Formula’s flagship 310 Bowrider at 31' (9.45 m) is an upscale sportboat with fine fit-and-finish. The performance Formula is known for comes from the 310 Bowrider’s Deep-V hull design and impressive powerplant - twin 430-hp Ilmor 6.2L MV8s. The GM-built Ilmor marine engines have a closed loop exhaust system and are connected to counter-rotating duo propeller Ilmor One Drive sterndrives.
- Twin Ilmor 430-hp direct fuel-injected V8 engines
- Deep-V hull design
- Painted hulls with Imron clearcoat
- In-floor wakeboard and ski storage
- Enclosed head compartment
- Wet bar
- Flexible seating
2.64 m (max)
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||2.0 sec.|
|0 to 30||6.7 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 1/2 fuel, 1/4 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||91 deg., 79 humid.; wind N/A; seas: moderate|
2 x 430-hp Ilmor 6.2L GDI-S
2 x 380-hp Ilmor MV8 6.0L OPS One Drive
2 x 430-hp Ilmor 6.2L GDI-S OPS One Drive
4 twin MerCruiser engines from 300-hp to 430-hp
4 twin Volvo Penta engines from 300-hp to 430-hp
Captain's Report by Capt. Peter d’Anjou
“We don’t build for the masses, but we do build for you” is Formula’s creed. These boats have extensive options from the choice of engine manufacturers to the color and texture of the upholstery.
Formula designed the 310 Bowrider to provide enough amenities to encourage friends and family to spend all day on the water enjoying their favorite activities - swimming, diving, tow sports or simply socializing.
- Race boat heritage
- Five-star CARB rated engines, best available
- Resettable electrical relays instead of fuses
- Crank mounted raw water pump
- Ilmor’s One-Touch drives with hydraulic clutch system
- Closed cooling exhaust manifold
- Ilmor’s One Touch pro joystick vessel control
- Ilmor auto trim
Starting in 1983, Mario Illien and Paul Morgan worked with Roger Penske and General Motors to develop engines for the Indianapolis 500. After Mario Andretti won in 1987, the Ilmor Chevrolet engine rapidly became the dominant engine in Indy racing, winning multiple championships, and Indy 500s with stunning performance and reliability.
Ilmor entered the high-performance marine world, building race engines for the “SuperCat” Offshore Racing Series of the American Power Boat Association. Since its inception in 2004, Ilmor’s marine division has become a well-established supplier to the US and European high-performance boat market.
Ilmor proudly announced an industry-leading 7-Year/1000-Hour standard limited warranty for all 6000GDI and 7000MPI engines on 2019 model year MasterCraft Boats. The expectation is the warranty will soon cover all Ilmor marine engines.
Formula was founded in 1962 by Don Aranow, and as most boating enthusiasts know, has its own racing pedigree dating back to the Deep-V 233 hull and success in the national offshore racing circuit. The current 310 Bowrider has a 22-degree deadrise on an evolution of the deep-V, Formula’s FAS³TECH® hull.
The 310 Bowrider is available with a number of power options: Mercury inboards and Bravo III sterndrives, Volvo Penta inboards and drives, Mercury Verado Outboards, and Ilmor engines and sterndrives. BoatTEST has tested this boat with a number of engine configurations. Look for our tests in our archives to compare performance.
The Formula 310 Bowrider had a WOT speed just under 60 mph.
The Numbers. The Formula 310 Bowrider has a LOA of 31’ (9.45 m), a beam of 9’6” (2.90 m), and a draft of 37” (93.98 cm). With an empty weight of 10,251 lbs. (4,650 kg), 48 percent (66 gallon/250 L) fuel and two people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 11,123 lbs. (5,045 kg).
Top Speed. With the twin 430-hp Ilmor 6.2L MV8s turning Ilmor One Drive sterndrive units with duo propellers, and run up to 5350 rpm, we reached a top speed of 59 mph.
