Small - Large Print E-Mail Comment

Cobalt 220 - 2013

Published By: Jonathan Lee

By Mark Rotharmel

One day - some day - Id like to count the number of bowriders that I’ve tested and written reports on. I’m sure it’s in the hundreds.

Of course that number would be for interest sake only given every model I’ve ever driven has performed differently – some more so than others. Contributing factors include length, beam, weight and balance – and while one hull design may look similar to another, chances are they will not perform exactly alike.

Off the top, let me say this; Cobalt’s 220, one of the company’s 10 Series, is a fantastic riding boat.  Its basic hull design has been around for years - tweaked and balanced to deliver superb performance and handling, regardless of the speed you choose to run.  I know a great boat when I drive one.

On the day I tested the 220, I also had the opportunity to drive Cobalt’s A25 – a considerably larger runabout.  Being one of company’s newer models, The A25 performed admirably.  As comfortable and luxurious as it is, the A25 is not a 220 on steroids – at least in the handling department. Few pleasure boats give me that illusive “wow” factor anymore – but I certainly got it with Cobalt’s 220.  

When used for seasonal boating on your average cottage lake, the 220 makes so much sense. It’s easy to maneuver around the dock, is long and wide enough to carry 12 persons and when powered with a V8 runs over 50 mph. Our test model ran 52 mph and was immaculately rigged with a Volvo 5.7 L, 300 hp sterndrive.

If a premium runabout falls within your budget, then the boat should truly be premium on all levels – this one is. The 220 stands out in a crowd as does every one of Cobalt’s 26 models. The lines are a subtle blend of classic and contemporary – in other words, they look fresh and up-to-date, but sophisticated.

Complimenting an elegant exterior is an equally luxurious and intelligently engineered interior. The boat is smartly appointed and craftsmanship is obvious, but on first observation, the 220’s space and functionality is what really stands out. Stadium seating provides passengers with an outstanding view, regardless of where they sit. Cobalt has a term for their interior space advantage – FSR, or Free Space Reclamation, which in layman terms means that all free space is accounted for.

Starting at the bow, the 22 feels athletic – robust and safe given the boat’s forward width and overall 8’6” beam. When seated, there is excellent lumbar support – something most of us appreciate.  As expected, seat cushions lift out to reveal completely carpeted stowage bins and there are built-in stainless steel grab
bars for added security. Like the placement of its forward speakers (two of six) and beverage holders, these rails are easily accessed.    

Moving aft into the cockpit, there is ample floor space to walk directly through the 220’s gently curved, well supported, hinged windshield, which aesthetically blends with the overall hull design. There is also a white Plexiglas cockpit entry door that does a fine job of keeping wind off your face.

Providing ample legroom is a sliding, swiveling helm seat with flip-up bucket.  Composite seat bases are used throughout and should theoretically last forever.  We found the composite, thickly padded custom stitched helm eyebrow and the leather steering wheel with auto-leveling hub to be very appealing indeed.  The Cobalt private labeled instruments are highly visible and mounted on dark wood grain panels.

We also noted the placement of the stereo controls – functionally located beside the ignition. Drivers will appreciate the throttle too – it’s a good one – as are all of the high-quality toggle switches placed starboard.  Portside aft is a dry compartment for the battery switch.

Two side-mounted cockpit grab rails offer additional safety and security. There is another on the back of the operator’s seat. Handy features, like two small cockpit glove boxes, provide shelter for cell-phones and other valuables.  

The aft cockpit offers a comfortable U-shaped seating arrangement that encourages guest conversation. All of the seat pads lift out and have tabs to hold them in place. Incorporated into the corners are more beverage holders – aptly placed to keep out of the way. Canvas will be stowed on the starboard side in a deep, carpeted storage bin.

We found several other features that again place the 220 ahead of the rank and file.  Its patented swim step simplifies boarding.  There are Signature Series high-pressure gas springs and accompanying hardware to hold things tight. Starboard aft is an Igloo cooler covered by a large seat pad.  Our only challenge was a tight-fitting aft gate that required a minor hinge adjustment.

Snap-in marine cockpit carpeting comes in five separate pieces – easily removed when necessary. There is a large compartment on the portside aft and centre that holds plenty of gear – safety or other. The aft centre cushion also lifts forward on its hinged base to reveal additional dry, carpeted storage.

Wakeboarders and watersports enthusiasts, not to mention cottagers with low boathouse doors, will welcome Cobalt’s optional fold-down aluminum, powder-coated white arch. It also comes with a Bimini top for sun protection.  We had it raised throughout our performance trial and never did it shake, rattle or roll. At the conclusion of the test, we lowered it ourselves and found it easy to adjust.  

Speaking of the actual test, our performance data speaks volumes. The hull accelerated to plane in a scant 2.6 seconds, with its bow remaining flat.  With a quarter tank of fuel, the 220 felt nimble in the calm water, and would undoubtedly   free its running surface even more in a decent chop.

Running at a low 2,200 RPM, the Cobalt remained on plane at 17.6 mph. Reaching 20 mph from a standing start took 5.1 seconds and just 2.5 seconds later the boat hit 30 mph. Pulling from 0 to 45 mph in 13 seconds, Volvo’s 5.7 L V8 engine delivers plenty of punch. While cruising at 25 mph, I pushed the throttle down, trimmed the drive slightly and hit 45 mph in 8.3 seconds.  

Our top GPS speed on test day was 52 mph, turning 4,800 RPM. Just under that speed at 4,400 RPM, I could pull lock turns with the boat while running 40 mph. Again, I stress that the 220 handled extremely well. I immediately felt comfortable behind the wheel and could maximize performance from the get-go.

Cruising comfortably along at 3,400 RPM or 34 MPH, the boat’s bow stays low – all good while sipping fuel. Powering down, the hull responds instantly to steering commands and tracks where you want it to go, be it straight ahead or through the turns.  Those traits and more lend it to being what the company refers to as WSS – Water Sports Series Compatible.

There will always be a market for a boat like the Cobalt. Though I dislike using general cliché’s like, “You get what you pay for”, this certainly holds true. The 220 is a handsome boat with good manners - You won’t regret buying quality.

Cobalt 220
LOA:    22’ 10”
Beam: 8’ 6”
Capacity: 12
Fuel Capacity: 189 L/50 gal. US
Draft (up/down): 24” / 37”
Dry Weight: 3,700 lbs.
Power (max): 320hp
Price (base): $54,313
Price (as reviewed)(w/Volvo Penta V8-300 5.7): $63,408

Quoted setup may not be exactly as depicted in photos. Prices are subject to currency fluctuations and do not include freight, PDI or additional optional equipment.

Review boat provided by:
Walkers Point Marina
1035 Marina Rd.,
Gravenhurst, ON
P1P 1R2
(705) 687-7793