Author: Alan Jones
A lot of boaters couldn’t care less about watersports or moving at a frantic pace. They just want to get out on the water at sunset and decompress after a hard day, or go out and catch some rays while cruising leisurely. They don’t want to take 12 people with them — maybe just a couple of couples for a relaxing time on the water in a right-sized boat. For them, the Qwest Adventure 7516 Cruise Deluxe is just what the pontoon doctor ordered. At almost 16 feet long, it’s light enough to be towed by practically anything bigger than a Smart Car.
Qwest has practically cornered the compact pontoon market for a good reason: Its designers know how to deliver big bang for the buck in an upscale package. And proving that point is the 7516 Cruise Deluxe, which comes in at just a shade under the $15K mark. The Adventure series pontoons are Qwest’s entry-level models, but the builder just can’t bring itself to give buyers a boat without a heavy dose of comfort. On these smaller boats, it’s all about the seating, and Qwest gives you a pair of overstuffed forward mini-loungers and an aft L-lounge with a recliner that’s positioned well for conversing with the captain, who sits on an upscale bucket seat. The upholstery is Soft Touch X-Panded Back vinyl that’s durable and buttery soft like the name implies. It shows some style with a stainless steel wheel and a carbon-fiber dash, along with fencing that features eye-catching 3-D graphics. And despite its compact size, there’s a surprisingly large sunpad and enough deck space forward of the fence for boarding.
Modestly powered by a Mercury 25 FourStroke, the 7516 is no speed demon, with a top speed of 14.6 mph. But at 4000 rpm, which nets you a leisurely 7 mph, you’re burning only 1.1 gph, so make sure to wave and smile to other boaters as they blaze by you trailing dollar bills. The 7516’s deck is mounted on twin 23-inch tubes that have full-length keels for better tracking. On the nosecones are oversized splash guards that knock spray down and also provide extra lift at the bow to prevent submarining when a 40-foot cruiser goes lumbering by at half-plane.