Buyers torn between the spacious layout of a deck boat or pontoon and the excitement of a sport runabout have a new option. PlayCraft’s new Power Deck 260 SXi offers an open floor plan and excellent low-speed stability, but as the speedometer climbs, it takes on the guise of a muscular sport boat.
Initially, we were a bit surprised to find dual-level Livorsi controls on what appeared to be a family deck boat. As we fired up the 350 Mag and engaged the Captain’s Choice exhaust cutout, the throaty rumble of the engine gave notice that this boat was no mere poser. With the midrange power plant, the boat edged close to a 50 mph top end, and true speed demons can opt up to an 8.1-liter big block for eye-watering speeds in the 60 mph range.
A number of high-powered deck and pontoon boats can run fast in a straight line. What sets the SXi apart is its cornering and open-water performance. Starting with its proven Power Deck hull, PlayCraft fabricated a new, all-composite bottom that is known as the FlexSpeed hull. At dockside, we noticed how the hull’s triple-sponson design made for excellent stability. But at speed, it behaved more like a V-hulled performance boat, carving smooth arcs and slicing through chop with minimal pounding.
Quality workmanship and premium materials were in evidence both below deck and on deck. Passengers will find all the amenities one would expect aboard a well-appointed pleasure platform, while captains will discover something extra: an unexpected level of driving excitement.
Key Note: With a deck plan that places considerable emphasis on the spacious bow lounge, this new model is as comfortable at rest as it is exciting at speed.
• 100-percent composite construction process utilizes premium hardware and materials.
• Large helm console holds extra-large changing compartment.
• 85-gallon built-in fuel tank allows plenty of range for big lakes and long days on the water.
* Length Overall: 26’1″
* Beam: 8’6″
* Dry Weight: 5,500 lb.
* Seating/Weight Capacity: 12/ 3,000 lb.
* Fuel Capacity: 85 gal.
* Maximum HP: 425
* MSRP (test boat w/ MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI): $69,995
* NMMA Certified: Yes
* Test Engine: MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI
* Test Prop: 24 Pitch Bravo 3
* Test Load: People (300 lb.); Fuel (50 gal.)
* Top Speed: 46.8 mph @ 5,300 rpm
* Time to Plane: 4.4 sec.
* Time to 30 MPH: 7.3 sec.