Its hull and deck are joined with fiberglass; dual-trumpet air horns come standard; and it cuts through rough water like a hot knife through cream cheese. Is it a rip-splitting sportfish, a head-snapping go-fast, or a long-ranging sport yacht? Answer: None of the above. Though you'll often see such features aboard boats designed for rough duty, here they're just the basis for Australia's newest boating import, the Mustang 3200 Sportscruiser. And no, it's not a catamaran.
Instead, the 3200 Sportscruiser is a deep-V express cruiser that's built - overbuilt, we'd say - so you can cruise to your favorite cove when the wind is blowing. Fit and finish is excellent. Amenities? Topside accommodations meet every expectation for comfort and convenience in this type and size boat. Belowdecks, Mustang tackled the problems of space allocation and balancing function with style in a way that's decidedly different from most American express cruisers. Would we rate it a 10? Here at BOATING Magazine, we've yet to test a boat that rates a perfect score. But if you're in the market for an inboard-powered express cruiser, you're likely to score the 3200 Sportscruiser at least an 8.
ALL TEMPA-CHEER. A hurricane spinning offshore announced its presence with big swells and a steep, wind-producing pressure gradient as we cast off. Perfect conditions in which to test a boat that's touted as being particularly good at handling "washing machine" slop.
With twin 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI V-drive inboards ($7,000), rock-solid construction, and a deep-V hullform sporting a nearly ideal beam-to-length ratio, the 3200 Sportscruiser cleaned up. Hit the gas. In a big swell with crossing chop the 3200 Sportscruiser was enjoyable to run at 24 mph and an absolute blast at 30. That's quick comfort compared to other cruisers this size we've tested. Wheel the helm and run downsea. There's no slipping backward. The powerful 2.5:1 gear ratio through which its propshafts turn allows you to confidently climb the back of a wave. Such a low gear is more typical of a sportfisherman or large yacht than an express cruiser.
THE HIGHS: Uses more stainless steel than a surgical supply house. Great ride. High quality is evident everywhere you look. Accommodations are eye-catching and innovative.
THE LOWS: A hanging locker in the salon would be nice. Check that the fuel tank hoses are Coast Guard approved and that the water separators are accessible.
And to what do we attribute its stellar headsea ride? The 3200 Sportscruiser's 21-degree transom deadrise is one reason. Another is its beam. Unlike boats such as the 31'6"-by-11'2" Sea Ray 310 Sundancer ($166,957 with the same V-drive inboards as our test boat) or the 32'-by-11'2" Regal 3260 ($153,111 also with the same V-drive inboards as our test boat), the 32'1" 3200 Sportscruiser never gets wider than 10'6". A narrower hull presents less resistance, enabling you to run faster before it starts to pound. Drier, too. Try as we might, we couldn't soak the 3200 Sportscruiser's windshield, despite a 20-mph crosswind. Since its reversed chines are mostly submerged at rest, there's good static stability. The sacrifice for this great ride is less interior space. Both the 310 Sundancer and the 3260 are more livable belowdecks. So what's your priority? Being there or getting there?
A VOTE FOR QUALITY. Trying to determine construction quality aboard many boats is like trying to distinguish flavor differences between brown and orange M&Ms. But the 3200 Sportscruiser screams topnotch in ways that are easy to see. Check out the deck hardware supporting the stainless-steel bowed Bimini top. Tensioning is provided by a heavy-duty pelican hook swaged to stainless-steel aircraft cable, not your typical web strap and spring hook. The cable system kept the canvas from rattling. It won't need readjustment and will last longer than the canvas it keeps taut.
Hop (or jump if you like). The Divinycell-cored foredeck is solid as a rock. Walk toward the fully nonslipped bow, lie on your stomach, and open the anchor locker hatch. Stick your head inside. Look around. See the seam? Instead of being screwed or riveted, the hull and deck are glassed together. The durability this method provides is typically reserved for convertibles and go-fasts, which are expected to endure greater slamming loads than midsize cruisers.
