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The French-designed Arvor 215 and 215AS are fraternal twins, the former with a symmetrical cabin layout and the latter an offset design. Which is best? Read on, says DAVID LOCKWOOD

Arvor 215 & 215AS

What isn't there to like about a 21ft cabin cruiser with a frugal diesel inboard engine, a vee-berth on which to sleep or escape the weather, a decent cockpit for fishing or hanging out, and a nifty turn of speed in case you need to hightail it home on Sunday afternoon? How about the fact you need to make the choice between the symmetrical cabin layout or the asymmetrical alternative. The price is the same, so you need to weigh-up the differences and make your decision.

The good news is this brace of smart French-designed, Polish-built Arvor 21-foot cabin cruisers are low-maintenance, high on fun, and offer an interesting twist on the side. You see, the AS part of the Arvor 215AS nomenclature is short for asymmetrical. This points to the fact the cabin is offset to port to create a wider, deeper and more accommodating walkaround to starboard than is otherwise possible with the symmetrical variant called simply the 215.

The AS also has an extra cockpit storage locker moulded into the starboard corner and a burgundy hull as standard. The downside of the asymmetrical deck layout is an ever-so-slight decrease in sleeping space in the cabin - although storage space improves. Really it's a bit like splitting hairs, as both boats are easy to get around and you won't struggle with reaching the foredeck during anchoring duties (windlasses are provided), to unload or pickup crew from the wharf, or cast a line at a school of fish.

In short, the big difference is aesthetics. When viewed head on, the asymmetrical cabin version looks a little strange whereas the symmetrical variant is prettier. And even with the smaller walkaround decks, the latter boat, the 215, is still a cinch for accessing the bow. So if looks count for plenty then the 215 is your boat.




The popular Arvor family includes the 20, 23, 25 and 28-foot models. All are built on the same basic single-engine-cabin-cruiser formula. But moored alongside the widely popular Arvor 20, which is built under licence in Nowra on the NSW South Coast - more than 260 sold at the time of writing - the new 215 is said to be noticeably wider.

While the 215s' beam of 2.54m means the boat is still trailerable with a permit, it would be a fair lump at 2400kg plus trailer. The hull is deeper, with more freeboard, increased bow flare to shed the water, and a bigger cabin in both standard and AS variants than the 20. As such, the 215s fill an interesting niche. We see it as a mooring proposition foremost and, thanks to its undeniable utility, a great boat de jour.

Rising fuel prices, a lack of leisure time, a disinclination to waste a day on maintenance - such things only underscore the attraction of these boats. And while you can gad about with glee, the Arvor 215s also pack a punch. Their single Cummins MerCruiser Diesel (CMD) QSD turbocharged 2lt 115hp diesel has a Bosch common rail fuel injection system for plenty of at-call acceleration, impressive cruising economy and clean running across the rev range.

According to CMD's official sea-trial figures, the engine uses 11.6lt/h at 2400rpm cruise of around 16kts and 21.8lt/h at top speed of 21kts to 22kts. Maximum torque is made at 2200rpm or 12kts, allowing you to make good progress while holding a steady plane in heavy weather. As these are mere 21-footers, the key to ride comfort comes from keeping the forefoot in the water and not landing on the flat aft sections. But more on the ride later.




Underway or anchored, the easy-clean moulded non-skid decks allow you to use the full-length of the boat with confidence. But compared with the early Arvors we tested, the mouldings are much improved and the finish, even in out-of-the-way places, is a step up from the past. In keeping with tradition, there is a spread of heavy-duty stainless steel deck gear, oiled teak coamings (one of few areas of maintenance) and, the signature fitting, gunwale rollers intended to assist with retrieving a crab or lobster pot off the boats' popular homeports dotted along the North Sea.

The self-draining cockpit has sufficient floor space for fishing with, say, up to four anglers or, with the addition of an aftermarket awning, room for kicking back with a family and doing lunch out of the sun. Officially, the boat is rated for six adults. Rodholders, a transom door, and tiller are provided. And it's not just an emergency tiller, you can steer from the transom while trolling for tailor or singlehandedly coming up to your mooring. There's even a trolling valve to reduce thrust, which might come in handy for downrigging.

