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First Drive: 2015 Bayliner Element XR7-gctid601033

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    First Drive: 2015 Bayliner Element XR7-gctid601033

    First Drive: 2015 Bayliner Element XR7



    This changes everything. Again.

    I suppose it was inevitable, really. The burgeoning juggernaught that is the pontoon boat market continues to expand at a pace never before seen. With the majority of buyers capable of buying boats going the pontoon boat route, most boat makers have acknowledged the possibility by fielding new models in that space, or redefining old models to compete.

    Bayliner, as the largest seller of pleasure boats, is watching the pontoon market intently as it's the only segment of the market showing consistently strong growth across all demographics. How do you make a fiberglass boat relevant to a pontoon customer?

    A quick note here: the boat shown is a prototype, and the only one available for test drives. While it's mostly production ready, things like the engine mounting, and final color scheme are likely to change. That's why this is a first drive and not a full test.

    The Element Factor

    The Element is an unmitigated hit for Bayliner, and will easilly go down in history with the 175, the 1850 Capri, and the original 1986 1950 Capri as a watermark boat for Bayliner. Two years ago I posted one of the first reviews of the original Element. Many here in the club panned the new model as being too dinky, too small, too underpowered. I think it's safe to say nobody outside of those who saw it on reveal day really took it seriously. During the press conference I took note of how excited Bayliner was about this new model. They knew who they were targeting and had done their homework. I asked them point blank if they had another model sitting on the drawing board. They hedged the answer but reading between lines it was very clear that Bayliner was ready to place a lot more equity in the Element line. One year later, the Element and larger Element XL (review to be posted later) have been one of Bayliner's largest success stories, and it is this reason that has triggered the gestation of this new Element XR7. But I think it's safe to say nobody expected this.

    The Element Grows Up

    So what about the XR7, then? Well it's a 22 foot Element M hull with a pontoon boat layout on top. The boat not only makes no apologies for its pontoon style deck plan, but actively embraces it.....and in doing so makes it rather unique in the market place. (Bayliner exploiting a unique hole in the market....stop me if you have heard this somewhere before...)



    Doing this does a couple of neat things, like present an entirely pontoon-flat deck space, with plush furniture placed on top of instead of down in the hull. This opens the outer sponsons of the M hull up for some truly breathtaking storage options. The in-floor storage for example stretches nearly the entire length of the hull.



    There is a standard enclosed head space backing up to the helm station that is large enough to stretch your legs out in and sit awhile.



    It also has a standard food prep area that can be optioned with a fridge (complete with shore power) and a sink.





    Other unique features to the boat are a fence and gated entrance like a pontoon boat, and plush full bucket seat for the helm station. The upholstery itself is also a cut above what you are used to - embroidered and very supple. You definitely sink into the seats.



    The hull has another key benefit of providing similar dynamics to a pontoon boat without the drawbacks. The raised forward deck provides for rough water safety, for example. Fiberglass adds durability and a true planing surface. Bayliner is very clear on the boat's mission: target mid priced triple log pontoon boats and Hurricane deck boat intenders, and on this I believe they have hit the mark.

    Hitting the Water

    So what's it like when you kill the PowerPoint slides and board the boat? It is remarkably stable, for one. You aren't thrown around like on other 22 footers when someone else steps on. Another thing you notice is it is yet another in the long string of Bayliners that have intelligent use of space ...you'd be hard pressed to guess it is a 22 foot hull. It feels like a 24 footer. We had 6 people on board walking around, and no one complained about a lack of space.



    The enclosed head and full length storage compartment are positively massive. You could dock this in Midtown Manhattan and your coworkers will be jealous because you have nicer digs than they do.

    Remember I said this boat is a prototype. The performance was definitely still TBD, with dialing in needed, so please take these comments with a grain of salt. Due to time crunches, Bayliner development rushed the rigging of this particular boat to make the press day...such is the way of working with prototypes. As a result, I expected better performance. Powered with a 200 HP Verado, time to plane was in the 7 second range, and it required a deft touch on the trim switch to keep the boat from porposing off the river into low Earth orbit. Once stabilized, we saw respectable speeds just south of 40 mph. Beyond that, however, the M hull was clearly the right choice for this boat. Cornering is smooth, safe, and stable with a minimum of yaw and bow rise. It's not sporty, but for a boat that will go up against triple-log pontoons, it's pretty entertaining. Again, with the front entry being a fiberglass boat and not a couple of aluminum logs, this thing should be able to take some rougher water, if not necessarilly comfortably. The word "safety" comes to mind here, and if I were in this market that alone would be the "buy" trigger for me.





    Optional engines are still to be determined. I pushed hard for twin 300 hp Verados, which was "taken on advisement" after the waiter was informed to cut me off. There could be some higher horsepower nodes offered, but I imagine the 200 will be all anyone needs for this boat. I look forward to a full test once the engine height issue is resolved (if it hasn't been already).



    So....Do You Want One?

    This is the point where I usually weigh in with my personal opinion. With full respect to Bayliner, this boat is not to my taste. I prefer higher performance V hull runabouts and I am willing to trade space and comfort to get it...which pretty much automatically disqualifies me from being the target for this boat.

