Boat Test Videos
Content courtesy ofNot only does the 34 PC handle well enough to earn the “Performance Cruiser” moniker, but everywhere we looked on this 34 PC we found items reserved for larger cruisers. And she is loaded with many items of standard equipment -- such as 18,000 BTUs of A/C and an internal vacuum cleaner system -- that are almost always optional equipment. This vessel has multiple missions and therein lies her remarkable utility -- she can party, boogie, and cruise, all in genteel surroundings.
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
The mission of the 34 PC is to combine the handling capabilities and speed that large Formula boats are so well known for, while providing the comfort features that experienced boaters are looking for when day-boat entertaining, weekend cruising, or taking longer jaunts. Thus, Formula invented the "Performance Cruiser" (PC) moniker many years ago and it has proved to be a successful combination. This is not a mission statement that is easy to achieve because what is needed for one activity, makes the other harder. Let's see how Formula does it.
Formula stands behind its products with a 10 year structural warranty and a 5 year transferrable Formula Guard protection plan. It is one of the very best in the industry.•
Air Conditioning Standard.
Formula went with an 18,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioner for the cabin with a digital climate control unit. Those in northern latitudes can use the reverse-cycle heat feature to enjoy 3-season boating. The optional generator will be needed to use it away from the dock.•
Polished to Perfection.
Formulas are always easy to spot among the throng of boats out on the water -- even from a distance. They’re the ones that look far and away better than the rest. On our tour of the Decatur, Indiana plant, we paused at the end of the line to watch a hull exterior being finished. No less than four workers were having at the hull with orbital buffers bringing out the perfect shine. When one of the polishers 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.
Superior Hull Laminate.
Most brands in the premium category of which Formula is a world leader look pretty good these days under close scrutiny -- but occasionally there are some surprising exceptions. Looking at the 34 PC’s hull from the side showed no wash-boarding or distortion whatsoever. We couldn’t see any telltale bulge from the interior ribs or bulkheads.•
High-Quality, Fair Hull Surface.
This means that the boat's plug was sanded by hand with consummate care, because 5-axis routers can only do so much. Likewise, Formula's molds are treated like gold. They will not be found sitting out in the back 40 exposed to the elements as we often note at many boat factories. •
316 Stainless Steel Hardware and Rails.
Virtually all builders say that they use stainless steel hardware, and they do. The trouble is that stainless steel comes in a number of grades, 316 being the most expensive used in marine applications because of its high corrosion resistance. Saying "300 Series" is a dead giveaway that 316 is not being used. Because it is so much more expensive, our experience is that builders like Formula which use it, flaunt it -- 316 is the number to look for.•
How else is one to clean up the crumbs from crackers and potato chips? Small vacuum sweepers take up space, often foul up the autopilot compass, and are cumbersome. This system has easy-access bulkhead plug-ins.
Major Standard Features
The Formula 34 PC is not inexpensive. One of the reasons for that is the fact that she includes many, many items as standard equipment that most builders offer as options. Many of these items are necessary for cruising or safe boat operation, so consumers comparing prices should carefully match apples-with-apples on the equipment list. Following is a list of standard items that caught our eye as being at least a bit out of the ordinary on a standard list, even for a premium boat --
Deck, Hull and Mechanical
This is a standard feature and Formula includes 200’ (61 m) of all-chain rode, a chain counter at the helm, a polished stainless anchor and a handheld remote control. All boats in class should have all of this equipment, but few include it all as standard. We particularly like the chain counter when anchoring at night. •
Polished Remote Control Searchlight.
Typically an item always residing on the options list. Again, it is there because Formula expects that people who buy its boats will actually go out and cruise at night. •
Ten 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 finished to perfection. The 34 PC has ten of these cleats, not the 6 to 8 we usually see on premium boats in class. •
Boaters paying this kind of money for a fine yacht don't want a tinny-sounding horn. Nevertheless, its surprising how many builders of good boats cheap out here. •
Bennett Trim Tabs.
These are hydraulic and not electric as most builders are installing these days. The system includes LED indicators. •
Radar Arch with Mast and Light.
This is part of the standard equipment package. It is a great place to mount all manner of electronic equipment. •
Versatile Trunk Storage.
At the swim platform there is trunk storage with molded inserts that hold four fenders (two upright, two laying down), storage for cocktail tables and cushions, plus hangers for lines. It’s held open with gas struts.
