Issue: July 2002
Aussies are justifiably proud of the boats the local industry now produces. But you’d have to have tunnel vision not to confess to the class of some imported boats. So it’s always gratifying to come across a homegrown effort that can stand toe-to-toe with the best of the imports.
Mustang’s latest 2300 Bowrider is a true blue Aussie. And a bloody good one at that. Looks, performance, appointments, value, and yes, class. This big bowrider – the Mustang 2300 Bowrider measures a total of 7.7m from bowsprit to boarding platform – may not topple boating icons like the Seafarer V Sea, or the Quintrex Freedom Sport range from the top seller list. But if the number of big imported bowriders already cruising the waters from the Gold Coast to Pittwater is any indication, there is a big market for this style of vessel. Mustang didn’t set out to tackle the imported boats head on with this beauty, but simply wanted to offer Aussie boaters a locally-built alternative.
Out on the water the test boat, powered by a 5lt, MPI V8 MerCruiser, mounted under the upholstered aft sun lounge, winds the team’s GPS unit up to 40 knots. If 40 knots isn’t fast enough you can always opt for the bigger, more powerful 350 Magnum MPI V8 MerCruiser powerplant. The 2300 Bowrider’s hull is rated to a maximum 300hp engine.
You can judge the Mustang 2300 Bowrider’s looks for yourself from our accompanying photo spread. Our performance testing and photo shoot were conducted during two separate sessions in different boats out on southern Moreton Bay. One boat was powered by a 350 5.7lt Magnum V8, while the all white boat (pictured) had the 5lt V8 MPI version in its engine compartment.
It was Modern Boating’s intention to run comparative performance figures for the two power units. But the 350 powered boat had spent too long at the pontoon behind its owner’s canal-side home and had gained enough marine growth to pull its performance back substantially. Her performance was only slightly better than the 5lt unit, so it would not have been a fair comparison. Modern Boating will revisit that boat in the future.
This test run takes us from the beaches of Wavebreak Island, north past the Sovereign Islands’ up-market residences, to Couran Cove’s five-star resort. It’s a lovely part of the world. And this classy Mustang 2300 Bowrider fits in perfectly.
With an overall length of 7.7m she’s more than capable of coping comfortably with much more open water. For example, the normally choppy crossing from northern Moreton Bay to Tangalooma, is well within its capabilities. As is the re-crossing in the afternoon when 15 to 20km winds regularly turn the chop to slop.
With an 18-degree deadrise the big Mustang demonstrates a good balance between the cushioned ride of a deep-vee hull with the stability at rest of a moderate vee. This balance is also aided by the boat’s in excess of 2000kg displacement.
At rest our photographer’s movements around the boat go unnoticed by our models. While at speed across the back of the Southport Seaway, a vicious little wind pushing against the tide chop doesn’t phase the Mustang either. At high, or low speeds, the ride is excellent.
The 2300 Bowrider comes from the factory complete with everything from ground tackle to dual batteries. Accessories include: an anchor winch; power-assisted steering; radio/CD player stereo system; bilge blower; foldaway stainless steel ladder; and built-in ice box. There’s even the proverbial kitchen sink. Yes, a plumbed, freshwater on tap sink unit positioned in front of the passenger seat.
Options include 12V refrigeration, hot water system, dining table, storm covers and that absolute essential for feminine well being, a marine toilet. Yes, this Mustang does stand toe-to-toe with the imports in terms of appointments.
One of the advantages about doing boat tests in Queensland is the fantastic weather. Even now in early winter our bikini clad models find that leaving the bow tonneau in place is all it takes to enjoy the Sunshine State’s finest. That’s how good a job the sweeping glass windscreen does of keeping the chilly slipstream off passengers seated behind it.
Dash instrumentation is wrapped in a carbon-fibre surround. And the tilt-adjustable wheel looks like it could have come straight out of a racing car. The standard steering package is rack and pinion, or you can take up the MerCruiser power steering option. The drivers and observer seats are deep and heavily padded buckets that hug your body securely. The bow and aft lounges are also heavily padded and extremely comfortable.
Anyone taking only a casual glance at the 2300 may think this is just another big bowrider with plush lounges, a raked windscreen and an upholstered pad on top of the engine bay that’s ideal for sunbathing. But a casual glance won’t reveal how much more this boat has to offer. You have to lift the upholstery cushions and open the numerous hatches.
At the bow a Muir VR500 power anchor winch is fitted as a standard option. Mustang Director David Hancock tells me their research reveals that potential buyers prefer not to have to handle ground tackle, so setting and raising the anchor is now a push-button operation.
The forward lounge seating lifts away to reveal hatches covering spacious storage compartments. The portside compartment houses a chemical toilet. There’s a matched pair of hatches in the windscreen bulkhead concealing another cavernous storage space. Unless the optional 49lt 12V refrigerator is fitted into the portside compartment that is. There are eight stainless steel drink holders strategically located around the boat.
Immediately behind the screen in front of the passenger is a glove box. Behind this is a handy sink unit, complete with running freshwater. Limitless hot water, coming via a heat exchanger when the motor is running, is also an option. That is until the 80lt freshwater tank runs dry anyway. But it is an attractive option and 80lt lasts quite a while.
Behind the main passenger seating each section of the wraparound aft lounge lifts away to reveal even more storage space. Except under the port lounge cushion where a 75lt icebox is positioned. The cavernous central storage compartment across the transom easily accommodates bulky water skis and wakeboards.
Lifting the upholstered sun lounge on its gas-assisted struts is effortless and guess what? There’s even more storage under here. Even with a big V8 motor occupying the centre of the engine compartment there’s what can only describe as a “bloody big hole” of storage space down each side.
For a boat that’s presumably only used for day trips, you can stow enough food and other gear onboard to last for weeks. The aft lounge also converts to a dinette with the addition of a table top that’s stowed in the engine bay when not in use.
Leaving the boat over the transom is safe and easy. There’s a non-slip panel beside the sun lounge leading onto the transom platform with a folding ladder mounted on the portside. To starboard there’s a handheld shower unit, with which you can also run hot water if you take up the heat exchanger option.
Even in the engine bay Mustang’s workmanship shines through. All the plumbing and wiring is neatly routed, which not only looks good, but makes it easy to follow. You’ll also find that a dual battery system is standard, all the boat’s electrical circuitry is operated through circuit breakers and all the switches are top-quality Kiwi made BEP gear. It’s all good stuff and makes a big impression on the Modern Boating team. A big impression is exactly what this boat leaves you with. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!
To park one of these beauties on the front lawn will set you back around $69,900, which represents good value for your money.
The Mustang 2300 Bowrider is available in sterndrive only. Modern Boating tested two versions of this boat, one powered by a 5lt, V8 MPI MerCruiser and the other by a 350 Magnum MerCruiser. Both boats performed with low engine noise and no vibration.
Growth on the hull slowed the 350, but our reaction to the 5lt version is “you bewdy!” The sparkling performance of small engine means outright speed freaks might be the only prospective new owners requiring the larger motor to put more sting in the tail of their Mustang 2300 Bowrider.
Swinging a sexy looking Mercury Hi-Five 19″ prop the 5lt engine has the 2300’s hull planing at 8.7 knots pulling 2600 rpm. From there it cruised along to record 18 knots at 3000rpm; 23.6 knots at 3500rpm; 28.6 at 4000rpm; and 39.8 knots flat out at 5100rpm.
Story by Warren Steptoe