Nordic 28 Heat: Performance Test

Nordic 28 Heat makes a good thing even better with the new stepped-bottom.

21st April 2003.
By Staff

The good news is that the 28 Heat tops 70 mph with a relatively mild engine. The better news is that it can easily handle even more power. (Photo by Tom Newby)

The good news is that the 28 Heat tops 70 mph with a relatively mild engine. The better news is that it can easily handle even more power. (Photo by Tom Newby)

Adding a stepped bottom to enhance a boat’s performance is a good idea. Everyone’s always looking for a couple of extra miles per hour. And if adding a step can turn a 68 mph boat into a 70 mph boat, everybody wins, right?

Sure, but it’s better still if the post-step hull handles as well as its pre-step predecessor, a move that’s far more difficult to achieve.

Somehow, Nordic did just that with its 28 Heat.

On the waters in and around Long Beach, Calif., harbor, the 28’6″-long, 8’6″-wide bruiser proved that a stepped-bottom doesn’t necessarily translate to twitchy handling.

Fitted with a MerCruiser 496 Mag HO, an electric cabin door, a swim step ladder and wind deflectors, the 28 Heat we tested cost $76,375. Base price with a 350 Mag MPI was $65,125.

Performance

“The 28 Nordic Heat is one of the few boats that handled well as a conventional V-bottom, but it’s still a good handling boat as a stepped-bottom,” was the first comment our lead test driver uttered into the tape recorder after the performance test. ?It doesn’t seem like it has a stepped bottom in the turns.”

Truer words are seldom spoken. The 28 Heat aced—and we mean aced—all handling drills, from slalom turns at 30, 40 and 50 mph to turns at cruising and full speeds. Ditto for its on-a-rail tracking at all speeds.

Outside the breakwater, the 28 Heat handled following and head seas with aplomb, and delivered a comfortably soft ride. Dry too. It could have used a little help in quartering situations. Trim tabs would have solved that, and Nordic offers them as a $1,275 option.

Even without tabs, our lead test driver noted that the boat recovered immediately if it got crossed up in snotty water. What’s not to like about that?

Powered by MerCruiser’s most potent ?black motor,” the 496 Mag HO, fitted to a 1.5:1 Bravo One X drive, spinning a 15 1/4″ x 26″ Bravo One prop, the 28 Heat climbed on plane in 5.19 seconds with a little loss of horizon—nothing unsettling or unsafe—and would stay on top of the water down to 19 mph, even without tabs.

In 10 seconds it hit 42 mph. In twice that it was moving along at 61 mph. In midrange acceleration drills, the boat produced acceptable numbers, going from 30 mph to 50 mph in 6.54 seconds. Going from 40 to 60 took a bit longer at 9.26 seconds. Staying on the throttle, our test boat hit a top speed of 70.1 mph.

Given the way the boat handled and tracked, it could definitely accommodate more power under the engine hatch. Naturally, an HP500EFI would be a welcome option, which would bump the price to $94,680.

Credit that handling ability to the 28 Heat’s competent hull design, which featured a single step 8 feet forward of the transom, which was fitted with a 5-inch notch. It also came with four strakes, the outside continuing through both running surfaces, the inside terminating at the step, then picking up again about 18 inches from the transom. Chines were about 3 degrees negative and roughly 2 inches wide.

Workmanship

The manufacturer provided only sketchy lamination details, which included four full-length XL marine-grade plywood stringers, vinylester resins and Coremat.

The 28 Heat’s gelcoat and mold work were excellent, earning the highest marks possible from testers. All fades and pinstripes were applied in the mold—naturally—and exhibited sharp lines and flawless fades. Hullsides were straight and true, even at the deck joint where waves or ripples are most likely to appear.

Nordic went with an extruded plastic rubrail with a rubber insert, a shorter smoked Lexan windshield than its predecessor and fitted it with flip-up wind deflectors that really worked.

