Maxum 3500 SCR Review

Issue: January 2001
Manufacturer: Maxum

While Sea Ray and Bayliner remain king pins among the imported brands, Maxum has gained a following among buyers wanting something high quality and just a little different from the crowd. The Maxum 3500 is the latest model to be developed by parent company US Marine. It fits nicely between the impressive 3000 and the 3700 model and, like both stablemates, is very spacious for its length.

The designers have used a combination of wide beam and ample depth to ensure that headroom, freedom of movement, light and ventilation are never compromised. They disguise the inherent bulk by lowering the gunwale line part way down the topsides, raking it gently down aft where it integrates into the line of the aft boarding platform.

With this gunwale strip being such a dominant visual element amid the smooth and softly curved fibreglass finish, the lines of the boat take on a new dimension. Combined with the soft rounding of all the corners and edges and the swept rake of the screen, the effect is very sporty and racy.

Below deck, the Maxum’s layout is reasonably conventional, with double berth in the bow, twin transverse berths under the helm station (these can be infilled to convert to a double), a good-sized L-shaped galley, practical dinette to starboard, and a comfortable bathroom to port.

The layout is very open, though the midships cabin and the forward double berth can both be closed off for privacy. The owner might have a struggle choosing which would be the main cabin since the forward berth is extremely roomy, thanks to some cleverly angled design, while the other has full height dressing space nearby.

The dinette comfortably accommodates four or five for a sit-down chow, though people have to shuffle around every time someone wants to get in or out. The galley can easily dish out everything needed for a long weekend or longer-term cruising.

The two-tiered cockpit is again quite contemporary, but has an enormous amount of space to move around and generous seating and lounging facilities. The wet bar, lift-out table and the neat little storage lockers and bins make this the ideal boat to enjoy “serious” entertaining.

The bimini top and clip-on and zip-up clears provide added protection against sun, cold or the wet, so there’s no excuse not to go out.

Despite the high freeboard, with the help of extra beam the 3500 is quite a stable boat at rest. Underway it runs clean, smooth and high with very little need to resort to trim tabs.

The 454 MPIs are a great match, pushing more than 7.5 tonnes of boat effortlessly onto the plane and skimming it across the tops of the chop at speeds that belie the size and weight of the boat.

Backed by the handling and response the boat has to both helm and throttle, it’s more like driving a sporty runabout than a bulky 10.7m sportscruiser.

Once the hull is planing, its just a matter of letting the tabs back up again and this beauty runs as clean and efficiently as anything else in this size and class of boat.

While you will pay extra for the twin 380hp engines over the standard twin 310 models, it is money well spent. That extra horsepower produces a boat that is extremely efficient, responsive and performs the way a sports cruiser should.

The twin 380hp shaft drive 454 Magnum MPI MerCruisers are not the top-range engines, but they’re not far off it. The hull will plane at just under 3000rpm with very little effort. Use a touch of down-trim on the tabs and the boat slides onto the plane with the utmost of ease and grace and little in the way of bow raising. It sits high and clean under power and hence it cruises very economically in the 3200 to 3400rpm band. After that the engines really come into “power mode”.

Acceleration is efficiently smooth as the boat responds immediately to the throttle, and will run both engines easily to their maximum 5000rpm for a top speed that is better than 40 knots … if you ever find the need to call on that sort of speed.

Given the fuel that these 7.4 litre engines will consume at full throttle, and the enormous saving that is to be made running under three-quarter throttle, it’s the performance in the 3200 to 3400 range (22 to 26 knots) that is most relevant.

This is excellent cruising speed, fast enough to get from A to B without wasting time while skimming over the waves and chop with effortless ease, with engine noise little more than a background hum.

Words by David Toyer.