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. Formula includes a transom shower with hot and cold running water as standard. •
Automatic Discharge Engine Room Fire Extinguisher.
Another item often set as an option but one we’d never want to be without. The boat comes standard with an engine room fume detector, another "must-have" item on our list.
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.•
The 34 PC comes standard with a Garmin GPS with color chartplotter. •
Waterproof Stereo Components.
While the Clarion stereo itself is not protected, and therefore remains concealed, the remote at the helm is, as are the 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. This one does, however, include a 400-Watt amplifier.
All Weather Cockpit Seating.
We hate sitting on a wet cushion -- and its not going to happen for long on the 34 PC. With DriFast foam that allows water to flow right through to drain holes underneath, cushions dry out in a jiffy. Formula has upholstered it with marine-grade vinyl covered with PreFixx stain inhibitor and stitch it together with Tenera UV resistant thread and, voila, a seat as good as any and better than most in the marine industry. •
U-shaped Aft Lounge Seating.
Provides maximum use of available space and includes two dual-height tables that convert to a sun pad. Filler cushions store in the transom trunk. •
It includes an integrated sink, Corian counters, trash container and safety rail. •
Double-wide Helm and Companion Seats.
At the helm we can have a second set of eyes looking ahead. The double-wide companion seat faces the helm which is necessary to get the headroom necessary for the stand up shower stall below. This is not our preferred layout on deck, but we and most women we know very much like the separate shower below because it keeps the rest of the head dry. Every boat is a compromise and here it is on the 34 PC.
Formula installs the VacuFlush head with a 40-gallon (151 L) holding tank and dockside pumpout. The shower is in a separate shower stall with an acrylic door, which is a bit unusual in this size boat. •
It has an UltraSuede lumbar support. Details like this all work together to make the boat something special. •
Mid Cabin Lounge.
Formula has done a clever job of tucking a mid cabin into a 34' (10.36 m) boat. Note that there is a step down from the salon and high overhead in the front of the mid cabin. This is made possible because of the double-wide helm console above and this is the way we like to see express cruisers this size configured.
The 34 PC swim platform
measures 9’10” (25.4 cm) across, by 2’6.5” (16.5 cm) fore and aft. In the middle is the concealed re-boarding ladder. Here’s where the Formula difference begins.
It’s a four-step ladder
, held on by massive stainless steel hardware, the lid is supported by two gas-assist struts and the recessed well that the ladder resides in is self draining. The platform on our test boat was covered in the
vinyl teak decking
offered as an option ($3,435).
. To starboard there are connections for city water, twin electrical connections, and a phone/TV connection. Against the starboard bulkhead is a side mount pedestal for an optional pedestal mount gas grill ($1,360).
is much more than an empty space to load stuff as noted above. It has mounts inside for two fenders to mount vertically and two more lay down just ahead of those. There are pedestal holders for the cockpit tales and the cabin. Plus the open space that becomes so useful in this area. The lid is held open by two gas struts.
A Hardware Idea.
But in the “things-are-never-good-enough-for-us” department, we hate turn-and-lock latches because we are never quite sure where the latch is when we turn the handle. It is easy to close the hatch with the latch out and damage either the fiberglass or the latch. We’d rather see lift-and-lock latches. Everyone always turns these in the wrong direction. To the port bulkhead is a stereo remote and a hot/cold shower. The large transom door opens in as it should on this size boat.
The transom door that leads into the cockpit is fitted with a micro-switch that prevents the engine hatch from opening when the door is closed. The push of a button lifts the standard electrically-actuated engine hatch and once raised, it’s easy to appreciate the roominess of the engine compartment.
Ship Shape Treatment.
We found everything neat-and-tidy here, and we mean everything. Even a cursory glance shows obvious signs of attention to detail. All electrical connections are sealed for harsh saltwater environment, sea strainers are massive, all hoses double clamped. In the aft corners of this compartment there is extra bracing molded in to the hull/deck joint -- right where an errant captain may tag a piling on approach. Hey, even with Axius it can happen.
As for engines
, the 34 PC comes standard with a pair of MerCruiser 380-hp 8.2 MAG ECT Bravo Three X DTS. Options come from Volvo Penta and include the 380-hp 6.0 L V8-380CE Duoprop EVC (+$640), or up the ante to diesel with Twin Volvo Penta D4-300 Duoprop Diesel EVC (+$56,440).
