A few years ago the new Formula 290 FX4 rocked the rafters. However, the Formula 310 FX5, also has jaw-dropping good looks. Formula Boats has upped the ante on cool by creating the longer FX5. And if you would prefer the FX5 version in a bowrider, Formula offers that model as well.
- 10-year structural warranty
- FX graphic with Silver Diamond, Black or Blue Metallic hullside
- 8 custom Formula logo-cast cleats
- 316L stainless steel transom grab rail and ski tow eye
- UltraLeather U-shaped forward dinette lounge/double berth
- Twin engine installation
- Clarion stereo with waterproof dash-mounted remote control
- 11 polished stainless drink holders with blue LED lighting
- Dual-height cockpit table with filler cushion and 4 drink holders
- U-shaped aft lounge seating with storage
|Length Overall||31' 0'' / 9.45 m|
2.64 m w/ arch
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.5 sec.|
|0 to 30||8.3 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 3/4 fuel, 0 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||72 deg., 67 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm|
2 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG
2 x 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG ECT BIII
2 x 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG High Output ECT Bravo III X
The mission of the FX series is to create a lineup with added upscale features, beyond the rest of the lineup that already is considered to be one of the most upscale on the market. This 310 FX5 is the second model to be launched in the lineup. The 290 FX4 was first.
Pressure-treated Perma Panel
structural hull matrix – to add strength and integrity to the hull.
Dual engine vents
with blue LED lighting and polished stainless steel trim -- not only functional, but they look outstanding when lit at night.
Formula Guard Protection Plan
that lasts for five years for virtually all of the components in the boat, including the engine and drive train.
Shop Floor Staff Longevity
and management best practices means that Formula's crew knows how to build top-quality boats and take a personal interest in the products they build.
Designer John Adams
has worked for Formula for the past 30 years on an exclusive basis and has consistently set trends in both styling and technical innovation.
The 310 FX5 is the second boat in the new FX Series that currently has five boats ranging from 29' to 40'. With a LOA of 31' 0" (9.45 m) and a beam of 9'6" (2.9 m) she will still be easy to operate single handed -- but owners will likely show it off to as many people as possible.
First things first. We didn't come to look, we came to drive. And what a drive she is. The thrill begins as soon as the key is turned and the rumble from the thru-hull exhaust starts. It's a deep, throaty rumble that says "muscle" to anyone within ear shot.
The twin 380-hp MerCruiser MAGs brought us to a top speed of 58 mph at 4850 rpm. At that speed we were burning a combined 67.5 gph for a range of 113 miles.
Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 34.6 mph. Now I was measuring 22.3 gph for a range of 182 miles. Time to plane was a brisk 4.5 seconds, and I blew through 20 mph in 5.7 seconds and continued accelerating past 30 mph in 8.3 seconds. For a complete data record of my test, click on “Test Results” at the top of the page.
As for handling, I have two different observations. First, because I had such a short run to make my speed measurements, I kept the power on at both ends of the runs. That meant full power turns, and getting back up to speed in as little time as possible. Clearly, this is not the way to run any boat, but when testing, things are done a little differently than, say, when heading out for a ride to the dockside restaurant.
Cranking and Banking.
So with that said, this type of operation brings out the worst in a boat, and the FX5's worst is not bad at all. Aside from the exhilarating speed, her high performance turns showed that she likes to bleed off speed in a hard crank. That's not a bad thing as no one wants to be hanging on for dear life in a classy ride like this.
So when not going for maximum performance, enter the turn at cruise speed, and once established in the bank, add throttle to maintain speed. When the turn is complete, then back off the throttle on roll-out and return to normal cruise.
High Speed Turns
At normal cruising speeds, say in the 30-mph range, the turns of the FX5 are stable, docile, and comfortable, all the sort of handling that I have come to expect in Formula boats. This is the proper way to handle a boat. However, being a test captain it is my job to go beyond prudent operating speeds to see exactly where the edge of comfortable handling ends.
I only report on the wrong way, because I experienced it out of necessity, so I may as well relate it. Still, the fact that the boat can handle these hard performance turns at all speaks volumes about the solidness of the hull design and safety factor.
If operators crank around at 57 mph, (and why would they?) she starts to snap roll, and then try to drop back to a normal roll angle, and then roll back up, and then down , and then…. so these high speed turns aren't all that comfortable. That, coupled with the fact that guests don't want to be experiencing a high-G turn at 50+ mph, all indicate that drivers should slow down to normal cruise before slamming the wheel over. This kind of response is not unusual for a deep V-hull at these speeds.
Here's an important feature that so many get wrong, but Formula manages to get right. When seated I was looking through the windshield, rather than at the windshield frame. At cruise speeds the visibility is even better. Of course sitting on top of the bolster has me looking well above the windshield frame. When hitting the throttle, the bow comes up roughly 14-degrees, and when seated I did lose sight of the horizon for a few seconds. Additionally, when taking off power, the FX5 settles in stern first, so the bow will come up again, so be sure to clear the area immediately ahead both when accelerating and taking off power.
This bow rise is characteristic of a deep-V hull and at 22-degrees, the 310 FX5 is almost as deep as it gets. All boats are a compromise, and in order to get a good, comfortable ride in rough water at high speed, a deep-V is called for.
When docking, our test boat had the Axius joystick so it was a non-event, but I wanted to see how she handles if customers don't want to pony up the additional $23k for the joystick. And I'm happy to report that she is quite responsive to the helm and control inputs. I was able to back down and have good directional control, and also found that the bow swings around predictably when backing down.
