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Review: 2016 Bayliner VR5 and VR6 bowriders-gctid685687

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    Review: 2016 Bayliner VR5 and VR6 bowriders-gctid685687

    The most important boat in Bayliner's history





    Yep, I went there. There have been a lot of Bayliners in the company history deserving of a spot in a frame on the company's halls. I believe this will be another one. This boat represents a wholesale separation from past Business As Usual. This is a new philosphy and will form the basis in thinking, at least, for every new Bayliner from this point forward.

    Welcome, everyone, to the new VR series from Bayliner.

    Basically, this is the new replacement for the BR bowrider series. If you go back as far with the marque as I do, these would represent the new Capris. Whereas up until now, Bayliner has focused on deckboats and the Element series, these boats are the traditional V hull Runabout (hence the VR in the name) that at one time formed one of the core branches to Bayliner's product line.

    Okay, so what are we looking at, then? Well, what we have here are two models, and a new way of looking at them. The VR5 is the smaller model replacing the 185BR and the 195BR (the 190BR OB lives on at a lower price point), and the VR6 is the larger boat that will slot in where the departing 215BR used to reside. The big story here is the way Bayliner is looking at these boats, and also how they are constructed. Let me explain...

    Quick history lesson for the club members here. As we have seen from a number of posts, Bayliner switched from bolt-on to built in swim platforms starting around 1990. 1950s became 2050s, 2655s became 2855s, and those of you who have 1980s Contessas kind of just giggled at the "new" 2855 Ciera. From 1990 to very recently, most runabouts were measured by length overall, which included the built-in swim platform. The 20 foot boat you thought you were getting really only had 18.5 feet of usable space, whereas the older boats had a lot more room in them.

    The VR boats represent, in some way, a strategic throwback to the 1980s - despite appearing built in, get close to the boat and you will notice a vertical seam at the junction of the swim platform and the transom. The swim platform is bolted on. And that allows Bayliner to say that yes, the VR5 really is a full 18 feet of running surface, interior space, and utilization. LOA is 20 feet overall for the VR5. The VR6 is 22 feet LOA, but has a 20 foot running surface. This means that competitors like the Chaparral 18 H2O Sport will fit, in its entirety, within the outline of the VR5.



    The payoff here is the VR5 does not feel like an 18 foot boat. It reads like a smaller 20 foot boat. Both boats have much higher freeboard and 6 more inches of beam versus their predecessors. The upshot of all of this is simple: The VR5 is absolutely cavernous inside, and the VR6 feels like a football field. There's really nothing else on the market that comes close to the comfort and space that these boats offer.



    Layouts are similar between the VR5 and VR6. The extra 2 feet the 6 gets is all between the helm station and the rear seating. The VR6 gets a changing room with an optional porta potty (find another 20 foot bowrider that has one. Go ahead...we can wait) and a finishing section that results in a U rear seating area versus the L lounge in the 5. Both the 5 and the 6 have walkthroughs for the sunpad, and an adjustible backrest for when it's used as a lounge.

    Here's the VR6 interior:



    VR5 interior:



    How different is the VR5 versus the 185? See for yourself. VR5 on the left, 185BR on the right:



    Construction is the other big news here, and here's where we see a major departure from Bayliners past. First off, the hull running surface is the same hull design as the about-to-die 642 Overnighter. The VR boats are completely composite with no wood construction. The cockpit sole is solid fiberglass with a self bailing cockpit design. If you've been around Bayliners as long as I have, these two changes are massive, and completely change the feel of the boat over and above the additional room. I will get into this in a minute, but compare a 185BR to a VR5 and the VR5 feels like it came from a completely different boat builder. The boats feel far more solid, expensive, and noise and vibration free. Fit and finish, even on the prototype boats we were running, were very good - and much better than in Bayliner's past, even recent past. Appointments and upholstery were a solid step up too - the VR5 was running a desert sand interior, and teak-look SeaDeck along the cockpit that makes me wonder why they didn't think of it sooner.

    That's gelcoat in the ski locker, by the way.



    ....and in the engine bay.



    Crucially, one of the boats they had on hand was a VR5 with everyone's favorite coffee-grinder, the 3.0L 4 cylinder. While I didn't test drive it, I did crank it up just to make fun of it, and....I had to swallow my insults. Even with the engine hatch open it was...smooth. Qiuet, even. Closing the engine hatch made the engine indecipherable from the 4.5 in terms of NVH. I had to rev it to even get any inkling that there was a 4 banger in the engine room. They finally, finally tamed the 3.0L 4 cylinder!!!