Back up in the cockpit, we have snap-in carpeting but the vinyl teak on the swim platform can be added here as well ($12,170) and the upgrade includes the steps to the walkthrough windshield.
This cockpit is covered
in an optional hardtop ($19,460) and we don't think it harms the looks of the 34 PC’s profile. The standard configuration is a radar arch and that’s important because this is a cruising boat and will likely have radar installed in northern latitudes, or a TracVision M3DX Sat TV system. At the very least VHF and GPS antennas will need a place to call home.
wraps around a pair of tables with Corian tops inlaid into the surface. Up to five colors are offered for the Corian and it’s repeated in several places throughout the boat. This is a big upgrade from previous models, and it’s a direct response to customer feedback.
Wet the Whistle
To port there’s a wet bar and it also includes a Corian countertop, a single basin sink plumbed to the 55-gallon (206 L) water supply, a trash receptacle and a standard cockpit refrigerator. This can be swapped out for a cockpit icemaker ($520), and in either case, Formula thankfully left off the white cabinet door that is used to cover the refrigerator.
The helm features a double-wide wraparound seat with dual flip-up bolsters, and we usually have trouble actually flipping up the bolsters on Formula’s, but these worked flawlessly and easily. The helm layout was textbook Formula with a optional Raymarine Hybrid Touch Chartplotter front and center and the MerCruiser VesselView off to port.
were mounted on the 45-degree angle but it wasn’t so bad as these were digital throttles and worked effortlessly. Just ahead of the engine controls were the trim tab rockers and the Axius Joystick. To the left of the Axius stick was a joystick for the remote spotlight, and a digital depth gauge was just ahead on the upper panel. At the top of the left side panel are the fuel gauges. To the right are the trim tab gauges and a chain counter for the all-chain anchor rode.
Portside on the Helm Deck.
To port is a chaise that allows forward or aft facing seating or simply sitting up and facing the helm. Under the seats are double piano hinges on all the storage compartments, designed to stay open without having to hold the lid with one hand. Now both hands are free to work in the compartment.
Either ultra-narrow side decks or the much more easily transitioned walkthrough windshield accesses the bow. For some reason, Formula didn’t interconnect the two latches on the walkthrough windshield, which is very uncharacteristic. … very uncharacteristic. Steps to the walkthrough are between the helm and the sliding companionway hatch to the cabin. The hardtop supports served as convenient handholds and a rail is next to the stairs themselves.
Modern powerboat foredeck design demands that the bow be clean of ugly things like a windlass and dedicated anchor cleat. To do otherwise would be old fashioned and clunky. As many new boaters only go from marina to marina, probably a surprisingly high percent of boats in this class rarely get anchored in the first place. We urge boaters of any brand not to succumb to using their anchor windlass as a cleat when anchored. Here's what two windlass makers have to say about it--
Maxwell Windlass --
"The anchor winch is designed to lift a dead weight and should not be subjected to the strain of the boat riding at anchor."
Lewmar Windlass --
"If the load is left on the windlass during mooring, shock loads could lead to damage of the rode or the windlass."
The solution is to use a bridle in the arrangement shown below where the line is connected to the port and starboard bow cleats. This has the advantage of spreading the load to two cleats instead of concentrating it on one. Bridles can be purchased with rubber shock absorbers which have the advantage of keeping the boat from snapping when in windy conditions. In fact, all boats should probably use one type of bridal or another to more comfortably ride at anchor.
A curved couch
to starboard has dual tables in front that can accommodate a third table which all will lower to form a separate berth when needed.
Ultraleather is everywhere
on the upholstery and oh-so nice to touch. But in a unique move Formula also added a strip of Ultrasuede to the lumbar support on the couches. It creates an eye-pleasing contrast to the earth tones of the mass of upholstery.
Some of the other Ultraleather colors available for 2014 include Buckskin, Chamois, Saddle and Whey, accented, respectively, with Spice, Sahara, or Brownstone Ultrasuede.
in the test boat was finished in an attractive wood veneer that is in a new Bourbon color for 2014. Other woods are available, including ash and wenge, or both ash and wenge
The Corian countertops
can be several different colors, including Burled Beach, Earth, Lava Rock, Sonora and Tumbleweed. Corian is used by most major builders instead of granite because it is not so brittle, is easy to repair, and weighs less.
