words & photos - Geoff Middleton
The first Savage Fibreglass boat gets a makeover

- Value-for-money package
- Good power from the new engine
- High comfort levels 
- Quite dry even on a choppy day

- Trim will take a bit of getting used to
- No door or infill between the cockpit and the bow section
- No grab handles in the bow section

- The original Fibreglass
When Savage acquired the moulds for its range of fibreglass boats, the first boat the company released was the 195B bowrider. It was the company’s ‘toe in the water’ to test the market and see if a brand that has been renowned for many years for its quality aluminium boats could break into the fibreglass market.

That was three years ago and the boat was immediately a huge success selling over 80 units in its first year. And Savage tells us that if you want one of these babies, you’re going to have to wait till February -- that’s how popular they’ve become.

Now, with the release of its sister ship, the 175B, along with the new range of cabin boats, the 195B has come in for a bit of a makeover. The big news is that power has been upgraded from 135hp to 220hp with the fitment of a 4.3 MPI MerCruiser driving an Alpha 1 leg.

The 195B is offered as a drive-away package with very few options as it comes fully loaded and, as we discovered, at a very affordable price.

- Not much to add
The Savage Fibreglass 195B has been designed as an affordable family day boat. It’s not a dedicated ski boat or wake boat, (but with the new bigger engine, it certainly is more capable of filling those roles) it is a good all-round gad-about-the-harbour bowrider.

Our test boat was priced at $39,490 which, when you read on, will equate to very good value for money when it’s revealed just what the basic boat has as standard equipment.

The options list for the 195B is one of the shortest we’ve seen, offering just a spare wheel carrier for the trailer and a vinyl wrap for the hull of the boat.
All the rest is there, just add a couple kids, some food and drinks, and a towel or two.

In the interests of comparison, Chaparral’s recently-released H20 19-footer tips the financial scales at $42,750.

- New engine with plenty of grunt
The 195B is another of Savage’s boats that are built in Haimen, China. According to Savage’s Jason Draeger, the enormous factory is overseen by two managers from New Zealand and the quality of the products coming out of there is remarkably good. 

The factory has the ability to turn out more than 200 boats per year with the shipping time from there to the Telwater headquarters in Queensland being around four weeks.

The hull of the 195B is built for strength, we’re told, and as such, the swim platform is manufactured as part of the top deck mould which is a design feature to make the boat tougher and more durable.

The hull is 5.94 metres in length with a beam of 2.25 metres. The weight of the boat and motor is 1270kg dry which is about right for boat of this size (the aforementioned Chaparral is around 1270kg, too).

The new engine in the 195B is the MerCruiser 4.2 MPI. This is a V6 engine with multi-point fuel injection. It’s a smooth and capable engine that more than adequately powers the hull. Drive is provided through an Alpha 1 leg spinning a 21-inch alloy prop.

According to the people at Savage it did take a little bit of modification to get the bigger 220hp MerCruiser into the engine bay, but when we lifted the cover on its gas struts everything looked neat and tidy. The engine bay has plenty of room all around the block so there’s no trouble conducting your routine checks and maintenance.

- Plenty of comfort for six
There’s nothing radical about the layout of the 195B. It’s typical bowrider with twin helm seats amidships, a comfy bowrider section up front, then a lounge at the rear with a sunpad covering the engine bay.

We noted that the seats were very supportive and comfortable, particularly the helm and co-pilot’s seats, and I did find it very comfortable on the rear lounge as we were burning around Moreton Bay.

There’s a big swim platform aft and, for those who like a bit of skiing or boarding, there’s an underfloor ski locker running down the centreline of the boat.

Internally, the boat comes standard with clip-in carpet and you also get the bimini shown here, as well as a tonneau and a travel cover.

Navigation lights are standard and we did note that you also get an anchor well with a lid -- something that is not always standard on a bowrider and a great inclusion.

- Fun machine with a bit of attitude
The 195B is a good looking boat and, with its black hull and rakish lines, it looks like it means business and is ready to go.

Sliding in behind the wheel, we find full instrumentation with easy-to-see white-faced gauges. Below these are rocker switches for the blower, nav lights, bilge and horn. The wheel is a soft-touch sporty number while the shifter falls easily to hand. Overall a well laid out and comfortable helm station.

On the port side there’s a glove-box style compartment that not only hides the Fusion Stereo but provides a safe spot for valuables such as mobile phones.

We fired up the V6 and, with a pleasant burble, we were off.

The 195 is a pleasant boat to drive. It’s not too noisy, though it does have a bit of a growl as you run up through the rev range. It’s smooth and gives a sense of strength. As our day wore on, the breeze increased and a nasty Moreton Bay chop developed which gave us a real chance to test the boat. Not really ideal bowrider conditions but the 195B felt solid and composed.

I did find it a bit tricky to get the right trim set for the conditions but I imagine as an owner you’d soon get used to it.

Steering and handling were great and we found that the boat was very forgiving and we could throw it about with ease.

In terms of performance we got a comfortable cruise at 3000rpm doing 27 knots (31.1 mph) and using 23.4 litres per hour. Flat out she’ll do 44.3 knots (53 mph) chewing through 62.1 litres of unleaded per hour which might make the 85-litre tank seem a bit small.

- Good value for a good boat
By building these boats in China, Savage has been able to keep the price down to a minimum. However, with management of the plant handled by a couple of meticulous New Zealanders, the quality has remained high.

The few gripes we’d have about this boat are far outweighed by the positive points and we think the 195B is a winning value-for-money prospect.

The boat is good-looking comfortable and well, a bag of fun!

We enjoyed it, and it’s easy to see why the Savage dealers are scrambling to get more stock.

Overall rating: 4.6/5.0
Mechanical/equipment: 4.6/5.0
Packaging and practicality: 4.4/5.0
On the water Performance: 4.7/5.0
Value for money: 4.9/5.0
X-factor: 4.0/5.0

PRICE: $39,490
LOA: 5.94m
Hull length: 5.86m
Beam: 2.25m
Drive: Alpha 1 sterndrive
Min HP: 135hp
Max HP: 220hp
Fuel: 85 litres
People: Eight
Weight 1270 kg
Tow weight: 1570kg (approx)

Supplied by:
Coloundra Marine
8 Baldwin Street, 
Coloundra, Qld 4551
PH: (07) 5499 6455

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Published : Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.