It’s always fun being on a Formula and watching the heads turn, and few boats in the line will put them on a swivel faster than the 400SS FX. That’s because this comfortable luxury cruiser has an upgraded fit-and-finish that showed up on our test boat in upholstery with custom embroidery, red carbon-fiber accents. The 400SS FX from Formula backs up the look with performance, thanks to a pair of 520-hp Mercury Racing engines matched to Bravo 3 XR sterndrives.
|Length Overall||41’ 6'' / 12.65 m|
3.81 m (max)
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||6.4 sec.|
|0 to 30||13.3 sec.|
|Load||3 persons, 8/9 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||72 deg., 45 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm|
2 x 520-hp Mercury Racing B3
2 x 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO ECT Bravo III X DTS
2 x 520-hp Mercury Racing Bravo III XR DTS
2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta D6 Diesel DuoProp
2 x 400-hp Volvo Penta D6 Diesel DuoProp
Contents of Report
The Formula 400SS FX takes a big, fast Formula base boat and, with the FX package, turns the style and finish up a notch. With the upscale FX treatments this boat is a premium-level weekender with a set of performance engines – twin 520-hp Mercury Racing engines turning Bravo 3 XR outdrives. That performance-tuned propulsion system sets the tone for this racy package, from the carbon-fiber accents in the cockpit and on the helm, to the finely finished cabin interior.
The Formula 400SS FX has a LOA of 41’6” (12.65 m), a beam of 11’ (3.35 m), and a draft of 39” (99 cm). With an empty weight of 17,100 lbs. (7,756 kg), 90-percent fuel and three people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 18,931 lbs. (8,587 kg).
With the twin 520-hp Mercury Racing engines with Bravo 3 XR outdrives and spooled up to 5200 rpm, along with a twin-stepped FAS3TECH hull, we reached our top speed of 52.7 mph. Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 32.7 mph. It was at that speed that the combined 34.4 gph fuel burn translated into a range of 194 statute miles, all while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 227-gallon (859 L) total fuel capacity.
We reached planing speed in 6.4 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 9.2, and 30 mph came and went in 13.3 seconds. As is always the case with Formulas, this had the feel of a much heavier boat, and therefore she produced a solid feel to her ride. She was nicely responsive to the helm and there were no jerky movements to her maneuvering regardless of how heavy-handed we got.
But it was at the dock where she really shines. The joystick piloting really makes her easy to maneuver around the tight confines of a dock and there’s sure to be an easy transition to those moving up from a smaller boat. We started the turn with the sticks and then changed over to the joystick to complete the maneuvering. Small pulses of the joystick was all it took, and there’s a light ring around the joystick to verify the movements if the boat responds too slowly, which in this case it did not. And soon enough we were tucked in between two boats and laying up gently, ready to step off and tie her up single-handed.
Now back at the dock, let’s look over some of the 400SS FX’ operational features. Formula always seems to hit it out of the park with its helm designs. Here, is another example of what a helm should be: This time with red carbon-fiber FX treatments. At the top are the compass and fuel gauges with the trim gauges to the right of those. Below are the tachometers and speedometer. To the left is a Raymarine Axiom Pro 12” (30.5 cm) multifunction display. Rocker switches are below and organized into three separate groups.
To starboard is Mercury’s engine display, which is actually interfaced with a Simrad multifunction display allowing much more interaction between the operator and the engine control: Things like cruise control, tow assist, and waypoint tracking are all featured here. The color-matched steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base. To starboard is the Mercury JPS joystick, the trim tab control and indicators, and engine trim rockers, and the Livorsi engine controls.
With the bolsters up, the doublewide helm seat wraps around for comfort and stability. Each occupant gets a separate bolster, and more of the FX treatments with the carbon fiber upholstery, custom embroidery, and contrast piping.
That finish work catches our eye at the first glance as we approach the boat. Formulas gleam in the sun, and even the builders’ older boats hold up over time. At the stern, the non-skid is slate teak vinyl decking. A reboarding ladder is concealed in a hatch in the center of the swim platform, well aft of the outdrives. Ahead is an aft facing double wide lounge that measures 32” (81 cm) fore and aft. It includes beverage holders to both sides and a 12v accessory plug to starboard. The upscale fit-and-finish of the FX Series shows up here in the carbon fiber panels in the upholstery, contrast piping, and weatherproof vinyl. At the touch of a button, the seatback reclines into a flat sun pad.