Best economic cruise with the auto trim activated came in at 3000 rpm and 23.9 mph (38.4 kph). At that speed, the 15.5 gph (58.7 lph) fuel burn translated into 1.5 mpg (0.65 kpl) and a range of 191 miles (308 km), all while still holding back a 10 percent reserve of the boat’s 138-gallon (522 L) total fuel capacity.
This boat is quick. She got on to plane in 2.0 seconds, blew past 20 MPH (32 KPH) in 4.2 seconds and reached 30 MPH (48 KPH) in just 6.7 seconds.
Time to plane: 2.0 seconds
Zero to 20 mph: 4.2 seconds
Zero to 30 mph: 6.7 seconds
With relatively calm seas we were left with crossing wakes to show how she shoulders waves aside and keeps spray well away from the windshield and cockpit. These flat, calm conditions were good for the speed trials but didn’t give us the chance to see how she handles chop.
Formulas are well known for being sea kindly so we wouldn’t expect any surprises. The 310 Bowrider quickly settled into her 5-degree bow-high attitude and we felt no need to mess with the outdrive trim, letting the Ilmor auto trim system handle that task on its own. Acceleration is brisk, turns are solid with no ventilation of the propellers, and zero chine walk.
The Swim Platform
While outboard powered boats have risen in popularity in the past decade, sterndrives are desirable because they allow the boat builder a cleaner, unfettered stern for entertainment areas and larger swim platforms. Our test boat came with an optional extended swim platform.
With an optional extended swim platform and the low-profile engines hidden below the sun pad, sterndrives have merit in space saving and opening the Formula 310 Bowrider to be a roomier entertainment platform.
Our test boat included the optional extended swim platform - it measures 41” (104.14 cm) long or 1’8” (50.8 cm) longer than the standard platform. There are additional steps to the sides, with 8” (20.32 cm) pull-up cleats, to assist boarding. The dolphin gray wood grain vinyl decking adds a non-slip surface while keeping the deck cool to the touch on hot sunny days.
A protective rail runs along the sides and trailing edge that is both convenient for holding onto when swimming and efficient for protecting the platform from an errant docking.
A pull-out reboarding ladder with beefy steps, measuring 27” (68.58 cm) below the waterline, is in the center of the platform.
Integrated into the front of the swim platform is a 44” (111.76 cm) x 64” (162.56 cm) aft facing sun lounge. Reversible individual two-position seatbacks provide backrests. Beverage holders and charge ports are to the sides.
Storage for filler cushions is underneath the sun pad.
We’re seeing the elevated level of fit-and-finish with the two-tone upholstery, contrast bead welting, and differing textures.
Inside are the new Gen 5, 6.2L Ilmors, rated at 430-hp. Competing manufacturers need to use bigger 8.2L engines to get the same horsepower, so these take up significantly less space and create more room for entertainment.
The direct fuel-injection of the Ilmor engine has added more torque at low RPMs, 15% better acceleration, and better fuel economy over previous generations.
The low-profile Ilmor V-8s have all the service points front and center.
These are direct-injected, so Ilmor was able to pick up about a 10-percent improvement in torque. The torque range is much broader, from about 3200 rpm to the top end and much wider than the Gen 4 engines. They have a closed cooling exhaust manifold so there’s no raw water running through the system.
A heat exchanger is on the front of the engine that takes advantage of the glycol running through the cooling system, so no more worries about the manifolds and risers failing down the road from saltwater corrosion. In fact, now Ilmor is about to start offering an optional 7 year/1,000-hour corrosion warranty on the exhaust manifolds.
Also, all the service points have been moved up high and to the front of the engines for easier accessibility. The remote freshwater flush, engine oil, and drive trim oil are all within easy reach. Ilmor has also moved to a crank mounted raw water pump. Removing three bolts is all it takes for changing the impeller.
The raw water strainers are accessible for easy inspection. The block and head are aluminum for light weight. The Gen 5 Ilmor has picked up about 15 percent in acceleration times and best cruise economy and has a - star CARB rating, the best available.
