We tested in stiff chop, but the Cobalt R3 performed like we’ve come to expect of boats from the Neodesha, Kansas, builder. Its well-built deep-V hull, with 21 degrees of transom deadrise, sliced through the chop with nary a rattle or shudder. What might surprise you is how much interior space the R3 has for a 24-foot boat with an 8-foot-6-inch beam. Thanks to a build process Cobalt calls free space reclamation (FSR), that roominess is no optical illusion.
FSR works because Cobalt shaves fiberglass off the hull and deck pieces along the gunwales, creating a tighter, much narrower fit. This adds almost an extra foot of interior width and is most noticeable in the cockpit, which Cobalt adorns with seating that wraps around the transom and the port side. A double-wide bench sits in front of the port console; its backrest adjusts to allow passengers to face forward or aft. There’s also a jump seat behind the plush captain’s chair. All of the seats are covered with high-quality Nautilex vinyl that looks sharp and is easy to clean.
The backrest on the transom bench also flips down to create a full sun pad over the engine hatch. Cobalt smartly adds another flip-up cushion to create an aft-facing rumble seat for water-sports prep or just “chillaxing” and watching the water ripple while at anchor. The extended swim platform features Cobalt’s signature stainless-steel piping for dockside protection. The flip-down fiberglass swim step is another Cobalt calling card, and it makes getting in and out of the water incredibly easy.
This is not to say the bow lounge doesn’t deserve recognition. It has plush forward-facing backrests abutting either console, with recessed stainless-steel grab rails for safety. The backrest cushions lift up on gas-assist struts to reveal cavernous stowage in both consoles — another benefit of FSR. The consoles support a sturdy raked windshield with stainless-steel-topped frame.
As well as it handled the chop, the R3 got to really strut its stuff in smooth water, topping 46 mph at wide-open throttle and showing great midrange oomph and executing tight graceful turns at speed.
*The helm features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a hand-stitched vinyl eyebrow and a wood-grain dash inset around the gauges.
*The flip-down swim step on the extended platform makes reboarding from the water a breeze.
*Cavernous stowage is found beneath both consoles.
Dry Weight: 4,450 lb.
Seating/Weight Capacity: 12/1,800 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 50 gal.
How We Tested
Engine: 320 hp Volvo Penta sterndrive
Drive/Prop: Duoprop/F4 stainless-steel propset
Gear Ratio: 2.32:1
Fuel Load: 25 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
$83,177 (with test power)
Neodesha, Kansas; 800-468-5764; cobaltboats.com