By: Daniel Nash, Photography by: Geoff Middleton

The Elite 5.5 Runabout from Savage will give you plenty of fun, run, and value on the water


As Melbourne went into lockdown for the Commonwealth Games in late March, the only place you were guaranteed a good run (apart from the MCG) was on the water. So the TrailerBoat team took a day out on Port Phillip Bay in a Savage Elite 5.5 Runabout to get away from it all.
The Savage fibreglass range is a little understated when you consider it has just eight models across three classes compared to over 50 aluminium boats. So much so that it’s been almost two years since TrailerBoat went for a run in a Savage fibreglass hull.
As is the case with all Savage fibreglass hulls, the Elite 5.5 Runabout is manufactured by Whittley Marine Industries in Melbourne, meaning that the company remains an all-Victorian affair, as it has for more than 100 years.
Having toured the Whittley Marine Industry facility late last year, I think anyone in the marketplace for a Savage fibreglass model can be assured the quality that has been associated with Savage boats in the past will continue with this partnership.
The Elite 5.5 Runabout gave a comfortable ride over a fairly benign Port Phillip and illustrated excellent stability at rest for those who might want to drop a line out of this genuine all-rounder. The boat was a little slippery during tight turns at speed, however given the nature of this craft – a family-friendly craft that won’t be called on for high performance – that will pose few problems for those looking for a relaxing day on the water for skiing, fishing, or all-round cruising. 

The Elite 5.5 is indeed targeted at family fun and holds its place in the marketplace well – as a good entry level fibreglass craft for those looking to enter the market for the first time or perhaps upgrade from aluminium to fibreglass. While the vessel is licensed to carry six, that may be pushing it in terms of comfort and space. A more realistic approach for a long day on the water would be five people plus supplies and water toys to keep the crew happy.
One of the most noticeable features of this boat is its variety of storage areas. There’s an underfloor storage bin forward of the fuel tank on the transom floor. It was filled with safety gear for our trip on the bay. It would also comfortably house some water toys for the kids or you could utilise it to store a couple of small eskies or cooler bags.
There’s further storage available in the bow between the helm and the anchor hatch as well as upholstered side shelves that could house small fishing rods, hand line and some slimline tackle boxes. Come to think of it, a day out on the Elite 5.5 may be a great way to introduce a bunch of enthusiastic young whipper snappers to the beauty of fishing. Two removable bins in the transom bulkhead could house bait, wet clothes, or be filled with ice for easy access to refreshments.

The dash is simplistic yet offers a range of Smartcraft instrumentation including speedometer, tachometer, temperature, and fuel and trim gauges. There’s also a cruise log to keep track of your hours on the water as well as a 27 MHz Navman radio and a Navman Fish 4431 Fishfinder – an ideal entry level fishfinder that can also be used as an entry level depth sounder. A sports-style steering wheel completes the helm setup.
There’s also a handy glovebox that sits in front of the passenger. The glovebox may be big enough to house a marine stereo but is perfect for storing valuable items such as wallets, mobiles phones, and keys that can easily go astray.
Seating up front comes in the form of deluxe pedestal seats – the helm being adjustable forward and aft, which is often a handy feature, especially when you’ve got people of varying leg length keen to get behind the wheel. The transom seating is a lounge style that can be removed should you require more room for activities at the transom. This will also allow good access to the outboard.
The walkthrough windscreen is a four piece construction and held together well with alloy struts. The view from the helm was clear and spray into the helm and cockpit area minimal in the fairly timid conditions.
All fittings on the Elite 5.5 are stainless steel and there’s no shortage of cleats to secure your boat to a pier or jetty. The boat lacks in grabrails both forward and aft. If I was purchasing this craft I would ask my dealer what he could offer in terms of some extra rails to provide safety and confidence to those who may like to hang on tight in a rough sea. The absence of these bars is more than likely a compromise for price, which is so often the case in an entry level boat of this nature.

We cruised around Port Phillip thinking of those suckers stuck in traffic and stagnating in designated ‘Games-only lanes’. The speedo indicated a nice cruising speed of 30mph at 3400rpm. When the hunger pangs kicked in and it was time for a feed and refreshments we turned up the wick and hit 50mph at 5200rpm. The Elite probably had a little left up its sleeve, but we weren’t really in that much of a hurry.
Mercury packages the Savage fibreglass range into a boat, motor and trailer deal. The Elite 5.5 Runabout comes equipped with a custom-built Savage easy-launch trailer and you have the option of choosing between a Mercury 115hp and Mariner 115hp (both two-stroke) to power the craft. As described the test boat was powered by a 135hp Mercury OptiMax and if you take this option it will add a little under $4000 dollars to the price. Personally, in this day where fuel costs seem to be rising with the sun each morning, I’d prefer to keep that cash to fuel my rig.
For family boaties that are looking to purchase in the fibreglass market and are buying to a budget the Savage 5.5 Elite is well worth taking for a test run. This boat will probably never lay claim to gold medal status, but it will run a good race for you in terms of family fun on the water.

Plethora of storage
Spacious transom

Lack of grabrails
Extra dollars for extra power   


Specifications: Savage Elite 5.5 Runabout

Price as tested: $39,521 w/Mercury OptiMax 115hp, registration, bimini, safety equipment, custom-built easy-launch trailer
Priced from: $35,553

Material: GRP
Length: 5.5m
Beam: 2.26m
Deadrise: 18°
Max HP: 175
Weight: 710kg

Fuel: 120lt
People: 6

Make/model: Mercury Optimax
HP: 135
Displacement: 2507cc
Weight: 195kg
Ratio: 2.07:1
Prop: 19in Vengeance

Originally published in TrailerBoat #205


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