Mustang 4600 Mirage Review

Issue: July 2002
Manufacturer: Mustang 

The covers were finally pulled off Mustang’s eagerly awaited 4600 Mirage Sportscruiser at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show recently. And there amidst the hundreds of beautiful vessels floating side by side in the Sanctuary Cove marina, she attracted bigger crowds than any other boat during the entire show.

Modern Boating’s team managed to get a quick peek during the show, and although it wasn’t much, it was just enough to wet our collective appetite. More than a week of miserable weather followed the show, but the sun finally broke through, the wind eased and we finally got on with this test.

There’s an old saying “some days are diamonds and some days are stones”. This day was a diamond. And so was the boat! The time that Mustang spent rushing to complete the 4600 Mirage in time for the Sanctuary Cove bash was worth it.

This boat definitely shows her competitors – imported and local – a thing or two. Mustang calls the 4600 Mirage a sportscruiser, which is a fair handle. And the boat looks so good she may change that Aussie notion that the only cruiser to own is a traditional central saloon, forward stateroom, aft cockpit, flybridge version.

There’s plenty of sound logic in the popularity of flybridge cruisers, but few of them ever look as good as the 4600 Mirage. There are two things about this boat the are set to shake the very ground that traditional flybridge cruiser popularity stands on.

First up, she has two comfortable air-conditioned double staterooms, each with their own separate ensuite set at each end of a roomy downstairs saloon. Plus, there’s an equally spacious upstairs open-air living/entertaining area.

In addition, all of the above is finished and appointed to the highest quality standards. You could easily describe the Mustang 4600 as luxurious, opulent, sumptuous, decadent even, simply because she is. But then comes the big question on everybody’s lips. How much ?

Without doubt this was the most asked question at the 2002 Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. We asked one of the Mustang sales team. Having been asked so many times his standard reply was too ask for a guess before answering the question. And not too surprisingly, every guess was over the magic million. The real answer for the boat as tested was $790,000.

The 4600 Mirage certainly has a lot to offer. And we also guessed above that magic million mark, after looking around at comparable offerings that cost half a million dollars more. How could such a boat come with such a low price tag ?

As we cruise the Southport Broadwater the new Mustang has every head we pass snapping around for a second look. Under warm winter sunshine, the 4600 Mirage’s substantial slipstream barely ruffles the pages of my notebook as I sit behind the stainless steel framed wraparound windscreen taking notes.

Putting the hammer down snaps our heads back as the boat surges smoothly to 30 knots. Out in the Seaway the Mirage eases her way into the mid-sized, and occasionally steep swells, rolling through the seawalls. Here her motion is easy and she’s quite content to stay in contact with the water and not go jumping off swells – if driven sanely that is.

A small Twin Disc unit, beside the tiny MOMO steering wheel, relays commands to the engines and they answer immediately. The ride is smooth and dry. There is no banging or crashing as her bow slices cleanly through the swells. The hull tracks straight into a head sea and shows no tendency to broach in a following sea. She truly is a pleasure to drive.

But also in her favour is that the drive shafts are widely spaced. This gives good steerage when trying to squeeze the boat back into a relatively small marina berth – we manage this without resorting to using the bow thruster.

Two of us, one of whom is on board for the first time, can easily dock this boat. The 4600 is designed to be handled by two people. Everything is in the right place. The fenders are properly positioned off cleats mounted where they need to be. It’s also easy to step up onto the side deck and go forward safely inside the high bowrail.

Appointment levels, performance and price rapidly lose importance when it comes down to a couple who are perhaps not as young, strong, nor as fit as they used to be, struggling to get a cantankerous and unpredictable boat back into its pen.

We expect that Mustang’s reward for thinking of them, will be owners who really do enjoy their boat and boating, then tell others all about it. Once the Mustang 4600 Mirage is safely tucked away in its berth, it’s time for a detailed look around this boat. What appears to be a nice teak-decked swim/transom platform at a glance is doubles as a hydraulic lift capable of raising a PWC out of the water.

Leaving the swim platform there’s a narrow teak deck meeting a trio of teak steps that lead up into the cockpit. In the middle of the transom is a large storage locker that also houses the swim ladder.

Before reaching the upper deck level, there’s a hot/cold handheld shower ready to wash off the sand and saltwater – so they don’t end up inside the boat – concealed behind a panel on the starboard side. The sliding transom door disappears sideways when it’s not needed to keep stray ankle biters safely on board.

