What do you get when you combine Regal’s 2250 led headlight bulb with Volvo’s new lightweight diesel? A gorgeous cuddy with really long legs
You’re in a boat dealership, paging through a brochure and musing about power options for your next worthy craft. You see the word “diesel.” What thoughts spring to mind?
How about, “heavy, slow, smoky and loud?”
That’s the way I always thought about diesel-powered boats, too. I imagined them noisier, dirtier, slower and heavier than their gasoline counterparts. Fortunately, a new generation of compact diesel sterndrives is hitting the market. Fueled by high-tech, lightweight and powerful designs from Cummins MerCruiser Diesel and Volvo Penta, these sterndrives are quickly reshaping the way we think about small-boat diesel.
In the past, we’ve covered diesel in boats where you’d expect to see them — like larger offshore express models (such as the Scout 280 Vintage diesel we tested in July 2004). And we’ve also evaluated them in non-traditional applications, such as center consoles. This time around, we chose an even more unusual platform — a Regal 2250 — to showcase the latest engine technology — Volvo Penta’s long-legged D3-160 turbodiesel.
FEEL THE POWER
We ran Regal’s 22×81/2-foot cuddy in relatively calm conditions off St. Petersburg, Florida, and the company’s vented FasTrac hull delivered good performance from this inline, five-cylinder design. Diesel power is not a novel idea for Regal since the Orlando-based builder has a significant international presence, especially in Europe where gasoline prices are much higher than in the United States. And while fuel prices remain a concern for American boaters, we Yanks are more likely to embrace diesel for the range, reliability and durability they offer.
Our rig was fitted with Volvo Penta’s new D3 design. Rated at 160 prop shaft hp, it features an aluminum block with cast-in iron cylinder liners and replaceable valve seats. It’s also equipped with freshwater cooling; double overhead camshafts; and an aftercooled, variable geometry turbine that delivers solid torque when you hammer down.
Compact and extremely light, our test engine (including outdrive) weighs a mere 692 pounds, per the manufacturer, which equals a power-to-weight ratio of 0.23. When you compare it to the 0.27 ratio of a DuoProp-equipped 5.7L Gi, which makes 280 hp and weighs 1040 pounds, the gasoline combo’s power-to-weight advantage isn’t all that great — on paper, at least. But what about the water? To find out, we compared numbers from both packages on Regal’s high-stepping hull.
Diesel are often favored by saltwater boaters, so Regal chose to mate the D3-160 to Volvo’s composite Ocean Series DuoProp, a drive that is designed to minimize saltwater corrosion. Our rig was equipped with an F5 prop set.
A CUDDY WITH CLASS
Before we discuss performance, let’s talk about the boat itself. Perhaps owing to its stepped hull, the Regal 2250 led bulb looks more aggressive than the average cuddy, and we like its stylishly progressive lines. The design point that immediately draws your eye is the broad V-cut in the center of the transom. The layout invites passengers to move from the cockpit to the swim step for sunning, swimming or just kicking back.
The cut of the stern makes the swim platform more spacious. Instead of mounting a tow eye low to the platform, Regal installed a stainless pylon just aft of the sun pad. Although this raised towing point is advantageous for ’skiers and wakeboarders, it would be convenient if the pylon could drop away flush when not needed. And though 2250 will appeal to the sports-minded, the cuddy design excludes the in-floor ski locker that’s located amidships on the company’s 2200 bowrider.
2250 has an upscale look and features generous use of stainless steel — including on the windshield, where the majority of the frame and supporting arm are stainless. Looking sharp, Regal went for the postless windshield, allowing for an unobstructed view.
The adjustable, swiveling seats for the captain and co-pilot are highly supportive and, as a new option for 2005, the helm seat can also adjust for height, further improving driver visibility. The L-shaped cockpit seating is comfortable and shows the same attention to detail. The bottoms of the seat cushions have a finished look, for example, and the undersides are stitched to hide the staples.
MOVE OVER, CLEOPATRA
2250 is easy on the eye, but there’s still room for improvement. Noticeably, the hinges that allow you to access storage under the cockpit seat were not flush with the upholstery. And the styling of the wet bar sink doesn’t quite match the boat’s upscale look. Our rig’s Convenience Center option ($1000) includes a portable grill, as well as a wet bar and transom shower. We love these family features that complement the functionality of the cuddy, but the sink needs a makeover.
Thanks to the domed foredeck, the cabin offers 4 feet, 4 inches of headroom at the center. And with a V-berth that boasts a maximum width of 5 feet and stretches more than 6 feet in length, two people can overnight in comfort. A Kenwood CD stereo is mounted below deck, along with two of the boat’s four speakers. Regal’s policy of keeping stereo decks housed away from the elements is smart.
