Some pontoon boats have seats, and others have thrones fit for royalty.
Most pontoon builders offer various floor plans, and while many are similar, each reflects how a customer plans to use it. It’s all about the seating configuration, and the design of the Manitou 25 Legacy LT SRS Dual Outboards makes one thing clear: Its goal isn’t to provide the most seating, but rather it focuses on making each seat a place the occupant doesn’t want to leave.
It’s good this pontoon is such a hoot to drive, because otherwise owners might abdicate all piloting duties just so they can luxuriate in the rear-facing stern seating on either side of the Manitou 25 Legacy LT SRS. With a shaped fiberglass frame and built-in armrests, they resemble home recliners and are extra wide. The backrests are overstuffed and electronically adjustable, their flush-mounted buttons within easy reach to dial in the exact amount of recline. A middle seat-bottom section can be flipped rearward to form a backrest for a stern forward-facing seat, creating two opposable club seats instead of one chaise lounge.
Manitou has featured these convertible seats before, but this iteration has a larger center cushion that fits more snugly between the other two seat bottoms and creates a bigger, better backrest when it’s flipped up. Owners can even install a sidemounted table between both sets of club seats. The only downside to having layback lounges with fixed armrests like this is they reduce seating capacity when passengers sit facing the centerline.
Twin outboards on a pontoon have space between them, so Manitou designers placed a four-step boarding ladder there. They got creative and surrounded the ladder with a matching polished stainless steel ski tow. It reaches far enough back that reboarders won’t clunk their head on it and it provides additional line clearance behind the engines, twin Evinrude E-TEC G2 300s on our test boat.
So what does it feel like to jam the twin throttles on a pair of these new-gen direct-injected two-strokes that total 600 hp? Let’s put it this way: anyone sitting down will become one with the back of the chair, and standing passengers will know what it feels like to fly. Seriously, on high-power pontoons like this, the driver has to warn people before he jams the throttles. Same goes for quickly chopping throttles attached to a pair of 300 Evinrudes. The fuel flow control is so precise, it’s like having brakes, and anyone standing might suddenly decide to kiss the woven vinyl flooring. While its time to plane was an impressive 2.3 seconds, this Manitou’s time to 30 mph was exceptionally quick at 4.3 seconds. Its top speed was a glasses wobbling 63.7 mph. If that isn’t thrilling enough, buyers can strap a pair of Mercury Racing 400R outboards to the slightly longer 27 Legacy LT, which is the flagship of this line.
Going fast in a straight line is probably the easiest task for a high-performance pontoon — everyone loves a big number — but the more difficult part is adding crisp handling to the mix. In 2005, Manitou introduced its revolutionary Sport Handling Package (SHP), which features a larger center tube mounted to sit lower in the water. And that innovation is still going strong. This year’s Manitou 25 Legacy LT SRS Dual has a 27-inch center tube that’s mounted 5 and a half inches lower than its 25-inch outer neighbors.
The arrangement isn’t just for looks. The bigger, lower center tube allows the boat to turn incredibly quickly and provides a pivot point so it banks hard in turns, as we discovered during our test at Lake Wawasee in northern Indiana. Sometimes dual-engine pontoons can be a little ponderous in turns, because many of them are 30 feet long or more and extra wide, but the 25 Legacy is a midsized boat that stretches 26 feet, 8 inches and maintains the standard 8-foot, 6-inch beam. To make turning easier, the Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 hp outboards have an integrated Dynamic Power Steering system.
With the added weight of twin outboards, this Manitou tends to run a little bow-high, which reduces wetted surface to produce higher speeds. During the test, I noted it tended to turn a little more quickly if I trimmed the engines so the bow was even higher above the water, which makes it respond like a shorter boat thanks to the reduced drag.
Our test boat was rigged for watersports with an optional aluminum arch ($11,875) that has a high tow point and a Bimini top. An extra $2,500 yields a forward Bimini.
When I spied our test pontoon coming across the lake, I noticed it was predominately white, which is one of the latest trends. Some buyers might find a mostly white boat boring, especially compared to some of the other Manitou color schemes, but when our test boat got closer, I noticed it had a sparkly luxury-automobile finish. Plus, this top-of-the-line model features fiberglass sides rather than aluminum fencing, which allows it to really showcase any of the five standard colors a buyer chooses. The watersports tower was color-coordinated in sparkly white and matched well with the Evinrude G2s, which have six custom color options, including white.
The Manitou 25 Legacy LT SRS Dual’s passenger capacity is a baker’s dozen, but the seating configuration makes it best suited to slightly smaller parties. All the seats, including the two layback lounges up front and the companion captain’s chair, feature soft and comfortable Dolce upholstery. The standard stereo is an 800-watt, six-speaker JL Audio Bluetooth stereo complete with a 10-inch subwoofer, and it blows away most optional models from other builders.
Make no mistake, Manitou’s top-of-the-line LT Legacy series pontoons are premium rides and buyers are charged accordingly for the privilege of owning one. With twin Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 hp outboards and the joystick docking system our test boat came with, the price starts at $170,575 (before adding any extras). A few of the preferred extras include a choice of nine upgraded woven vinyl flooring options ($1,275) or snap-in Marine Mat ($2,500), an in-floor ski storage locker ($1,500) and a battery charging system ($400). A rearview mirror ($525), even on a boat that might not pull kids on tubes all day, adds to the driver’s situational awareness. At the helm is a variety of electronics options from Garmin and Simrad.
One of the things Manitou does differently than most other builders is it offers the option of using custom colors. And the fiberglass outer shell makes an outstanding canvas for the high-end automotive paint.