    That being said, the market opportunity is obviously massive. Nobody else has attempted a direct pontoon competitior out of fiberglass like this. This is the boat that the majority of boat buyers are clamoring for. The feature count and space is absolutely staggering, it's supremely comfortable, and it is even going to be reasonably priced. Suggested retail prices on the boat as shown are pegged to be "below $35,000", and at that price I believe the boat is a screaming bargain with a capital S. Bear in mind that's about what a well equipped 190DB is going for right now. It even looks very upmarket, with excellent fit and finish.....even for a prototype.

    Based on the design brief, I fully believe Bayliner has another hit on its hands here, and I wish them well. If you are looking into pontoon boats for your next boat, I strongly recommend giving this a look.

    You can check out the XR7 at your local boat show in January. As always, Bayliner, thank you for getting the BOC involved in the launch.
    Matt Train
    BOC Site Team
    Chicagoland, IL

    #2
    Here's the video:

    http://www.bayliner.com/page.aspx/pa...ement-XR7.aspx

    I received it in an emailed ad from Bayliner. Looks pretty good. If I added full length biminis to get out of the sun, it would be good for McPhee & Powell.
    Ron Everson
    1975 Reinell 21' Cutty Cabin w/225 OMC
    1989 Bayliner 2755 Cierra Sunbridge w/460 OMC King Cobra

    Comment


      #3
      Note they changed the lower hull to black gelcoat. A lot of people had some negative things to say about the boat's appearance, so they played with the gelcoat to clean it up.

      I think they did a great job.
      Matt Train
      BOC Site Team
      Chicagoland, IL

      Comment


        #4
        Much better with the black hull, which has so many advantages

        Any insight on engine options?

        Comment


          #5
          "beckman2713" post=614151 wrote:
          Much better with the black hull, which has so many advantages

          Any insight on engine options?
          150 I think is standard, 200 is an option, others are still under consideration.

          Bayliner told me that demand has been incredible, way hotter than the original Element.
          Matt Train
          BOC Site Team
          Chicagoland, IL

          Comment


            #6
            Bayliner updated the website, so now you can build and price the XR7, plus take the virtual tour..pretty neat boat!

            Its going to take a little while to get use to that look....

            http://www.bayliner.com/page.aspx/pa...lementXR7.aspx

            Comment


              #7
              I haven't seen much to say WOW about lately. This one brought it out of me.

              Comment


                #8
                Great boat. I cringe to think what it might cost in Australia though.

                Comment


                  #9
                  They won't be selling many of them in the UK or Ireland, it rains to much !

                  A nice day boat if you have the weather.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    It does look comfy, I wish they had some at the boat shows. A couple of options, the 200 HP and a trailer for 55K...mmmm

                    Comment


                      #11
                      "beckman2713" post=624285 wrote:
                      It does look comfy, I wish they had some at the boat shows. A couple of options, the 200 HP and a trailer for 55K...mmmm
                      They had the XR7 at the boat show, and the price was a good bit north of what I was expecting.

                      I was, to say the least, dismayed.
                      Matt Train
                      BOC Site Team
                      Chicagoland, IL

                      Comment


                        #12
                        That is a very neat design. Modern deck boat styling making it much bigger than it is.

                        That price does seem a little high though, for the "Bayliner" brand.

                        Also, those front rails/foot rests look like an accident waiting to happen. People sitting in the front with their toes tucked under it and then the boat suddenly decelerating...
                        Esteban
                        Detroit, MI
                        Former Bayliners 3218, 2859, 2252, 1952

                        Comment


                          #13
                          There was an Element XR7 at the Detroit Boat Show. I asked the price and was told it was a $40K boat. For $40K I want a cruiser not a day boat. I will say it was nicely appointed and a great looking boat. That price for what the boats capabilities are is a bit high.

                          I also inquired as to the possibility of purchasing one of Bayliners new cruisers. The dealer stated yes, you can order one from them and have it imported and sold by them to any buyer. They said that Brunswick does not intend to actively market the new cruisers here in the states.
                          Rick Grew

                          1981 Carver 3007 Aft Cabin

                          2004 Past Commodore
                          West River Yacht & Cruising Club
                          www.wrycc.com

                          Comment


                            #14
                            "RGrew176" post=627072 wrote:
                            There was an Element XR7 at the Detroit Boat Show. I asked the price and was told it was a $40K boat. For $40K I want a cruiser not a day boat. I will say it was nicely appointed and a great looking boat. That price for what the boats capabilities are is a bit high.

                            I also inquired as to the possibility of purchasing one of Bayliners new cruisers. The dealer stated yes, you can order one from them and have it imported and sold by them to any buyer. They said that Brunswick does not intend to actively market the new cruisers here in the states.
                            You will never again be able to buy a cruiser for $40,000. This is assuming you want new. I can't even buy a loaded Glastron GTS205 for $40,000. If you want a cruiser for $40,000, you are definitely buying used.

                            For $40,000, given what else is on the market, the XR7 is still unique. I am not sure it's quite the slam dunk the other two Elements are, but there is no denying the market - the market wants pontoon-style boats, period.
                            Matt Train
                            BOC Site Team
                            Chicagoland, IL

                            Comment


                              #15
                              It is as you say Matt a unique boat and I do believe it will find its niche in the market place.
                              Rick Grew

                              1981 Carver 3007 Aft Cabin

                              2004 Past Commodore
                              West River Yacht & Cruising Club
                              www.wrycc.com

                              Comment

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