Décor pillows, window treatments
and bed coverings can come in a number of different colors and types, many of which compliment the exterior hull color. Formula was one of the first builders to offer designer treatments such as Ralph Lauren custom décor, quilted bedspread, pillow shams, bed linens and custom-woven towels.
Forward is an island berth with steps to both sides to allow easy access. Mirrored cabinets to both sides are attached to doors on the cedar hanging lockers. Underneath are separate bags that hold the Lexan windscreens that install between the windshield and hardtop, and it’s an upgraded version of isinglass that we usually see. Underneath are drawers for additional storage. Above are two hatches that offer both privacy and bug screens.
New for 2014
are the stemware storage cabinets that project LED lighting downward onto the glasses adding an interesting effect to the cabinets. Glass doors enhance that effect further. Below is another cabinet that houses the Krups coffee maker in a dedicated storage compartment. A microwave and refrigerator/freezer are standard. An opening portlight is just above the double burner stove.
The counters are solid Corian
and as food is being prepared, the counter can be cleaned off right into the flush mounted trash receptacle. To the right of the counter is additional stemware storage. Below is a cabinet that has the water control to cycle between onboard or city water and a fire extinguisher. Additional storage is in the deck.
The head is sizable and surprisingly, it is not a wet head. It includes a separate shower stall enclosed by an acrylic door. The toilet is a VacuFlush plumbed to a 40-gallon (151 L) holding tank. A mirrored medicine cabinet has a door that opens garage style. The fixtures are new and of the squared-off style that is popular these days.
The mid cabin was well laid out and just a step down from the main salon. This makes for a great conversation pit, and because it’s wide open to the salon, really keeps everyone in the thick of the gathering when there’s a crowd below. And of course there are filler cushions for converting to a berth. I found 4'9” (1.45 m) of headroom there, but full headroom in the rest of the cabin.
Underneath the starboard seat is the standard central vac system. An optional 24” flatscreen ($1,610) is to the starboard bulkhead. Above the seatbacks are additional cedar lined closets spaces, one of them hanging. And the whole compartment is pretty much surrounded by mirrors which makes the space appear larger than it is. Of course, the table top descends and filler cushions turn the mid cabin into a double bed. A privacy curtain is supplied. In this way the boat can sleep two couples. By using the settee in the salon at least one more adult can be bedded down.
The below decks area is cooled with the 18,000 BTU reverse-cycle air conditioning system. That can be plugged into shore power or powered by an optional 7.5 kW Kohler LOW-CO gas generator ($14,945).The reverse-cyle A/C system will produce heat as well, and will keep the cabin toasty in all but the most severe conditions.
Handling and Performance
We tested the 34 PC on a hot and humid day. She was powered by a pair of 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAGs driving Bravo III outdrives. Her tested weight was 17,548 lbs. (7,976 kgs.). We reached a top speed of 48.3 mph at 4900 rpm. This gave us a fuel burn of 66.25 gph.
Dialing it back to a more economical 3500 rpm turned in a 32.5 mph speed. That generated a 31.85 gph fuel burn meaning a range of 189 miles with the 206 gallon tank topped off and holding back a 10% reserve. Time to plane was 4.1 seconds and time to 30 mph was 12.8 seconds.
was just like we've come to expect from a Formula. She took to the maneuvers just like… well, a performance cruiser. Even though she is one of the heavier boats in class her 18-degree deadrise bottom at the transom and her Bravo III drives kept her nimble and quick in response to the helm. I did find the 34 PC to be sensitive to weight distribution but nothing a shot or two on the trim tabs couldn’t correct with ease.
Trimming for Speed.
This is an outdrive powered boat so a couple of shots of up trim had us properly running at a good clip. Hard turns at speed showed no ventilation and the boat rolled into the turns comfortably so nothing got thrown to the outside. Jumping wakes showed no spray coming over the bow and we tended to go through the waves rather than over them. All in all, it was a delightful experience handling this boat. There were no surprises.
Docking with Axius
is a non-issue. Folks moving up from a sportboat should have no reservations about docking…and that includes the wife and kids. In fact, we have found that wives are often better at using the joystick than their spouses at first, simply because they have a lighter touch, rather than a ham-handed one.
