Sonic 42SS: Performance Test

Sonic's 42-footer offers serious headroom.

23rd April 2003.
By Staff

The 42 SS handled like a dream, put up strong numbers for its power and pulverized 3- to 4-footers. (Photo by Tom Newby)

The 42 SS handled like a dream, put up strong numbers for its power and pulverized 3- to 4-footers. (Photo by Tom Newby)

Here’s a little known fact: The average height of this magazine’s performance and inspection Test Team members is 6’2″. The shortest is a 6-footer. The tallest towers five inches above him.

For this reason, we breathed a sigh of relief when we got to a boat as spacious as the Sonic 42SS during our annual Performance Trials. It means that for a couple of hours there will be no stooping or bending. No heads banged on top of the cabin entryway, no knees bashed on grab handles.

Space, and plenty of it, was but one of the many things we found to like on the 42SS, which was 41’6″ long, 8’6″ wide and had 6’2″ of headroom in its cabin. The well-constructed, conventional V-bottom boat also demonstrated that a stepped-bottom isn’t a prerequisite for strong performance.

Sonic offers the base model at $232,900 with twin MerCruiser 496 Mag HO motors. A pair of Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines and other optional items up the as-tested ante to $337,305.

Performance

The straightforward 25-degree bottom of the 42SS had flat chines roughly 5-inches wide and four strakes. The inner strakes were about 18 inches from the keel and stopped 10 feet from the transom. The outer strakes were one foot from the chines and ran full length.

Bravo One drives were dialed into the 550-hp supercharged motors. Each drive spun a Bravo One 15 1/4″ x 28″ four-blade stainless-steel propeller, which rotated inward.

With this low-key propulsion package, the 42SS ran 77.1 mph at 5,200 rpm—plenty strong for a five-ton offshore boat on a conventional deep-V bottom running on too-smooth water. (In light chop on a cooler day, the 42SS might well reach 80 mph on the supplied power.) Stronger still was the boat’s time to plane of 3.6 seconds with its 30S K-planes down. Even with tabs up, the boat came on plane in a still-respectable 5.3 seconds. In 20 seconds, it reached 66 mph.

Midrange acceleration numbers were strong given the power package. The 42SS went from 30 to 50 mph in 5 seconds and 40 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. The power limitations only began to show in our 40 to 70 mph drill, which took 15.9 seconds.

The 42SS sat tall in the water, but carved turns like a low-profile river hot rod. It leaned significantly into turns, but leveled off on exit without rolling hard to the outside. The boat didn’t slip or catch when our lead test driver whipped it into hard 180-degree turns at speed. In full-circle turns at cruising and full speeds, it tracked perfectly.

Running offshore, the 42SS crush-ed the few 3- to 4-footers it came across. Sea direction didn’t matter, at least on our test day. The soft, smooth ride never left us wondering how our backs would feel the next morning.

Workmanship

Company principal Jay Ross and his crew at the Hollywood, Fla., company did a fine job executing the boat’s paint-applied, computer-generated graphics. There were a few waves in the mold and, looking even more closely, we noticed some minor print-through in a couple of the bulkhead areas. Still, the exterior earned strong overall grades from inspectors and was protected by a sturdy plastic rubrail with a rubber insert.

Sonic joins its hull/cockpit liner, deck and cabin in the molds. The “fused” three pieces are then popped from the molds as a brawny single unit. Materials used in the handlaid construction process include vinyl-ester resin, biaxial fiberglass and Divinycell coring.

Amply endowed with hardware, the 42SS had a nav light and two cleats on the nose. For access to the nose, there was a flat nonskid walkway around the perimeter of the deck. Two hatches were recessed in the deck. Another cleat was on each side of the boat’s attractive fairing. Two more were aft.

Upholstered on top, the fiberglass engine hatch raised on a single screw jack. Access to the motors, which were installed on Mercury offshore racing mounts and L-angles through-bolted to the stringers, was superb.

