Bayliner 185 and 205 Capri Review

Issue: December 2002

The imminent threat of torturous Christmas shopping in crowded air-conditioned megaplexes and images of a long hot summer hit me all at once when 2003 models were used to describe these latest Bayliners.

Mind you, either of the new offering under my tree would make up for all the synthetic socks and ill-fitting Xmas undies from the in-laws over the years.

But it was only coincidental, that when I arrived at Berowra Waters Marina to test these new Capris, a family was taking delivery of a new Bayliner 205 ‘ an early Christmas present that had them grinning from ear to ear.

Soon it would be my turn to put these new Bayliners through their paces, only I won’t get to take one home at the end of the day.

On the surface, the Bayliner 205 and 185 look like similar craft. But when you dig a little deeper you find the extra $9000, more horses and a bit more hull length of the 205, produces an individual ride.

Testing two boats at one time took me back to the days when I would compare PWCs in one session. It was the only way of finding out if similar craft were actually unlikely twins.

So on with the comparisons. The larger Bayliner 205 weighs 1406kg, almost 300kg more than the smaller 18 footer, which weighed-in at 1100kg.

The Bayliner 185, powered by a six-cylinder 220hp MerCruiser, was a joy to drive. She climbed onto the plane, but once up and running turned on a ‘T’, had crisp, light handling, while her short bow gives the driver a sensation of hovering just above the water. While she can handle a small chop, this is basically a smooth water boat.

She also produced a comfortable and economical cruise speed at around 22 knots.

On the other hand, the Bayliner 205, powered by a 5lt, V8, 260hp MPI MerCruiser, had a lot more grunt getting onto the plane and was capable of taking on the rough stuff out on open waters.

Both craft had similar a top speed of around 46 knots, which provided a wide choice of cruising speeds from 18 knots upwards.

As far as the layout of both boats goes, the bowrider area was comfy with well-positioned grab handles that give passengers something to hang on to during the tight turns.

There were storage bays in each side of the bowrider’s bulkhead, behind the padded backrests in front of the dash. These are great places to store personal belongings such as keys, wallets, and books etc.

The windscreen locks open and gives easy access to the main cockpit. Here there are also well placed grab handles for passenger security.

Across the transom the engine hatch converts into a sun lounge. Beneath this on either side are two large storage bays where Eskys could be stored if you wish.

The engine hatch padding can be easily removed exposing a non-slip step and improving access to the swim platform.

The swim platforms of both boats featured a three-step stainless steel ladder, which makes boarding from the water an easy affair after a swim on a hot day.

Skiers and wakeboarders are also catered for with tow hooks in the centre of the transom and large underfloor storage lockers for skis/wakeboards in both vessels.

The helm stations of the boats featured an array of instrumentation, which included gauges for volts; oil; temp; trim; fuel and a speedo, tacho and horn.

The driver’s seat offers an extremely good, but fixed, driving position with great visibility. You can also convert both the navigator and driver’s seats into sun lounges if you wish to soak up a few rays.

An adjustable steering wheel in each boat allows the driver to choose their best driving position, but I left the wheel in the central position. This made the location of the throttle to wheel and seat feel comfortable and natural.

A self-draining glove box in the top of the passenger’s dash was designed as a mini Esky, but it is of limited use, because it also houses a CD stereo player. A little more though about placement is needed here. But speaking of drinks there are plenty of drink holders scattered around the boats.

Visually, the Bayliner 205 Capri has the same lines as the smaller 185, but the bigger boat comes with a bimini cover as standard. This gives her the slightly more conservative looks of a cruiser.

Other than the bimini top, most of the features offered with the 205 are included with the more affordable 185.

Both the boats build quality is high. At speed there were no rattles or buzzes coming from fittings.

The forward and aft cockpits are made entirely from one mould. There were no joins visible and it adds to the inbuilt strength of each rig, All Bayliner hulls are backed by a limited five-year structural warranty.

Depending on your budget there is a wide range of engine packages to choose from starting at $37,990 for a Bayliner 185 with a 135hp MerCruiser and $49,990 for a Bayliner 205 Capri fitted with a 220hp MerCruiser.

The two test boats were the premium packages: a 205 Capri with 260hp MerCruiser costing $51,990 and the 185 Capri with 220hp rig at $42,990.

Overall, both boats were fresh and fun to drive. Simplicity, good design and sleek lines are the key features of these rigs. They are fitted with everything you need in a runabout of this size, but there are no extras.

Both rigs delivered well-balanced, high-speed performance and represent good value for money.

Good value for money, did you hear that Santa’ Like the family taking delivery of their new Capri on the morning of this test, either boat under my Chrissy tree on Christmas morning would also have me grinning from ear to ear.

Engine Room
The 18′ Bayliner 185 Capri was powered by a 220hp, 4.3lt, V6 driving through an Alpha I Sterndrive and spinning a 21′ prop. This combination pulled 4700rpm to produce a top speed of 46 knots.

The hull planed easily at 18 knots and we recorded the following speed-to-rpm reading on our GPS: 21knots at 2400rpm; 29 knots at 3000rpm; 37 knots at 4000rpm; and 46 knots at 4700rpm.

The 20′ Bayliner 205 Capri was powered by a 260hp, 5lt, MPI, V8 MerCruiser, also driving through an Alpha I sterndrive and spinning a 21′ prop.

This rigs tacho required some pre-delivery calibration, but our GPS showed a top speed of 46 knots at round 5000rpm.

Another plus for the big rig was she had more grunt out of the hole than the smaller 185 package.