiara 2900 Coronet is 36.6 mph (58.9 kph), burning 57.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 218.02 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Tiara 2900 Coronet is 19.0 mph (30.6 kph), and the boat gets 1.30 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.55 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 234 miles (376.59 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 320-hp Crusader 454XL gasoline inboards.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
||Engine warranties vary by manufacturer|