Of course, the windshield and deflectors were made in-house, as were the matching white deck cleats, low profile stainless deck rails and Nordic’s signature ?frenched in” nav light. Doing all that extra manufacturing in-house takes a big investment in time and money, but it sure goes a long way toward making a Nordic boat look like no other.

Under the engine hatch, which raised on a single electric jack, Nordic secured the Mag HO to the stringers on the standard through-bolted L-angles, but also installed a three-eighths-inch plate on the inside for added brawn.

The bilge was finished in a gray gelcoat with a spatter finish, and wiring and plumbing was adequately supported with nylon adels. Upholstered gunwale panels under the hatch included pouches for simple hand tools.

Interior

When our inspectors first stepped through the cabin’s optional electric door, which is radiused, they were surprised by the amount of room inside.

Ahead of the forward V-berth, Nordic provided a carpeted locker with a door held in place with hook and loop fastener strips. While snooping around the forward locker, inspectors were surprised how much room there was between the berth and the ceiling, which featured a glued-on fabric headliner. Even claustrophobics are welcome here.

Seated at the helm, the driver had a full array of instruments neatly arranged ahead of the wheel and a set of forward-angled Zero Effort control levers to the right on the gunwale. Our inspectors felt the levers would have been more usable if they had been angled toward the driver.

Out back, the rear bench cushion pulled up and out on dual-pin hinges to reveal the batteries in plastic Gil boxes and the Perko switch.

Overall

People have come to expect innovation and high build quality from Nordic. That was apparent in the 28 Heat, from its stiff construction to its even seams in the interior. Now people can expect a few more mph, thanks to its new stepped bottom—without any sacrifice in handling.

Hull and Propulsion Information

Deadrise at transom 22 degrees
Centerline 28’6″
Beam 8’6″
Hull weight 4,610 pounds
Engine MerCruiser 496 Mag HO
Cylinder type V-8
Cubic-inch displacement/horsepower 496/425
Lower-unit gear ratio 1.5:1
Propeller Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4″ x 24″

Pricing

Base retail $65,125
Price as tested $76,375

Standard Equipment

MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI engine, colors and graphics, hand lamination, 2-inch billet ski tow, bilge pump and blower, heavy-duty marine vinyl, direct and indirect lighting, chart light/lighter, cupholders, stainless prop, frenched in nav light, remote control anchor light, 86-gallon fuel capacity, stainless fasteners and staples, stainless elliptical railings, electric engine hatch, dual marine batteries, AM/FM CD stereo with remote and four speakers, four full-length stringers, remote tilt switch, built-in swim platform, full instrumentation, stainless fuel solenoid, tilt steering, recessed deck cleats and lifetime warranty on XL marine plywood.

Options on Test Boat

Upgrade to MerCruiser 496 Mag HO ($8,985), electric cabin door ($1,585), wind deflectors ($350) and swim-step ladder ($330).

Test Results

Acceleration

5 seconds 22 mph
10 seconds 42 mph
15 seconds 53 mph
20 seconds 61 mph

Midrange Acceleration

30-50 mph 6.5 seconds
40-60 mph 9.3 seconds

Rpm vs. Mph

1000 8 mph
1500 9 mph
2000 19 mph
2500 30 mph
3000 37 mph
3500 46 mph
4000 53 mph
4500 61 mph
5000 68 mph

Top Speed

Radar 70.1 mph at 5100 rpm
Nordskog Performance Products GPS 67.6 mph at 5100 rpm

Planing

Time to plane 3.8 seconds
Minimum planing speed 19 mph

Fuel Economy

At 25 mph 3.5 mpg
At 35 mph 3.5 mpg
At 45 mph 3.2 mpg
At 55 mph 2.8 mpg
At 65 mph 2.1 mpg
At WOT 1.9 mpg
Fuel capacity 86 gallons

For More Information

Nordic Boats
Dept. PB
770 N. Lake Havasu Ave.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
(928)855-7420
www.nordicpowerboats.com.


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