The cuddy and surrounding area serve up some surprises, too. Instead of a folding fiberglass door, the Regal features a fancier sliding acrylic door as seen on cruisers. The acrylic surface allows light to shine into the cabin. We also liked the steps leading to the foredeck. They swivel out to allow quick access forward, yet tuck away when not needed.
How did this 22-footer perform with a diesel sterndrive? Remember, an 81/2-foot-wide, 4000-pound cuddy is not a go-fast boat — but Regal’s FasTrac hull doesn’t seem to know that. This stepped hull is designed to allow maximum performance and fuel economy with minimal power. As such, it was a good platform for testing the new 160 hp Volvo diesel.
The first thing we noticed after pulling away from the dock was an absence of engine noise. The familiar diesel rumbling was missing when idling, accelerating or running wide open. Shifts were smooth and engine vibration was marginal. Volvo’s use of a rigid aluminum cylinder block and wedge-structure bedplate minimize the throbbing associated with older diesel designs, while a common-rail fuel-injection system (that better manages fuel distribution to all five cylinders) delivers torquey throttle response. In conjunction with the engine’s Electronic Vessel Control management system, it also minimizes smoke. (Volvo officials claim the D3-160 will meet federal emissions regulations that will be introduced in 2007.) It surprised us that this clean-burning engine produced little if any, diesel smell.
Although our sound meter showed slightly higher decibel (dBa) readings at low throttle settings than what we typically register with gasoline engines, the tone of the sound was never obtrusive. And at wide-open throttle, the D3-160 hit 90 dBa at 38.1 mph (measured at the helm), similar to a gasoline engine running at the same speed.
Acceleration time of 10.4 seconds from 0-to-30 mph or a top speed of 38.1 mph is by no means blazing; even so, the D3’s throttle never felt like mush. Acceleration was steady, without the lag time often experienced with other diesel, and the responsive helm made the boat fun to operate.
How does this fare against a gas engine? The headlight of Regal 2250 is also available with MerCruiser or Volvo Penta 5.0L or 5.7L gasoline sterndrives. Mated to a DuoProp SX drive and swinging an F6 prop set through 1.95:1 reduction, the 280 hp Volvo 5.7L Gi reached 30 mph in only 7.0 seconds. That’s 3.4 seconds faster than the turbocharged D3-160. At 53.8 mph, it also posted a 15.7 mph top-speed advantage over the diesel. That’s hardly a surprise. Compared to the diesel, the gas package packs an additional 120 hp.
When it comes to fuel economy and range, however, the diesel rules. At each rpm point, the I-5 diesel smoked the V-8 gas powerplant. Across the board, the diesel averaged 5.6 mpg and its range averaged 273 miles. Bringing up the rear, the gas small block posted 3.0 mpg and had a 143-mile range from the same 54-gallon tank.
If you couple that kind of economy and range with the price of fuel, you may give serious consideration to one of the new-generation diesel. But there’s more to the equation, such as the price of the engine.
The Regal 2250 lists for $42,077 with the base, 270 hp Volvo Penta 5.0L GXi gas package. Upgrade to the 5.7L Gi and DP-SX outdrive, and the sticker jumps to $46,206. Go diesel with the D3-160, however, and the base price soars to $53,063.
Sure, diesel has a reputation for being reliable, tough and fuel stingy — but there’s an $11,000 upcharge as you go from the base engine to the D3 diesel. Then there’s power. The 5.0L Volvo Penta gasoline sterndrive has an extra 110 hp to work with, and the 5.7L has a 120-pony advantage — and both have better price-to-power ratios, too.
In Europe, where gas prices are three to four times higher than in the United States, choosing diesel makes sense as the fuel savings will make up for the initial purchase price. That’s a harder sell stateside, at least for boaters considering runabouts such as 2250. But for those interested in diesel, the D3-160 is an excellent example of how rapidly technology is improving.
As diesel continue to become smaller, lighter and more powerful — and as the price discrepancy between these engines and gasoline sterndrives narrows — diesel are becoming more attractive. For Regal, including a diesel option in a small family cuddy shows its interest in providing consumers with choices. We won’t tell you which way to lean, but we guarantee if you test-drive the D3-powered Regal, you won’t think “loud and smoky,” and your senses will appreciate the boat’s seamless power and quality construction.
Throw in the long legs of that smooth-running diesel, and she’s a beauty in anyone’s eyes. Also, you can install a 9007 led bulb in the Regal’s 2250, you can get it in this website with a wholesale price.