Located in the heartland town of Neodesha, Kansas, Cobalt is about as all-American as a boatbuilder can be. Yet the deck layout of the new sport yacht called the A40, with its open transom, stylish seating array and dual sun pads on the bow, might cause you to mistake it for an import. But a quick look underneath its refined styling reveals a boat with the construction and performance attributes representative of classic muscle cars — the ones that were imported from Detroit.
While the A40 has a newly designed hull, Cobalt employed features such as reverse chines and an extended running surface that both help the boat achieve lift and handle smoothly in turns. For this model, Cobalt incorporated a running pad aft to help it zip onto plane. Not to mention the automatic trim tabs, which help it always keep the right attitude. Our test numbers bore that out, as the A40 planed in under five seconds with very little bow rise — we briefly recorded a max angle of just 4 degrees on the clinometer — quite a feat for a 40-foot cabin boat.
In its own performance tests, Cobalt recorded top speeds close to 50 mph with both MerCruiser gasoline sterndrives and Volvo Penta diesel sterndrives. The prototype we tested posted a top speed of 46.5 with a pair of Volvo Penta D6-400s, but Volvo techs had not yet completely dialed in the boat. That’s a scary thought, because the prototype felt smooth and powerful at the helm, with plenty of midrange zip and sports-car handling in 30 mph turns. We didn’t test a gas version to verify, but Cobalt claims the boat is actually quicker out of the gates with the diesels.
The Formula 40 Super Sport ($789,380 with the twin Volvo Penta D6-400s) is another in this class to offer both gasoline and diesel sterndrives, and it rivals the Cobalt A40 in performance and handling. The Monterey 400SY ($678,457 with twin Volvo Penta D6-370s with IPS) is a more traditional-looking cruiser that offers IPS tractor propulsion. If pinpoint control around the docks is your thing, the Cobalt A40 offers Volvo’s sterndrive joystick system ($17,993), which I found to be a cinch to operate.
As mentioned, the construction is exemplary, with Cobalt showing quality building techniques under every double-finished hatch supported by gas-assist struts, in clean well-supported wiring and in a spotless engine room with access to all the basic service points. But what about that elegant styling? After all, you want a boat like this to turn heads.
The cool features start all the way aft, with the hydraulic swim platform ($6,975) that lowers down one foot below the waterline with the press of a button. It makes reboarding a nonissue after a swim at anchor. A huge sun pad sits centered atop the engine compartment with matching backrests that flip forward and aft, so you can have a traditional forward-facing transom bench in the cockpit or a rear-facing lounge when the boat’s at rest. The plush cushions that form the sun pad rise up gull-wing style to reveal deep stowage. Wide walk-throughs to either side lead into the main cockpit, which is set up to entertain. An entertainment center sits to starboard abaft the helm, complete with Corian countertop, electric stove, stainless-steel freshwater sink, a removable trash container and an AC electrical outlet should you want to power up a blender. A refrigerator ($2,016) and ice maker ($2,016) hide underneath. Molded-in, teak-covered steps sit aft of the entertainment center, designed to ease boarding from a dock. Two J-shaped seating arrays adorn the cockpit to port, allowing some passengers to hang with the driver and co-pilot up front and others to congregate in the back. The whole cockpit sole is covered by removable sea-grass sisal flooring that is pretty yet durable and easy to maintain.
The A40’s double-wide helm seat features a beefy flip-up bolster, and both the throttles and the joystick control are within easy reach. The hand-stitched brow protects the standard dual Garmin 8212 Glass Cockpit touch-screen displays on the dash from glare — the touch screens are intuitive and provide instant access to all your navigation tools, including chart software, speedo, tachs and engine diagnostics, and the radar should you opt for it. A teak footrest flips down on stainless-steel piping.
The raked, black-frame windshield is a new design that features squared edges rather than round corners. It coordinates seamlessly with the sturdy hardtop overhead that provides shade to the crew. The top is supported by beefy stainless-steel braces that keep it completely rattle- and flex-free. Teak-covered steps lead up through the windshield to the bow, with the aforementioned twin sun pads.
There’s a lot to like below too. The first thing you notice is the galley with a real granite countertop and a trendy glass washbowl sink atop it. The whole array is designed more for weekending than long-distance cruising, with a midship cabin that features opposing love seats for viewing the flat screen on the bulkhead. Filler cushions convert it to a berth. The forward dinette also converts to a V-berth with filler cushions. Overhead hatches and hull-side ports provide plenty of natural light. The fully lined head features a VacuFlush toilet and a separate shower stall with a bench.
While most will buy the A40 as a day boat or weekender, should you want to cruise for long stretches, this boat can handle it, because the insole generator compartment features an awesome amount of stowage space for provisions. And every moment spent on board will be met with style, sportiness and comfort.