MasterCraft has capitalized on “pickle-fork” bow styling more than most tow-boat builders. More than a design trend, the pickle fork actually has a practical side: It creates more space up front because the design affords wider lounges and a roomier sole. But there’s still a segment of the market that favors a traditional bow, and MasterCraft also has models to cater to those consumers. The 215V is a perfect example.
MasterCraft has no new models for 2011, but it has extensively updated all its interiors and developed new options and features for all its products. The updates include new colors and graphics, stunning new upholstery, and the ZFT5P towing tower, which won an Innovation Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
The 215V is available with the ZFT5P tower, which raises and lowers electrically for bridge clearance and storage. When in the down position, the tower doesn’t prevent you from opening the hatches to either side of the engine. It’s a nice thought; no more having to pull the boat out of the garage and raise the tower just to retrieve those wet towels or a camera bag. Very clever and cool. For buyers who don’t want the ZFT5P, MasterCraft offers two other, more affordable tower options.
Just slightly upmarket from its 200V, the 215V also benefits from a raft of improvements for 2011. The boat is now available with two new engines from Ilmor Marine. The first is a 320-hp 5.7-liter based on the small-block Chevrolet that has been used for decades. The other is a 6.0-liter, 375-hp mill based on General Motors’ buttery smooth LS engines that first saw production in the 1998 Corvette. Two Indmar engines also are available.
Interior colors are bolder, and the vinyls exhibit an attractive matte sheen and visible weave. The silver material features a diamond-pleat pattern, with hull colors available on the upholstery to further accentuate the color schemes. They look great, as do—and you don’t often read this here—the simulated woodgrain dash panels. Yes, they are plastic, but manufacturing technology has come such a long way that even simulated woodgrain has earned some respect.
Woodgrain aside, the dash is laid out smartly, with all controls in easy reach. It’s almost tame by current towboat standards. Analog gauges set in a soft-touch vinyl-padded cluster deliver vital information. A tilt wheel lets each driver get comfortable, and when you sit down, your hand falls readily on top of the throttle lever. “The helm is a driver’s dream,” said MasterCraft marketing director Jason Boertje.
The interior also is somewhat traditional, save for some advances in boatbuilding MasterCraft has learned over the years. For example, the stowage compartment under the extra-wide observer seat not only extends into the area beneath the portside bow lounge, but the hatch also includes a large portion of the seat cushion, which makes fitting large items that much easier. The port side of the wraparound lounge also conceals a removable cooler. As an option, the removable dinette table fits into the base of the starboard lounge, not the floor. That might not seem like such a big deal, but it will mean you can go a whole summer without stubbing your toe on the pedestal or its mounting hole.
Up front, the bow area features angled backrests with concealed stainless steel grab rails that don’t sully the boat’s uncluttered profile. At the stern, the teak platform is positioned right at water level, with slotted handles cut into the wood. For families that need it, MasterCraft offers an optional swim ladder that through-bolts to the bottom of the platform, with nifty stainless accents on top to conceal the mounting hardware.
The 215 has been in the MasterCraft stable for a few years now, and it’s true that the more daring pickle-fork bow models are getting the lion’s share of media attention, but for buyers who seek a traditional family-oriented V-drive, the 215V is a solid performer that never goes out of style.
“The MasterCraft 215V is an extraordinary boat, mainly because it offers so much more than a typical 21-footer,” Boertje said. “It easily offers the space and storage of a 24 foot I/O, yet does not compromise on performance, ride, or comfort. Its modified deep-V hull provides a smooth, dry ride while also providing the active family the reputable MasterCraft performance for the behind-the-boat activities. In other words, the 215V is designed for families who want to do it all, and do so in a smaller package.”
The base MSRP for the 215V is $62,740. For more information, visit the MasterCraft website.
Editor’s Note: Brett Becker is a freelance writer based in Ventura, CA. He covers the marine, automotive and racing industries for various print and web titles.