Boat Review by: Richard Crowder
Sylvan Marine of New Paris, Indiana, part of the Starcraft and Smoker Craft family since 1970, derived its name from Sylvan Lake in Wolcottville, Indiana where it was founded in the late 1940’s. A couple of years ago, Sylvan reverted back to its founding roots by now concentrating solely on the manufacturing of pontoon boats.
For 2014, it offers five series of thirty-six models of pontoon boats from nineteen to twenty-seven feet comprising a total of nine sub-series with sixty-two model variations. The S3 subject of this review is part of its new “S” series of two models: this S3 at just under twenty-five feet in overall length, and the S5 at just under twenty-seven feet.
These new models reflect the resurgence in popularity of pontoon boats aimed at a younger boating market with an emphasis on relaxation, elegance, fun, watersports activities, and performance. Gone on the S3 are the stereotypical conservative and some may say, old-fashioned flat sided box looks of old replaced on the S3 with swooping stylized curves and luxurious amenities to coddle the most discerning of boaters of all ages.
The first thing you may notice on the S3 is the relatively extra large stern swim deck with its standard Sea Weave covering to appropriately accommodate the watersports activities that the performance of the S3 caters to so well. After all, the basic two-tube S3 is rated for up to 150 horsepower and with the optional third tube, a whopping 250 horsepower with its tested top speed of almost fifty miles per hour. A substantial and ergonomic boarding ladder is standard.
Moving aboard through the centre stern entry gate are port and starboard chaise lounges for stretching out. Ahead of these lounges are two side-by-side captain’s chairs; one for the driver and one for a passenger with an aisle between them. The driver’s chair is a recliner with slider. Both chairs have retractable armrests.
Ahead of the starboard side driver’s console and the port side entry gate are two more lounges aesthetically curved to match the rounded bow sections of the S3’s sides. The starboard side lounge is slightly longer than the port lounge and in total these two lounges could accommodate five or more adults very comfortably. A standard table with cupholders mounts between these bow lounges. An optional bow filler cushion makes this entire bow seating into a huge U-shaped lounge area. All deck furniture has rotocast construction and all have storage beneath the much sculpted and heavily padded upholstery.
The ¾-inch plywood deck of the S3 with a lifetime warranty is covered with 28-ounce carpeting. Concealed blue LED mood lighting is standard as are docking lights and even lighted cupholders which are liberally placed throughout. Five distinct colours of interior trim are available along with three classy colour choices of exterior panels plus another three rich-looking choices of interior upholstery colours. Deck trim is anodized, bow rails are stainless steel, and pull-up cleats are standard. Also standard is a walk-in change room and an 8’6” bimini top.
The two-tone low profile and very modernistic fibreglass driver’s console features a tinted windscreen, LED-backed DC rocker switches, chrome-spoked tilt steering wheel and a standard gauge package which includes a tachometer, speedometer, volt, and fuel gauges. The standard AM/FM stereo with four speakers includes an auxiliary USB port for an MP3 player. Within this driver’s console is storage for the cooler.
The S3 rides on two of Sylvan’s third generation RPT (Revolutionary Planing Technology) 27-inch tubes which feature .100-gauge aluminum with a reinforced nose with a double bulkhead, full-length keels and V-bottoms with planing strakes all combined to offer higher horsepower capabilities with greater efficiencies. Add an optional third tube and the recommended maximum horsepower increases from 150 to 250.
With this third RPT tube, test results with a Mercury 250 Pro FourStroke produced an incredible top speed of 47 miles per hour at 6400 RPM. Optimum fuel economy was found to be at 3000 RPM producing 17.5 mph while consuming 4.8 (US) gallons per hour. Acceleration from zero to thirty miles per hour was a very sprightly 5.3 seconds.
Two packaged options are available for the S3. The first a premium sound package with upgraded Polk speakers, a subwoofer and amplifier, and the second, a wake tower package with bimini, light bar, speakers, and board rack. Other notable options include a ski tow bar, various combinations of vinyl or teak flooring, full or half camper enclosures, a power-operated bimini, porta-potti, a neat cooler table, underwater lighting, trim and depth gauges or a combination GPS/fish finder, plus a pair of swim platform-mounted upholstered jump seats with storage.
This new Sylvan S-series is all about accommodation, fun and relaxation coupled with performance.
|Length:||24' 10"||7.57 m|
|Beam:||8' 6"||2.59 m|
|Dry weight:||2,100 lbs||953 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||30 US gals||114 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Outboard|