These Ilmors have high capacity alternators, 95-amps. An independent battery charger is included for each battery and there are no more fuses. Ilmor went with this relay system so should a relay pop, it comes up on the dash-mounted Merlin screen and the operator doesn’t even have to open the engine hatch to reset it. Just touch the screen.
The cockpit is a continuous molded deck and liner and the vinyl decking continues. Seating starts with a J-shaped bench to starboard. We can increase the capacity by flipping the helm seatbacks forward and the aft seatbacks aft.
Twin pedestal tables with beverage holders can easily be added to the cockpit to create a dining area.
Like all seats on this boat, there are beverage holders, grab rails, and speakers recessed into the bulwarks alongside and storage underneath.
There’s a color-matched molded wet bar to port. Under a bi-fold hatch is a sink plumbed to the 29-gallon (110 L) water tank recessed into the Corian countertop. Alongside is a self-draining prep area. Four beverage holders are across the back. Below is a stainless grab rail, and in lieu of the standard 17.5 quart (16.56 L) cooler there’s an optional cockpit refrigerator.
Forward of the wet bar, there’s an inward facing bench seat measuring 64” (162.56 cm) and it’s configured to accommodate forward, aft, or side facing occupants. All seating is upholstered in moondust vinyl.
All of the seating on our test boat was upholstered in moondust vinyl.
Between the wastebasket and refrigerator is a thoughtful touch - a 110v outlet wired to the inverter.
Two consoles support the split window bowrider windshield. The head console is to port and the helm console is to starboard.
The helm is a molded fiberglass console with storage inside. Choose from a charcoal or mocha color scheme. It includes a 9” (22.86 cm) multi-function display in the center. Analog gauges are to the left and outdrive trim gauges flank a compass above. To the right is the 7” (17.78 cm) Merlin display screen showing engine diagnostics and instrumentation and there’s a lot of controllability from this screen, too.
Assist Modes. Two are featured as optional upgrades to the joystick control system… anchor assist and planing assist – the option is called Ilmor One Touch PRO joystick. Anchor assist is a GPS position keeping application and it comes in three modes.
If we hit anchor, three buttons pop up at the bottom. Anchor assist will use the engines and shifts to hold heading and position. Subsequently, location assist holds position, but the bow is allowed to swing. Heading assist holds the heading but the boat is still allowed to drift or even act as an autopilot.
Three levels of position keeping are available through the optional anchor assist.
Now from the main screen, we see trim indicators for the outdrives. If we touch one of these, then a popup screen appears. One of these buttons is planing assist. Once the boat is on plane, this trims the drives for best cruise. If it starts to porpoise, it automatically lowers the drives, and brings them up again until just below that last setting. It learns with each iteration of the trim control.
Change the speed and the system relearns for a new trim setting. It’s the same when running from calm water to rougher water, because again, the boat starts to porpoise and the system adjusts accordingly. Turn it off and do it manually. Icons across the bottom indicate what mode, or modes as the case may be, the system is in (auto trim, engine sync, single lever etc.). These two systems, anchor assist and planing assist, are optional upgrades to the joystick system called One Touch Pro.
Just below is the One Touch Pro joystick vessel control. It offers precision maneuvers around the dock, and because of the hydraulic clutch system, there’s no clunking in and out of gear while doing so, and it can shift twice per second.
To starboard of the wheel are the electrical switches, including for the standard windshield wiper. Below the rockers are the Clarion stereo control head with the VHF just below.
The helm seat is double wide, each cushion measuring 18” (45.72 cm) with contoured padding and multiple tones. Both include flip bolsters and seatbacks that flip, so the helm can convert to additional cockpit seating.
Flexible seating is a feature of the 310 Bowrider.
The windshield wraps around each console with two pieces of tinted glass per side framed in stainless steel. There are support struts on either side of the opening pass-through window.
