By Steven Bull
Replacing the Mandalay line of pontoons, Indiana-based Sylvan Marine’s new M-Series is no basic reboot of a name, it’s a whole new step up in terms of luxury and comfort.
The M5 LZ DC doesn’t look like an ordinary ‘toon in any way. The forward swept arch with speakers, the raised bow platform, the high-end windscreens and the fibreglass caps and LED lighting all stand out.
Both midship consoles are raised for good sightlines and there is plenty of storage throughout the boat. The rotocast seat bases have rain channels built in to direct any water around and out a vent instead of letting it drip into your compartment.
Usually a choice has to be made between a galley/bar layout or bench seats/loungers. Not with the M5. On the port-side at the forward seatback there is a fold-out galley – an option on all Sylvan’s pontoon lines. With sink, countertop, cup holders and bottle holder it’s large enough to be truly functional but still folds away.
Powered by Yamaha’s quiet-running F300, this was a true joy to drive. I was comfortable in the high-back adjustable captain’s seat and when I went hammer-down, we were on plane in four seconds. It’s not blistering performance in terms of acceleration or top speed, but a top end of 42 miles per hour is nothing to sneeze at.
Thanks to the SPX PR25 Performance Package, the centre tube has strakes on both sides but the outer tubes only have them on the inside. This gives enough surface area for good lift out of the water for acceleration and straight-line runs and aids in turns too. For a big pontoon, the M5 banks nicely.
This boat isn’t cheap, mind you, but Sylvan makes no apologies for that. They believe the six-figure price tag is worth what you get. I agree. When a company decides to axe a popular line like the Mandalay to replace it with something all-new, that’s a big gamble. In Sylvan’s case with the M5, I’d say it’s paid off.
TEST BOAT ENGINE
Yamaha F300, 4.2-litre, V6, 300 hp, electronic fuel injection (EFI)
Length: 26 ft 10 in / 8.18 m
Beam: 8 ft 6 in/ 2.59 m
Fuel Capacity: 60 gals / 227 L
Price: See your local dealer