Stingray Powerboats
220SX/MerCruiser 377 Scorpion/Bravo One
2000 Performance Evaluations

Hot Boat Magazine

A Venomous Small-Block Sting

Stingray 220SX

Stingray Powerboats owner Al Fink has created a thriving business, generated a stable full of fast, fun model releases over two decades and inspired a cultlike clientele with the creation of the Z-plane platform, which has earned a deserved reputation as a sort of thinking man's sport boating hull design. Fink embraced the power of the hard drive early on in the growing of his boatbuilding enterprise, and that tool was instrumental in the development of one of recreational powerboating's first marketable ventilator bottoms.

It's marketable because it works. Patent #5063868, Fink's 19-degree, Z-plane vee-bottom hull design, continues to create hard data that distances it from the hype and claims that have fueled the sudden "discovery" of the ventilating step configuration.

The latest numerical trivia to tuck away into the archives of comparative data between the Z-plane design and the rest of the surface-interruptus world arrives on the heels of our introductory dance with the 220SX, which made its debut late last year as the second in Stingray's Sportboat series (joining the 230SX). At 71.2 miles per hour, the 220SX is officially the fastest of five boats we've tested to date that were powered by MerCruiser's revolutionary 360-hp small-block Scorpion package.

Therein lies the power that has driven Stingray into prominence in the performance realm: the hull's propensity for superior performance from its allotted power, through the technology of enhanced water-to-glass efficiency.

Stingray 220SX - Cabin View

THE PACKAGE
Stingray set our test boat's hot-rod tone with a hot-looking, vibrant red base (the solid-color option ran $846), which picked up even more style mileage from taped, accent graphics across its bow and flanks. This outfit never fails to impress with their artistic tooling and flawless fiberglass execution, and a close-up scope of the 220's glossy form provided yet another in an uninterrupted series of raves in those areas. The cockpit is wrapped within a full fiberglass liner, with a very appealing nonskid surface, and the inside glass work is exceptionally well-done. Our first impressions of the hull's solid workmanship were confirmed later when we noted the hull's strong, solid, tight feel under fire.

The Stingray's softly sculpted glass absorbs the streamlined shape of the radically swept-out windshield, which incorporates slick adjustable side-vent windows. The lines roll gracefully aft into a broad, smoothly integrated boarding platform that extends nearly the entire length of the drive. A fold-down ladder is embedded neatly into its surface, and a stainless grab handle is anchored into convenient position just above. A circle-type ski tow and tie-down loops are also standard. Two of five fixed-position stainless cleats are anchored into the vertical sides of the platform; two others are mounted mid-ship, with one at the bow. A translucent deck hatch also provides ventilation. There's no bowrailing on the 220.

The boat banked even more eye appeal with its interior graphic treatment, which splashed the padded rear sundeck with a bold and very effective winged dash of color that carried off the hatch and overflowed seamlessly across the glass. Black-and-stainless rub railing punctuated the red-black tone, which was continued in effective style throughout the cockpit. Red accent waves wrapped the partially swiveling front buckets (which moved toward the outside of the boat), and the dash was finished in a glare-reducing, soft, flat-black surface that contributed to the hard-edged performance look.

White-faced, backlit Teleflex gauges, with stylish curved surfaces, were grouped in a tight, elevated cluster within an inlay panel that's done with a cool and unique design resembling carbon fiber. Two smaller panels, which housed the knob-styled function switches, flanked the tilt, chrome-and-black wheel; a digital Humminbird depth finder was a $294 option. The Sony CD system was standard. A stock MerCruiser shifter had trim loaded in the handle and was mounted for easy, accessible use.

Interestingly, Stingray builds height adjustment into the front, post-mount pedestal seats, which allows you to tuck them low when things get rough and, of course, to adjust to variously sized statures. The mounting worked well and was solid enough, though we did pick up some play when we ran the boat at speed in water bad enough that most recreational lake boaters will never see it. The front seats slid and also swiveled to the rear but only toward the side panels. The front seat pads also hinged upward for stand-up operation, one in a series of neat engineering twists. We also liked the stainless extension step that swung from the dash area and provided passage up the molded step and onto the bow.

Stingray builds solid performance into their seats, as well as their hull design, and the rear bench provided supportive comfort and a good measure of density for three—though legroom was at somewhat of a premium. Grab handles are built into the sides of the rear seats. The ivory-based seating was stitched with tan and orange accents and was double stitched. The quality and finish work were excellent; Stingray does its interior work in-house.

A large, draining ice chest is built into the floor, but its cover was gravity-held—not the trick setup for a high-speed, rough water day. Finished storage is worked into the rear seat cavity, in segmented engine compartments and throughout the cabin. A 12-volt accessory plug and cockpit lighting are stock.

