It’s the swallowtail swim platform that will catch your eye from the dock. A vestige from the original Azure design created by Bennington five years ago, it’s been retained by current builder KCS International (Cruisers Yachts and Rampage), which acquired the brand in February 2012. The shape of the platform is intended to reduce the boat’s turning radius and make it easier to handle in tight confines. It’s certainly distinctive, and in a crowded segment of big, trailerable runabouts, distinction helps.
But my favorite feature of this 27-footer (that includes the platform extension) is the convertible lounge over the motor box. Its backrest may be adjusted to face aft or forward, or placed horizontal within the cockpit to create a larger sun pad. The pad on the motor box is also part of a wraparound seating arrangement in the cockpit. A 48-quart cooler is stashed below the port seat. There’s finished stowage under the other seats, and two large in-deck lockers including one deep enough to hold a mooring cover.
The head compartment is well-finished fiberglass — no glued-on carpet here — with a wide door, an opening port and plenty of headroom for those most likely to use it. The bow seating area is very deep but lacks the scooped-out bucket seats found on the slightly larger 298 model. The helm is available with an optional dash ($1,375) that places a four-inch Garmin GPS screen on center. Our boat also had an optional folding aluminum sport arch ($7,420).
Like all of the 13 Sport Series models, the 278 has received the “Cruisers treatment,” including upgrading systems like the lamination schedule and the motor mounts (both are more robust), devising a new labeled wiring harness, and replacing many plastic parts with stainless steel. The boat feels really solid on the water and planed smartly with a 320 hp small-block Volvo Penta V8-320C engine and Duoprop sterndrive. I would not pay for more power.
Comparable model: Sea Ray 250 SLX