At the stern there’s shore power connectivity to the starboard side. A storage compartment just ahead is a convenient place to stow the cords. There’s also a TV connection and a city-water hookup. At the sides of the platform there are 8” (20.32 cm) pull-up cleats with 10” (25.4 cm) cleats higher up the bulwarks.
At the cockpit entry there is a stereo remote, and a freshwater shower with hot and cold water. An inward opening acrylic gate protects the 19” (48.3 cm) walkthrough. Cockpit seating consists of a U-shaped seat to port, and the side and stern include storage underneath. To the perimeter, there are recessed areas with beverage holders, grab handles, and USB connectivity. Additional beverage holders are outside the aft corner. Pedestal bases allow for the installation of a table to further the functionality of the space.
Wet Bar Console
To port is an entertainment center showing more of the carbon fiber FX treatment, this time in red. At the aft end is a receiver for the TV pedestal, a beverage holder, an insulated basin, a sink with pull-up faucet, and a trash receptacle. Below are two pull-out coolers and a cockpit refrigerator.
Ahead is a lounge seat that can be used in a variety of positions and keeps guests in close proximity to the helm, with still more beverage holders just ahead. Underneath this seat is where Formula installed the 16,000-BTU air conditioner.
The bow is accessed from a center walkthrough and an opening windshield. Rail height is 15” (38 cm). There’s a center non-skid surface that branches out to reach the side cleats. Another set of cleats is just forward, and to both sides of a hatch concealing the ground tackle. Here we see the Lewmar windlass, stainless anchor roller leading through the stem, foot control switches, and a cleat to secure the rode.
The aft seats lift on an electric ram exposing the engine compartment. Inside, the twin engines are a snug fit but still accessible to all sides for servicing. A platform is at the front to further ease servicing and daily checks. Just ahead is the standard 7.5 kW Kohler low-CO generator. An 8.5 kW diesel generator is also available.
We enter the cabin through a sliding door that includes a screen. Inside overhead clearance is 6’ (1.83 m). FX retreatments start with custom embroidery on the Ultraleather wraparound lounge and continue with the carbon-fiber overhead trim. The table is height-adjustable for conversion to a berth and is available in this high-gloss Wenge or Charcoal Metallic finish, both complementing the gray wall cover and carpet trim. Additional tables can also be added to expand both the dining and conversion to a berth. Natural light comes from four overhead hatches and four opening portlights. Aft and to starboard is a 28” (71 cm) flatscreen TV.
To port is the galley with a stand-up refrigerator freezer, high-gloss Wenge cabinetry, and Corian counters. A single-burner electric stove with safety switch is concealed beneath a matching Corian cover, as is a polished stainless sink. The faucet draws from the 50-gallon (189 L) water supply, and the cover is reversible to serve as a cutting surface. Dedicated storage is below, and a trash receptacle is behind the sink. Blue LEDs light the backsplash area, an opening portlight is above, and a glass-faced cabinet also has blue LED lighting showcasing the tempered stemware & tumblers. Storage is above and below the Corian counter. A microwave is to the left. All drawers are assembled with dovetail joinery and are soft close.
The head compartment is a wet head with a vanity, high-gloss Wenge or Linen Steel finish lower doors. A Corian countertop, and a polished stainless sink with swivel faucet. There’s a porcelain VacuFlush head plumbed to a 50-gallon (189 L) holding tank. A curtain closes off the separate shower area and it includes a Corian seat, exhaust fan, and night light. Overhead clearance in the compartment ranges from 5’9” (1.75 m) to 6’ (1.83 m). To keep the switches from getting wet from the shower, they’re up high on the overhead.
Abaft the companionway steps, there’s a mid cabin with a berth measuring 6’5’’ x 5’4’’ (1.96 m x 1.62 m), and with 2’4’’ (0.71 m) over the berth. A curtain provides privacy. There’s a 24" (61 cm) TV on the bulkhead with storage underneath and behind. Of course the FX treatments are still present, including custom embroidery and speakers equipped with LED lights. There’s even an opening portlight for natural light and ventilation. Alongside the berth there’s a cedar locker, and an electronics cubby with an AC plug, USB connectivity, and a phone jack.
Formula boats are at the upper tier of luxury, fit-and-finish and are priced accordingly. Pride of ownership is the icing on the cake, and it’s always fun being on a Formula and watching the heads turn. On top of her good handling characteristics, the 400SS FX from Formula Boats is also a comfortable luxury cruiser.
The comfort level is on par with the finest of luxury boats and our test shows that she also performs well.