    So build quality takes a huge step forward. I asked Bayliner brass if this was all in my head, and here's what I got back: In order to control costs of raw materials, it's easier to control fiberglass than it is to control wood. Furthermore, Bayliner is designing boats going forward as modular components in order to save costs. The result of these actions are two fold - first, removing wood from the structure makes the boats more resiliant and strong, resulting in a smaller number of larger parts (less flexing, more solidity, better ride), and two, components like seats are now shared across a number of models as much as possible. The folding seatback in the VR5 is the same as the VR6 and some European models. The bow cushions are shared with the Element XL, down to the part numbers. The hulls themselves are modular, but we will get to that in a minute.

    This all brings us to performance.



    The VR5 is nothing short of amazing, and really fun to drive. Remember, I bought an 1850 Capri brand new off the showroom floor in 2000, and I have run a number of 185s since then. The VR5 feels like a grown up boat, now. The ride was nimble, easy handling, but sporty enough to handle watersports manuvers. Crank the wheel hard over and the RPM automatically modulates to counteract the bleeding off of speed - you get a little shove in the back at the apex of the corner, right when you would expect a slight bog. There are no shakes, shimmies, rattles, or vibrations anymore. Even the wakeboard tower was rock-solid and didn't move an inch despite lauching the VR5 off wakes all day long at full throttle. The VR5 we had was equipped with the standard 4.5L 200 hp V6 with a Merc Alpha One. The 3.0 is a credit option, and after driving the 4.5, listen to me here: You don't want it. The 4.5 is spirited, feisty, smooth, powerful, and efficient. We ran the 5 all day long at speed and quite a bit of it was WOT, and we used a little more than 1/2 tank of fuel for the entire day.

    The drivetrain is simply awesome. I have raved about the 4.5 before when installed in the 215 Deck Boat, and here in the VR boats it finally reaches it's full potential. Interestingly, even the Alpha One was more refined than in years past. I would even go so far as to call it acceptable for the price points. The VR6 is optionally available with a 250 hp 4.5 and a Bravo 3. I was able to run a 215 Deck Boat with this set up, and I can absolutely tell you that if you go for the VR6, that's the setup you want. It corners hard, and hangs on for days.

    We haven't even gotten to the best part yet - Bayliner's efforts at taking cost out of the boat have born fruit. The VR5 is a full $700 LESS than the 185BR started at, which is a screaming bargain no matter how you slice it. No prices yet for the VR6, but I would expect the same.



    I try to be as objective as possible. Let's be honest, we're all Bayliner fans here and its easy to point to someone like me and go "Of course he likes it....he's a member of the BOC." Well, recall in the XR7 review I was less than enthusiastic about that boat. No such issues here....the VR series stole my heart and should steal yours too. Add it all up and I feel confident in saying this: The VR boats are the biggest separation from the past Bayliner has made yet, they are a huge step forward in quality, and they make a convincing arguement to be at the top of the shopping list for ANYone. Gone are the days where qualifiers like "....for a Bayliner" will be used. While I admit there are slight differences in fit and finish between this and, say, a Chaparral H2O, nobody is going to take the hit in room and the extra cost to get it, and unless you are in the marine industry, you may not even notice it anyway. Overall, the VR boats are hugely satisfying, sporty family boats, and I cannot say enough good about them after spending the day on them. I love them.

    Like the Element, the VR boats will have many permutations if they take off. Remember what i said about engineered modularity. The swim platform mounting points were engineered to be strong enough to mount an outboard to, so there's your hint for the 2017 models. Bayliner outright told me that the hulls will be the same regardless of whether it will have outboard or stern drive power (they just won't cut the hull for the drive if it's destined for a Mercury on the back), which opens up some fascinating possibilities for what to do with the engine room of the I/O in an OB application. Or maybe some other power application that someone told me after one too many beers. But I can't talk about that.

    Bravo, Bayliner....bravo.





    _________________________________

    Full disclosure: Disappointingly, I didn't get a chance to run the VR6 due to scheduling - every time I came back looking for it, another media group had it out. That said, the VR5 shares the same basic running surface and the same 4.5L engine block, and I spent a LOT of time in the VR5, so my impressions of the VR5 will also stand for the VR6. You will also notice that I have limited pictures of the event. I had a technical issue with my camera the day after the event and unfortunately lost a good majority of the footage and pictures I took. Apologies about that.
    Matt Train
    BOC Site Team
    Chicagoland, IL

    #2
    Thanks Matt, no doubt about your feelings for the VR5.

    Interesting your comment about much more freeboard - the photos from the UK boat show certainly looked like a deep v hull. I would imagine these boats handle some choppy water pretty well.

