By Steven Bull
Princecraft has been making boats in Quebec for more than 60 years and, for many of those years, they’ve been making pontoons of various sizes and luxury. For 2016, they have introduced the newest member of the pontoon family, the Jazz 180.
It’s a back-to-basics, entry-level boat that is a great starter and something you’d feel comfortable letting your kids take out on their own. Because of Princecraft’s strong tradition and years of experience, the Jazz doesn’t have the bangs and rattles you might expect on a less expensive pontoon.
All Princecraft pontoons are made with 5052-H36 aluminum alloy which is up to 25-percent harder than other pontoon alloys. The two-and-a-half-inch heavy-duty Z-bar cross channels, normally found on larger boats, give the Jazz the strength not always found on such a small platform. The three-quarter-inch pressure treated wood deck gives this pontoon rigidity.
To keep this frame running smoothly, the aluminum V-shaped engine pod reduces water resistance and can accommodate anything from a small 10-horsepower motor up to one of 60-horsepower.
The Jazz 180 is not like the Princecraft Vogue line, with tricked out interiors and incredible technological options, but you still have options to customize the look. The base finish is Magnetic Gray and there are three other finish selections to choose from.
It has basic, but attractive, dual benches at the bow. As tested, the two-tone material was highlighted with the Regal Edition strip of red, adding a nice little pop. Champagne or Electric Lime are other colour options. Another add-on is the removable table that can be placed between the benches.
An extended platform at the bow is big enough to sit on with your feet dangling in the water or for the kids to use as a launch pad to hurl themselves into the water. When they are ready to climb back on board, there is a handy ladder at the stern.
The roto-moulded helm console is basic, but has small touches that add comfort. For example, the foot well cutout prevents leg cramming while at the helm and the steering wheel is adjustable. Along with lighted switches, our test boat was outfitted with the Concert Package that includes a Jensen MS30BT Radio with an auxiliary input.
For those of us who love being out on the water, but could use some shade, the optional camper top is a wonderful addition that can stay up even when cruising around.
Handling is what you’d expect of a small, two-log pontoon. Corners aren’t intensely tight, and you don’t bank into them. With a top speed just under 22 miles per hour, you’re not buying this to be dazzled by performance.
A boat like the Jazz 180 isn’t big enough to try to compete with the high-end competitors in the pontoon world – even from its own Princecraft family – so it doesn’t try. This is an honest boat that doesn’t feel bare bones.
With a maximum capacity of six people, you can putt along the shore comfortably, do some fishing or cruise to a waterfront restaurant with the family. The Jazz 180 has all the makings of a very popular, and functional, small family pontoon that will likely be a big hit in Princecraft’s lineup.
TEST BOAT ENGINE
60 hp Mercury FourStroke with Command Thrust
ACCELERATION (mph / sec)
0-plane / 4.0
0-20 / 8.0
TOP SPEED (rpm / mph)
6,000 / 21.8
CRUISING speeds: (rpm / mph)
6,000 / 21.8
Length: 18 ft / 5.5 m
Beam: 8 ft 1 in / 2.5 m
Weight: 1,456 lbs / 660 kg
Fuel Capacity: Portable
Price: $26,929 (as tested)
SPEED TESTING by Apple GPS