The head compartment is in the port console.
Inside is headroom of 4’6” (1.37 m). Note, how Formula configured the door to make getting in and out of the compartment easier.
The space includes a porcelain VacuFlush head unit plumbed to a 36-gal (136.27 L) holding tank fitted with a dockside pump-out. There’s a molded vanity with a stainless steel sink, Corian countertop, mirrored cabinet storage, and below is a color coordinated wood-grained vinyl flooring.
The 22” (55.88 cm) wide walkthrough to the bow includes double door access to the compartmentalized storage in the helm console. Electronics and general storage are behind the forward door. Dedicated table storage is in the aft compartment.
The forward helm compartment also has a fire extinguisher, stereo and amplifier, the main power switches and a hull side window (far right under the shelf) for natural light.
On chilly days one can close off the windshield and swing the helm storage door closed to create a lower air dam.
Seating wraps all the way around with a bolster. Filler cushions can be removed, to convert to chair style seating. The aft seatbacks include flip down armrests, not flip up that need to be latched and unlatched from a finger-pinching release.
The same pedestal table that fits the cockpit can be used in the bow. Using the short pedestal lowers the table so with a filler cushion on top the bow converts to a sun pad as well.
The bulwarks have a recess housing the JL audio speakers, stainless beverage holders, charging ports and grab handles.
Nineteen-inch (48.26 cm) deep storage compartments are under the seats.
Fully forward, the ground tackle is under a hatch opened with a lift and lock latch and supported with a gas strut. The compartment includes an optional electric windlass handling the all-chain rode leading through a chain stopper and forward through the stem anchor roller. Rode access is next to the windlass and just large enough to reach a hand through. The control switches are just ahead. Eight-inch (20.32 cm) cleats are to the sides.
Thunderbird builds Formula brand boats in its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Decatur, Indiana. The plant is almost 600,000 sq. ft. in size and contains eight paint spray booths and seven pools for in-water testing.
Formula currently has 22 models from 24' to 45' (7.32 m to 13.7 m) . These fiberglass boats are constructed using a combination of resin techniques, including hand-laid, infusion, compression, and Resin Transfer Molding or RTM in both female and 2-part molds.
The internal stiffeners are custom-engineered matrices and in the case of the 310 Bowrider, the matrix is a resin encapsulated suspended crossframe floating stringer and bulkhead system secured to the hull with biaxial laminate for optimal load distribution.
Interiors are modularly built, floor-tested, and installed with L-bracket attachments to the hull.
Painted boats go through a 32-step process to provide each boat a custom color scheme. Each is sealed with multiple coats of Imron polyurethane clearcoat for a lasting shine.
- MSRP $346,320 with twin 430-hp Ilmor 6.2L MV8s
- MSSP $277,060 with promotional discount
Optional Equipment to consider
- Ilmor One Touch joystick $21,740
- Ilmor One Touch PRO joystick $30,020
- Raymarine Axiom GPS 12” $3,080
- Anti-corrosion freshwater flush $3,585
- Sirius Sat weather $2,075
- Shorepower package $4,320
- Cockpit refrigerator $2,265
- Water heater $2,920
- Transom gas grill $1,690
- Remote battery charger panel $500
- Cockpit and swim platform vinyl $15,665
- Waste system $1,530
- Radar arch $9,370
- Windlass $6,715
- Canvas cockpit cover $2,220
- Bimini top $3,140
- Cockpit LED lighting (blue) $2,835
- VHF radio w/antenna $1,705
- Fender clips (6) $1,035
- Bow LED docking lights $1,000
- Searchlight $1,035
Formulas are well known for their fit-and-finish, especially with the gleaming paint job. This 310 Bowrider is loaded with upscale features that rival anything in class. With the versatile seating, she appeals to a wider audience, whether cruising, coving, or just entertaining dockside. By partnering with Ilmor, performance is improved along with much more convenience and functionality added to her operations.