IN THE NEWS
PANTERA 28' SPORT
It's difficult to say "Entry-Level" and "Competent Offshore
boat" in the same sentence - and do it with a straight face. However, Pantera's
28 Sport is perhaps one boat that would fit in that somewhat imaginary category.
As we discovered on the wind-chopped seas during testing, this is more boat
than the price tag would indicate. At a base price of $81,500, the 28 Sort
comes with a 415-hp MerCruiser 502 MPI and 280S K-plane trim tabs. The test
model came fitted with a Mercury Racing 470-horse HP500EFI elephant-killer
routed through a Bravo one drive with a 1.5:1 reduction, which bumped the
price by $8,000. Bolted to the business end of the drive was a stainless-steel
15 1/4" x 26" Mercury Bravo One prop. With an optional aluminum swim platform
and custom graphic, $95,200 is what it takes to bring one home.
Pantera laminates its boats with vinylester resin and 1708 biaxial mat combined with 24-ounce woven roving. There is no coring in the hull, which Pantera fitted with four lifting strakes, the outers running the full length and the inners stopping amidships. It's all hand laid fiberglass built atop a stringer system made from marine-grade plywood. Conversely the deck uses balsa coring tops with the same 1708 biaxial matting. Then hull and deck are bonded together all the way around with biaxial cloth.
Crossing over the gunnel-mounted step plate and into the nonskid cockpit, it was easy to see that Pantera pays attention to the details. Railings and seat bases were powder-coated for a long-lasting finish. The engine hatch was thickly padded on top, fitted with purple iridescent mirrors underneath, and could be hoisted with a single screw jack to a 45-degree angle.
Inside the epoxy-painted engine bay, there were MerCruiser offshore mounts--powder-coated L-angles--which were thru-bolted to the stringers using stainless-steel hardware. A pair of aluminum battery boxes came fitted with tops that allowed our testers to step on them when entering the compartment. Overall, the rigging was nice and tight, and all wire looms were fastened appropriately.
Inside the cabin was just as simple and straightforward as the rest of the boat. A forward V-berth gave way to facing lounges farther aft with hinged cushions. There was a large storage compartment to port, just inside the three-piece cabin door.
Settling into the helm, we grabbed the Dino tilt wheel and looked over the Gaffrig white-faced gauges, a Ritchie compass and Mercury Zero-Effort controls. With a twist of the key, 470 horses rumbled to life beneath the engine hatch.
Out in the rough stuff, the Pantera 28 Sport earned its wings-in more ways than one. Though it was too rough to gather any real-world top-speed figures, we estimated this boat would run about 72 mph. In 20 seconds, it motored up to 60 mph. During acceleration, it took 4.1 seconds to climb on plane, and stayed on top of the water at 18 mph with the tabs down.
What was more remarkable was how well the 28-footer handled in water this snotty. The boat felt solid and never creaked or groaned or did anything crazy. It turned well, recovered form flight easily and exhibited no "stepped-button voodoo."
With the manual drop-out seats in the down position, we sat a little high, which made the rough water a bit more noticeable. We suggest lowering the foot well, which also would enhance wind protection.
Solid, basic and straightforward, the Pantera 28 behaved itself and handled like a much bigger boat, which added an option at no cost to it "entry-level" price: value.
|Price as Tested:||$95,200|
|Engine:||Mercury Racing HP500EFI|
|Top Speed at RPM:||N/A|
|Time to Plane:||4.1 Seconds|
|Acceleration Zero to 20 Seconds:||60 MPH|
|Midrange Acceleration 40 to 60 MPH:||7.5 Seconds|
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