One thing though
, the Axius system starts off in whatever mode the engine controls happen to be in when docking mode is kicked in. Therefore, a word to the wise: only hit the “docking mode” button after putting the boat in neutral at idle. That will produce a much more sedate and gentle approach. As noted above, don’t be heavy-handed. Just use pulses of joystick controls as approaching and let the boat’s momentum do the work.
Remember, this is not an arcade video game where one slams the joystick left and right to kill the alien invaders. Each time the stick is moved or twisted, mechanical gears are engaged as well as the throttle. Slow and steady, and using the boat's natural momentum, works every time. And just as with conventional throttles and shifts -- don't go any faster than one would want to hit the dock.
Options We Would Want
As loaded as this boat is with standard equipment there are still some options many people will want. Some of the more obvious are--●
7.5 kW Generator.
This is needed to power the A/C when not plugged into the dock. It also powers other equipment, to say nothing of hair dryers, when away from the dock. ($14,945).●
We wouldn't buy any boat without it, particularly a Formula. Give us Midnight Blue, thanks, for an MSSP of $6,395. That's just 1.4% of her base MSRP price (see below). She comes in seven other cool colors.●
A hardtop provides a lot of added utility for the boat and is worth every dime in our book. With the optional heater noted above, it can make the boat when buttoned up with polycarbonate side curtains a 4-season boat. When pouring down rain, again it helps make the cockpit and bridge cozy. Further, it eliminates the hassle of a canvas Bimini. The MSRP is $19,460.
Displacement Tells the Tale.
When we compared the Formula 34 PC with 7 other boats in class we quickly discovered that they fell into two distinctive groups: Group A -- 3 boats with displacements around 16,000 lbs. (7,272. kgs.) and, Group B -- 5 boats with dry weights from 2,500 lbs. to nearly 4,000 lbs. (1,136 to 1,818 kgs.) less. That 16% to 25% less displacement for Group B is significant. Clearly these two groups of boats are meant for different missions, with the 3 boats in Group A clearly designed for more serious work, particularly for running offshore and cruising.
Only one boat in class was slightly beamier than the Formula 34 PC (and was also the heaviest), 4 others were almost as wide, and 3 were decidedly more narrow. Beam provides room, stability, and a better ride. More narrow boats are easier to push.
The other most dramatic dichotomy in the general specs among the 8 boats studied was the deadrise angle of the bottom at the transom. Here, 4 boats joined the 34 PC at the low end – 18 to 19-degrees, while the other four were 20-degrees or more. This says to us that the 34 PC's 18-degree deadrise is designed to maximized the boat's fuel-efficiency and speed, while providing a bit more buoyancy in the stern.
The Formula 34 PC has a base price of $443,000 MSRP. The price of the 34 PC we tested was $538,890, MSRP.
items on the test boat were-- • Axius Joystick/DTS/VesselView $17,660 • Seacore Saltwater Protection $6,555 • 7.5 kW LOW-CO Kohler gas generator $14,945 • Polished SS Windshield Header $8,225 • Color Chartplotter e127 $7,690 • Hardtop $19,460
Picking the Basic Group.
As pointed out above, there seems to be two categories of express cruisers, the lighter ones (Group B) and those with significantly more displacement (Group A), which is where the Formula 34 PC resides. Clearly she is intended for more serious entertaining, and cruising, and is loaded to the gills with equipment, much of which is optional on Group B vessels. Not surprisingly Group A yachts are more expensive. We cannot help but think that casual boaters, or those trying to get the longest boat for the buck, might be just as happy with much less boat than the Formula 34 PC. As we often say, Formula boats are for connoisseurs of fine power yachts.
There are still other decisions to make, such as which brand of 380-hp engine to select, Mercury 8.2 L or Volvo Penta's 6.0 L engine, whether to go with a joystick or bow thruster, or neither one; or opting for the other major items not listed as standard -- such as the hardtop and the 7.5 kW generator.
BoatTEST.com has tested both engines and reports can be found on our engine pages. Boaters in saltwater, we think, should always upgrade to the engine maker's more corrosion-resistant product. As far as a joystick goes, the difference in pricing is considerable: $17,660 for the Axius system Joystick with DTS and VesselView, vs. $8,120 for the bow thruster. We suspect the skills or the confidence of the buyer will answer this question.
Test Result Highlights
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
Pricing Range: $443,000.00Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Test Results - Change Measurement Unit
All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.