Cobalt 220 WSS

Posted: April 1, 2014

Cobalt quality plus a sporty ski setup all wrapped up in an easily trailerable package fires on all cylinders.

By: Alan Jones

Cobalt’s 220 WSS is the largest model in its 10 Series, which is designed to make owning a Cobalt more affordable. It has a lower, sportier profile than its larger siblings and comes in a wide variety of color schemes along with custom WSS stitching on the upholstery. What designers didn’t do was compromise on the things that make this brand special.

Unique Factor
One of the main reasons people own boats is to connect with the water, and most of us like to celebrate that by plunging in whenever possible. Getting off the boat is the easy part; often, however, getting back aboard is a little harder. The 220’s standard extended swim platform sits ski boat-low to the water and is a huge first step to making it easy to re-board. But Cobalt’s optional Flip-Down Swim Step is an elegantly simple solution that helps both two-legged and four-legged passengers make a graceful entrance. As the name implies, just flip down the wide step recessed into the platform and submerge it until it gently notches into place, and not only do you have a easy way to get aboard, but it makes a great way for two to sit semi-submerged.

Our test boat has the optional “S” seating, which is a new feature on the ever-evolving 220 model. It features a flippable section on the port side that allows you to create a co-pilot seatback when flipped rearward. In its farthest forward position, it lays flush with the seat bottom on the arena bench that wraps all the way around the entire cockpit to the captain’s bucket. This provides extra seating for up to 12 people or creates more tanning acreage if the rear sunpad is fully occupied. In this arrangement, you can still recline rearward, thanks to the padded port-side console. In a perfect world, this upright pad would be angled a little for more La-Z-Boy-like comfort.

Performance
Our test boat features the Volvo Penta 5.0L V-8 that produces 270 hp, which is what I would consider the smallest engine you should pair with the 220 WSS and still get acceptable performance. The entry-level 4.3L from MerCruiser (220 hp) or Volvo Penta (225 hp) might save you five grand or so, but economizing here isn’t the right move; after all, you’re buying a Cobalt, so you owe it to yourself to do it right. Pushed by the Duoprop outdrive that moves a lot of water, the 220 reached plane in 3.6 seconds with very little bowrise. Its time to 30 mph was 7 seconds, and the top speed was 45 mph. While it’s certainly fast enough for any watersport, moving to the next most powerful engine — the 5.7L that puts out 300 hp — is your best bet for finding the sweet spot of performance and price. If you want max performance, there is the option to take it to 320 hp.

Handling
One constant for all Cobalt boats is an upscale helm, and the 220 WSS is no exception. A leather-wrapped wheel and a dark (to keep reflective ghosts off the windshield) hand-stitched Nautilex vinyl dash get the luxe vibes going. An angled footrest is ergonomically correct and the dash panel is large enough for an optional flush-mounted Garmin GPSMap 640 with a 5.2-inch touchscreen display.

The running surface of the Cobalt 220 WSS is longer than on most boats in this class, which yields several advantages. With more of its Kevlar-reinforced hull in the water, it rides more level; add in 20 degrees of deadrise, and it tends to slice through waves rather than pound. Our test run was on Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta, which can get really rough due to its vast expanse of open water. We found a quiet cove to shoot our video and photos, but as soon as we left its protection things got lumpy, and we discovered that the longer running surface tended to bridge the short, steep waves, giving us a smooth ride that belied it sub-23-foot length.

The 220 WSS looks like a ski boat and sure corners like one, with perhaps more lean inward due to its deep-V hull. One of the traits of 10 Series Cobalt boats is that they have fewer options to choose from, to keep costs down, but I wish trim tabs were available as a factory option in case everyone sits on one side or you get caught in beam seas. No biggie; most dealers will be happy to install them as an aftermarket item.

Best Uses
The WSS in the model name stands for Water Sports Series, so you can probably guess what it does best. The standard Razor watersports tower with a Bimini and board racks is your first clue. If any sort of manual labor makes you sad, choose the electric fold-down option, for storage and bridge clearance. At 30 mph, the 220 produces a relatively flat wake, and if you drop the boat down to wakeboarding speeds of around 20 and trim the outdrive up a little, you’ve got a nice ramp from which to launch.

The helm consoles are positioned farther forward to create a larger cockpit, and skinny, vertical gunwales yield an amazing 89 inches of interior cockpit width, giving guests plenty of room to mingle. This layout subtracts a bit of space from the bowriding section, so there’s not room for the usual throne-like recliners Cobalt is known for. Instead, its designers created seats with less recline on the forward-facing seatbacks to increase legroom, and riders sit more in the corner, so when they stretch out, their feet angle toward the centerline for even more room. Also missing are Cobalt’s famous “double knuckle” storage compartment lid hinges, replaced by seat bottoms you have to manually remove to access storage, which are similar to what you see on many other ski boats.

Preferred Setup
While the 10 Series might be Cobalt’s gateway models, they’re still luxurious by any measure. Cobalt designers use Varadense Comfort foam, which is firmer in high-load locations and softer in other spots for support and comfort. The standard snap-in carpeting is ultra plush, 40 ounce and has neoprene backing for comfort. Our test boat features the Sisal Seagrass option, which gives it a tropical feel. The two transom swim platforms come padded with Sof-Trac matting — something that is almost always an add-on. The standard six-speaker MP3/CD stereo would be the upgrade for most boat brands, but Cobalt takes its optional package a step further with twin tower speakers and two more on the stern, plus a subwoofer. Things you can’t see, such as wiring harnesses built by Cessna, let you know the details are being looked after. One must-have option for the ski-ready boat is PerfectPass cruise control to give your rider the ultimate pull.

Specifications

LOA 21 ft., 4 in.
Beam 8 ft., 6 in.
Fuel 50 gals.
Engines Volvo Penta 270 hp DuoProp
Base Price w/test power $71,734
Standard Equipment WSS Razor tower, amidships cleats, captain’s chair w/flip-up bolster, 6-speaker stereo, removable ice chest, aft sunpad w/walk-through transom, ski tow eye, 40-oz. snap-in carpeting
Optional Equipment Trailer, air compressor, Garmin touchscreen display, clip-on fenders, docking lights, cockpit table, Flip-Down Swim Step, rearview mirror, battery switch, Sisal Seagrass flooring

Cobalt 220 WSS Owner Review

Purchased By: Craig and Jennifer Mattox, plus Katie, 11, and Ben, 8 , Birmingham, Ala.

Purchased At: Singleton Marine Group at Blue Creek Marina, Dadeville, Ala.


What we liked

- Stadium seating in the cockpit
- Flip-Down Swim Step
- Performance and handling
- Seagrass flooring
- Snap-on fenders


What we would change

I wish our Garmin display would let you preset a custom default so I could just turn it on and everything would be how I like it. It takes too many button pushes to get to the depthfinder.


Why we bought it

We had a 1978 SportCraft with a Johnson 75 on it and just wore it out. We saw the Cobalt 220 and really loved it. We wanted more passenger capacity, and the stadium seating allows us to invite lots of people to go boating with us. In June we had 12 people on board, and the boat performed well with little drop-off in performance. We keep our boat on Lake Martin, which has 750 miles of shoreline, and we love finding a quiet cove away from the crowds so the kids can ski and tube in calm water. Afterward, we love to anchor and swim. Although our boat has a great stereo, I find the sound of the water lapping on the hull and the sound of the kids playing relaxing. We have a filler cushion for the bow, and that’s where the kids head when we’re running. Ben loves to fish, and the swim platform is a great place to do it. Singleton has really taken care of us since we bought the boat. They gave us ski vests and anchors, and the service is always fantastic.

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