Other cockpit features include fold-down teak seats, rod or gaff/paddle rack, a tackle locker and livebait tank, with the moulded swim platform including an auxiliary outboard engine bracket. A rail-mounted cutting board for preparing lunch or bait (not simultaneously) is provided, but you need to add a rail-mounted charcoal barbecue for cooking lunch and portable icebox in which to stow the catch and/or steak and you're set.

Underfloor, there are two lockable storage hatches and engine access (below a low-profile moulded lid that doubles as a table) is unfettered to all the key maintenance items from fuel filter to sea strainers. If you want hot water, a heat exchanger on the Cummins QSD 2lt Cummins diesel adds about $1800, we're told. However, the boat doesn't come standard with a water tank, though there's room to retrofit a plastic tank under the floor.




Compared with the Arvor 20, the lock-up cabin is substantially bigger and, most importantly having spent many hours on the 20, the helm seating arrangement is superior. Instead of one uncomfortable seat, the 215s have two seats allowing you to cruise with your crewmate alongside. And with flip-down bases you can also drive comfortably offshore while standing.

There is storage space - though not under all the bunks - and a portable toilet under the vee-berth. With infill, you will create enough room for a couple to sleep over or some weary anglers to catch 40 winks if not a snapper. An alcohol stove sits in a neat moulded recess in the cabin for boiling the billy during winter fishing sessions or perhaps reheating the pea-and-ham soup during an upriver cruise.

Ventilation is via small opening side windows, a rooftop hatch, and large sliding cabin door. While the sight lines over the boat and astern are nice and clear, a windscreen wiper is provided and, with the timber wheel in hand contrasting with the SmartCraft digital engine-monitoring dial on the dash, the Arvor 21s are a blend of old and new.

Pricewise, the 215s are attractive at $94,500 as tested, a $15,000 premium over the 20-footer. As touched on, you don't pay a premium for the asymmetrical variant, so it gets back to personal preference. But with a push-button windlass or anchor winch as standard there's not that much reason to head to the bow anyway. Thus, I'll pass on the bit on the side. Make mine the white symmetrical Arvor 215.








The cathedral-type or gullwing running surface of the Arvors is slippery and eager, although the 215 does tend to throw spray and bang a tad if you push it fast through rough water. As touched on, the key to ride comfort is to make sure the fine entry cuts the waves rather than having the boat blast skywards and land on its flatter aft sections. In other words, you need to drive the Arvors to get the most from them.

At 8kts, the four-cylinder common rail Cummins is using about 6 to 7lt/h, while at 10.5kts the boats are well and truly planing for 8 to 9lt/h. Low-speed cruise of 12 to 13kts was recorded while using 10.5lt/h, with the boat a tad noisier at the 2500rpm cruising groove of 16 to 17kts for 13lt/h. The noisiest setting was 2750rpm, when a resonance emerged for some reason, but then things smoothed out again at 3000rpm for 21-plus knots, which we could only maintain on smooth water.




$94,500 w/ QSD 2lt 115hp Cummins diesel engine as standard








As above




MATERIAL: GRP (fibreglass) w/ glass-encapsulated Oregon sub-frame
TYPE: Moderate-vee planing hull with gullwing shape or tunnels aft
LENGTH OVERALL: 6.88m inc. swim platform
HULL: 6.36m
BEAM: 2.54m
DRAFT: 0.75m
WEIGHT: Approx 1650kg w/ standard engine; 2400kg loaded




FUEL: 90lt
WATER: n/a
HOLDING TANK: Chemical toilet instead




Make/model: Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSD 2.0L
Type: Four-cylinder commo rail diesel w/ turbocharging and aftercooling
RATED HP: 155 at 3600rpm
WEIGHT: 250kg (dry)
DRIVE: Shaft, 2:1 Technodrive TB 345 A gearbox with trolling valve




Collins Marine,
Unit 26, 17-21 Bowden Street,
Alexandria, NSW, 2015
Phone: (02) 9319 5222




Like those sister ships preceding them, the Arvor 215 in either guise as tested is an unpretentious boat built on utility above all else. That's a quality missing in many here-today-gone-tomorrow contemporary cruisers that put fashion first and, in essence, it's the reason for the success of these jaunty little cabin cruisers in local waters. Turn the key and go. Put the boat to bed after a wash with the hose. And head home with the fish in your esky. Quintessential powerboating for today's time-poor pleasureboater.


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