Review: Formosa Classic Mk4 520 SC review

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith

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The Formosa Mk4 520 SC from Queensland plate fishing boat manufacturer Formosa Boats is the next step in the company’s no-nonsense value-for-money range.

Formosa boats are far from uncommon in Queensland and over the past few years this publication have consistently reviewed Formosa’s range of classic plate fishing boats and never been disappointed with what has usually been a good, dry and stable ride. The latest addition to the range is the new MK4 hull, available in a number of configurations and sizes and, as to be expected, sporting a few changes that make them far better than the predecessors.

Like all Formosa boats, the new MK4 520 side console is no different and is easily identifiable from a distance on and off the water with its high sides, graphics and distinct flow of the sheer line standing out. As standard the new Formosa MK4 520 SC is supplied with a painted hull, the review boat sporting the optional two-tone design, in my opinion giving it quite a classy look.


Formosa boats for sale.



Formosa Boats Mk 4 520 SC

Boarding the Formosa 520 can be done in one of two ways: firstly, via the Formosa fastback transom which comes standard with a heavy-duty fold-down dive ladder. The fastback transom is wide and open and sits above the waterline. It’s then a step over the false transom to access the deck – or you can have the optional transom door fitted to make it easier, the option I would probably go for. Alternatively you can access the boat via the gunwales, although I would fit a few pads of non-slip if that was going to be the preferred method.

Once on board, the Formosa 520 SC presents a really clean and open layout, quite simple in fact with no major bells and whistles catching the eye. This is not a bad thing – it’s intentionally been kept to the bare minimum, in turn maintaining more space than usual found on a boat of this size, as well as adding to the affordability of the boat. 

In comparison to previous models one of the changes sees far less structural uprights on the inside of the gunwales. This doesn’t mean that the boat is weaker in construction – far from it, as they have gone for fewer heavy-duty posts instead. I like it as it opens up the inner gunwales and allows for more accessories to be fitted, rod-racks for instance, as well as looking more modern in style with the smoother sides.



Formosa Mk 4 520 SC layout

Internally the massive freeboard keeps you and the kids safe on board. Other features include the wide coamings on the gunwales, medium-sized sidepockets for gear, front and rear seating options, a slightly raised marine ply cast-desk with storage hatch, fully carpeted decks, good-size killtank, transom set up with open access to raised plumbing and battery compartments, optional baitboard fitted, and side console with screen and side-mount controls.

Again, it’s a very spacious layout and a simple one at that, but it really works well bearing in mind the less-is-more philosophy. The on-board space is amazing and definitely gives the feeling that you are on a larger boat. And, if you need more storage or whatever, just add to it to suit. A few eskies would add to storage space as well as serve as seating if need be – it’s as simple as that.

If anything I found the console to be a bit restrictive in size when it comes to flush-mounting electronics – well larger electronics that is. As it is, you could flush-mount a number of gauges and the smaller-sized GPS-sounder combos.



Formosa Mk 4 520 SC on the water

As predicted the 520 SC is quite the performer with the 140hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard motor – by far one of my favourite power outputs when it comes to Suzuki outboards, due to the combination of reliability and gutsy low-down and top-end torque.

Although 140hp is the maximum horsepower rating for the Formosa 520 SC, I reckon it’s probably the most ideal horsepower to have on this boat. Yes, it’s going to cost a few more bob but I’d rather be a bit greedy on the power side, if the budget allows. The difference in fuel consumption from lower horsepower options is going to be marginal as you don’t have to be as heavy-handed on the throttle.

Renowned for its holeshot performance, the 140 cracks the Formosa 520 onto the plane fast and with little effort. Due to the high bow design you might find a bit of bow rise before it levels out, but this only happens if you are light-handed on the throttle. Locking the trim in and knocking the hammer down eliminates most of the bow rise and maintains more of a level profile. Once on the plane adjusting the ride to suit the conditions is simple, by selecting a comfortable trim to suit.

Deck on Formosa Classic Mk 4 520 SC

If it’s really rough you can actually use the deep entry of the bow to slice away at the chop at moderate speeds – or crank that trim up and wind up the speed to fly over the chop. Either way, it was nice to experience a hull that can actually handle both styles of driving, my preference being the latter. Conditions were moderate within Moreton Bay, but when slamming through a few ferry wakes it was evident that the hull produces quite a soft ride considering the 17-degree deadrise.

In calm conditions the hull again performs exceptionally well and by trimming the motor to just off cavitation, you can achieve a walloping top end of 40kts without feeling uncomfortable behind the wheel. The only gripe I would have was the non-feedback steering fitted – it works fine, but when you are used to hydraulics there is no comparison. I’d rather pay the extra to make driving that much smoother and easier.

Backing off to standard cruise speeds, the ideal speed to suit most conditions and economy is around the 4000rpm mark, or a speed of 20 to 25kts depending on conditions. A 2.4m beam then keeps the boat super stable at both rest and underway, with the large reverse chines adding to the dryness of the ride. Overall the 520 side console has a nice comfortable ride and is a hull that reacts well to a bit of abuse on the water if you’re that way inclined.



Fishing from Formosa Mk 4 520 Classic SC

I really like the Formosa boats "less-is-more’ design philosophy on this craft. It has loads of space and is a comfortable platform to fish from both up in the bow and in the stern – that being for lure and bait anglers. Being a side console also adds to the comfort, especially for those who travel a fair distance on the water.


See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #456, August / September 2014. Why not subscribe today?




Formosa Classic MK4 520 SC price: $40,900



MATERIAL Aluminium (4mm sides and bottom)

TYPE Monohull 

LENGTH 5.35m

BEAM 2.4m

WEIGHT 540kg  




PEOPLE 5            

REC. HP 90          

REC. MAX HP 140            

FUEL 115lt (optional 150lt)           




TYPE Four-stroke outboard motor



WEIGHT 184kg  

GEAR RATIO 2.59:1         

PROPELLER 21in three-blade aluminium




3491 Pacific Highway

Springwood, QLD, 4127

PHONE (07) 3808 7333





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