Stingray loads its cabin with a lot of features, but unfortunately, in a boat of this size, there's not a lot of room below to make use of them, and access through the locking cabin doors is cramped. Two facing seats are standard, but there's really only enough legroom for one, and headroom is also very limited. However, there's no question that the 220's impressive list of inclusive equipment extends the scope of this boat's recreational potential. A portable head with self-contained holding tank, alcohol stove and freshwater sink are all engineered into vee-berth base, and cabin lighting was also standard.

An impressively built latch assembly spring gas support shocked and yielded across to the Stingray's engine compartment, which revealed more of the same clean workmanship that was pervasive in the rest of the construction. Captain's Call exhaust ($1,719) and the 23-inch Laser II prop ($377) were options, and the Bravo One ran 1.5:1 gearing.

Stingray 220SX cockpit

PERFORMANCE
The Stingray motored off the line in a responsive, steady arc that consumed the horizon for a brief instant before settling into its natural stance. Once the Z-plane is over the top, it creates excellent lift from minimal trim—and that's key in the boat's reactive, seemingly telepathic feel. In seemingly no time, the hull airs out to the point where there's minimal glass-to-water contact and the resulting sensation of a rail-like carpet ride. That's the Z-plane at work, and given room to run, it emerged the fastest small-block, I/O powered performance boat that we've tested.

Though the acceleration flowed with a smooth, consistent surge, the Scorpion-powered 220's numbers from a rolling idle were only ordinary. Those same four Cal customs that the Scorpion-powered Stingray dusted on the top end, with its 71-mph top speed, each outperformed it in timed acceleration. The boat didn't feel sluggish, but the performance took full measure of its deep freeboard, 96-inch beam and the weight dynamics of a full, forward cabin.

Our red SX made elementary work of our low-speed handling and maneuverability exercises; it started, shifted, backed and docked with fluid grace. It also tracked well at restrictive rpm, and its low-rpm handling was crisp and clean. Midrange handling was exceptional, as maneuverable and responsive as one could hope in any performance runabout. The 220's tight feel makes it fun to drive, particularly at real-world, midrange boating speeds. At 4,000, we engaged a very enjoyable and economical 53-mph cruise, stout stuff indeed for a small block.

The hull retained its strong appeal as a driving machine as we edged up the rev range and aired it all the way out. At 70 miles per hour, the 220 retained its familiar, flat and highly responsive attitude. The ride at speed was solid and secure, and it had a nice, light wheel feel.

The Stingray's strong handling performance continued as we pushed her through a series of increasingly aggressive handling tests, and the hull showed off a consistent ability to carve quickly and responsively at will. Even in the hardest water carving, the Stingray resisted sliding or loosening of its prop bite. The factory has dialed-in this new model beautifully, and the boat does a great job in every handling and driving situation. It's exceptionally well rounded, and our most diligent efforts failed to poke a hole in its performance.

We also had the occasion to push the Stingray far beyond its intended element as we careened, at full speed, outside the protective sea wall of our controlled course into open ocean. It fared remarkably well there, though it was obviously intended for consumption on the family lake.

THE BOTTOM LINE
There's a lot of boat built into the displacement of the 220, and Stingray has honed in nicely on the full-bodied family lake outing. It's beautifully engineered, with an impressive collection of standard features blended into a quality-oriented topside installation. And once again, Stingray has reaffirmed its place in the performance jungle, as HOT BOAT'S fastest stock, production small-block vee-bottom stern drive tested to date.

S   P   E   C   I   F   I   C   A   T   I   O   N   S
Test conditions: Moderate to rough
Centerline length: 21' 6"
Beam: 97"
Bottom: 19-degree Z-plane

Engine/drive: MerCruiser 377 Scorpion/Bravo One
Horsepower @ prop: 360
Ratio: 1.5:1
Prop: Laser II 23-inch three-blade

Overall weight: 3,285 lbs.
Top speed, radar: 71.2 mph
Builders estimated speed in optimum conditions: 70.5 mph
Maximum rpm: 5,100

Standard features: 5.7 MerCruiser 260-hp EFI/Bravo One, auto bilge pump, insulated ice chest, walk-through windshield, locking cabin door, bimini top, portable head, stainless cleats, stainless ladder, stainless ski tow ring, translucent deck hatch, adjustable vent windows, 12V plug, cockpit lighting, custom wheel, hour meter, backlit gauges, Sony CD player, flip-up sport bucket, tilt steering, compass, alcohol stove, freshwater sink.


Options on test boat: 377 Scorpion upgrade, solid-color gelcoat, remote trim and tilt switch, digital depth finder, Captain's Call exhaust, Laser II prop.

Speed chart for 220SX with 
			MerCruiser Scorpion MerCruiser 377 Scorpion/Bravo One

2000 Performance Evaluations
Hot Boat Magazine




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