TEST REVIEW: ROLCO NIRVANA/PHOENIX/EVOLUTION


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Rolco Boats let us loose on the mighty Murray with three of its best. Kevin Poulter reports.

TEST REVIEW: ROLCO NIRVANA/PHOENIX/EVOLUTION
TEST REVIEW: ROLCO NIRVANA/PHOENIX/EVOLUTION


Rolco Boats sells some of the best priced performance boats in their class. The company manages to do this by selling direct from its factory to anywhere in Australia – and it works. During our test we put three Rolco V8 speedboats – the entry-level Nirvana, the mid-featured Phoenix and the top-of-the-range Evolution – through their paces on the mighty Murray, with impressive results.

The effectiveness of Rolco’s strategy was clearly demonstrated during our test, when we were joined by a potential buyer from South Australia. Having travelled eight hours to Echuca, he test-drove the boats for as long as he could, then promptly signed on the dotted line and returned home.

EXCELLENT ENTRY

Rolco’s entry-level boat is the Nirvana, starting at $29,990 including a trailer (yes, you can drive away with a boat and trailer for under $30,000). As with all Rolco models, numerous optional upgrades are available, making it a great buy in any market.

Measuring 20ft (6m) including a large swim platform, the Nirvana offers a comfortable ride for up to seven people. Build-quality is also good and while it sports fewer features than a more expensive boat, Rolco assured us that the quality is just as good.

The middle boat is the $33,990 Phoenix, which includes a tandem trailer and any choice of colour scheme at no extra charge. At the top is the 21ft Evolution, starting at $37,990 and sporting an easily accessible and massive rear ski locker.

During the test Rolco Director Lloyd Brewer told us that the Evolution has world tournament accreditation. "It’s a three-event tournament boat that can tow in any competition in the world," he said. "They prove that you don’t have to spend bucketloads of money to get a good quality, brand new boat that performs well, looks great and is reliable."

All Rolco boats can be fitted with optional towers, a high pole, bimini and stereo, plus a range of engines.

CHOOSE YOUR ENGINE

Rolco is not tied to a specific engine manufacturer and buyers can choose from a fuel-injected Gen III, an Indmar, or a carburetted 350. Soft clutches are available to suit and boats can be serviced on site at the Rolco factory or at agents in Echuca, Mildura, Yarrawonga, as well as in Qld.

Lloyd told us that TrailerBoat magazine has been working well for Rolco. "We are selling more boats than we did this time last year, so our magazine coverage was hitting the mark," he said

While the Evolution represents the best value boat in the range, the Phoenix is actually the most popular. Her seven seats are finished in crushed velour with XR8 colour-coded pattern inserts. The driver’s seat is on a slider and has ample legroom and a drop floor. The observer’s seat is also quite wide, so sharing it while watching a skier doesn’t feel too squeezy (the Phoenix is the boat fitted with the bimini in our photos).

Standard features include heavy-duty marine carpet, seven stainless steel drinkholders, footthrottle, netted side-coaming pockets for ski gear, and a large fully carpeted ski locker up front to store even more ski gear. Its 140lt fuel tank should also be adequate for a weekend of family skiing.

The Phoenix comes on an Easytow tandem trailer, with checkerplated guards and steps, carpeted mudguard in-fills, trolley wheels, LED lights, winch and brakes.

PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING

On the test day the boat’s 350 Chevrolet soft-clutch engine delivered 300hp, providing plenty of grunt to pull three people out. Two brass centre fins assisted in tracking and handling, and we found a good wash for wakeboarding at 17.4kts (20mp/h). At higher speeds it was suitable for slalom skiing and barefooting.

We were struck by how these boats turned tightly with a very acceptable lean, making them ideal for the many narrow sections on the Murray and other inland rivers. A four-blade propeller, mufflers, water-separating fuel filter, bilgepump and battery isolator are standard.

Both the Phoenix and the Evolution can be upgraded to a Perspex windscreen that improves appearance, with the option of room for a glove box, or Esky in the dash. It is selfdraining and can hold eight drinks. The driver will also appreciate a small storage compartment within arm’s reach, perfect for essential items like mobile phones, keys and wallets.

Towards the bow, the forward ski locker is carpeted, so ski gear can be stowed here without scratching on the raw fibreglass. However, the ultimate toy for the thrill-seeker has to be the tower option with pod speakers, powered by the Clarion sound head unit. Lloyd says that the Clarions sound great and never have warranty claims and I can happily tell you that cranking up the sound and pushing the "pedal to the metal" was an absolute buzz.

The tower with bimini afforded good sun protection and is an ideal mount for the boards. Here, Rolco added a rather clever feature, a convex mirror situated in the centre that gives a clear view of the skier. This will undoubtedly be an invaluable addition for owners wishing to teach beginners while driving, since it saves you from turning your neck all day.

TALL TOWER

Rolco recommends a tall tower as the safest option on the Murray, since a high bimini is better for visibility. On the Phoenix, a tower, ski pole, or high pole is recommended for the best tow.

Spray ingress into the boat was not a problem either. Despite sitting very low in the water and producing wakes that skiers and wakeboarders dream about, all aboard remained dry and comfortable throughout thr test. Admittedly, the river was calm and protected from the wind by the river gums, but the excellent hull design still helped greatly.

Overall, these Rolco boats are hard to beat in both price and performance. Whether you’re into skiing or wakeboarding, Rolco has a model for you.

WHAT WE LIKED
Great handling
Loads of options
Dry ride

NOT SO MUCH
It’s not mine!

SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested:
$37,690 Phoenix w/ 350 Chev and tandem trailer
Priced from:
$29,990 Nirvana; $33,990 Phoenix; $37,990 Evolution


GENERAL
Material:
GRP
Length:
6.0m Nirvana; 6.1m Phoenix; 6.4m Evolution
Beam:
2.1m
Weight:
1300kg Nirvana (BMT);
1400kg Phoenix (BMT); 1600kg (BMT)
Deadrise:
14° (Nirvana/Phoenix); varying with Delta Flat (Evolution)

CAPACITIES
Fuel:
70lt Nirvana; 140lt Phoenix/Evolution
Recommended HP: 310 Nirvana; 310 - 350 Phoenix; 310 - 410 Evolution

ENGINE
Make/model:
Rolco 350
Type:
V8 inboard
Rated HP:
310hp
Shaft length:
43in Nirvana; 47in Phoenix/Evolution
Propeller:
Austral three-blade 12x14 Nibral (Nirvana); Austral four-blade 12x14 Nibral (Phoenix); Austral four-blade 13x12 Nibral

SUPPLIED BY
Rolco Boats,
15 Foden Avenue,
Somerton, Vic, 3062
Phone: (03) 9308 0755
Web: www.rolcoboats.com.au

First published in TrailerBoat #247

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