Interior

You won’t find an offshore boat with better lighting than the 42SS. The cabin featured five polycarbonate panels, each with two lights, evenly dispersed to create strong, though not overwhelming, illumination.

The cabin layout consisted of a V-berth, made private by a curtain on each side of its bulkhead opening. Aft of the berth was a U-shape lounge that, with a pedestal-mounted table in the carpeted sole, converted to a dining area. To port, the galley included a microwave oven, a Norcold refrigerator and a sink. An air conditioner, which ran on shore power (an onboard generator is an option), was in a cabinet ahead of the galley.

Across the aisle was the head locker, which was outfitted with a shower and a sink in a molded fiberglass enclosure. Additional cabin amenities included a television, a DVD player and Sony Xplode CD stereo system.

Part of what made getting into the cabin so easy was the absence of a co-pilot’s bolster. Instead, Sonic installed a two-person bolster with dropout bottoms at the starboard-side helm station, which had a non-tilting steering wheel and Kiekhaefer Zero Effort throttles and shifters.

All gauges were mounted in bezels on polycarbonate panels and arranged in rows at eye level. The rocker switches for the accessories were also in panels. Each switch had its function etched in the panel, and each panel was backlit. That made them readable at night—an exceptional feature.

Overall

Sonic’s 42SS is a contemporary classic, a conventional V-bottom that can hang with its stepped cousins. It’s built to tackle offshore water, and give you all the space you need to do it in comfort.

Hull and Propulsion Information

Deadrise at transom 25 degrees
Centerline 41’6″
Beam 8’6″
Hull weight 10,000 pounds
Engines (2) Mercury Racing HP575SCi
Cylinder type V-8
Cubic-inch displacement/horsepower 502/550
Lower-unit gear ratio 1.5:1
Propeller Mercury Bravo 15 1/4″ x 28″

Pricing

Base retail $232,900
Price as tested $337,305

Standard Equipment

Twin MerCruiser 496 Mag HO engines, dual batteries with switches, flush fuel fills, K-planes, dual-cable power steering, race engine mounts, trim and tab indicators, shore power with charger, twin racing bolsters, carpet, racing compass, digital depthsounder, Halon automatic fire extinguisher, custom steering wheel, swim platform, carpet in cabin, hanging locker, stereo with tape deck, refrigerator, sink, pressurized water, head, shower, folding door and tonneau cover.

Options on Test Boat

Upgrade to twin Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines ($61,000), setback boxes ($9,600), custom paint ($8,000), hydraulic steering ($6,800), air conditioning ($4,990), on/off mufflers ($4,400), 15″ flat screen television with DVD player ($2,990), GPS global ($1,990), powder-coated rails ($1,400), electric seats ($1,300), microwave ($975), hot water ($750), VHF ($750) and shower on swim platform ($450).

Test Results

Acceleration

5 seconds 30 mph
10 seconds 50 mph
15 seconds 61 mph
20 seconds 66 mph

Midrange Acceleration

30-50 mph 5 seconds
40-60 mph 7.4 seconds
40-70 mph 15.9 seconds

Rpm vs. Mph

1000 9 mph
1500 12 mph
2000 15 mph
2500 19 mph
3000 37 mph
3500 50 mph
4000 58 mph
4500 65 mph
5000 74 mph

Top Speed

Radar 77.1 mph at 5200 rpm
Speedometer 82 mph at 5200 rpm
Nordskog Performance Products GPS 75.1 mph at 5200 rpm

Planing

Time to plane 3.6 seconds
Minimum planing speed 18 mph

Fuel Economy

At 35 mph . .9 mpg
At 45 mph .9 mpg
At 55 mph 1 mpg
At 65 mph .8 mpg
At WOT .8 mpg
Fuel capacity 200 gallons

For More Information

Sonic USA
Dept. PB
3600 N. 29th Ave.
Hollywood, FL 33020
(954) 922-5535
www.sonicusaboats.com.


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