REVIEW: SAVAGE SL 500 SCORPION BR

By: Mark Bracks, Photography by: Mark Bracks


Mark Bracks reckons the Savage SL 500 Scorpion BR is a competent all-rounder

Bowriders have made a huge impact in recent times. Every manufacturer has its own ideas of the concept and there are a myriad of choices to ensure a buyer is like a kid in a toy shop trying to decide on what craft to keep the grin meter in the redline.
The Savage SL 500 Scorpion BR is, undoubtedly, one bowrider that will be seriously considered by those looking for a boat that will provide a great time.
A competent all-rounder, the entry level craft to its range of three aluminium bowriders and one fibreglass version, the 500 Scorpion - provided by Coastlife Marine in Wyong, NSW - should be near the top of the list of possibilities.
It will provide years of family enjoyment. It is easily optioned with in-built features for those moments when a bloke wants to head off with his kids to dangle a line, and spacious enough to accommodate four mates without a worry.

STACKING UP
This five-metre boat may be the smallest in the Savage bowrider range, but at $29,990 it backs up its budget credentials with a heavyweight punch for a lightweight craft.
It’s well finished for its price with surprising attention to detail, demonstrating why the Savage brand has been at the forefront of Australian boating for more than 100 years.
Savage claims faster planing on this boat, with extra strength for a softer, superior ride, stability, and buoyancy, provided by a well-constructed Super Lift hull with fully welded seams, a full gusset frame and underfloor bracing.
The hull also contains a 60lt fuel tank and polyurethane - a divergence in normal underfloor safety flotation which Savage claims will repel petrol, oil and saltwater better than anything else.
Claims aside, a great feature - and another surprise in a craft of this cost - is the moulded fibreglass upper deck with rubber gunwale rub rails running the length of the boat.
It is a nice touch, along with the two-part polyurethane paint as standard for added durability and bash resistance.
The compact transom loses a negligible amount of overall usable length, being little more than a step, yet there’s plenty of depth to tilt the engine within the recessed centre and not interfere with the optional bait board.
Boarding from knee-deep water onto the rubber footpad with standard stainless steel sternrails for grip is easy, although the optional ladder was not fitted.
The portside is a better option as the engine plumbing for the Mercury 90hp two-stroke hinders access from the other side.
The transom - bucking the current trend - is narrow enough to use as a perch without having to step onto the fold away (and fully removable) split stern seat with wet feet.
Behind is the battery and isolator switch, manual bilge pump, enough room to store a few odds and ends such as engine oil or an esky, and an access hatch for the pump.
In a craft of this size, with the seat out of the way, the deck space (1.8m wide x 1.5m long) behind the cockpit provides excellent working room; a good ratio to its 2.1m beam.
This is complimented by the 40cm wide access to the bow through the five-piece wraparound screen.
Situated around the rear gunwales are two rod holders, two cleats with a nav light socket and ski hooks at the stern.
The sternrails make great grab handles, although the padding for the rear seat could wrap itself around the gunwale a little to offer some lateral support.

SPACE CONSCIOUS
There is plenty of room in the cockpit, and the captain’s seat is fully adjustable, while the passenger’s swivels. There is also angled foot bracing for both, plus handy storage areas behind them.
For the passenger, at seat height, there’s an unobtrusive grab handle welded to the port off-the-floor 190cm x 15cm gunwale rack.
Although there are no rod racks, the bins can swallow a variety of gear with space underneath to hide skis or wakeboards.
The helm has the usual array of instruments: all Mercury with speedo, tacho, fuel, trim and hour meter, and switches for bilge and lights.
Also, a Navman 4150SX fish finder and Navman MCB7270 28-megabite radio are standard issue.
The steering wheel is non-adjustable but, with the neutral seating position and clear vision, there are not too many reasons to stand except when docking and there is enough room between the screen and bimini to poke your head out.
The manual steering is relatively light in operation although precise movement (and performance) is achieved with the motor well trimmed.
The flush mounted throttle with hidden control box adds more knee room when moving about and falls easy to hand.
I’d be paying for a few extra cup holders, however, as there is only one beside the passenger seat. There are two hiding in the lockable glove box but they appear as practical as one on a motorbike.
The bow is another area where Savage has utilised all available space.
Hiding under the fore seat is the anchor well, within easy reach of the stainless steel bowline, cross bollard and anchor roller, while the stainless steel bowrails run past the screen for added security and tie off points, leaving plenty of room to stretch out either side.
Under the lateral seats are deep storage bins with removable sides that, in a flash, turn the area into a fishing platform that can accommodate two anglers.
Another bonus: with the addition of a fill-in pad, the bow area is also a sun bed.

IN ITS ELEMENT
While it is always a bonus to test in good weather for photos, days of dreaded drizzle and a bit of wind allow a better opportunity to see how things work in the real world.
The normally aspirated two-stroke, three-cylinder, 1.4lt, 90hp Merc punts out of the hole in an instant and it doesn’t take long to be at a full gallop of 38kt at 5400prm.
Comfortable motoring is best at about 3000 to 3500rpm for about 20 to 24kt, depending on engine trim.
For a two-stroke with carbies, it’s surprisingly quiet.
The hull spreads the wake well. Handling and steering are predictable, while flicks of the electronic trim aid in hard turns.
The screen offers fair protection from a bit of rain but it helps to have the bow cover in place because the Scorpion doesn’t have a door under the opening screen to repel the elements.
The 408kg hull is well balanced. When walking around at rest, hull movement was minimal and it will have no trouble in handling the five passengers it’s plated for.
I have at least one gripe with the Scorpion, being as mad about fishing as I am about getting dragged behind a boat: the non-removable carpet (standard in many craft) makes for too many places for smelly bits and dropped sinkers and the like to hide.
A bait tank or esky would make to make it a true all rounder.
However, the Savage SL 500 Scorpion BR offers the most pleasant of stings for the owner, but its attributes could well prove to be a knockout to others in its class – take a look.

WHAT WE LIKED
Value
Quality of finish
Storage
Use of workable space

NOT SO MUCH
Non removable carpet
Lack of cup holders

 

Specifications: Savage SL 500 Scorpion BR

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested $29,990  
Options fitted: Bow cover, bimini, coloured hull, 90hp Mercury two-stroke
Base price:  $28,302 with 75hp Mercury two-stroke, Navman 4150SX fish finder, Navman MCB7270 28-megabite radio, safety gear, registration and Dumbier trailer

GENERAL
Material: Aluminium hull /fibreglass upper deck 
Length overall: 5.0m
Beam: 2.1m
Thickness: 3mm undersides, 2mm topsides 
Weight: 408kg, hull only

CAPACITIES
HP: Max 90hp
Fuel: 60lt underfloor tank

ENGINE
Make/model: Mercury two-stroke three-cylinder, carburetted
HP: 90hp
Displacement: 1386cc
Weight: 138kg
Ratio: 2.30:1
Prop: 18in

SUPPLIED BY
Coastlife Marine,
Pacific Highway,
Wyong, NSW.
Phone: (02) 4353 3644

Originally published in TrailerBoat #202

 


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