Issue: June 2003
Last year at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show Mustang Cruisers released their breathtaking 4600 Mirage, an all-new, all- Aussie sports cruiser that took out Modern Boating’s most prestigious accolade 2003 Powerboat of the Year. The Mustang 4600 Sports Top is basically our award-winner with a stylish new hardtop. Unfortunately, the day we tested the Sports Top was not the day the photos you see on these pages were shot. Our test day highlighted certain elements you should consider when choosing between this new hardtop and the still-current soft-top version.
‘Elements’ is the operative word, because as we idled out of Runaway Bay Marina, a grey pall of rain threatening from the south added substance to the value of having a solid roof overhead. For anyone in the enviable position of having to make a choice between these two, it will probably come down to a combination of personal preference and geography ‘ where the boat will be used. Should you go for bimini and clears, or would you prefer to close an electrically-operated sunroof and shut out the weather altogether’ With the storm curtaining in place at the aft end of the hardtop the 4600 Sports Top’s reverse-cycle air-conditioning can cool or warm the entire boat.
Downstairs, the climate inside either version of the Mustang 4600 is controlled by adjusting the air-con. The hard top on the Sports Top version adds that control to the upstairs area too. On the day, we didn’t use it. Autumn on the Gold Coast is southern Queensland’s best time of year. Despite the looming squall the temperature was perfect and our passage through southern Moreton Bay with the storm covers stowed and the sunroof open was how boating should be. The Sports Top’s Targa arch (which looks like a dome farm thanks to the standard Raymarine GPS Chartplotter and radar systems) still slopes well aft to shelter the upstairs lounge area, but beneath it the new roofline flows forward to the windscreen.
The sunroof opens almost the entire centre section in between. There’s seemingly acres of glass for an unrestricted view and it’s kept that way by enormous windscreen wipers. The cutting-edge styling of the 4600 Sports Top may not be to everyone’s taste. We loved it and noted the heads snapping to attention, as we cruised the Broadwater. The Mustang 4600 Sports Top version left them drop-jawed and goggle-eyed. When the new boat docked in Runaway Bay marina to pick us up, at the helm was Mr Mustang himself, Gary Garone. Gary was spending time in the new boat apparently for no better reason than to see for himself how it performed. Barefoot and typically casual, he was beaming pride in the new boat and in the team back at the factory who created it.
Gary went to some lengths to point out that Mustang Cruiser’s boats are all-Aussie in concept, design and manufacture and, wherever possible, in componentry. For example, Mustang recently found an Aussie company capable of supplying curved armoured glass and Gary was delighted that windscreens are now one more component they don’t have to import. He also mentioned that the 4600 Sports Yacht, the third configuration on this hull, this time with a flybridge, is progressing well. We can all look forward to that. Gary was pleased when we noted some of the refinements Mustang have made since we first tested the 4600 Mirage about a year ago. Some of these are a finishing touch, like the carbon fibre ice bucket and drink holders set into the bulkhead beside the upstairs lounge. Others are more significant.
Our test boat ran a pair of Volvo’s latest electronic 480hp diesels transmitting power to the water through new vee drives. The props now run inside half-tunnels to reduce draft and increase drive efficiency and the already impressive handling has been further improved by a new rudder. What hasn’t changed is the boat’s floor plan. Topsides a hydraulically-operated swim platform capable of lifting a PWC clear of the water graces the transom and there’s a cavernous storage locker and hot and cold shower there too. In the upstairs lounge is a wet bar complex complete with sink, garbage disposal, bar fridge, icebox and a barbecue grill.
Stepping through into the helm area from there, finds another lounge to port, an ideal place to enjoy the view whilst underway. The helm position, though now roofed over, still gives the impression that you’re running a much smaller craft. Manoeuvring in tight confines is assisted by the standard bow thruster and vision to the boat’s extremities has not been compromised thanks to the amount of glass surrounding the helm. Downstairs, the decor would do a luxury apartment proud with gold-plated fittings, granite bench tops and leather upholstery in the central saloon come lounge/dining area. A new dining table with folding ends to save space was another refinement we noted.
The galley has a realistically sized cook top and microwave oven, twin sinks, fridge/freezer and icemaker. There’s heaps of cupboard and bench space, and a central vacuum cleaner system to keep it all tidy. Entertainment is available from no less than three flat-screen TVs (one in the central area and one in each stateroom) and a Bose sound/DVD system. And the mood is set by beautifully polished timber and concealed strip lighting in the split-level ceiling. A genset capable of keeping it all functioning is a standard fitment. One of the things that earned the 4600 Mirage our Powerboat of the Year award was the way its bow and aft staterooms give complete privacy for two couples living onboard.
Few boats combine luxury and practicability as well as this one. Each stateroom has its own en suite and individually adjustable climate controls. This hasn’t changed and neither have the other features that earned the 4600 Mirage our ultimate accolade. We’re just glad the Sports Top wasn’t presented to us a few weeks earlier, because we would have had to choose one or the other and believe us the Powerboat of the Year decision is hard enough as it is! Pricing was being finalised at the time of going to press, but it is anticipated that a Mustang 4600 Sports Top with all the goodies will be in the high $800,000 region.
Words by Warren Steptoe