    The trouble is that after such a glowing review of the VR5, all us 175 owners will be looking at or bank accounts and thinking "Well maybe. ..."

    Comment


      #3
      Great review thanks alot.
      2016 Bayliner 215DB
      4.5l 250hp Bravo 3
      2016 Yamaha VZ Cruiser HO

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks Matt as always Great review.....

        I like the concept of no wing glass, but even more I would like to see a no windshield option....

        Do the cushions have hinges or are they pop out style?

        Thanks

        Comment


          #5
          Any word on weight?

          Tom

          Comment


            #6
            Pop out.
            ..........
            Matt Train
            BOC Site Team
            Chicagoland, IL

            Comment


              #7
              Bulletproof A1 G2 :cheer:
              Joon, Kathy, Jaden & Tristan
              93 3058
              92 2855
              91 Fourwinns 205
              Longbranch WA
              Life is Good

              Comment


                #8
                "TommyJodi" post=685751 wrote:
                Any word on weight?

                Tom
                Just verbal approximates. The VR6 supposedly comes in around 3500 lbs.
                Matt Train
                BOC Site Team
                Chicagoland, IL

                Comment


                  #9
                  VR6: The 215 BR this boat replaces carried an MSRP sticker reading $34,728; the new VR6 lists at $33,299.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    "SlipAway" post=687410 wrote:
                    VR6: The 215 BR this boat replaces carried an MSRP sticker reading $34,728; the new VR6 lists at $33,299.
                    Yep. Configurator is up on Bayliner.com if anyone wants to spec one out.
                    Matt Train
                    BOC Site Team
                    Chicagoland, IL

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I just ordered the VR5 here in the Netherlands and am very happy to read your positive review! There really wasn't much info available when ordering, had to go by a few pictures from a boat show in Cannes. First time boat owner, so can't wait till winter is over and I can get in the water.

                      I ordered it with a MerCruiser 4.3L V6 MPI with 180HP, which doesn't seem to be available from the US website. Here's hoping it will come close to the one you've tested. Any ideas on that?

                      Cheers,

                      Rick

                      Comment


                        #12
                        "rickbr" post=689234 wrote:
                        I just ordered the VR5 here in the Netherlands and am very happy to read your positive review! There really wasn't much info available when ordering, had to go by a few pictures from a boat show in Cannes. First time boat owner, so can't wait till winter is over and I can get in the water.

                        I ordered it with a MerCruiser 4.3L V6 MPI with 180HP, which doesn't seem to be available from the US website. Here's hoping it will come close to the one you've tested. Any ideas on that?

                        Cheers,

                        Rick
                        I would expect similar performance, honestly. My 1850 with that same 4.3 ran 55 - 58 mph, and I would expect around 45 mph for a 4.3. It will be plenty.

                        Honestly, the only engine I would avoid is the 3.0L, and that engine is going away in a year or two anyway.
                        Matt Train
                        BOC Site Team
                        Chicagoland, IL

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Lenny from Boats.com finally put his video review up. I was driving the camera boat.

                          http://www.boats.com/reviews/bayline...o-boat-review/
                          Matt Train
                          BOC Site Team
                          Chicagoland, IL

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Ok so on the way home from running errands, I stopped in at my boat dealer to say hi to the guys. They have a vr5 on the floor. Just got it in. Has anyone else seen one up close? I would be interested in hearing your comments about it.
                            Hell, Michigan (yes we really live in a city named "Hell" in Michigan)
                            2012 BR 185 - 3.0 TKS
                            1999 Chaparral 233 Sunesta Ltd., 5.0 Volvo
                            1985 Harris Flotebote Classic 240
                            1993 Yamaha Waverunner III VXR
                            1993 Yamaha Waverunner III
                            1995 Yamaha Waverunner III GP
                            1995 Yamaha Waverunner III VXR PRO

                            Comment


                              #15
                              "RobMick" post=702778 wrote:
                              Ok so on the way home from running errands, I stopped in at my boat dealer to say hi to the guys. They have a vr5 on the floor. Just got it in. Has anyone else seen one up close? I would be interested in hearing your comments about it.
                              With full respect to your 185, I personally feel the VR boats feel like they are from Sea Ray, not Bayliner. The 5 is the largest 18 foot hull I've ever seen and it rides and drives as if it were a 20 foot bowrider.

                              I also like the layout better than the Sea Ray 19SPX, which would be an in-between size between the 5 and the 6.
                              Matt Train
                              BOC Site Team
                              Chicagoland, IL

                              Comment

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