By James Corns
Larson LSI 212 BR I/O: Performance Test
Larson LSI 212 BR I/O: The ability of agility.
With its trim, tan fiberglass hull, the new Larson LSI 212 BR I/O proves that beige doesn’t have to be boring. The boat’s low turning radius is excellent, and the golden accents woven into its upholstery give it a boost of panache.
We tested the LSI 212 on Lake Piru, in Southern California. Lake Piru is a hidden treasure of a lake, and it is only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. There were only two or three other boats on the lake when we tested the LSI 212, so we were able to really open it up.
Our test boat was powered by a Volvo Penta 5.0 GL stern drive with 220 hp. Power choices available for the boat run from 135 to 280 hp, so our test engine was close to the center of that range.
The 220 hp 5.0 GL seemed more than capable. In fact, while we were out on the water with Jim Kuklish, the owner of Fillmore, California’s Empire Marine, we ran into one of his past customers, who was riding in a similarly sized Larson with the standard 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0L, and it was running around the lake at speeds close to ours.
We didn’t test the LSI 212 with the 3.0L MerCruiser, so we can’t say for sure if that engine will give you the power you want, but it’s worth checking out if you want to spend as little as possible. The difference in price between the standard 3.0L MerCruiser and the Volvo Penta 5.0 GL is around $3,440; however, that’s not such a huge difference when you realize that you’re getting almost 60 percent more power from the Volvo Penta. If you prefer a MerCruiser engine, a 5.0L is available for around $2,000 more than the Volvo Penta 5.0 GL.
The most powerful — and most expensive — engine available is a 280 hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GI DP with stainless steel props. This is one of those rare occasions when you might not need that much power — especially when you consider that, with two adults aboard, we were able to hit a top speed of 48.6 mph in our 5.0 GL-powered test boat. The 5.7 GI DP will probably take you into the low 50s, but it’ll also cost you over $5,000 more than the moderately powered 5.0 GL.
During our ride, the LSI 212 didn’t exactly slide across the water, but it also didn’t dig in as much as we might have liked. On a scale of 1 to 10, we’d give cornering ability a score of 7. However, the boat turns very well. Its turn radius seemed very low and the boat stayed remarkably level in turns.
We also liked the fact that the boat wasn’t finicky during those turns. Some tweaking of the trim gave us better speeds and handling at different times, but there wasn’t a night-and-day difference.
The bow never goes very high, even at very low speeds, so visibility is never a worry. The windshield is at a good height, and the captain’s seat has a bolter seat, so there’s no such thing as a bad view.
Cruising speed was around 37 mph (at 3,750 rpm). We were very comfortable at all speeds, and even at top speed, we felt in complete control of the craft. It had no desire to get away from us.
The LSI 212 went from 0 to plane in around 4 seconds — or at least it seemed that way. The transition to plane is so smooth that it was almost impossible to tell when to push the button on our stopwatch.
Larson has taken a bold approach with the layout, which we found refreshing — for the most part. Up at the bow, you’ll find the usual V-shaped seating you’d expect on a bowrider. A forward locker with drainage can be used as either a built-in cooler or locker storage.
The design of the helm console on the starboard side will also come as no surprise. It includes the usual set of instrumentation, as well as an AM/FM stereo system with CD player and two speakers, a 12v receptacle and switches for the blower and the courtesy lights.
The port console, however, is probably not what you’d expect. Instead of a matching bucket seat and a console with a glove box inside, the port console is a giant stowage compartment with a rear-facing settee. The settee wraps all the way around to the starboard side of the transom, where it stops for a set of three steps that let you walk from the rear integrated swim platform to the cockpit.
The backrest on the settee is sloped, making for a comfortable ride. It’s a great idea for sunbathers and those who like to keep an eye on skiers and wakeboarders; however, it might not be as pleasurable if you have to travel long distances looking backward.
The port console offers a massive amount of stowage. It’s one of the biggest areas of open stowage space we’ve ever seen on a boat this size. Whereas some manufacturers might have tried to puff up this console and stuff it with a portable head, Larson has just let it be — and we’re glad the company did so. Only small circus freaks would have been able to use a head that size, so this was a good choice. There’s plenty of room for wakeboards and other large items. You’ll find more storage in the in-floor locker (which is the perfect shape for skis) and under all of the settees.
Standard features include a ski tow ring, snap-in cockpit carpeting, a carry-on cooler, a horn, a pull-up antenna, an anchor light, an automatic bilge pump, a trim gauge, an emergency stop switch and navigation lights. A Bimini top ($520) is optional, as is a bow cover ($175), a portable air system ($110), a depth sounder ($245), docking lights ($235), an extended swim platform ($900), an hourmeter ($135) and tilt steering ($110).
The new Larson LSI 212 is smooth in turns and easy on the eyes, but it’s also nice to know that there’s a solid VEC-constructed hull underneath it all. The 5.0 GL stern drive delivers a remarkably quiet ride, so your friends will have no problem hearing you heap praises on the boat.
Larson LSI 212 Specifications
|Fuel capacity||35 gallons|
|Maximum power||280 hp|
|Price as tested||$27,665|
|Model||Volvo Penta 5.0 GL stern drive|
|Bore and stroke||3.74″ x 3.48″|
|Maximum engine speed||4,800 rpm|
|Top speed||48.6 mph at 4,800 rpm|
|Cruising speed||37 mph at 3,750 rpm|
Ski tow ring, snap-in cockpit carpeting, carry-on cooler, horn, pull-up antenna, anchor light, automatic bilge pump, trim gauge, emergency stop switch, navigation lights, 12v receptacle, AM/FM stereo system w/CD player and two speakers.
Bimini top ($520), bow cover ($175), portable air system ($110), depth sounder ($245), docking lights ($235), extended swim platform ($900), hourmeter ($135), tilt steering ($110), cockpit cover ($470), mooring cover ($360), suntop w/boot and storage ($365), stem table ($235).
For More Information
700 Paul Larson Memorial Drive
Little Falls, MN 56345