By Go Boating
Glastron GS 279 Sport Cruiser: Performance Test
The Glastron GS 279 is a racy runabout by day and a family cruiser by night.
Your spouse’s mind is made up: It’s time to trade in the flashy sportboat for an overnight cruiser the whole family can enjoy.
The thought of getting behind the wheel of one those floating condominiums makes you cringe. Maneuvering such a beast will be cumbersome, you assume. And the thrill you once felt catching air will surely be replaced by mind-numbing scenic cruises with the in-laws.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Take a gander at Glastron’s new GS 279 Sport Cruiser, a 27 foot, 5 inch midcabin model that combines the amenities needed for overnight accommodations with the fast planing, impressive speed and handling of a runabout.
Better yet, the GS 279 is trailerable. The boat measures a highway-friendly 102 inches in beam and weighs in at a trim 5,375 pounds (equipped with a 5.7L GL Volvo Penta stern drive). Hauling such a load shouldn’t be a problem with today’s full-size tow vehicles, such as the Chevy Tahoe or Ford Excursion, which boast towing capacities of 7,000 to 9,000 pounds.
The all-new GS 279 is the largest of Glastron’s Sport Cruiser Series, which also includes 22 and 24 foot models (both have been redesigned for 2002). Each model is individually designed to be space-efficient, and they all feature roomy cabins and well-appointed cockpits.
Sound too good to be true? That’s what we thought at first, until we sent our test team to go check it out at Glastron’s 2002 dealer conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
When we saw it sitting there at the dock, our first reaction was, “How can a boat this size perform like a runabout?”
A Glastron representative just smiled and gave us a look that said, “You’ll see.” But we had to wait until after the tour.
Through the transom hatch, we were led into a spacious cockpit, designed to be proportionately larger than the cabin, because, as we were told, most owners spend the majority of their cruising time entertaining. The one-level fiberglass floor has seating for up to nine people, including a dual helm chair/rear-facing seat that folds down into a sun lounge. There’s also a removable transom settee and a portside chaise lounge.
The captain’s instrument panel includes all the usual gauges, plus switches for the bilge pump, blower, navigation/anchor lights, panel lights, interior lights and horn. Standard topside amenities include a wet bar with a sink and icebox, and a Bimini top.
Although, it’s a bit cozy, Glastron’s designers worked their magic belowdecks to make it pretty darn comfortable. The main cabin features a hanging clothes locker, V-berth/dinette combination, courtesy lights and an Audiovox four-speaker CD audio system. The head offers a fiberglass shower stall, a sink, a china head and a hot water system. The galley has a microwave oven, a refrigerator, a sink and an alcohol/electric stove.
When you consider that the price of the GS 279 starts in the low 50s, this boat is amazingly rich in standard features — plus, there are a few options to choose from. You can add features such as a radar arch, dockside air conditioning (a must-have if you cruise in the South) or a camper canvas package.
After our tour, we were still skeptical of Glastron’s claim that such a large cruiser could perform like a little runabout. Could it be true?
The GS 279 proved to very peppy for its size. Glastron told us to expect top speeds of 40 to 45 mph, which we reached with no problem. With our lightly loaded test boat, it took 7.5 seconds to plane at 2,800 rpm, which isn’t exactly record-setting, but it is quite fast for a family cruiser. By 3,100 rpm, the boat reached a comfortable cruising speed of 25 mph; at 4,900 rpm it topped out at 45.5 mph.
The GS 279 is offered with either a single Volvo Penta or MerCruiser engine, ranging from 260 to 320 hp. Our boat was outfitted with a 280 hp Volvo Penta 5.7L Gi with Duoprop drive, which we found to be plenty powerful.
One obvious likeness the GS 279 has to a runabout is the hull’s rather steep 20 degree deadrise, which helped it to perform well in hard-over turns at 3,500 rpm. The counter-rotating Duoprop drive surely helped keep a tight grip on the water.
The Duoprop is also extremely nice for docking, because you don’t get the torque that wants to move the stern to one side or the other, especially while backing up. The GS 279 responded predictably to the slightest touch of the wheel for nearly effortless close-quarter maneuvering.
Because it’s big and narrow, you do get the feeling that this boat is going to flop over on its side in a sharp turn. We figured it was because we aren’t used to spinning doughnuts and figure eights in a respectable cruiser. We have to admit that no matter what test we gave it, the GS 279 performed beyond our expectations. For that, we must credit Glastron’s patented, award-winning SSV (Super Stable Vee) hull design.
Keeping its promise that a big cruiser can still be fun, Glastron has made sure that the GS 279 is watersports friendly.
An integrated swim platform extends nearly 2 feet from the transom. The platform features a ski hook and a recessed three-step ladder that folds away when not in use. A transom shower is one of this boat’s many luxuries that you won’t find on a small runabout.
Remember that removable aft bench settee that we mentioned earlier? Well, it opens up plenty of space to stow towable toys, or, if you prefer, standing room for you and your buddies to fish off the stern.
Another nice thing about the GS 279 is that it’s easy on fuel, courtesy of the small-block engine. At 25 mph, we burned only 8.62 gph, which calculates to a cruising range of 208.8 nautical miles.
With 46 years of fiberglass boat-building experience under its belt, Glastron (a subsidiary of Genmar Industries Inc.) is a trustworthy name that you can expect to be around for a long time. Glastron owners benefit from a five-year limited warranty on the hull, a lifetime limited warranty on wood components and a two-year limited warranty on all other components.
|Draft (w/drive down)||3’4″|
|Dry weight (w/engine)||5,375 pounds|
|Fuel capacity*||72 gallons|
|Maximum power||320 hp|
|Base price with 260 hp Volvo Penta 5.7L GL SX||$52,929|
|Price as testedwith 280 hp Volvo Penta 5.7L Gi DP-S (Duoprop drive)||$56,296|
|Top speed||45.5 mph|
|Cruising speed||25 mph|
|Miles per gallon at 25-mph cruising speed||2.9|
|Fuel cost for 100 miles||$39.65|
|Range at 25-mph cruising speed||208.8 miles|
(Fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.15 per gallon.)
|Model||Volvo Penta 5.7L Gi DP-S (Duoprop drive)|
|Bore and stroke||4.00″ x 3.48″|
|Maximum engine speed||5,000 rpm|
Automatic bilge pump, Audiovox stereo CD w/four speakers, stainless steel hardware, bow pulpit w/roller and bow rope locker, hydraulic trim tabs, 18 gallon water tank, Sunbrella Bimini top w/boot, manual china head w/pumpout, transom shower, battery charger.
Cockpit cover, radar arch, starboard windshield wiper, electric anchor windlass, stainless steel storage rack for docking fenders, gray water system, snap-in carpet, dockside air conditioning, remote control spotlight.
For more information:
P.O. Box 460
Little Falls, MN 56345