Mustang 3500 Sports Cruiser Review

Issue: January 2005
Manufacturer: Mustang 

If you think you can sneak into an anchorage such as Wavebreak on the Gold Coast Broadwater, or Store Beach in Sydney Harbour, in a Mustang 3500 Sports Cruiser without being noticed sorry about that. The 3500 Sports Cruiser in full flight is a real head turner, even at rest it is virtually saying, ‘look at me’. The 3500 hull is distinctively different to any of the other Mustang designs. Even the design of the Targa is cutting edge for Australia. Starting with a deep-vee in the bow and huge chines that flatten out towards the stern, the hull sweeps back in a gentle curve. In fact, there are very few straight lines on the boat. It is all about curves. 

The large two-piece, tinted, windscreen treatment and the cat’s eye side windows are similar to the windows on the bigger 46 and 42 sports tops. This is one curvaceous lady. The whole cockpit from the helm station back is open and designed for entertaining. The helm station is neat in a curved console housing white-faced, Mustang-branded, instruments that are made for Mustang in the US. A black dash mat takes care of the glare from the white surface in front of the driver. 

The helm seat is an adjustable double bench-style, the steering is hydraulic with an adjustable wheel and someone has given some thought to where the driver puts their keys, wallets and mobile phones and included a small shelf above the foot rest on the cabin bulkhead. Opposite is a heavily padded sun lounge and behind the helm is a wet bar with a huge cool box and sink with hot and cold water. The aft lounge has a table that can be lowered to form another sun lounge. 

The cockpit area can be covered with a bimini top that folds back to the Targa arch when not needed. A feature I liked was the zip-out clears between the bimini and the top of the windscreen. They provide good vision when standing up at the helm. There are also fly screens to fill in the aft section if required. The whole system secures the boat and keeps out the elements when not in use. Down below the main cabin is extremely well appointed, with a large leather lounge and dining table on the starboard side. 

And there is no danger of banging your head on the cabin roof it has a full 2.03m (6ft 8in) of headroom throughout. Behind the lounge is a large shelf for books and bits and pieces. The galley is opposite with a molded fibreglass bench top and is fitted with a 240V two-burner electric stove, a microwave oven and 12V refrigerator. All the cabinets and lockers are manufactured from Nyatoah timber sourced from New Zealand. An innovation is the skylight above the companionway with its three wide steps that start at 290mm-wide at the top and reduce down to the bottom step at 250mm. 

There is no danger of missing your footing and ending up in a heap on the cabin floor even with a plate of nibbles or a glass of ‘Chardy’ in your hand. Up front is a large double berth with hanging locker and storage space. Aft, tucked under the helm station is another double berth with stand up headroom in the entrance. The whole aft bunk lifts up on gas struts to reveal a huge storage space for sheets, blankets and towels. The aft cabin also has a hanging locker and a small seat handy when tying up boating shoes. 

The head and shower is also large for a boat this size. The 3500 Sports Cruiser is powered by two of Volvo Penta’s new 5.0lt, GXI, V8 petrol engines with DuoProp legs. For a planing hull like the Mustang package is a perfect match; and with Volvo Penta’s Neutra-Salt engine flushing system, which is designed to flush the engines with fresh water while in the water, they come with a three-year warranty. The entire aft cockpit floor lifts electrically to give access to the huge engine bay. 

The one thing missing is a step or ladder to make it easier to get in and out to check the oil levels and give the fuel lines and connections the once over before setting out for the day. Then, I guess, for a young athletic owner it is not a problem. The boat cruised very comfortably at 25mph and 3500rpm, but if the owner gets the bit between the teeth, this is a sporty boat in every sense. For a big boat it drives and turns like a speedboat and is fun to drive, handling is light with the hydraulic steering and the DuoProps have a firm hold in the water. 

In full song the engines peak out at around 4800rpm where we saw a GPS speed of 36mph. Admittedly on the day we were running with a fair outgoing tide, so the top speed in normal conditions could be a mile or two per hour under. The deep-vee hull is sensitive to trim and likes the legs trimmed out at speed. Getting the trim right is not a mystery, there is a gauge on the dash for each leg, and it doesn’t take long to get it right with the trim controls on the throttle levers, like an outboard. There are also hydraulic trim tabs on the aft corners of the hull to level it in a seaway. 

Volvo Penta’s much talked about new propulsion system, which will be revealed to the public for the first time at the London Boat Show at the end of December, will fit very nicely into the Mustang 3500 and then watch it perform. The Mustang 3500 is a true sports package that certainly will attract the young executive or businessman on the way up. 

Words by Kevan Wolfe