Donzi 28 ZXO: Street Heat

The fast lane is the only lane.

West coast performance boat manufacturers have been producing bowriders with midship cuddy cabins for over a decade. Eliminator's 28 Eagle XP ($82,000, with a 425-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG HO stern drive) is an excellent example. Now with Donzi's 28 ZXO, East meets West. The 28 ZXO is a fast, nimble, twin-engine boat with a double-stepped hull and a highly refined finish. Although the cabin is too small for overnighting, there's a head, lockable stowage, and enough room for a quickie. Consider the possibilities.

Then there's the bow lounge. After testing the 28 ZXO, it's hard for me to say which is more fun: taking the helm or kicking back up front. For the driver, the boat's speed and response delivers that special adrenaline rush you feel only while commanding a piece of equipment that seems like an extension of your body. Can you say "exuberance"?

With its Z-Tech stepped hull and twin stern drive power, the 28 ZXO delivers an on-the-edge sensation without feeling skittish - even while tearing around at 67.7 mph. The boat felt so confident that I'd recommend ordering it with twin 350-hp Mercury Racing Scorpion 377 engines ($29,814), which should allow a top speed near 80 mph. With a pair of those Scorpions providing get-up-and-go, you won't likely outgrow this boat.

Any complaints? The McCleod racing bolsters are narrow. I'm fairly slim and I still had to squeeze in. Also, the all-white helm needs some non-glare treatment.

For passengers in the bow, the 28 ZXO's whoop-generating ride will have them reliving their day aboard for a week. The lounge is bolstered and tufted, creating three seats per side, which prevents smaller passengers from sliding toward their heavier neighbors. Four more guests can sit on the headrest-bedecked transom bench.

The cabin has two seats facing abeam that convert into a single berth. There's a sink, a reading light, and ample stowage. The commode slides out from beneath the forward companionway.

Details include painted, clear-coated hull graphics, sealed electrical terminals, and engines through-bolted to Kevlar-topped stringers in their mirrored, diamond-plated compartment. Unique plug-in fender holders mean you'll never tie off to a seat stanchion or grabrail again.

LAST WORD. Look up "va-va-va-voom" in the dictionary - you'll find a picture of this bowrider with a berth.

LOA.....27'7" ** **

Beam.....8'6"

Draft 3'2"

Displacement (lbs., approx.)....6,500 ** **

Transom deadrise...22° ** **

Bridge clearance...4'6" ** **

Minimum cockpit depth...3'3" ** **

Max. cabin headroom...4'9" ** **

Fuel capacity (gal.)...94 ****

Water capacity (gal.)...12 ****

Price (w/standard power) ..........$99,729

Price (w/test power) ..........$107,186 ****

STANDARD POWER: Single 385-hp MerCruiser 454 Mag MPI V-8 gasoline stern drive.

OPTIONAL POWER: Twin MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline stern drives to 700 hp total. ****

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 300-hp MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI Bravo One V-8 gasoline stern drives with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging 19" x 23" ss props through 1.81:1 reductions. ****

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Zero Effort controls; ss battery trays; dual-ram trim tabs; fiberglass windscreen w/Venturi; through-hull exhaust; electric engine hatch; manual bolster seats; removable cockpit carpet; compass; fender cleats; painted hull graphics; galley w/sink and cooler; portable MSD; Sony AM/FM/CD stereo w/10-disc changer and 5 speakers.