2007 Cobalt 302 Bow Rider
Cobalt's Largest Bowrider For several years Cobalt’s 28-footer has been the heavy-hitter of the company’s bowrider lineup. This new Cobalt 302, now the largest bowrider in Cobalt’s fleet, may not seem a huge jump, but it brings to bat one thing the smaller boat can’t, twin engines—up to 425 horsepower each—providing the kind of muscle that promises spectacular things whenever it steps up to the plate. But it is not just the 302’s big guns that are making the competition nervous. From the convertible seating and cavernous storage in the bow to the wide sunpad and side walkthrough at the stern, this versatile new player offers many talents on both sides of the ball, appealing to a wide array of fans who appreciate every aspect of a great player.
Cockpit Layout While glancing at the specs, twin engines may be the most obvious addition to this new boat, but it was among the last things I noticed when I was first introduced to the 302. Boarding from the stern, the starboard side walkthrough (versus the 282’s center walkthrough) dramatically changes the cockpit layout, with a large L-shaped settee to port, wide sunpad adjacent to the walkthrough, and wet bar with standard refrigerator, large sink, and Corian countertop forward and to starboard. While the balanced port and starboard seating of the 282 will certainly have its fans, this new seating arrangement of the 302 keeps friends and family together on one side of the boat, giving the 302 a bit more sociable personality. When it is time for a meal, a table flips out from behind the settee—just lift the seat cushion and raise the hinged seat back, and the table, mounted on a hinged stainless steel gooseneck pedestal, flips into place with no additional parts to assemble or store. After a good meal, the 302 quickly converts for sun-soaking siesta. The seat back at the forward end of the settee flips fore and aft, forming a forward-facing companion seat behind the port windshield, or turning the settee into a long recliner. The backrest between the aft settee and sunpad flips fore and aft in similar fashion, allowing a forward-facing seat in the cockpit, or becoming a headrest for the large aft sunpad.
Bow Features Up in the bow, the 302 also provides convertible seating, with removable seat sections port and starboard. With the seats in place, the 302 is much like a typical bowrider, offering two long recliners to relax in the sun, or seating for about five. With the seat sections removed, the bow of the 302 instead provides two forward-facing seats just ahead of the windshield and an aft-facing bench seat in the bow for two more people, with greatly enhanced deck space.The 302’s appeal isn’t just practical. The boat features Cobalt’s typical good looks and sophisticated refinements like topstitched upholstery with subtle but distinct logos embroidered in all seat backs, stainless steel hardware and thru hull fittings, and meticulously finished fiberglass surfaces. The helm, in particular, utilizes many of Cobalt’s typical enhancements like Livorsi controls and custom Faria gauges with Cobalt’s logo tastefully inscribed in on the face. New for the 302, however, the instrument panel includes a Garmin 292 color chart plotter in the center, and stainless steel pushbutton switches mounted on polished chrome trim. The upholstered dash continues across to the port side as well, where the standard-equipment six-speaker stereo--including an MP3 input jack and adjacent 12-volt outlet—will certainly play Eminem when appropriate, but is equally suited to Mozart. In short, anywhere she makes a public appearance, the 302 will be recognized as a class act.
Storage and Accessibility Great athletes are successful largely because they mastered the fundamentals. In boat design, those fundamentals include good storage and easy access to equipment. The 302 scores high here. The huge compartment under the helm, for example, includes chocks for the removable bow seat inserts and customs hangers for life jackets and wetsuits. To access this locker, the starboard bow seat back and bottom lift as one piece, hinged at the top to create a cavernous opening. A trash bin tips out of its compartment in the walk-through to the bow, and across the boat, the head door is cleverly concealed as part of the dash. Inside, the surprisingly spacious head includes a standard Porta-Potti, plumbed to a deck fitting for dockside pump out. Options include a macerator for offshore discharge and a VacuFlush marine toilet. Numerous additional storage compartments throughout the boat include either rubber matting secured in the bilge to protect gear and provide air circulation or molded fiberglass pans, insulated and fitted with drains, allowing numerous possibilities for iced drinks. There is storage for cups and bottles in a cabinet adjacent to the wet bar, as well as ample drinkholders and nooks and crannies intended for sunglasses, sunscreen, and similar small items throughout the boat. A hatch in the cockpit deck aft allows maintenance on pumps and equipment mounted under the deck, as well as access to the engine compartment from the front. The sunpad and aft seat raise with the flip of a switch, allowing engines to be reached from the top as well, and with our test boat’s MerCruiser 6.2 liter engines, the engine compartment had ample room for maintenance and repairs, as well as extra space for tools and spares. One thing I questioned though, two of the hatches in the deck are made of Starboard, a strong polyethylene used extensively in the marine industry but not often employed for broad walking surfaces. Starboard is strong and tough, but a bit more prone to scratching than fiberglass, and the non-skid pattern isn’t as aggressive as the surrounding deck. Then again, the entire starboard hatch can be replaced, if gouged, for less money gelcoat repairs on fiberglass, and with Cobalt’s heavyweight interior carpet snapped in place, the issue resolves itself completely.
Power and Performance Steroids are a faux pas in sports, but anything that enhances performance is seldom frowned upon in boats. For those who prefer huge muscle, the 302 is available with twin 425 horsepower MerCruiser 496 Mag High-Output engines on dual-prop Bravo 3 sterndrives, with a top speed in the mid-sixty mile-per-hour range according to Cobalt. Our test boat was equipped with the somewhat less-ripped 320 horsepower Mercruiser 6.2 MX MPI engines on the same Bravo 3 sterndrives. We topped out at 52.9 miles-per-hour and cruised most economically at 28.5 miles-per-hour, traveling 1.6 miles-per-gallon for a 216-mile range with onboard fuel, allowing for a safe reserve. While coaching has much to do with fine-tuning the performance of an athlete, it is up to the boat’s designers to fine-tune the performance of a hull. The 302 showed impressive abilities here as well, planing in 4.2 seconds, and rising evenly, without the noticeable stern-squat experienced on many deep-V boats this size. The 302 stayed on plane down below 20 miles-per-hour too, and accelerated quickly from any speed, proving the engines and hull were a well-matched combination. Cobalt’s deep-V hull gives the boat straight tracking and a smooth ride in a chop, and the reversed chine digs in on tight turns and mitigates spray for a dry ride.While just a rookie on the company’s roster, my intuition and experience in the field tell me Cobalt’s 302 just may be the next superstar out of Kansas.
Cobalt 302 Test Result Highlights
625 Sea Horse Drive
Waukegan, IL 60085