BOAT TEST: BAYLINER 175 AVANTE ANNIVERSARY EDITION

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: David Lockwood


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Bayliner 175 Avante Anniversary Edition is a good buying BMT entry-level bowrider package from Avante Marine in celebration of its 20-year association with the eponymous US brand

BOAT TEST: BAYLINER 175 AVANTE ANNIVERSARY EDITION
BAYLINER 175 AVANTE ANNIVERSARY EDITION

 

BAYLINER BONUS
The 175 is the smallest boat from the world's biggest boatbuilder and, as such, a turnkey bowrider in which you only need to add fuel, water and drinks for a perfect summer sortie. A boat to go, it is all about where you go and what you do more than the intricacies of what is, by any measure, an entry-level boat.
Having said that, the 175 driven here is rather special. It's not everyday that a boat importer and national dealer gets to celebrates 20 years representing the one boating badge. So Avante Marine contacted parent company Brunswick Marine and decided to celebrate and commemorate its long-standing association with Bayliner.
The result is the special Avante Anniversary Edition 175. There will be just 100 of these boats built, each plated with a number, as in 1/100 that was on the 175 you see hereabouts. And each boat will have special graphics (yet to be fitted on the demonstrator) relevant to the area it was sold. So this Sydney boat was going to have an old map of the harbour splashed across its sides.
Although the Avante Anniversary Edition 175 was released at the Sydney International Boat Show back in August, Avante cleared its stocks of 2008 model 175s before bringing in these 2009 models. That's a smart move, as the new model has some significant upgrades for the first time since the last round of moulding changes way back in 2003.

 

NEW LOOK FOR 2009
For 2009 there are a new curved Taylor Made windscreen instead of the old boxy number, upgraded soft-touch vinyl with silver feature panels, a racy metallic silver dash and, bravo, a new sports wheel instead of the old flexible model that, in tight turns, didn't always instil confidence. The wheel isn't a tilt model, but the helm is ergonomically mindful.
However, the biggest enhancements to the 175 are the higher deck lines ? raised from bow to stern for more freeboard - and weather protection and safety around the fore and aft seating areas. After cruising in these seats during an at-times bumpy harbour, we didn't ship a drop of water or spray.
Additionally, there's a new closed-moulded or light RTM engine box cover with just one simple clip instead of the two rubber toggles used previously. It's a lot more effective, granting single-handed access to the base 135hp 3.0lt four-cylinder MerCruiser petrol inboard, coupled with the basic Alpha One sterndrive leg spinning a basic 21in alloy three-blade prop.
Besides the frisky MerCruiser and eye-catching special graphics, Avante is bundling its Avante Anniversary Edition 175 with an upgraded Jensen stereo and speakers, full covers and bimini top made locally, single-axle galvanised Karavan trailer with disc brakes and rewired lighting for Australian roads, registrations, and safety gear.
The national package price for the Anniversary Edition 175 is $32,990 drive-away. I consider this as good buying and a reliable indicator of the market, akin to the Big Mac Index in The Economist that tells you how much brass you need for a basic American burger to go.
Interestingly, despite wildly fluctuating exchange rates and rising materials costs, $32,990 isn't that much more than the $29,990 being asked for the Bayliner 175 at boat shows in 2003. I guess Avante hedges to maintain some consistency with its pricing. This is but one advantage with a big dealer and, when the time comes, in maintaining some order in the second-hand and trade-in markets.

 

UP FRONT APPEAL
At rest, while sashaying about the decks, it became immediately obvious that the 175 has great stability. That's always been the case with this relatively low-profile, beam-forward bowrider design. With two adults on the same side of the boat, it doesn't heel much at all.
I was most impressed by the improved freeboard via the higher gunwales, especially in the bow where, with a couple of kids or adults, one is prone to shipping water when backing off and crossing big boat or ferry wakes. Not on this little duck.
Although it mightn't look obvious in the pics hereabouts, the length of the bow seats is such that this 1.80m or six-foot adult could sit upright, prop up on the padded backrest as intended, and stretch the legs. So think of the 175 as having an accommodating bow arrangement for up to two adults.
Other features of note in the bow include a split central nav light, twin deck cleats, two plastic grabrails, a non-skid moulded footwell and non-skid trim on the gunwales where you might step aboard, and twin underseat storage holds for lifejackets. There is no anchor locker, so you need to stow the ground tackle and rode under one of these seats. It's one of few compromises on the 175. 

 

