BOAT TEST: EVOLUTION 552

By: John Willis


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Here are 10 things John Willis wants you to know about the new Evolution 552 Platinum.

BOAT TEST: EVOLUTION 552
EVOLUTION 552

 

TEST: EVOLUTION 552

Evolution boats burst onto the Australian boating scene some eight years ago with a dedicated fishing rig, the 550. It turned heads Australia-wide and has been giving many larger competitors a real run for their money in this popular size range.

When many boatbuilders do an upgrade they often just change the deck mould, while other new models are created just by changing the standard equipment specifications, name and decals. Not so with Evolution.

Melbourne-based boatbuilder and owner of Evolution, Paul Junginger ("Junga" to all), has committed the time and expense of remodelling the 5.5m Evolution with improvements throughout the entire package, including brand new hull and deck moulds.

It seems an eternity since the Melbourne Boat Show in 2005 when I helped the fledgling Junga introduce his new 550 Evolution. It was evident right from the start that he was leading the field with a boat designed for the purist angler. It isn't often a new manufacturer sells an unprecedented nine boats on his first outing, so back then it was obvious that Junga was on a winner.

Evolution has sold hundreds of boats since then and it seems that everywhere you look in southern waters you'll find one of these dedicated fishing machines. Anglers across Australia have taken to the entire range which now includes the 500 Santa Fe, Sportsfisher and Cuddy; the 600 Extreme (featured heavily in Trailerboat last year in Australia's Greatest Boats), and the 650 Predator and Apex Predator.

Not content to sit on his hands, and living true to the Evolution catchcry "Innovate not imitate," the team went back to the drawing board to make an even better mousetrap. Junga and I went to Sorrento in southern Port Phillip Bay for a day's fishing in the new Platinum 552 to find out if he'd succeeded in improving an already good boat.

 

 

GIMME THE DETAILS

Fishing from the new 552 is a dream. Its big wide decks and unrivalled stability really glow when there are a couple of XXXOS fellas vying for position, or hanging out the side to net a fish. Junga wasn't too happy when I covered both he and the boat in squid ink, but a quick squirt with the pressurised deckwash fixed that problem instantly.

We took a run across Port Phillip Heads to secret spot number 412 at Queenscliff and on the way encountered some larger swell, mixed up with wind and tidal chop. The Evolution took it all in its stride in a strong and confident manner while generating slightly less spray than the previous model. Noticeably less noise is transmitted through the hull as the new cabin bulkheads provide an improved sound barrier from the bell-shaped cabin. Disappointingly, secret spot number 412 had been fished out by the time we arrived.

While the old 550 Evolution was a great boat, the new 552 is a better one - quite an accomplishment when you already have one of the best on the market. And it's not only me saying that. The old model won many awards, including the AMIF Boat of the Year Award in 2008.

However, change isn't always immediately obvious. Outwardly the new 552 doesn't look that different from the old one, but put the two side by side and the improvements jump all over you. The new model is redefined in both major and minor ways.

• The 552 hull has a completely new, raised sheerline, increasing the bow flair among other less obvious changes.

• Minor changes like redesigning the internal transom setup for more efficient plumbing are not obvious to the casual observer.

• The interior is dramatically different but retains (in fact, it enhances) its fishability and ergonomics.

Here are 10 more things you should know about the new 552:

 

1 The most obvious thing is the quality of the mouldings. It's fair to say that Evolution was originally more devoted to design and equipment than gloss. But the new 552 has it all. The quality of finish in the entire boat has had an enormous lift and Junga has given way to market demand by using some pinch weld to trim raw fibreglass edges (much to his dislike - it's easier to clean a purist fishing boat without it).

2 The 552 is a completely new hull and there's actually a 75mm increase in gunwale height at the bow. The increase tapers off to the original freeboard at the stern. This gives more flare, more cabin space, more headroom, more storage capacity and a higher dashboard. The new hull also features a completely moulded bowsprit from both deck and hull moulds, providing ultimate strength and a very smooth and clean finish. All of this combines with a very aggressive reverse chine for lift, tracking, and even greater stability from the 2.5m beam.

