Review: Bryant 198 and 198 WA

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


BRYANT 198 02 BRYANT 198 02
BRYANT 198 03 BRYANT 198 03
BRYANT 198 05 BRYANT 198 05
BRYANT 198 06 BRYANT 198 06
BRYANT 198 08 BRYANT 198 08
BRYANT 198 09 BRYANT 198 09

Bryant boats have a loyal following in America. In Australia, the stylish sports boats are gaining new fans. John Ford reports on the Bryant 198 WA and 198 models.

When Ken Kirkpatrick, the local Bryant Boats importer, suggested we take the new model for a run on the Nepean River at the foot of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney I was most enthusiastic.

 

BRYANT BOATS

BRYANT 198

Ken has been importing Bryants for the past four years direct from the factory in pleasant-sounding Sweetwater, Tennessee. Happy customers have been attracted to the high quality of build and fittings along with sporty performance.

Our test boats, a 198 and a 198 WA, had outwardly similar red and white hulls. Engines too were alike with the 198 sporting a fuel injected 4.3lt MerCruiser and the 198 WA housing the carbie version of the same V6 block.

The 198 is a standard issue bowrider with two helm seats and a rear lounge while the WA has a central open "walk around" space in the cockpit by locating the passenger seats in a single sweep along the port side and across the back.

The bow arrangement in both boats is identical but there were standard features that really impressed me. For a start there is a dedicated anchor locker in the forepeak — unusual enough in an American bowrider — but it also has a dedicated anchor-holder with nylon protection for a snug fit and a silent ride.

 

DECK AND LAYOUT

BRYANT 198 LAYOUT

Then there are the side seats that open wide on piano hinges and gas struts where most boats have simple lift-out seats. A central forward storage bin doubles as an esky with a drain to the bilge. Forward passengers gain stainless steel drink holders moulded into the seat base as well as chrome covered speakers and recessed stainless grab handles. Recessed mooring cleats along the rails add a touch of quality.

Clip-out carpet flows back from the bow to the cockpit and there is easy access between the two locations with a sturdy five piece Taylor Made windscreen for support. Forward in the cockpit is a large carpet-lined ski and board locker capable of handling the longest water toys.

 

HELM

Driver position and helm layout is the same in both boats and includes a swivelling pedestal-mounted bucket seat with deep foam and spring support and a lift up bolster. A tilting wheel and sliding seat allow any size driver to sit comfortably.

A comprehensive array of instruments high on the contoured dash includes trim and depth gauges while a side mounted engine control is within easy reach.

 

STORAGE

Storage is superb on the WA. The side lounge opens inwards on gas struts and the backrest at the bulkhead lifts to reveal a huge carpet-lined hold.

Both versions have a rear sunpad with an opening section to starboard for a walkway that ensures the upholstery won’t be damaged on boarding. At the stern is a swim platform sculpted either side of the engine bay to create a wider seating position. The soft non-skid Sea Deck floor has a recessed swim ladder and a wet locker for ski rope storage.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

BRYANT 198 ON THE PLANE

Both boats share the MerCruiser V6 4.3lt engine but in the case of the 198 it’s fuel injected for an output of 220hp while the WA uses less sophisticated but cheaper carburettor-induction to produce 190hp.

With 30 less ponies to play with I was expecting the WA to be more mundane than the 198, but in reality it didn’t make a huge amount of difference — top end speed was only 2kts less than the 198.

Hole shot from the 220hp engine was marginally better and with a four-blade prop in comparison to the WA’s three-blades it hung on more surely in radical turns but not to the extent where the WA was put to shame.

On the long, open stretches of the Nepean Gorge, the boats were a real pleasure at the wheel as we held a high-speed cruise around 30kts at an easy 3500rpm. As the wake shattered the mirror-like reflections of the dark water the boat’s bright colour scheme looked stunning against the wooded background of the looming cliffs.

Sharing the same hull and with a forward mounted fuel cell, both vessels smoothly transitioned onto the plane and were easy to drive with safe, predictable handling. Sharp turns offered neither surprises nor any untoward leaning to frighten the passengers. They just went where they were pointed.

There was not much opportunity on the river to examine rough water capability other than over the wash of other boats where both rode softly and without rattles or banging.

 

THE VERDICT

BRYANT 198 AND 198WA

Price reflects this quality and while you will find cheaper 19 footers in the market these boats are imported with a host of extras included as standard. Each comes with full cover, bow cover, colour matched bimini, custom trailer and music system, plus the 198 gains a dinette table.

For speed and performance in the entry-level category these baby Bryants easily hold their own but for quality of finish in that class I believe they are a standout. 

 

BRYANT 198 PERFORMANCE

5kts (9kmh) @1000 rpm

9kts (16kmh) @2000rpm 

17kts (31kmh) @2400rpm — on the plane

20kts (37kmh) @2500rpm 

27kts (50kmh) @3000rpm

31kts (57kmh) @3500rpm 

35kts (65kmh) @ 4000rpm 

41kts (76kmh) @ 4500rpm 

43kts (80kmh) @ 4800rpm — wide open throttle

 

BRYANT 198 WA PERFORMANCE

5kts (9kmh) @ 1000rpm

7kts (13kmh) @2000rpm 

11kts (20kmh) @2500rpm 

17kts (31kmh) @2800rpm — on the plane

25kts (46kmh) @3000rpm 

29kts (53kmh) @3500rpm 

35kts (64kmh) @ 4000rpm 

38kts (70kmh) @ 4500rpm 

41kts (76kmh) @ 4800rpm — wide open throttle

 

ON THE PLANE...

  • High quality of finish
  • Safe and easy to drive
  • Towable by family cars

 

DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • Nothing to report

 

 

BRYANT 198 AND 198WA SPECIFICATIONS

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: Bryant 198 - $54,990; Bryant 198 WA - $52,990

 

GENERAL

Type: Monohull bowrider

Material: fully fibreglass 

Length: 6m

Beam: 2.44m

Weight: 1284kg

Deadrise: 17°

 

CAPACITIES

People: 8

Rec. HP: 190-220hp

Max. HP: 220hp

Fuel: 117L

 

BRYANT 198 ENGINE

Make/model: MerCruiser 4.3MPI

Type: V6 fuel injected petrol

Weight: 352kg

Displacement: 4300cc

Propeller: 19" Revolution 4 blade

 

BRYANT 198WA ENGINE

Make/model: MerCruiser 4.3TKS

Type: V6 carburetted petrol

Weight: 344kg

Displacement: 4300cc

Propeller: 19" 3 blade

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Bryant Boats,

Sweetwater ,Tenn., USA.

 

SUPPLIED BY

Bryant Marine

14 Fleece Close, St. Clair, NSW

Tel: 0401 445 003

Web: www.bryantmarine.com.au

 

See the full version of this test in TrailerBoat #302, December 2013

Find Bryant boats for sale.

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.