There are times when it takes all the concentration you can muster to grin from ear to
ear as if you just landed your ideal job. Well, cranking up the Ferrari-red Stingray 220SX
powered by MerCruiser's new 350-hp Scorpion 377 engine will have boaters all across the
country miserably failing the poker-face test.
The 220SX is equipped with the Captain's Call exhaust option, which allows you to be as
bad as you want to be. Since we're currently in the presence of a couple dozen offshore
thunder boats, I leave it on the Dennis Rodman setting, which produces a satisfying deep
rumble that measures 79 decibels at idle. Once away from the crowd and with no one around
to impress, I flip the accessory switch, and the 350-hp arachnid tones down to a more
civilized 67 dB-A.
This Stingray 220SX fits right in here in Miami, Florida, - the land of beautiful people
and fast boats. Well, in our case, one out of two isn't bad. With a sleek profile and bold,
yet tasteful graphics, the Stingray looks and sounds the part of a performance boat, and
laying the throttle forward makes it apparent that this is no sheep in wolf's clothing.
Despite the floating palaces that are plowing monstrous furrows in the channel, the 220SX
cuts through the water without slamming or losing control. The 220SX Stingray's Z-plane hull
allows it to pass cleanly through the water without creating bubbles or vortices, ensuring
better prop bite when running straight or cornering.
A side channel with less traffic provides the perfect opportunity to let the Scorpion
unsheathe its stinger. Running the 350-hp MerCruiser 377 Scorpion up to 5050 rpm nets just
more than 70 mph, which is outstanding for a boat of this type. Predictably, the 220SX
feels a little light at that speed, but the beefy Bravo I outdrive keeps the 23-inch Laser
II prop biting well, and at no point does it feel like chine walking is eminent. Another
benefit of the Z-plane hull is revealed when the 220SX leaves the channel and continues
running smoothly through an 18-inch-deep bonefish flat.
The test Scorpion 377 is the sterndrive version of MerCruiser's monster ski engine,
which cranks out 10 more horsepower and develops an incredible 400 pounds/feet of torque.
The Mercury Racing Team takes a 350-cubic-inch block and strokes it to displace 377 cubes
(6.2L), and then gives it lightweight aluminum pistons, a balanced crankshaft, high-lift
camshaft and oversized flame arrestor. Taking its cue from racing technology, the Scorpion
uses a tunnel ram intake manifold for crisper throttle response and more horsepower. Topped
with a distinctive intake plenum with the Scorpion logo, the engine looks as good as it
The helm station gives the driver the look and feel of a more expensive sport boat with
its oversized, white-faced Teleflex gauges set into the black wraparound dash with
simulated carbon fiber panels. The Darth Vader look helps reduce glare on the highly raked
windshield, which extends high enough for tall drivers to see through without the aluminum
frame obscuring the horizon. The 220SX comes standard with a pair of sturdy sport buckets
that have flip-up seat bottoms, allowing the crew to stand without chafing the back of
their legs. The wraparound sport buckets are firm, well-anchored and upholstered in
32-ounce marine vinyl that is both UV- and puncture-resistant. For added airflow there are
adjustable side vents that have positive-locking latches that stay where you want them.
The control lever has a grip halfway up and is positioned so that drivers can rest their
arms on the gunwale or at an angle on top of the upholstery. The driving position is
comfortable, with a slightly inclined footrest and tilt steering, and for navigational
assistance there's a standard Ritchie compass that is mounted in the line of sight.
Behind the crew, the passengers will find a triple-wide stern bench that features
Stingray's quality, in-house upholstery. Underneath is carpeted storage, and there are four
cup holders for the back-seat drivers. The outboard passengers get well-placed grab handles
in case the captain airs out the Scorpion engine (as if one could resist). Behind the stern
bench is a full-sized sunpad for soaking in rays. The design pattern looks cool and features
two black swirls that make dandy solar collectors.
The deck features a highly functional sand-type non-skid surface, and the test boat is
covered with the optional snap-in, 20-ounce marine carpeting. The swing-out step arm, which
remains securely in place and out of the way when not in use, makes going up to the front
deck for docking and anchoring easy.
As you would expect in a sport boat with a pointy-nosed look, the cabin is not very tall
and would make an excellent training chamber for Claustrophobics Anonymous. But it will
sleep two and has a galley and head, which meets the requirements to qualify for a
second-home tax deduction. A circular Bomar hatch allows ventilation and light into the
cabin, and there's storage below.
Stingray is an independent boatbuilder that operates on the cutting edge of technology
with a reliance on CAD design. It was the first boat company to install multi-axis milling
machines that can take a 3-D computer rendition and create a full-sized model within hours.
The company also uses other high-tech production equipment such as the robotic lamination
facility and water jet cutting machines. What all this means is that the final product is
consistent and displays a level of fit and finish that you would expect to pay a premium
price to achieve. However, the test 220SX - even loaded with options and powered by
MerCruiser's state-of-the-art Scorpion engine - has a manufacturer's suggested retail price
of just $46,680. For that amount you get a 70-mph sport boat that's loaded with amenities
and handles well with a passenger-friendly ride.
Boating World Magazine