Boat Tests

January 15, 2015

Princecraft Vectra 21: Nice design, nicer price

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The Vectra series comes first in Princecraft’s family of pontoon boats. Balancing quality and price, this entry-level series appeals to clients on a limited budget who are nonetheless looking for a new boat. For 2015, the Vectra line includes four models ranging from 17 to 23 feet.

We tested the Vectra 21, the second-largest in the bunch. At 6.6 metres long and 2.6 metres wide (21’-6” x 8'-5"), it tips the scales at 773 kg (1,703 lbs.), which makes it easier to transport, though towing a pontoon is never as straightforward as a classic boat. The Vectra 21 can accommodate up to 10 passengers and you can equip it with a Mercury outboard engine offering anywhere from 25 to 115 horsepower. This number jumps to 175 when you choose the Sport package. Obviously, if your budget and local regulations allow for more, you can always tack on a more energetic engine. On the water, there’s practically no such thing as too much power. In fact, there’s often too little.

New style for 2015
This year, Princecraft has made some serious changes to the Vectra. The idea was to update the design and improve the overall sense of quality on board. The platform is now surrounded by a higher aluminum enclosure made from corrugated material, which makes the boat look bigger than before. The posts, which act as the structure, are located on the outside and thus are an integral part of the pontoon design. This enhances the sense of quality both inside and out.

On board, it looks as though the furniture was dropped onto the platform instead of being fully integrated into it. The result isn’t as nice as on more costly versions, but it’s not a real problem either. It’s simple and functional, with evident quality assembly and attention to detail. This year, new matte-finish leather has been introduced for the bench seats, which enhances the rich feel. On the whole, it’s easy to maintain, too.

There’s a large U-shaped bench in back and a raised sunpad for one lucky passenger. The driver’s console is on the opposite end with a very comfortable and ergonomic captain’s seat. The Mood package on our test model included a snack table and lounges on either side of the pontoon. This particular layout creates an extra relaxation area while leaving room for passengers to move about the front section with ease. If you’re looking for an even more unique look, the Classic Edition comes with a monochrome interior, luxury driver’s seat, LED lights under the driver’s console and chrome accents.

Less dynamic, more practical
On the water, we appreciated how quiet the engine was. Today’s outboard motors are nothing like those of the past. Not only are they better on fuel, they’re also a lot less noisy, which translates into a more enjoyable ride. You can actually converse without having to shout when clipping along at high speeds.

Our test model was equipped with a 115-horsepower Mercury motor that delivered plenty of power for the boat’s size and weight. The Speed package, which includes an aluminum under-deck spray shield and lifting strakes, ensured more dynamic performances. With this level of power, you can engage in various water sports while keeping fuel consumption in a reasonable range at all times.

Before we get carried away, let’s be clear that even though boat manufacturers have made major strides with pontoon boats, they’re still not as exciting to drive as classic boats. Pontoon boats don’t cut into the water, but they do seem to slide over it when turning. Pontoons aren’t the sportiest, but they’re comfortable  and can carry a lot of passengers.

The Princecraft Vectra 21 proves that buying a practical, quality new boat at a low price is possible.

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