Click here for a gallery of the 270 SLX in action.
Melding luxury and technology, Sea Ray charges into 2011 seeking top honors in the one plus ultra bowrider segment with its 270 SLX. Compared with the Select series bowrider I tested last year, this “Select Executive” iteration ramps up luxury with novel layout twists, decor akin to a luxury auto and yacht-like features that include an anchor chute and bow scuff plate. What are the details? How does it run? What does it compare to? Here’s the scoop.
Two of the things that impressed me were items Sea Ray purposefully left off the 270 SLX. The first is the multitude of caulked seams that makes many boats appear as though every component has been highlighted with a white crayon when new, and wears a grit-ridden, gray halo after a year or two. This omission was achieved by tapping the power of the giant, computer-controlled routers that Sea Ray uses to fabricate the tooling from which it makes molds. For example, eyeball the seam where the radar arch mounts to the deck. You couldn’t slip a dollar bill through it, so no caulk is required to fill the gap for a “finished look.”
The second thing I didn’t miss was the multiplicity of materials that most builders utilize to furnish their boats’ interiors. Check out the wet bar aboard the 270 SLX. It’s a fiberglass cabinet with a lexan door that’s let in to a molded stop. More typical is a fiberglass box with polyethylene trim and a plastic door. The three materials involved are needed because, when you are hand-cutting door cutouts with a grinder, you need to screw on some trim to cover the rough edge, and that takes time — so let’s make up the dollars by installing a cheapie door. OK, no problem. But in two or three years, such a cabinet is going to be three shades of white as each material weathers differently. The Sea Ray cabinet will weather also, but it will still look good since it’s made from one material. So even though I wish the wet bar had a fiddle rail across its corian top, I applauded it, along with other examples of using one material, such as the leather-look side-panel bins with their incorporated stowage, drink holders and 12-volt receptacles. All of a piece, these will fade, but fade as one. Such detail makes for longer-lasting pride of ownership and more money come trade-in time.
Running the 270 SLX proved the maxim that the best-performing boats are those aboard which no handling surprises occur. Oh, I tried to trip up the 270 SLX with shenanigans like making hard-over turns with full negative drive trim, cutting the wheel just before landing after going airborne over a wake, and alternately chopping and gunning the throttle at cruising speed. But the 270 SLX didn’t break free. It landed and tracked away with confident control, and the prop remained hooked up and thrusting. This boat won’t let you down if emergency maneuvers, sloppy conditions or, ahem, periods of inattentiveness by a novice crew creep into your day. Throughout its graceful handling during purposeful abuse, the 270 SLX carried me smoothly onto plane, carved smoothly through turns and landed me softly after cresting wakes.
My tester was blanketed in mocha motif, the upholstery a mix of saddle brown and tan with a nicely pebbled texture accented by contrasting stitching. Even the hatch to the head, located in the portside console, was so finished. Further refinement came from the fact that this door is square and flat rather than the radiused shape (more easily molded) typical of this breed of boat. Cobalt took these same extra pains with the head hatch aboard the 276 ($111,945 powered like my test boat). The pièce de résistance is counterpoint, provided by the gleam of the chrome handle used to open the hatch against the pebbled leather-look vinyl. This rail is sturdy enough for a door pull, but located as it is, directly in front of the companion seat, it’s going to be used as a grab rail — a service for which it is too flimsy. Sea Ray agreed with this opinion and intends to beef up the rail.
Aft, the sun pad sports a centerline walkway to the platform and conceals stowage for both a filler cushion that makes a fullbeam tanning bed and an insulated compartment that serves as a wet well or cooler. A purpose-built compartment and the standard carry-on cooler that fits into it live under the aft lounge. I really liked that Sea Ray left a section of the aft lounge wide open to the cockpit sole. It’s the perfect spot to kick the inevitable duffle that guests tote aboard.
In the bow lounge I was impressed by the way the backrests were canted to allow a natural semireclining posture. The same deep, leather-like side panels that grace the aft cockpit are found here, and when I relinquished the helm for a bit to take notes, I found the armrests are comfortable and provide a feeling of security, even at top speed. By this time in the test I’d expected as much, since the 270 SLX offers as hedonistic a boating experience as you can find in this size range.
Comparable model: Cobalt 276