Which of these center consoles is the hottest?
Easy to ask, but not so easy to answer - especially when you consider overall value as well as the hardware and performance.
The Deep Impact 36 has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to construction. No one - but no one - can honestly claim to build a stronger, tougher boat. And when it comes to looks, it's a hands-down winner. Both detail work and graphics are impeccable. But they don't come cheap. Plus, Deep Impact excludes many must-have items in its standards. This gives the buyer a long list of options that customize the boat but send the price soaring. Also, its speed and efficiency numbers are well behind the leader of the pack.
Although its sticker price is great, the Wellcraft 352 Tournament CC was held back by lackluster speed and economy. On top of that, the other three contenders had a level of finish that extended belowdecks, into the hatches and compartments that aren't normally seen. If you're looking for the least expensive way to get into the triple-outboard fishboat game, this is your pick, but otherwise keep looking.
The Donzi 38 ZF Open is a serious contender, scoring high for flash as well as fishing features-livewell and fishbox capacities are unsurpassed. It also provides excellent bang for the buck. But the boat ran slower than we expected. With power equal to that of the Fountain, it lagged by 8.5 mph, even though the Fountain is beamier with nearly identical displacement. Also, the plastic battery box door and poor forward fishbox insulation are letdowns on a boat that otherwise is built with top-notch quality.
The numbers posted by the Fountain 38 CC are nothing short of stellar. Who would have thought you could bolt 825 horses on a transom and get the fuel economy you'd expect from a diesel inboard traveling at less than half the speed? Construction and detail work are excellent, fishing abilities are good, and although the price seems high, after considering the comprehensive standard features list and overall quality level, it's more reasonable. That's why Fountain's 38 CC topped the competition, and would have scored even higher if that under-gunwale wiring were better.