The upstairs open-air lounge/dinette is also not all it seems. Inside the central storage compartment on the transom is the control to raise the entire lounge deck on hydraulic rams to reveal the engine room. Here there’s a pair of Cats, a 9 KVA Kohler 240V genset and a fire extinguisher system.

With the aft decking lowered again we move into the upper entertainment centre. To starboard, aft of the helm, is a console with several hatches that open to reveal a sink, an insulated icebox, a day bin and an electric hot-rock barbecue. Under this is a bar fridge and an icemaker.

Back at the helm station, the fascia around the instrumentation is finished in anti-glare grey. Carbon fibre is used around the dash to break any monotony of the anti-glare finish.

On the test boat the navigation suite is all Raymarine. The autopilot, sounder, chartplotter and radar are all integrated. On the portside is a passenger lounge and a chart holder with an acrylic cover to protect charts from the elements.

Through a curved sliding door we step down three stairs and enter the saloon. Behind the stairs, where they can be readily accessed for service, are the hotwater system and refrigeration condensers for a matching fridge and freezer.

The fridge and freezer are beneath the food preparation bench in the galley, which is set to starboard as you step down into the saloon. The black granite bench tops and cherry wood flooring in the galley contrast with the cream upholstery and polished timber elsewhere downstairs.

The galley’s more than capable of handling normal meals and onboard parties. There’s a twin-ring electric cooktop, a microwave and a pair of domestic-sized stainless steel sinks. There’s a polished timber oval table and a curved dinette lounge to port opposite the galley.

Every bit of the boat’s 4.3m beam is utilised to the max in the central saloon. The high ceiling makes the saloon feel roomy, even when the cabin door is closed.

At night, lighting is supplied by strategically placed downlights, which is now the norm in boats like this. But what really takes our fancy is a lighting strip concealed by a timber architrave in the ceiling. Entertainment onboard is enhanced by 30 grand’s worth of Bose Lifestyle surround sound system, piped throughout the boat to set the mood. There are also three flatscreen TVs onboard and a DVD player.

Plenty of natural light makes its way downstairs through circular hatches in the roof and oval portholes along the sides. In the ensuites the semi-circular shower cubicles ensure showering doesn’t necessarily soak the bathroom in condensation and spray, or drown the Lectrasan toilets.

One feature we’re sure won’t be lost on the better looking gender, is that the loos are normal size. So girls, no more perching on an undersized toilet. And yes, the ensuites are air-conditioned.

There’s also dual entry to the bow ensuite for access from the saloon without the need to enter the master stateroom. There’s more hanging space in the aft stateroom than in the bow cabin. Which makes the team wonder if some owners may prefer the aft stateroom as their own? But it does have limited headroom above the bed and some agility is necessary to get in and out of this cabin.

The aft stateroom also has a vanity unit complete with a lighted makeup mirror fronting the hanging space. There’s also a shallow cupboard set into the cabinet top below the mirror to keep make-up essentials organised. There’s standing headroom in front of the mirror because the ceiling only lowers above the bed itself.

All the timber and cabinet work in the boat is well finished including inside the drawers. The hanging lockers are all timber lined. All the locks, handles and catches through out the boat have plush looking gold hardware. Chrome is an option.

Heading back upstairs and forward onto the bow, there’s a sunpad on the cabin top for those wishing to work on their tans. It’s safe to go forward to set or raise the anchor, but it’s not necessary. It’s done by pushing a button near the helm. A stainless steel anchor and stainless steel chain is supplied with the boat. Also on the bow is a powerful spotlight remotely controlled from the helm, which is ideal to help locate mooring buoys at night.

The boating media is in a good position to express pride in our boating industry. And this all-Aussie Mustang 4600 Mirage sportscruiser does make us proud.

Mustang Cruisers intend to further develop this boat at some stage in future with the addition of at least two more versions. They are planned as a full hardtop model and the other with a bridge they intend to call a “Sunbridge”. Now that’s something to look forward to. 

Engine Room
At the time of this test, Mustang is still experimenting with propellers. Once they get it right Mustang expects to achieve a top speed of 33 knots at 2850rpm from the pair of 450hp 3126 Caterpillar diesels cleverly concealed under the aft lounge.

Optional power is a pair of 480 hp TAMD74 electronic Volvos. The engine room is quite spacious and while there is not enough room to stand, there is plenty of room to carry out normal servicing and daily maintenance.

Story by Warren Steptoe