Now go aft. Pop open the engine hatch. Motors are bolted to stainless-steel beds. The standard water heater is stainless steel. Powder-coated aluminum, which corrodes more easily, is less expensive and more typical in this category. The fuel tanks are also constructed of stainless steel. Freshwater engine cooling is standard. Besides inhibiting corrosion, this helps maintain proper operating temperature, providing efficiency and longevity. We complained that the fuel/water separators, mounted outboard of the engines and inboard of each wing tank, were inaccessible and that the fuel tank vent hoses were not Type A, Coast Guard approved. Both problems have been corrected, according to Mustang.
Check the cockpit. The 3200 Sportscruiser's finish is clean. Each part mates to the next with near perfect fit. Grit-collecting caulk lines are minimized. Why? Like Sea Ray, Mustang uses a five-axis milling router to create the plugs from which the molds are formed. Lift the wetbar's icebox lid. See the protrusion on its underside? The lid is insulated, a feature that few cruisers can boast. An icemaker is standard here, but we'd like to see a grabrail added for security and to help keep snacks on the counter.
THE U AND THE V. Step belowdecks. White, lacquered, plank-look cabinetry is juxtaposed against plush cobalt blue carpet. The look is cleaner and cooler than the wood and earth tones more common to American express cruiser decor. Cop a squat in the convertible U-lounge dinette to port. Comfy? You betcha. Those cushions, upholstered with real leather, are 5" thick, an inch more than required for BOATING's comfort seal of approval.
But this convertible dinette is more than just the cushy centerpiece of the 3200 Sportscruiser's cabin. It's a clever way of providing seating for four and sleeping for two in the same space. At bedtime, a pullout platform extends over the lounge, creating a 6'7" V-berth. At other times, the lounge remains exposed for seating while the now abbreviated V-berth allows a single adult or two kids to lounge or nap. A pullout wine and glass rack along with the swivel-mount TV/VCR enhance utility in a space-saving manner. The only hanging locker belowdecks is in the aft berth, which has standup access and a comfortable, adult-size double berth. Perhaps you can roll your foul weather gear and stow it in the wine rack.
The 3200 Sportscruiser's head layout also varies from the norm. The commode is positioned against its aft wall. You face forward when atop the throne. Having long legs, I often find my knees knocking against head doors when I close them for a dry run during boat tests. It's a small thing, but when it's addressed - and addressed well, as aboard the 3200 Sportscruiser - kudos are in order. This machine is so detail-oriented it sports chrome-plated bronze hull logos in lieu of stickers. Hell, even the binder containing the owner's manual features stainless-steel corner protectors.
LAST WORD. Fine riding and overbuilt, here's a cruiser that hasn't forgotten it's a boat and not an RV.
Displacement (lbs., approx.) ...........11,000
Minimum cockpit depth..2'4"
Max. cabin headroom..6'3"
Fuel capacity (gal.)....170
Water capacity (gal.).. 73
Price (w/standard power) ...............$173,600
Price (w/test power) ...............$180,600
STANDARD POWER: Twin 210-hp MerCruiser 4.3L EFI V-6 gasoline stern drives.
OPTIONAL POWER: Twin MerCruiser gasoline stern drives or V-drive inboards to 800 hp total; twin Cummins or Yanmar diesel V-drive inboards to 700 bhp total.
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI Horizon V-8 gasoline V-drive inboards with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging 19" x 25" four-bladed Nibral props through 2.5:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Furuno GPS; color fishfinder; VHF; ss fuel tanks; windlass; radar arch; full canvas enclosure; AM/ FM/CD stereo; TV/VCR; freshwater cooling; trim tabs; 12,000-Btu a/c and heat; 4kW genset; battery parallel switch; 30-amp shorepower w/cord; hot and cold transom shower; cockpit carpet; microwave; refrigerator; electric cooktop; padded headliner.