Four Winns 205 Sundowner Review

Issue: June 2005

I like reviewing cuddy cabin boats because they illustrate how far these boats have come. This craft in no way resembles the half cabin from long ago, but it still had the same ‘family’ appeal. The 205 Sundowner’s balanced performance, good helm position and large, outdoor seating areas disguise the fact that down below there is room for a quick nap and facilities to put the little ones to sleep.

A $68,000 price tag definitely puts this boat in the family category and with a top speed around 40 knots, the older kids will keep coming out with the parents even after their voices have broken.

Top Deck
The Modern Boating team took the Sundowner for a quick burl around Middle Harbour and found the 260hp 5lt MPI MerCruiser delivered an efficient cruise speed around 29 knots and a top speed of 38.5 knots.

For the wakeboarders, the Sundowner is not bad for messing around in, particularly if a bit of trim is applied. The wake held its shape in modest turns and a low 20mph speed was gained at around 2800rpm.

The Four Winns Sundowner 2050’s modest 19-degree deadrise, high topsides and high bow ensure a smooth, dry ride in all but the worst conditions. In the turns, the 17′ dropped MerCruiser held well, didn’t cavitate and didn’t feel as though it was going to drop off in the turns, even from mid revs. The Four Winns responds impressively to trim. It took next to nothing to get the hull balanced at the point between a porpoise and heavy steering bow down.

The engine itself is very quiet, which is a tribute to good engine insulation. The driving position was pleasing, whether it was set for wind in the face ‘ bolster up ‘ or protected through the windscreen driving position with bolster down. The seat was adjustable and the wood look trim provided a bit of style. There was no stowage for things like keys or the mobile phone anywhere near the helm, but there were some nooks and crannies in the wet bar behind the helm that might offer stowage solutions.

The craft’s layout and main access point starts with a large swim platform with an anodised swim ladder. Ski hook, fresh water shower and small stowage area are incorporated into it. Inside the boat, there is also a long stowage area big enough for boards and skis, with dual access to the walkway and near the helm seat.

The small walkway from the swim platform gives step over or step through access to the groovy comfort zones. The almost circular settee spells style and is sure to keep the crowds happy all day long. Combine this with the standard stainless steel bimini top and on those hot days the ‘Sundowner’ will no doubt live up to its name sake.

Overall, there is saloon seating for about six with four or more on the settee and two forward facing bolster seats. There is room for a starboard side wet bar located behind the driver’s seat ‘ a bonus that makes this 20 footer complete as an overnighter. 

The wet bar has freshwater, a small garbage/stowage area, Corinthian bench tops and two drink holders. The cooler is located across from the wet bar under the seating adjacent to more drink holders, producing an ideal entertainment combination. The removable table, convertible sunlounge, removable carpets, full camper covers and twin forward berths indicate how versatile this 20 footer really is.

The berth is not much, but it has ample natural light through a hatch and two side portholes and has a slide away head that will please those in for a long day. The forward area is a ‘sit down’ affair ‘ with adequate headroom and large storage pockets port and starboard for wind jackets and the like.

Access to the bow is through the windscreen using a flip-out metal step. Once forward, the bow area has low bow rails that offer some security. The anchor well is adequate for a craft of this size, but there is no centre bollard setup for mooring.

The absence of a centre bollard on this size craft is not uncommon. If you want to moor for anything more than a pit stop the use of a harness centering the tow side bollards would work well. Electronic creature comforts include a Clarion CD player with remote control at the helm and 12 volt saloon lighting to make things easy at night.

The helm is equipped with an array of instruments covering fuel, volts, speed, revs, temp, depth, trim gauge and an accessory outlet.

The engine is accessed with the flick of a switch that activates an electronic hydraulic lift ram that raises the whole aft seat to reveal a well-insulated engine room.

At $68,000 the Four Winns 205 Sundowner is a competitively priced import that offers good performance and a range of creature comforts that will keep the whole family happy. She is small enough to be easily launched and handled by one but still works as an overnighter, if you’re keen.

Choose Your Weapon
Everyone enjoys choices. And everyone has a different opinion of which engines and drives are the best. Four Winns knows this and offers its customers a wide choice of power.

Do you like Volvo Penta with its cone clutch design, smooth shifting and engineered design ? No problem. You can have it in a Four Winns. Many models can be equipped with a Duo-prop drive if you like.

Or maybe you’re a MerCruiser fan. It’s the most popular brand of marine engine and drive system in the world. No problem again. Four Winns offers Alpha, Bravo I, or Bravo III sterndrives, depending on the model boat
you choose.

And if you like outboard power it also has choices. You can select from Johnson or Evinrude outboard power in a range of horsepower output.

Four Winns now offers more choices of sterndrive and outboard power than many other marine manufacturers.

Engine Room
The Sundowner was powered by MerCruiser 260hp MPI spinning 17′ Mirage prop on a Bravo One leg. There are two batteries for the engine and the room is insulated, providing a quite ride.

During Sea Trials, wind was about 8-10 Knots and there was a slight chop on the water. We established the following speeds with two onboard and modest leg trim. GPS results as follows.
Speed to RPM: 7 knots @ 1800rpm, 18 knots @ 2800rpm, 22 knots @ 3000rpm, 25 knots @ 3300rpm, 28 knots @ 3500rpm, 31 knots @ 4000 knots, 34 knots @ 4500rpm, 38.5 knots @ 5000rpm.

LOA: 23′
BEAM: 8′ 1″
FUEL: 132lt
DEADRISE: 19 degrees
WEIGHT: 1574kg
DRAFT: 0.86cm
PRICE: $68,000

+ Overall finish. Top ride

–  No bow bollard

Words by Andrew Richardson