When Formula set out to add a 38-foot model to its Super Sport Crossover (SSC) line of “full-cabin bowriders,” it knew inland customers would want the boat with sterndrive power, while those on coastal waters would prefer outboards. The Formula 380 SSC debuted first with sterndrive power. Now the outboard version of the 380 SSC is here, and it is very similar yet very different from the sterndrive model.
Our test boat was rigged with the maximum power option—triple 4.6-liter supercharged V-8 Mercury Racing 450R outboards—for a combined 1,350 hp, good for a top speed on glass-calm water of 65.8 mph, or almost 15 mph faster than the 380 SSC we tested with twin Mercury Racing 520 sterndrives. Like the sterndrive version, our outboard-powered model cruised most efficiently at 30 mph, but burned about 20 percent more fuel than the sterndrive boat at that speed. A typical captain is not going to run this boat at wide-open throttle very often, but Formula points out that its owners do frequently fill SSC models to capacity, and that power is desirable for getting a loaded boat on plane smartly. Our test boat hopped on top in 7 seconds with five adults and about 200 gallons of fuel on board. The Merc Racing 450R outboards are impressive machines; in this application, the midrange punch is always on tap, and the motors pull eagerly to the redline.
The trade-off for outboard power is the clutter on the transom. The platform on the sterndrive 380 SSC is vast, and can be extended farther with a section that lowers hydraulically into the water, a feature that will make you king of the cove. The platform on the outboard model is about 48 inches deep, so there’s plenty of room forward of the motors for boarding and hanging out. On future models—we tested Hull No. 1—Formula will extend the platform about 30 more inches outside the motors so a guest can reboard, for example, without being right next to the motors. Our boat had the optional platform Sport Station ($9,410), a padded leaning post with drink holders meant to enhance socialization.
What would be the engine bay on the sterndrive 380 SSC is available for stowage in the outboard model. The electric-lift hatch is retained, with a manual 18-inch-wide hatch for more-casual access. The area belowdecks is unfinished and holds the optional Westerbeke 7.5 kW gasoline genset ($20,380) forward, and a sea chest for cooling the genset and air-conditioning systems at the transom. There’s enough remaining space for stowing canvas, water toys, a small auxiliary outboard or spare propellers.
The location of the genset is farther aft on the outboard version of the 380 SSC, just one of the differences between this model and the sterndrive version made to accommodate the shift in engine weight from the bilge to the transom. The hull is completely different, with the location of the Fas3Tech steps moved aft, and an angled notch added to the transom—which is, of course, designed to mount the outboards—to direct water to the props and provide more buoyancy aft. The outboard-powered boat has a single 300-gallon fuel tank, while the sterndrive version has a pair of 125-gallon tanks port and starboard.
Outboard power is all the rage these days, and other players to consider in this big-dayboat-with-cabin class include the Tiara Sport 38LS (base $642,590 with triple Mercury Verado 400 motors), which lacks the one-level flow of the Formula design but offers about a foot more beam, and the Boston Whaler 380 Realm ($775,641 with quad Verado 400 motors), which has an even larger bow area but less room in the aft cockpit.
Interior and Accessories
Topside, the 380 SSC with outboards is identical to its sterndrive cousin forward of the transom. This is a luxurious, wide-beam dayboat with just enough cabin for entertaining and occasional overnight potential. The key design feature is the Formula Smart-Zone concept, which puts the cockpit, helm and bow all on the same deck level so guests can move effortlessly from social zone to social zone. The standard hardtop shades about three-quarters of the cockpit—when its glass section is covered—which includes an entertainment galley to port with sink and fridge, plus a dedicated stowage cubby for a blender. There’s an inboard-facing settee to port and another seat aft with a pivoting backrest that doubles as a sun lounge. Want more cockpit shade? Request the optional electric SureShade ($12,600), which deploys from the hardtop. The three-across helm seat is brilliant because everyone wants to hang with the captain. Our test boat was rigged with two 16-inch Raymarine display screens plus a 7-inch Mercury VesselView display. Mercury joystick control and a bow thruster are standard. The cabin is well-lit, and features a full galley, queen-size midberth and convertible V-berth/settee. There’s standing room in the head compartment, which is shower-equipped. The broad bow accommodates wraparound seating for up to six adults, with forward-facing backrests on the console and wraparound seating in the stem.
Kudos to Formula for carefully optimizing the design of its 380 SSC for outboard power. It’s one thing to go fast, but a bigger challenge to go fast well, on a balanced and secure boat that has plenty of great features. Formula nails it again.
How We Tested
- Engines: Triple Mercury Racing 450R
- Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Revolution 4 14 5/8″ x 19″ 4-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.60:1 Fuel Load: 187 gal. Crew Weight: 950 lb.
- Carefully engineered specifically for outboard power, this boat is not only fast, but also handles with grace and confidence.
- Attention to detail, from the rubber covers over each snap screw to the thoughtful stowage slots for the fender clips.
- Two wireless smart chargers reduce technology conflicts.
- Outboards steal the swim platform.
- Learn to use the tabs—this boat is a little tender in a crosswind.
- Upcharge for Mercury Racing 450R power is $23,000 for each motor over the 400R option—yipes!
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$1,032,870 (base with test power)|
|Displacement (approx.):||20,500 lb.|
|Transom Deadrise:||21 degrees|
|Max Cabin Headroom:||6’5″|
|Fuel Capacity:||300 gal.|
|Freshwater Capacity:||43 gal.|
|Available Power:||Triple Mercury/Mercury Racing outboards up to 450 hp each|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Formula Boats – Decatur, Indiana; 844-775-9440; formulaboats.com