Sea Ray's new 680 Sun Sport looks great, runs fast - 40.4 mph during our test - and handles with the sprightly ease of a smaller boat. Thoroughly indulgent, its dual-salon accommodation plan boasts more hardwood than the Amazon and more granite than New Hampshire. Rugged, sound-deadening construction methods make it extremely quiet and virtually vibration-free. The 680 Sun Sport can be enjoyed as watersports central or simply as a sun chaser. It features the largest fuel capacity in its class, providing more range than you could possibly use in a single weekend. Oodles of redundancy, coupled with a PC-driven touchscreen, systems monitoring, and a navigation suite, allows you to island hop with confidence. What's the catch? Price. Its $2,653,000 sticker makes it more expensive by nearly three-quarters of million dollars than Viking's V-65 Express Cruiser ($1.96 million with twin 1,300-bhp MAN 2842LE404s), and it tops Sunseeker's Predator 68 ($1.5 million also with 1,300-bhp MANs) by over a million bucks. Moreover, items that are optional aboard the 680 Sun Sport (prices for options were not set at press time), such as a bow thruster, are standard on the two British-built competitors. So the search to discover how Sea Ray spent six extra figures begins.
AQUACOUSTICS. The first step: Take the helm and push the throttles forward. A pair of strapping 1,400-bhp Caterpillar 3412E diesel inboards gets the 680 Sun Sport's big 3"-diameter shafts and 33"-by-38" five-bladed wheels turning. There's no rumble, no roar, no lurching, and so little vibration - it's more like the hum of an electric current - while achieving plane that a guest could hold a martini glass by the stem, fill it to the rim, and not spill a drop. There's some lag and a bit of a squat, until the turbos spool up at 1,500 rpm. But this is an advantage in my opinion: It makes the transition to plane silky rather than abrupt. Read that again. The 680 Sun Sport is not slow. Look at the computer screen installed in the integrated helm (an aftermarket installation aboard the Predator 68). It displays Maptech's intuitive chartplotting software and engine data. You're making 24.4 mph at 1500 rpm. But until you look out one of the power-opening side windows and see the landscape whizzing by, you'd think the high-tech, integrated helm had gone ker-blooey. The 680 Sun Sport is one smooth-running boat. Turning? It snaps around at top speed and pivots with confidence dockside. Still, a bow thruster should be standard. A number of things are responsible for the 680 Sun Sport's quiet ride and smooth handling. Directing a 33" cone of prop thrust against large, 2'8"-tall rudders creates lots of turning leverage. Its deep-V hullform aids in tracking. Its 75,000 pounds (the V-65 Express Cruiser weighs 50,000 pounds; the Predator 68, 63,000) provides great static and running stability. Soft-mounted engines through-bolted to foam-filled fiberglass stringers, hefty shafts, and five-bladed props all combine to minimize vibration so fixtures don't rattle. Exhaust is plumbed below the waterline. And unless you push the button to open the power skylight in the hardtop, you're operating from a fully enclosed helm.