Polar Kraft V198 WTC: Performance Test

Polar Kraft V198 WTC: Keep your walleye on this one.

25th September 2004.
By James Corns

The V198 WTC turns better than most bowriders.

The V198 WTC turns better than most bowriders.

If you’re not an angler, the Polar Kraft V198 WTC is going to make you wish you were. With its neutral-colored hull, the boat doesn’t immediately strike one as anything special — after all, it’s meant to blend into the background — but the V198 WTC is hiding a lot of great features that turn it into one big toy for grownups.

Call us prejudiced if you like, but when we see an aluminum fishing boat, we figure we pretty much know what to expect: There will be some fishing features aimed squarely at anglers but little else for the typical boater. However, that’s not the case with the Polar Kraft V198 WTC.

The “WTC” in the boat’s name, by the way, stands for walleye twin console, so this boat definitely has the soul of a fishing vessel, but we couldn’t believe the amazing ride that also comes with this boat.

You want to talk about a boat that can hold on to the corners? This is it. The V198 WTC turns better than most bowriders, and the Yamaha 150 four-stroke outboard on our test boat had it whipping across Indiana’s Lake Wawasee like an Olympic skier through a slalom course.

In fact, we might have gotten a little carried away during our test run. As Capt. John Gerra navigated, I was behind the passenger console taking speed numbers; however, even after warning me to secure myself, he turned the boat so sharply that it nearly sent me flying overboard. It’s hard to brace yourself for a turn when you’ve got a clipboard in one hand and a GPS in the other. That’s how well the Polar Kraft V198 WTC corners; need we say more?

Anglers are sure to be happy with the V198 WTC, but anglers who are also speed freaks are going to be ecstatic. The boat has one heck of a holeshot, jumping to plane in 2.5 seconds and running from 0 to 30 mph in just 7 seconds. Moreover, the boat’s top speed was in striking distance of the 50 mph barrier, coming in at exactly 49.4 mph.

The V198 WTC seemed comfortable with a cruising speed of around 28.2 mph, at which speed the engine was running at 3,500 rpm but only creating 85 decibels of sound in the cockpit. Even at wide-open throttle, the boat stayed under 100 dB. There are all sorts of power options available with the V198 WTC, but the 150 hp Yamaha outboard on our test boat was so perfect that we couldn’t imagine buying the boat with any other engine.

The boat’s bow never goes too high, so visibility is excellent at all times. From the screwed-down vinyl deck to the upholstered pieces located throughout the cockpit, the boat has very solid construction.

Polar Kraft was originally owned by OMC, but when OMC went out of business a few years ago, Godfrey came to the rescue, snatching up Polar Kraft only two months after OMC ceased production. Godfrey took the strengths of the previous models and fixed the few weaknesses, creating the Polar Kraft models we have today. If the V198 WTC is indicative of the rest of the Polar Kraft line, we can’t wait to test them, because we had a great time aboard the V198 WTC.

Toys to Play With

Playtime begins up at the bow, where the Polar Kraft team has placed three draining lockers, a livewell and a storage compartment. The three lockers are laid out in a row, with a center fishbox flanked by a cooler on each side. The livewell is farther back and shares the second row with a stowage locker that holds the battery for the boat’s trolling motor.

The bow section is fully carpeted and has a notch for holding up a pedestal fishing seat. A bow seating option adds bow cushions and bow coaming pads, but most of the people who buy the V198 WTC will be serious anglers with no need for such extras.

Some of the pieces of the boat, such as the hinged door on the glove box, are not designed to hide the screws that hold them in place, so the look is not as clean as it might be. We found a couple of exposed screws inside one of the forward lockers, too. On the plus side, that glove box is a good size — and it’s lockable.

The bow area is raised by about a foot from the main level of the cockpit, so you have to take a step down when you walk through the squared-off windshield that runs athwartship. When you take that step down, you’re standing on the lid to a very large in-floor locker that is long enough (7.5 feet) and big enough for storing several rods — and the locker is lockable.

The passenger console to port consists of little more than the lockable glove box. The lip of the console comes down a bit farther than is comfortable for tall people like us, but the pedestal seat that serves the console is back far enough so that you can stretch out your legs to get a proper amount of clearance, if need be.

The V198 WTC comes with a full set of instrumentation, which is set off by a modest set of aluminum gauges. There are a couple of rocker switches on each side of the gauges, as well as a 12v receptacle. The helm features anti-feedback steering, concealed shift and throttle control, courtesy lighting and tilt steering — and our test boat had the optional Lowrance X51 fish finder.

In addition to the pedestal seat at the passenger console and the pedestal seat at the helm console, there are notches behind each chair, letting you have a set of four. This seating configuration is pleasant, mimicking a design found in cars much more often than boats.

The V198 WTC’s pi?ce de r?sistance is at the very back of the boat. That unforgettable feature is the stern casting platform with flip-up bench seat. This casting platform starts out as just that — a raised platform with a built-in notch that lets you add a stern pedestal chair for fishing. However, when you remove the pedestal chair and flip the floor of the platform forward, it reveals a bench seat that runs completely athwartship.

Anglers looking for a serious fishing boat that rides like the wind are going to fall for the Polar Kraft V198 WTC — hook, line and sinker. In addition to other fishing amenities, the boat has an 18-gallon stern livewell with a Flo-Rite system, as well as port and starboard in-wall rod storage. Add the optional AM/FM stereo system with CD player and the custom (painted or galvanized) trailer, and you have what is sure to be one of the best fishing packages present on any body of water.

Polar Kraft V198 WTC Specifications

Length 19’8″
Beam 8’2″
Draft 1’5″
Weight (w/engine) 2180 pounds
Fuel capacity 42 gallons
Maximum power 175 hp
Base price (w/o trailer) $27,670
Price w/trailer $29,709

Standard Features

Bilge pump, aerated 44-inch (18-gallon) bow livewell w/light, aerated 44-inch stern livewell w/Flo-Rite system, bow casting platform w/storage and fishbox, in-floor lighted 7.5-foot lockable multiple rod storage, marine-grade carpet on bow deck and sides, marine-grade vinyl on deck, port and starboard, in-wall 7.5-foot rod storage, anti-feedback steering, tilt wheel, 12v receptacle.

Options

Stern curtain and side curtains, AM/FM digital CD player, bow seating option w/cushions and coaming pads, canopy top w/boot, battery charger, Lowrance fish finder (X47, X51 or LMS320), fold-down fishing seat kit, hydraulic steering.

For More Information

Polar Kraft
P.O. Box 1158
Elkhart, IN 46515
(574) 522-8381
www.polarkraft.com


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