Sugar Sand Tango Xtreme: Go Boating Test

Sugar Sand Tango Xtreme: Small jet boat offers big kicks.

6th April 2006.
By Go Boating

Sometimes it can be a challenge to tell one bowrider from another, but this isn’t an issue with the Sugar Sand Tango Xtreme. Not even close.

Bowriders are the most popular trailerboat available, so it comes as no surprise that an under 20-foot bowrider from company A might be very similar to an under 20-foot bowrider from company B. In the case of the 16-foot, 6-inch Tango Xtreme, however, it becomes easy to stand out in the crowd.

A combination of factors work together to give the Tango Xtreme a unique look and feel. Its small size, jet-driven power, bold style and creative seating create a boat that is as fun to look at as it is to drive.

Its small size and light weight make it easy to tow, even with a small truck — and it’s also easy to maneuver around the docks and fit into the garage. Jet drives bring a number of advantages to the water. They’re shallow drafting, so your cruising opportunities increase while the likelihood of hitting bottom decreases. Jet drives are much lighter that their stern drive cousins (our 200 hp Mercury Jet Drive weighed 367 pounds while a 190 hp MerCruiser stern drive weighs 848 pounds, for a difference of 481 pounds), which vastly improves the all-important horsepower-to-weight ratio. This is one of the reasons jet-driven craft have such punchy acceleration and performance.

The Tango Xtreme is definitely easy on the eyes. Its low-profile hull and bold color options allow you to pick a color scheme that matches your personality. Our test boat was white and black with silver metal flake accents, and we were getting looks from the time we pulled into the marina until the time we left.

Inside you’ll find a different kind of seating than what you’re used to with a traditional bowrider. This boat drives and handles like a race car, so it’s good for everybody to have his or her own seat and one or two grab handles. Three seats sit forward of the engine compartment, with the starboard seat belonging to the driver. There’s another seat forward to port that faces inboard and slightly aft, as well as a seat forward to starboard that faces inboard and slightly forward.

By going on the diagonal, these two seats give each passenger much more legroom than if each seat faced directly inboard. All of these seats have Sugar Sand’s web suspension seating, which prevents your behind from bottoming out and hitting a hard surface while navigating through bumpy water. Even though this is a small boat and most of the space is dedicated to seating and the motor, there is still a decent amount of storage space. There are a couple of compartments in the bow, which will hold your PFDs and some other gear. Under the port seat is dedicated storage for a small carry-on cooler, which comes standard. There’s a big ski locker in the sole, which will hold your water toys and other gear. There’s also room in the engine compartment on each side of the motor.

All the way aft is the integrated swim platform. Sugar Sand probably could have made this a much smaller swim step and increased the acreage in the cockpit, but we’re glad to see a large swim platform, which is a big plus in the watersports arena. The platform has a nonskid surface and a boarding ladder that deploys at a 45-degree angle instead of straight down, so getting back aboard is more like walking up stairs than climbing a ladder.

Performance

While it’s easy to see many of the differences between a typical runabout and the Tango Xtreme, the differences are even further apart in terms of handling.

For our test we had two people aboard and about a half tank of fuel (15 gallons or 94 pounds). For power we had a 200 hp Mercury 200 OptiMax Jet Drive spinning a four-blade progressive pitch stainless steel impeller.

As expected, acceleration was lightning fast with a time to plane of less than 2 seconds and a 0- to 30-mph time of less than 4 seconds. These are the kinds of performance results typically associated with high-performance PWC, which isn’t surprising because under the waterline the Tango Xtreme is very similar to a PWC.

Top speed was up there at 52.1 mph at 5,600 rpm — which is right near the end of the 200 OptiMax’s 5,650 rpm limit, indicating the impeller is well matched for top speed. Top speed range would be about 81 miles. Our most efficient cruising speed was 29.7 at 4,000 rpm yielding a cruising range of about 143 miles. Sound readings were a touch louder than typical runabouts with 96 dBa at top speed and 89 dBa at cruising speed, which is no surprise since the 200 OptiMax is a two-stroke engine. Still, these noise levels are just barely over what we’re used to with four-stroke-powered runabouts.

Handling is where things got really interesting. The bottom line is that this boat is a blast to drive. The distance from lock to lock on the steering wheel is very short, almost like that of what you would expect with a pair of handlebars on a PWC. This made it really easy to dance the hull from side to side and put the boat into a G-force turn, which explains the reason for so many grab handles. We had no problem spinning the Tango Xtreme into a fury and putting as much or as little water into the cockpit as we wanted to. The ride is dry as a bone unless you want to go nuts in the corners, and we kept at it until we were soaked.

The craft comes standard with a tow mushroom, which is located just aft of the center seat near the boat’s intrinsic pivot point. Our test boat was also equipped with the optional wakeboard tower, which pointed to an entirely new level of watersports action.

Overall

The Tango Xtreme gets full marks for originality and full-blast performance with face-peeling cornering. While its size and ability to take on serious rough water will limit its appeal a little, this is still a boat that does what it does very well. It’s rare to find a boat that is as much fun to drive as it is to wakeboard behind.

For a base price of $22,950 with the 200 OptiMax and a trailer, this boat will fit as easily in your budget as it will into your garage.

Editor’s note: To subscribe to Go Boating magazine, visit Go Boating online.

Manufacturer Contact Information

Sugar Sand Marine
(800) 373-9000
www.sugarsand.com


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