By Go Boating
Doral 186 BR: Performance Test
Doral 186 BR is sporty, swift and full of spunk.
Nothing beats the control feel, handling and fun quotient of a sexy, little sportboat. Therefore, when we heard that French-Canadian boat builder Doral Boats was unveiling its brand-new, stern drive-powered 186 BR, we just couldn’t resist the invitation to take it for a spin.
We flew to Georgian Bay, Canada, which is touted as having “the best freshwater boating in the world,” because of its clear, clean water and numerous sheltered bays and islands to explore. One local described it as the only place where you can still take a bucket and fill your water tanks right out of the bay.
This boaters’ paradise was the sight for Doral’s 2002 dealer meeting. Since 1972, Doral has been building runabouts, cuddies and cruisers in the town of Grand M?re, Quebec, located about an hour north of Montreal. The company recently opened a second plant in Ontario, which has taken over production of Doral’s sportboat and Thunder Craft lines. The Quebec facility now concentrates solely on building cruisers.
For the grand opening of its new plant, Doral had its naval architects design a completely new line of sportboats using the latest technology in CAD/CAM software. One of these innovative designs is the 186 BR, which fills the void between Doral’s 185 outboard and 190 stern drive models.
Get the Stern Drive Advantage
We were pleased with Doral’s choice to go with a stern drive because of the many benefits it offers watersports enthusiasts.
For example, with an outboard-powered runabout, you can only fit a small swim platform on either side of the engine with a fold-down step. This may be useful for climbing in and out of the boat, but try to keep your balance while putting on a water ski. It’s just not practical.
In comparison, the stern drive-powered 186 BR features a full-width integrated non-skid swim step with a three-tier stainless steel ladder to make climbing in and out of the boat a snap.
As far as safety, an outboard can obstruct the view for both the driver and observer when pulling a waterskier, particularly when the skier is in the water. It also often gets in the way of the ski rope.
Outboards generally don’t maneuver at speed as well as stern drives. Also, stern drives generally have the highest wakes, because of their V-hulls and rear weight bias, and the wakes usually have a crest, rather than being rounded, which is very desirable for wakeboarding and kneeboarding.
Cozy, Not Cramped
While it’s true that you lose some interior room with a stern drive, Doral made the most of the available space aboard the 186 BR.
Twin adjustable swivel bucket seats in the cockpit turn to face a full aft lounge settee, to promote conversation with cruising guests. Lift up the settee to fully expose the engine compartment for fast and easy maintenance of your powerplant.
Convenient side panel storage provides safe keeping for miscellaneous flyaways (such as hats, jackets and sunglasses), and an in-sole vented ski locker holds bulky wakeboards and water skis. It’s also rubber lined, to keep gear from banging around at every turn.
The curved walk-through safety glass windshield makes a dramatic backdrop to the simulated burled wood dash. Our test boat was decked out with Doral’s Platinum package, which included courtesy lights, upgraded upholstery and steering wheel, and a waterproof Clarion CD player. Other optional items include a bow or cockpit cover and a convertible or sun top.
Plush marine-grade carpeting feels soft under bare feet and helps prevent slipping while walking to and from the bow. We found more storage under the forward seat cushions, and we believe the boat could use a few more beverage holders. We did note the color-matched grab handles, which look sharp and add to boaters’ safety.
Fun to Drive
With its compactness and speed, the 186 BR is hard to beat. Looks, agility and performance are all incorporated into this easily trailered bow rider.
With our V-6 equipped test boat, cruising speeds ranged from 25 to 40 mph. At 3,000 rpm, the boat recorded 30 mph on our GPS; at 3,500 rpm, our speed was 37.9 mph; and at 4,000 rpm, the boat was zipping along at 42.6 mph. At 4,600 rpm, the boat topped out at 50.3 mph.
Stern drives are typically the slowest of the powertrain types to get on plane, and they usually have the worst bow rise during acceleration; however, we found that the 186 BR performed remarkably well under the circumstances. With an 840 pound MerCruiser 4.3L (Alpha drive) weighing down its back end, our test boat took 4 seconds to get out of the hole. We noticed during acceleration that the boat was hitting the rev limiter, but this problem can easily be fixed by switching to a larger-size prop.
Once we reached plane, it was like we were on a road course. The boat handled great, and we carved some very nice turns at 3,000 rpm. We did experience some pounding when we went looking for our wake, but that’s typical of an 18-footer. In most cases, the shorter the boat, the rougher the ride.
Roughing It in Style
Canada’s rough weather and even rougher backcountry roads require rugged construction from boats and trailers. Consequently, Doral’s production techniques and materials produce a boat that can be enjoyed for many years.
Doral hulls and decks are entirely hand-laid, to ensure uniformity and prevent air pockets from forming. Afterward, each hull is left to fully cure in its mold to hinder distortion.
Vinylester resin is used on all Doral models, to ward off osmosis below the waterline. The upholstery is treated to resist mildew rot and fading.
To give the 186 BR added strength and visual appeal, Doral fabricated the gunwale molding, marine hardware and ski tow eye from 316 marine-grade stainless steel.
With its fluid lines and easy maneuverability, the 186 BR will surely be the leader of the sportboat brat pack for 2002. Fortunately, owning one won’t require that you spend three times the yearly income of a fast-food worker. Starting at $17,390, the 186 BR is very competitively priced when compared to similar models.
|Draft (w/drive down||2’10″|
|Dry weight (w/engine)||2,250 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||27 gallons|
|Maximum power||190 hp|
|Base price with 135-hp Mercury 3.0L stern drive||$17,390|
|Price as tested with MerCruiser 4.3L (Alpha drive), Platinum package and cockpit and bow covers||$20,437|
|Top speed||50.3 mph|
|Cruising speed||30 mph|
|Miles per gallon at 30-mph cruising speed||3.5|
|Fuel cost for 100 miles||$32.85|
|Range at 30-mph cruising speed||94.5 miles|
(Fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.15 per gallon.)
|Model||MerCruiser 4.3L stern drive (Alpha drive)|
|Bore and stroke||4.00″ x 3.48″|
|Maximum engine speed||4,800 rpm|
Stainless steel gunwale molding, hardware, ski tow eye and swim ladder, swim platform, carpet, twin bucket seats, rubber lined ski storage, automatic bilge pump, radio wiring with two speakers.
Bow or cockpit cover, convertible or sun top, Platinum Package: courtesy lights, deluxe upholstery, deluxe steering wheel, Platinum badges, waterproof Clarion CD player.
For more information
RR #1, Bayshore Industrial Park
Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada N4K 5N3