This is a good feature when pulling into a slip with a cross current. Enter against the current and don't be shy about adding power, and the bow will swing into place against the current. Then a quick tie up will hold her in position.
This new 310 FX5 naturally has a lot of similarities with its smaller sister, the 290 FX4, and since it all worked so well before, we have no problem with a repeat performance. The roomy swim platform features the pull-up stainless steel cleats that keep themselves out of the trip zone. A concealed swim ladder resides in a compartment to starboard, and a center mounted rumble seat provides a comfortable spot to watch the action off the stern while at anchor, and it even converts to a full length sun pad.
In the functional category, a roomy trunk storage locker will swallow up dock lines, fenders, and shore power cord. A Kenwood waterproof transom-mounted stereo remote control will allow the tunes to blast the neighbors in the anchorage, from the two transom-mounted 150W 6 1/2" (16.5 cm) marine-grade stereo speakers with polished stainless steel grilles and separate tweeters, and that’s just at the swim platform. I was also treated to the first of the red/white LED lights that grace the full boat and are operated from a handheld remote.
The entry way to the cockpit is to port and features a non-skid deck and a step down into the cockpit deck. The cockpit features a continuous molded deck and liner, so no worries about squeaks or groans from deck joints when the going gets rough. A large C-shaped settee lies to starboard and a dual height cockpit table with filler cushions to turn the entire seat into yet another sun pad is standard.
All seats are weather-resistant due to the StarLite XL synthetic marine panel construction and DriFast foam cushions. And no worries about staining the seats with a wet bathing suit as all upholstery is treated with PreFixx, which allows even a Sharpie mark to come off (but don’t try that at home).
Over to port is a molded wet bar with integrated sink, trash container and integral 316L stainless steel safety rail. The sink taps into the boat’s 26 gallon (98.4 L) water tank. There are four more of those stainless grilled speakers, just as we saw at the swim platform, but since 150W was good enough out there, in the cockpit Formula cranked it up to 600W. The cockpit refrigerator is optional.
Now on to the business end. The 310 FX5 helm is a dream spot for operating and looks as good as it is functional. The panel comes in silver, burlwood or brushed metallic finish. This is a departure from the 290 FX4 panel, which had a carbon fiber weave covered in plastic. All rocker switches are illuminated with ETA circuit breakers underneath each one.
Livorsi has long been the supplier of choice for Formula boats' controls and instrumentation, and I'm happy that the trend continues here. All gauges are domed and feature chrome bezels and blue LED lighting accents. The controls have a collective trim switch at the throttle, and individual trim controls are just ahead. This is necessary for trimming for power as well as to balance the boat when the distribution of passenger weight is uneven. Bennett trim tabs are standard, but we never needed them.
Also standard is a Garmin GPS with color chartplotter, mounted front and center in the panel. For seating, there is a twin-command seat for an extra set of eyes looking forward, and to join in the fun there is a double wide lounger to port with integrated dive tank storage underneath.
The cabin door is separated from the steps to access the bow windshield walkthrough. The cabin features a V-shaped settee that naturally converts to a berth. We’re happy to see that Formula also integrated a screen in the companionway to allow for ventilation while keeping the bugs at bay. We expected to see molded fiberglass steps, but then forgot that we’re on a Formula, and we were instead treated to solid cherry finished steps.
The seating below converts to a berth by lowering the solid cherry high-gloss table. The entertainment center to port is constructed of high-gloss cherry, finished to perfection, a hanging locker, Corian countertop, polished stainless steel sink, and a dual voltage stainless steel refrigerator.
To starboard is a molded head compartment with a VacuFlush porcelain head tapped into a 36 gallon (136.3 L) holding tank with dockside pump out, a molded vanity, stainless steel sink, brushed framed mirror, Corian countertop and a continuation of the cherry wood grain-finish decking.
Options and Pricing
All of this isn’t cheap of course, not many Formulas are. But where some may view that as a downside, I view it as restricted access to an exclusive club. Base price for the 310 FX5 with standard twin MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT power plant with Bravo III outdrives is $284,070. That's hardly chump change, but in my opinion, well worth the price considering the quality of the build and the size of the engines. While the boat is well equipped as standard, what would the world be without options, and we have our own wish list for the 310 FX5.
Options We'd Have.
It starts with the Axius sterndrive docking system (add $23,280) that allows even beginners to slide the FX5 into the slip with joystick ease. No boat this cool should be without the blue underwater LED lights (add $3,000). Since we’ll be showing off at every anchorage we can find, a windlass with chain and stainless anchor will be a must (add $5,305).
But most nights will be spent at the dock in front of the best waterfront restaurants we can find, and that means we’ll likely need the reverse cycle air conditioning (add $5,875) but we will hold off on the 5kw Kohler generator (would add $14,395) and opt for the shore power (add $4,240) that will also keep the batteries up to snuff. A dual voltage cockpit refrigerator is available (add $2,025) but we like the ability to load the standard cooler at home and drop it into its dedicated spot in the cockpit entertainment center.
Whether customers decide to spruce up the 310 FX5 to the max with options, or leave it stock, one thing is for sure, they will have one of the most modern and best looking boats in the marina, as well as the bragging rights that go with it.
For those who feel that 58 mph is more top-end than they need, or who would like to back down on the price, then we would suggest the Formula 310 Bowrider. Powered by twin 300-hp 350 MAG ECT engines with Bravo III drives this model has an MSRP of $232,230. The profile and bottom shape is the same as are most other aspects of the boat. What she does not have are all of the details, and of course the big engines, which distinguish the FX5 model.
The 310 BR is still a Formula, and is enough for most people to have plenty of pride in the boat they own.