Bayliner 175, 185, 215 Capri Review

These three 2002 model Capris are literally hot out of the mould, being only recently released by Bayliner to its international dealer network.

Each year Bayliner upgrades its model range. And even though there may be only minor modifications to last year’s boats, there are always changes none the less. But any significant design and configuration alterations to the Capri bowriders are few and far between.

Why? Well after more than two decades of building Capris, it’s fair to assume Bayliner have just about perfected these bowriders. So any changes these days are usually subtle. They may be as simple as altering the graphics or hull colours, upholstery colours and fabrics, or a change to the console mouldings and fit-out.

So, what’s new on the 2002 Bayliner Capris? Well, the re-design has been an exercise in refinement and work on the cosmetics. Bayliner has improved the performance, comfort and presentation of these popular and top selling trailerboats.

While the three boats may look similar when placed side-by-side, there are some significant differences, although most of these come about because of boat length and available space more than anything else.

While the biggest of the three models the 215 is the Rolls Royce of the range when it comes to absolute comfort and spaciousness, the other two boats are by no means inferior.

In its own class each is a well appointed, comfortable and flawless performer.

These boats love to be driven hard and can take everything that’s dished out to them. They are solid and secure boats that instill a confidence in boat handling for even the most inexperienced skipper.

They give a comfortable ride at a fast but economical cruise speed, which is about as efficient as you’ll get from any bowrider.

The hulls come onto the plane with a minimum of fuss indicating the excellent balance and weight distribution coupled with a good match of engine, prop and drive system for each hull.

For the tests the three boats were fitted with standard three-blade alloy propellers. These may not be as high tech, or offer some of the trim and speed benefits that can be gained from using stainless steel propellers, but the alloy props still performed flawlessly.

There was no cavitation, except in extreme turning manoeuvres, while acceleration and pulling power are as good as you’ll need. Also speeds throughout the entire rpm range are excellent.

With a 250hp 5.7lt V8 providing the power, the 215 Capri slides onto the plane with hardly a murmur from the engine and negligible resistance from the hull.

It planes at 2000rpm and needs only a lazy 2500 to 3000rpm to attain a comfortable family cruising speed of between 22 to 28 knots.

But if you stick the boot into her, and add some trim out to the sterndrive, the 215 sits high and free of the water, planing on the last metre or less of keel and running at around 50 knots when pulling 5000rpm.

The 185 and 175 are fitted with 190hp V6 and 135hp four-cylinder power plants respectively. They are similar in performance to the 215, requiring little power to get them on the plane and are also capable of cruising comfortably within an economical rev range.

Both of the smaller boats do kick the bow a little more than the 215, but it is not significant and certainly doesn’t impede the driver’s vision.

These boats show exceptional agility and acceleration. The 175 planes at 2200rpm (12 knots), while the 185 gets onto the plane at 2400rpm (13 knots). Both cruise easily between 3000 to 3800rpm (25 to 30 knots) before reaching top speeds in excess of 40 knots in the right conditions.

Both of the smaller boat’s out-of-the-hole acceleration is exceptionally good, hitting just on 30 knots in a tad over four seconds.

For the past few years, Bayliner have also played around with strake design, steps in the planing plank and gunwale lines. While it’s difficult to assess just how successful each of these modifications has been in increasing performance, they certainly haven’t held the boats back.

But some other US boat builders have also been tinkering with stepped hulls and strake designs. They may even have gone too far. In my opinion some of these modifications are proving detrimental to performance, because the boats are sucked down onto the water despite the amount of trim applied.

Bayliner on the other hand, has slowly developed a hull that responds well to trim, allowing the driver to make the most use of this feature to trim the boat to suit water conditions, speed and degree of comfort for the passengers.

The boats are also extremely dry. They don’t throw excessive amounts of water around, thus reducing the chance of any wind-generated spray.

The hulls also hang on superbly in tight turns without burying the bow or trying to skate or slip across the water’s surface.

Each of these Bayliners performs faultlessly. And I doubt if changes to power or props will improve on this performance greatly. Bayliner have got the power to prop to weight ratio right.

They plane effortlessly, can hold a slow planing speed and maintain a level trim angle. All of this means that the driver can make most economical use of engine rpm to achieve good cruising and skiing speeds.

The fit-out and finish of the 2002 Capris is as good, if not better, than in past years. The windscreens are also a little higher, so the top rail doesn’t impede the line of sight of a tall person.

The dash consoles are designed with hoods to shade instruments from reflected glare – although the 175 dash could use more refinement – and the steering wheels are positioned for driver comfort. The 215 Capri features a tilt-adjustable steering column.

It certainly isn’t hard to see why these boats are one of the biggest selling bowriders around the world. The Capris are a complete package providing everything needed in a family day boat.

There is sufficient storage space for both the mandatory items and all those other day-to-day items that seem to get thrown onboard for a family day out on the water.

Built-in iceboxes, stereo CD player, fully lined interiors, quality upholstery, coupled with ease of trailing, storage covers and an excellent match of engine to hull provide complete boating packages that represents excellent value for money.

Prices for the test boats are: $33,590 for the 175; $39,990 for the 185; and $54,990 for the 215.

The boats are manufactured by the Bayliner Marine Corporation in America.

Engine Room
The 215 Capri Bowrider is fitted with a 250hp 5.7lt V8, which planes at 2000rpm, cruises comfortably between 2500 to 3000rpm (22-28 knots) and hits a top speed of more than 50 knots at 5000rpm.

The 185 Capri is powered by a 190hp V6 that planes at 13 knots pulling 2400rpm and has a WOT speed of 40 knots.

Even more economical is the 175 Capri, which is only fitted with a 135hp four-cylinder MerCruiser, but can still attain a top speed of 40 knots. It planes at 12 knots pulling 2200rpm and cruises effortlessly at 3000 to 3800rpm hitting 25 to 30 knots.

All of these engines are coupled to MerCruiser Alpha I sterndrives and were running standard three-blade alloy props.