BOAT TEST: SAVAGE 655C

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Savage’s latest, the spacious 655C, is a multi-purpose vessel that will suit fishos and their families alike. They can even take along a few friends.

BOAT TEST: SAVAGE 655C
The Savage 655C — made in China, but the tester didn't rate this as a problem.

The recent unveiling of Savage's new fibreglass range included a few bowriders and a number of cabin boats from 4.85m all the way up to a 6.55m cabin / full walkaround model.

I unfortunately wasn't at the launch, held at Tangalooma Resort on Queensland's Moreton Island, but shortly after I did manage to snap up tests on their two big guns, the Savage 585C and 655C. These two were at the top of the list due to the overall family appeal and, of course, their general fishing and offshore capabilities.

Before I got personally acquainted with the boats, however, I had heard a number of reports from the launch, and most were very positive. But one point that stood out was the fact the boats are built offshore - in China, to be precise.

I understand that this immediately raises the eyebrows of some, but it actually doesn't bother me because I can understand why so many manufacturers are moving production offshore. Let's face it, times are tough and if a company can produce a good product offshore and make it significantly more affordable, then good on them.

Yes, the question of quality will be raised and it is not a bad point, but Savage has been producing decent boats for a long time and I have confidence in the company's credentials. And the standard 10-year warranty will be handled locally, which I believe to be a very positive thing.

So with all of this in mind, the build quality was something I wanted to get a good look at in person.



INSTANT ATTRACTION

Luckily for us, we were gifted a cracker of a Gold Coast day with crystal-clear water and sunny skies, not to mention the two hot-looking Savages waiting for their punishment.

Not that I'm biased, but the 655C walkaround automatically had a magnetic appeal when it came to selecting the boat for test. I'm a big fan of walkarounds and I loved its sporty, supermodel look. A quick undressing with the eyes left me happy with the finish and design. And with a 22° variable deadrise, combined with aggressive strakes and slightly reversed chines, I predicted the ride would be relatively soft with good stability at average speeds.

One important factor to remember when looking at a boat is that you can't please everyone when it comes to design, but I must say that today's manufacturers are doing a pretty good job at producing more multi-purpose boats and particularly so on the Savage 655C.

Although the interior layout might look similar to other boats on the market, there are quite a few notable features on the 655C that make it suitable to both family boaters and fisherman alike.



FAMILY ENTERTAINER

One of the immediate appeals of the 655C, especially for those with larger tribes, is the fact it has a rating for up to eight passengers, while most boats of this size are only rated to six. This is great for water-going families and their friends because eight would be more likely to accommodate two sets of parents and kids.

The layout comprises a good combination of adjustable and removable seating options, plenty of storage space and a good-sized bimini for protection up at the helm, and the spacious walkaround area allows for a fully usable bow.

The 655C is also home to a number of features you wouldn't necessarily find on other craft, including an interesting dual transom-door system that includes pull-out rear seat backrests for easy entry, along with bolstered padding around the side pockets and console edges for a more luxurious feel.

Other than missing a few small items, such as drink holders, the layout is clean, spacious and comfortable, and would suit freshwater and saltwater applications. As with most standard boats, you would still need to add accessories like a GPS / sounder and other gadgets to suit your style of boating.

For the fishos, the 655C can be used for any excursion as it is, although it's not exclusively designed as a fishing vessel. If there was anything that I would change or add to make it more fishable, I would recommend doing away with one of the transom doors and creating a bait / livewell tank, strengthen or remove the bolstered padding in the side pockets, and work out a rod-rack system in the gunwales, probably in the passenger's side pocket up front. (They've just informed me this is on the drawing board - Ed.)



EASY RIDER

Fitted with Evinrude's 200hp E-TEC, I was confident the 655C would have no issues with power. Knocking the hammer down, the holeshot power is instant and no heavy deadrise means the boat planes at around 14kts (26kmh) at 2500rpm. In the calm water, you can achieve an ample top-end speed of 42kts (78kmh), depending on load and direction to current.

I did find it was a bit twitchy at WOT, but that's not the kind of speed at which you'd normally belt around. A solution to that could be a set of trim tabs, which any monohull benefits from, anyway.

Once offshore, I found my ride prediction was correct - the 655C was certainly comfortable and displayed good stability at medium speeds in semi-rough conditions. While by no means is the 655C a speed machine offshore, it nevertheless rides nicely at both civilised and economical speeds.

I did find, however, that it could have done with a bit more trim; not a major problem, but something I prefer. This comes back to engine settings - the E-TECs are renowned for having higher settings to aid with high performance.

Running into the swell and chop, it felt like the bow sat low on the water. But, surprisingly, we didn't take one over the front and the ride remained dry. Side-on spray seemed to deflect off the hull nicely, and running with the sea I couldn't pick up any major tendencies to pull or broach.

It's a comfortable boat to drive when seated or standing, and the adjustable seats are a plus. For my average height, vision through the screen was good either seated and standing. If anything, I'd prefer to have the skipper's seat centred and not have the bolstered padding up against the console sides, because it feels a bit tight.



THE WRAP

The Savage 655C is a solid multi-purpose boat with a fairly decent ride, along with a simple but workable layout. And it's very pleasing to the eye inside and out.

Getting back to the quality, I was impressed with what Savage has produced. There are a few small areas to address in the finish, but nothing too serious. As it is, the layout is great and I'm sure over time a few things might change to make it even better.

At $62,172 as tested, I wouldn't say this is a budget blaster, but for what you get - a walkaround with a great cab, fitted with the latest-technology Evinrude E-TEC 200hp - it represents great value.



PERFORMANCE

7kts (13kmh) @ 1500rpm

14.3kts (26.5kmh) @ 2500rpm - planing

19kts (35.2kmh) @ 3000rpm

24.7kts (45.7kmh) @ 3500rpm

34.5kts (63.9kmh) @ 4500rpm

42kts (77.7kmh) @ 5650rpm - WOT



ON THE PLANE...

· Rocket launcher / bimini folds down

· Walkaround section is slightly recessed and fully usable

· Love the non-slip decks, but clip-in carpets would be a good option

· Cabin is a very good size

· Nice boarding ladder with hand rails



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· I'd swap dual transom doors / seat backrests for a bait / livewell

· Sidepocket padding is flimsy

· No drinkholders as standard

· No dedicated fish hatch





Specifications: Savage 655C



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $62,172

Options fitted: Bimini

Priced from: $61,282 (BMT)



GENERAL

Type: Family / general fishing

Material: GRP

Length: 6.5m

Beam: 2.48m

Weight: 1020kg (hull only)

Deadrise: 22°



CAPACITIES

People: 8

Rec. HP: 200hp

Max. HP: 250hp

Fuel: 170L

Water: No



ENGINE

Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC E200 DPXIND

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

Weight: 196kg

Displacement: 2592cc

Gear ratio: 1.85:1

Propeller: 17in stainless-steel Viper



MANUFACTURED BY

Savage (fibreglass)

Web: www.savageboats.com.au



SUPPLIED BY

Get Wet Boating

6 Dominions Road,

Ashmore, Qld, 4214

Tel: (07) 5539 6477

Web: www.getwetboating.com.au

Originally published in TrailerBoat #291, January 2013.

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