Bennington takes top of the line to a cool, ultramodern place with the 2575 QSBW.
Bennington’s top-of-the-line Q Series pontoons can be readily identified by a curved fiberglass bow section that gives them a sleek, sporty appearance, and it’s not a case of a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Perhaps the most eye-grabbing feature of the 2575 QSBW is a low-profile, smoked-glass windshield that makes it look like it’s wearing a pair of cool Oakley Gascan sunglasses. In our case, that bit of protection, which pretty much protects one’s torso, came in handy on an unseasonably cool August test day on northern Indiana’s Lake Wawasee.
Another unusual feature is the Swingback Stern Lounger, which is about the size of a queen-size bed. It can host at least four close friends, who can recline and look rearward when the boat is at rest. And when it’s time to roll, flip the backrest aft to form the upper section of the cockpit’s stern bench.
The helm is ultramodern and functional, with deep-set brushed aluminum gauges and a standard flush-mounted Echo 100 Garmin fishfinder/depth gauge. The Corvina tilt steering wheel is leather wrapped and feels great but features a giant chrome hub that can reflect the sun in the driver’s face.
Our test boat was rigged with Bennington’s Elliptical Sport Package (ESP), which features an oval-shaped center tube that’s a whopping 32 inches wide, so the boat rode high in the water and achieved a tremendous holeshot thanks to the large planing area. In fact, the center tube provides so much lift, it has no lifting strakes, which is unlike the setup most performance pontoons use. The outer tubes have a single lifting strake on the inboard side, though. In addition, our boat featured the Rough Water Package, which includes beefier splashguards and solid M-brackets that are designed especially to handle the washing machine conditions found on the Lake of the Ozarks. ESP also includes SeaStar hydraulic steering, an aluminum underskin and a fuel tank that more than doubles the smallish 23-gallon fuel tank, to 51 gallons; considering the Yamaha F350 can burn up to 31 gph, extended periods of high-speed thrills will require frequent pit stops.
One of the main attributes of the giant center tube is it allows the 2575 to accept up to a 400 hp outboard, so a Mercury Racing Verado 400 is doable. Our test boat merely had a Yamaha 5.2L F350 V-8 engine, which tips the scales at a robust 763 pounds, but it didn’t cause this boat to lean backward. It got on plane with very little bowrise in 2.5 seconds and blasted its way to 30 mph in 5.6 seconds. Top speed on that chilly morning was an eye-watering 51.7 mph.
Buyers can get a 2575 QSBW without the ESP setup and “save” $7,145, but they’d be missing out on one of the best things about this boat: its extreme cornering ability.
Another attribute of the ESP setup is that it can maintain plane — and precise steerage — at only 16 mph, which is great if the scenery is awesome and encourages loafing along. It also comes in handy when the water kicks up, as it did on Lake Wawasee on test day. We were able to rip over a nasty chop at 40 mph and still get a smooth ride.
While the 2575 is rated to carry 15 passengers, it’s really suited for a passenger load of around 10, since the huge sunpad eats up some real estate and the cockpit only has a stern bench and two really comfortable V2 Pure Comfort captain’s chairs. Up front is Q Diamond-Stitched Pillowtop furniture with plenty of stretching-out space. Additional bow seating can be added with a filler sectional for the bow gate area ($834). For regularly carrying more passengers, Bennington makes other layouts, such as the QSB model, which replaces the copilot helm seat with an L-lounge but does away with the cool windshield. But for floating-aimless parties, our test layout has plenty of passenger space for standing. The passenger-side console also has a large countertop to augment the optional coffee table ($1,007). For real foodies who need even more snack and beverage space, a moveable ottoman cooler ($294) or an espresso teak table ($310) is available for the bow.
Obviously, a boat with this level of performance brings all watersports into play. Our test boat had a 52-inch removable ski pylon. A better option might be to ask the dealer to equip it with a TurboSwing, which is a giant hoop that encircles the outboard and eliminates any line chafing issues that can arise with a pylon on an outboard-powered boat. Even better is the available Sport Arch or Sport Tower. For ski storage, there’s an enormous in-deck locker set inside the 32-inch center tube.
One nice thing about Bennington is it will accommodate any engine brand, which helps make sure buyers can get the best service in their particular area. Make no mistake, the Bennington Q-Series boats are expensive. Equipped with the Yamaha F350 and ESP, they start at $103,557 (add $9,641 for the Mercury Verado 400R). A Yamaha F300 V-6 engine would provide good performance — top speeds in the middle 40s — and reduce the bottom line by $5,186, which could be used for adding some goodies. The least expensive 300 offered is the Suzuki DF300, which brings the starting price point down to $95,314.
The 2575 QSBW comes loaded with standard features, such as the six-speaker Kicker Bluetooth sound system. Our test boat was upgraded with the optional Kicker subwoofer and amp for $1,375, and Wet Sounds speakers add $571. Carpeting is standard, but that’s so 2010; fortunately, Bennington has a staggering 15 choices of alternate materials, including the nutmeg Aqua Teak deck on our test boat ($2,918).