What we think: We tested the Maxum twice in late 2007. The first time was with standard engines and stern-drives. It was a great ride. Then, at a second test, the boat was surrounded by techie guys in navy Mercury shirts with clipboards. It had something different at the helm. The techs were silent as we stepped aboard and proceeded without a briefing.
A joystick at the helm would steer the boat from the dock, we'd been told. We pushed a button to start the engines and nudged the stick forward. The engines revved to 1,000 rpm and eased us into the tight access between docks. A twist of the stick pivoted the boat neatly in place, 90-degrees and -- well, this was fun. We idled into the lake, grabbed the running throttles to check top speed and overall handling -- which was also fun, quick and nimble -- but we wanted to play with Axius, the name MerCruiser gives the electronic steering mechanism that controls the stern drives with the flick of a joystick.
The techies were waiting at the dock. Boaters know performance anxiety is the biggest cause of dock dings, and an audience is what causes it. Even with the pressure of clipboard-carrying spectators, the boat handled so easily that we believed the press release that said, "A kid can dock it."
Directional control was just crazy. Nudge the stick to the left and computerized, electronic controls adjust throttle and stern-drive position to crab-walk the boat to port or starboard or nudge it fore and aft, or any combination in between.
The techies noted our smiles as we docked.
Who should buy it:
Too many boaters are afraid to move their rig in and out of the dock, and make floating second homes of their rigs. The 2900 SE with Axius is for those captains who want to cruise instead of sip martinis at the dock.
Vital Stats * Length Overall: 30' * Beam: 9'11" * Dry Weight: 10,187 lb. * Seating/Weight Capacity: Yacht Certified * Fuel Capacity: 125 gal. * Maximum HP: 600 * MSRP (w/ Twin MerCruiser 350 Mag MPO Bravo 3 Axius): See local dealer * NMMA Certified: Yes
* Twin MerCruiser 4.3L MPI Bravo 3, T-220 hp -- $131,022
* Twin MerCruiser 5.0L MPI w/ freshwater cooling, T-260 hp -- $138,079
* Twin MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI Bravo 3 w/ SeaCore -- $145,351
Max HP: 520
Nearly a foot more in length and 16 more inches in beam add more luxury for longer, more comfortable cruises.
Max HP: 640
This more compact cruiser can be trailered, but it still offers cruising space for four in an aft berth and forward V-berth.
Test Drive * Test Engine: Twin MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI Bravo 3 * Test Props: 14.25 x 24 x 3; 15.75 x 22 x 3 Stainless Steel * Test Load: People (450 lb.); Fuel (90 gal.) * Top Speed: 41.4 MPH @ 4,700 RPM * Time to Plane: 10.2 sec. * Time to 30 MPH: 20.5 sec. * Cruise Speed: 29 mph @ 3,500 RPM @ 1.34 MPG