With chiseled lines and plenty of pizzazz, Monterey’s new 214 FS gives family boating a new look
Boats have featured plenty of curves in recent years — this is sometimes called “the European look.” Don’t ask why, but hard angles are back in style. Like most guys, we prefer curves like those found on well-known Hollywood vehicles such as Penelope Cruz. Analogies aside, when we had the chance to test the 2005 Monterey 214 FS on Florida’s Tampa Bay, we were equally interested in the new look as well as its pedal-to-the-metal performance.
CURVES WHERE THEY COUNT
The 214 FS hints at a new styling trend for Monterey. Unlike the company’s curvaceous Montura series, the 214 FS has what company officials describe as “hard” lines that echo what’s happening in the auto industry. The FS moniker, in fact, stands for Facet Series — as in the facets of a cut gem.
In Monterey’s case, this means the flat-surfaced gunwales are replaced with narrow, angular ones. Instead of a downward-sloping sheerline, the 214 FS stays straight and almost level from bow to stern. Even the transom shows hard angles. Some hint of curvature — a sweeping windshield, sun pad and swim platform — mildly offset the 214 FS’ hard-body look.
Enough on appearance. Let’s focus on what counts: the on-water experience for driver and passengers.
Inside this 21-footer, there’s a huge amount of space in which to stretch out. Monterey moved the helm forward — à la the automotive industry’s cab-forward designs — and, by sacrificing bow room, was able to make the cockpit more spacious and comfortable.
Due to its shape and size, the stern bench seat draws immediate attention. It offers a whopping 61/2 feet of seating from gunwale to gunwale. In fact, looking at how much space Monterey squeezed into the stern seat, you’d think you’re aboard a 23-footer. How did they wedge in so much room? Well, the boat’s 81/2-foot beam “opens up” the boat, and narrow gunwales help make the most of that space. The aft seat also contours near each gunwale, and the sum of the design allows passengers to relax either by sitting or by stretching out as if on their living room sofa.
Monterey packages the 214 FS with the more upscale seating arrangement that features bucket seats for the driver and co-pilot. The added cockpit width provides enough room for the bucket seats to spin 360 degrees without hitting the boat’s sides. With the buckets turned and looked toward the stern seat, ample cockpit space is again noticeable as there’s plenty of room for passengers to stretch their legs.
Aside from seating, another benefit of the wide beam is a wide ski locker — it measures 6 feet long by 26 inches wide by 12 inches deep — that easily holds waterskis and wakeboards. The locker’s 18-inch-wide hatch raises toward the bow with the help of a gas-assist piston.
The placement of two of the Kenwood CD system’s four speakers also shows Monterey’s focus on passenger enjoyment of the stern seat. Two cockpit speakers are housed in under-gunwale modules that are angled toward the stern. This positioning focuses the sound toward the passengers, not the opposite gunwale. What’s strange about the speaker modules is that they also include cupholders. This guarantees that your Diet Coke will hear louder music than you will.
Two more speakers are located in the bow near the backrest. Typically, a more forward placement is ideal so that reclining bow passengers don’t cover the speakers. But because Monterey shrank the bow space, most adults will sit, instead — and leave the speakers unmuffled.
Measuring 37 by 80 inches, the well-upholstered sun pad is smaller than what’s found on the Montura models, and the one-person pad is a concession to having a larger cockpit.
Under the sun pad, you’ll find generous space in the engine bay in which to perform maintenance or repairs. A neat touch is a built-in, portside cover for the battery and storage for items such as engine oil.
Aesthetically, using sexy profiles and bright-colored gelcoat, Monterey is a shaping force in family-style sport boats. Its vibrant gel coats are offered in bold hues such as Rio Red, Caribbean Blue and Sunburst Yellow. In fact, several of Monterey’s design ideas and colors are inspired by European cruisers and yachts.
This progressive thinking is seen in the overall look of the 214 FS. However, this 21-foot bowrider balances style with a cost. For example, recent Monterey boats have featured the more expensive, postless windshield, which provides an unobstructed side view for the driver; but the windshield of the 214 FS has a post. The lockers under the seats feature a gel coated surface for a clean look, but there’s no carpeting or rubber matting to keep stored items from moving around. And niceties such as tilt steering, a bow swimbladder and snap-in carpet are not standard but options.
The 214 FS’ bucket seats are comfortable and offer plenty of support. They are clearly far from budget seats — but, by the same token, they’re not as plush as some others we’ve seen in this class. The driver’s seat moves fore and aft easily and adjusts in height to accommodate various sizes of drivers.
Monterey’s dash has a new look, too, and now features a triple-arch arrangement that houses three large Faria gauges — one for speed, another for rpm, and a third for fuel, battery volts, engine temperature and oil pressure. The gauges are recessed into each of the arches, reducing glare. Vis-à-vis the gauges, there was a small distraction: We caught ourselves noticing the extravagant dash as we test drove the 214 FS.
Buyers can choose from a range of MerCruiser and Volvo Penta sterndrive packages — from a 4.3L carbureted V-6 to a 5.7L EFI V-8. Our test boat featured a Volvo Penta 5.0L GXi. This multiport, fuel-injected, 270 hp V-8 was mated to an SX drive featuring a 141/4×19-inch aluminum four-blade propeller. According to Monterey officials, in this application, Volvo Penta recommends a four-blade over a three-blade for better overall performance, as the additional blade area helps lift the bow of this 3500-pound hull.
On unusually calm waters on Tampa Bay, we put the 214 FS through a series of maneuvers. With two people on board and a half tank of fuel, our 0-to-30 mph times averaged a run-of-the-mill 8.6 seconds. Plane time was very good, however, and forward visibility — due to the lack of bow rise during holeshot — was excellent. Accelerating from 20 to 30 mph is where this 21-footer took its time. Here, its weight and wide beam clearly affect performance.
The propeller choice allowed the Monterey to reach 53.0 mph at 5000 rpm, the engine’s maximum recommended rating. Throttling up through the rpm range was not too exciting, but for a family that’s more interested in the overall boating experience and price rather than adrenaline-pumping acceleration, the 5.0L Volvo Penta delivers decent performance and excellent economy. For those who want more guts in the throttle, upgrading to the 5.7L should do the job without greatly affecting fuel consumption until 4000 rpm and above.
In 6-inch chop and rollers, this well-built hull — featuring a fiberglass-encapsulated wood stringer system and 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom — provided a solid and stable ride. During hard-over maneuvers, the 214 FS maintained a safe attitude and didn’t turn too aggressively. We suspect the rounded hull pad, along with nearly flat chines, kept the boat level.
The cockpit is deep throughout, ranging from 30 inches in the bow to 33 inches at the helm and 34 inches behind the driver. This depth, along with smooth turning, enhances the feeling of safety.
So the 214 FS has all the markings of a family-pleasing bowrider. Cockpit space is quite generous, with plenty of focus on passenger comfort — especially in the stern seat. And the new model handles with a secure feeling. Meanwhile, the boat’s looks and colors are progressive and stylish.
Aesthetics continually change both in cars and boats. Yes, hard edges were stylish in the 1950s and 1980s, and the current hard-body look will also have its day. Above the waterline, the Monterey 214 FS is a leading example of an endless recurrence of style trends. But whether or not you embrace Monterey’s new look above the waterline, below it, the hull’s curves and surfaces — which matter most — are sure to please. In addition, you can install a white 7440 led bulb kit in the boat.