KICK BACK COCKPIT
Cockpit seating comprises two back-to-back seats, with the co-pilot's converting to a sunpad or daybed with tilt headrest. Tried on for size, it fitted only too well. Zeds come gratis, as does shade under the bimini top, and there are curious clip-on vinyl panels intended, I'm told, to hold wallets or mobile phones.
The aft-quarter seats are generous and share a plastic grabrail with the aft-facing or rearmost back-to-back seats. All told, the boat can officially carry seven. I know a family of four will find it very much to their liking, with a couple of extra kids accommodated in the broad cockpit without stretching things. You will need to a carry on icebox, picnic gear, watersports toys and towels.
Storage stretches from the huge underfloor ski and wakeboarding locker to small sidepockets and a recessed well ahead of the co-pilot in which you could put ice and drinks. However, the drain hole isn't plumbed overboard so melted ice will end up on deck or your legs.
There's upmarket cockpit carpet and improved vinyl trim, while the groovy curved safety-glass wraparound windscreen has a centre opening pane - though its struts have plastic fittings that I have seen let go before. There's a grab handle ahead of the co-pilot along with the aforesaid upgraded Jensen stereo to which we connected an MP3 player and had the music pumping.
The engine box lid includes twin drinkholders and non-skid to improve access to the integrated full-beam swim platform and recessed two-step folding swim ladder. A ski hook is positioned expectedly for towing tykes on tubes, boards or skis.
I noted good access to all sides of the small-block inboard, a blower of course, and I could reach down into the bilge to clean the 1893lt/h pump. The lead-acid battery to starboard will be easy enough to top up with water. Opposite, countering its weight is a 79.5lt polypropylene fuel tank with accessible sender. The 175 used to have a modest 68lt tank.

 

SUNDAY DRIVE
Full marks for the automotive-type dash with silver facia and spread of stainless steel rimmed Faria gauges conveying volts, engine temp, speed, revs, leg trim (a trim gauge isn't usually a given), oil pressure, and fuel (a visual inspection of the tank is more reliable). The toggle switches take care of the blower, bilge pump, anchor and nav lights, horn and accessories.
The hull is a moderate-vee design with the wide beam forward and 19? of deadrise back aft. It's backed by a lifetime warranty, with 10 years on the deck, while Avante boosts MerCruiser's engine warranty from two years to five. Prospective buyers should take comfort in that and the basic foam flotation.
Once again, I was impressed by how easily the 175 gets out of the water. Vision isn't compromised, as the boat shifts to planing speed while nice and level, holding 2000rpm and 8.2kts.
Low-speed cruise was clocked at 2750rpm and 14.7kts, the engine or exhaust note remained pleasant at 3000rpm for 21.6kts cruise with the leg up, and here I thought the boat was really pleasant on the calmer stretches of the harbour, scooting along jade-coloured water at a stellar anchorage called Castle Rock.
According to my ear, the decibels increase somewhat from 4000rpm and 31.7kts to wide-open throttle of 5000rpm and 37.9kts from a tight engine. I'm told, trimmed out on calm water, 41.7kts is attainable in the 175.
While I've driven smoother-riding bowriders with sportier performance, the 175 is the complete entry-level package. It balances room with ride, style with comfort, and luxury with the realities of boat ownership for the masses.
The way I see it, you tow the boat to the water, range up a river, creek or other protected waterway, set up camp and barbie ashore. Stage towing trips throughout the day and fang home on Sunday. A full day's boating will cost less than $100 in fuel.
With a 2.11m beam and single-axle trailer this isn't a tough tow, launch and retrieval. And you can park the rig on the road and it won't block the street. Hose the hull, flush the engine, wash the trailer and pull-up the covers. You're done.
Even during these challenging times, Avante Marine has ordered 100 of its special edition 175s. National sales manager, Jason Ash, told TrailerBoat that they usually sell a couple hundred of these entry-level boats nationally each year. I am also told the 185 has been a bigger seller over the last 10 years, so you get some idea of how many Bayliners are on Australian waterways.
When you stop and think about it that deserves recognition. Over the years, Avante has put hordes of boaties and their families and friends on the water. Doubtless, most of them will enjoy the 175 so much they move up through the ranks of boat ownership.  A ticket to the boating life, a fun runner in its own right, a great boat to cut your teeth, and a springboard to a bigger Bayliner should the finances allow.

 

WHAT WE LIKED
A no-brainer turnkey bowrider
Terrific volume for such a compact boat
Excellent seating layout
Improved finish
Higher sides have improved freeboard fore and aft
Slippery hull is eager to please
Sporty helm station
Excellent backing by importers/dealer
Specially anniversary graphics
Upgraded stereo

NOT SO MUCH
Ride was a little choppy through the chop
No dedicated anchorwell
Quasi drinks box ahead of co-pilot isn't plumbed overboard
Plastic fittings on windscreen struts

 

 

Specifications: Bayliner 2009 175 Avante Anniversary Edition

 

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $32,990 drive-away including covers, upgraded stereo, braked trailer, registrations, and safety gear
Options fitted: none
Priced from: As above

GENERAL
Material:    GRP
Length overall:   5.33m
Beam:    2.11m
Deadrise:    19°
Rec. max. HP:   135
Towing weight:   1350kg (dry)
Trailer storage length:  6.35m (trailer tongue hinged)

CAPACITIES
Fuel:     80lt
Passengers:   7
Flotation:    Basic

ENGINE
Make/model:   MerCruiser 3.0L
Type:    Petrol four-cylinder four-stroke inboard
Rated HP:    135 at 4400 to 4800rpm
Displacement:   3.0lt
Weight:    288kg
Drive (Make):   Alpha One sterndrive
Prop:    21in alloy

 

SUPPLIED BY
Avante Marine,
210-212 Silverwater Road,
Silverwater, NSW, 2128
Phone: (02) 9737 0727,
Fax: (02) 9737 0698
Web: www.avantemarine.com.au; www.bayliner.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #238

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