3 The 75mm increased height in the forward sheerline enables a higher dash that is now supported by fully enclosed bulkheads. Electronics with a 10in screen can be flush-mounted in the dashboard area, and there's also room below for a separate 8in screen should separate GPS/plotter/radar/sounder units be preferred.
The higher helm feels more comfortable and secure and certainly offers better vision. The enclosed bulkheads give the whole boat more structural integrity and the cabin can be locked up with an optional fibreglass or canvass doorway.

4 The completely redesigned transom now features a convenient doorway, a fully-plumbed livebait tank, as well as enclosed hatches for batteries, isolators and bilge access. It has loads of subtle features like a slope off the fuel filler in case of spillage. Under the transom there's better facility for plumbing, allowing for a tidier engine cable fitup.

5 The windscreen has improved protection with longer sides. Perspex or safety glass options are available but it's rare for Evolution to sell the cheaper alternative.

6 The walkways down the side of the cabin are now wider and easier to use. This is due to the larger flare on the hull from the increased sheerline.

7 The cabin is larger with more headroom and a bigger front hatch. The bunks are longer as the space is used more efficiently.

8 There's more useable deck room since the new livebait tank in the transom has replaced the original passenger seat box extension.

9 A pair of stainless steel footrests is mounted to the cabin bulkhead to replace the original open fibreglass mouldings.

10 The sidepocket recesses are larger and more efficient meaning they can store more rods, gaffs and boat hooks.

 

 

PRETTY BITS

The all-new Evolution 552 is available in the traditional Gold and Platinum packages with options to suit every taste and budget. This is not just an old boat with new options - this is a completely new hull and deck that truly fits my definition of a brand new model. It feels like a bigger boat on the water and retains the structural and seakeeping integrity we've come to expect in all Evolution models.

As mentioned, Evolution has received many industry awards, and its boats are owned and recommended by an impressive variety of industry personalities. However, they're more than just fishing boats - their design, looks, layout and versatility will appeal to all boating enthusiasts. I'm sure the new 552 will feature heavily in this year's industry awards, but more importantly it will be a safe and efficient friend for your next fishing and boating expedition.

 

 

On the plane...

A big improvement on a terrific earlier model

Improved finish

Even more deck room

Better cabin with locking option

Good anchoring layout

Good helm and passenger layouts

Feels bigger on the water

Great fun, great fishing

 

 

Dragging the chain...

Junga can't catch fish!

(Are you sure we should say that? - Ed)

 

 

 

 

Specifications: Evolution 552 Platinum

 

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $70,990

Options fitted: Evinrude E-TEC 150hp, bimini, front and side clears, stainless steel rocket launcher, 27 MHz radio, VHF, Lowrance HDS-7, 4-in-1 stand-up rodholders, snapper rack corner unit, Hella spotlights, twin batteries

Priced from: $62,000

 

 

GENERAL

Type: Deep-vee monohull

Material: GRP

Length (overall): 6.2m

Length (hull): 5.5m

Beam: 2.49m

Weight (hull only): 820kg

Weight (BMT package w/ tandem trailer): 1700kg

Weight (approx. towing): 1850kg

Deadrise: 21°

 

 

CAPACITIES

Fuel: 150lt

Rec. max. HP: 150

 

 

ENGINE

Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC 150hp

Type: Loop-charged, 60° V6, direct-injection E-TEC

Rated HP: 150

Displacement: 2592cc

Weight: 196kg

Gearbox ratio: 1.85:1

Propeller: 17in Viper

 

 

SUPPLIED BY

Evolution Boats

4/254 Canterbury Road

Bayswater, Vic, 3153

Tel: (03) 9738 0085

Web: www.evolutionboats.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat 266.

 

Find Evolution boats for sale.

 


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