The Zodiac Open 5.5 from Zodiac Nautic is a hard-bottom, deep-V, center-console inflatable that has been paired with the brand new and recently announced Evinrude 115-hp high-output 3-cylinder E-TEC G2 outboard engine. The company positions this boat as having “modularity”, meaning they believe it is a versatile all-around boat suited for many tasks from fishing, to diving, to watersports.
- Self-bailing cockpit
- Hard bottom
- Deep-V hull
- Hinged center console
- Bumper cones
|Length Overall||17' 9" (5.41 m)|
|Beam||8' 4" (2.54 m)|
|Dry Weight||1,290 lbs. (585 kg)|
|Tested Weight||2,283 lbs. (1,036 kg)|
|Weight Capacity||3,109 lbs. (1,410 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||26.4 gal. (100 L)|
|Length on Trailer||N/A|
|Height on Trailer||N/A|
|Total Weight||2,283 lbs. (1,036 kg)|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||3.5 sec.|
|0 to 30||10.2 sec.|
|Props||RX3 14.5 X 21|
|Load||2 persons, full fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||74 deg., 37 humid; wind: 8-12 mph; seas: 1-2|
1 x 115-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 115 H.O.
1 x 115-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 115 H.O.
Captain’s Report by Capt. Peter d'Anjou
Like other boats in Zodiac’s Open series, the Open 5.5 offers modularity, performance, and storage. A combination of a very low center of gravity, a deep-V hull, and added stabilization from the tubes give the rigid-hulled inflatable speed and sea-crossing capacities without compromising comfort or safety.
Zodiac Nautic is headquartered in France, however, the boats are built in Summerville, South Carolina. The compartments in the deck will accept gear for all water-based hobbies.
- Removable tube
- 12-person capacity
- Hinged center console with below-deck storage
- Bow mooring bollard
- Strongan (PVC) or Neoprene (Hypalon) fabric
- Flexible seating
- Double grab line
Zodiac sees its RIB boats like the Open 5.5 as 4x4s of the sea. The buoyancy tubes of Zodiac boats have several compartments, separated by waterproof partitions. Thanks to its air reserves, the boat keeps its ability to float and stays conceptually unsinkable when fully loaded, even with a deflated compartment.
Pairing this 1.9-liter, 3-cylinder, direct in-the-cylinder, fuel-injected two-stroke engine with a RIB makes sense, since all RIBs benefit from the torque and performance of two-stroke outboards.
Our Zodiac Open 5.5 test boat has a LOA of 17’9” (5.4 m) and a beam of 8’4” (2.54 m). With an empty weight of 1,290 lbs. (585.1 kg), 26.4 gal. (99.93 liters) of fuel and 2 people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 2,283 lbs. (10,35.55 kg).
With the Evinrude E-TEC G2 115 H.O. outboard fitted with an RX3 3-blade 14.5’ x 21” propeller powering our Open 5.5 test boat, we reached a top speed of 46.5 mph (74.8 kph) at 5,350 rpm. The best economic cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 23.2 mph (37.3 kph). It was at that speed that the 3.7 gph (14 lph) fuel burn translated into 6.3 mpg (2.66 kpl) and a range of 149 statute miles (239 km).
For acceleration, the Zodiac Open 5.5 got on plane in an average time of 3.5 seconds and went from zero to 20 mph (32 kph) in an average of 6.5 seconds and on to 30 mph (48 kph) in 10.2 seconds.
We had calm conditions for our test with wind speeds around 10 knots and a slight chop, so we can’t really comment on how the Zodiac Open 5.5 performed in any kind of seas.
The maximum horsepower recommended by the manufacturer is 130-hp and a long shaft engine is required. The Evinrude E-TEC G2 115 H.O. comes in both a 20” or 25” long-shaft version.
This new Evinrude can be adapted to existing hydraulic steering, cable steering, and also has a tiller option, but here the choice is the industry-first internal steering. The rigging tube is stationary when the engine turns, reducing wear.
The transom has two round inspection ports plus the center engine well access panel.
As with all Evinrude E-TEC G2s, the engine tilts 81-degrees, getting the lower unit completely out of the water. In addition to the local tilt switch on the engine itself, a remote tilt control on the throttle allows for underway trim adjustment.
Maybe this feature surprised Zodiac because when we tilted the engine all the way up it touched the seatback, so we simply removed the seatback.
The fixed pedestal leaning post has a footrest and is open below, where there is another access port into the hull. On either end of the leaning post’s bench are convenient grab handles. And across the back is another handhold. The bench hinges forward to reveal storage below the seat.
Just in front of the leaning post is the center console. The bottom of the console is part of the molded deck. The upper part has a forward clam-style front door that hinges up on gas shocks to access the storage space within the console. The entire upper console can hinge forward for even greater access to the in-deck storage area.
With the front of the console opened up on gas shocks, storage is revealed. Note the hinges below the opening on which the entire console can hinge open.
A powder-coated frame is attached to the console sides and holds the blue-tinted plexiglass windshield and does triple duty as grab handles as well as the base for an arch over the console, holding the all-around navigation light. There is an optional canvas T-top available.
The base of the console provides a two-level angled footrest with a non-skid deck.
The upper plastic console houses the dash. The simple helm has a fixed steering wheel. An Evinrude engine gauge is just above the wheel. To starboard of the wheel is a row of rocker switches and then the Evinrude DTS throttle & shift. The starboard side of the dash has USB and 12v charger ports, 2 cupholders and a grab rail. The ignition is below the throttle.
Wrapped around the top of the console is an arch that holds both the windshield and the all-around navigation light. The windshield does have some minor distortion in the corners.
Moving forward from the helm on the port side is a side deck clearance of 13” (33.02 cm). The whole helm console is offset, creating asymmetrical side decks.
Hand lines on the 13” (33.02 cm) tubes run fore and aft the length of the boat for grab handles. The freeboard amidships is 25” (63.6 cm).
With the hatch swung up on two side hinges, the fuel fill for the 26.4-gallon (100-liter) integrated tank is revealed. There is a drain right in front, which seems an odd place for a drain given the proximity of the fuel fill. The anchor locker/storage is alongside.
Just in front of the anchor locker is a bollard for tying off the anchor rode, a raised plastic housing that Zodiac calls a “polyester bow davit and tilting sheave”, and the anchor roller. The sidelights and a set of chocks are mounted on the sides of the housing.
On the starboard side we can see the push valves for inflating the tubes . The foot pump inflator has a manometer to get the pressure just right - a critical aspect of maintaining any RIB is to keep it properly inflated.
Zodiac uses a chop-gun to shoot resin and glass stands into the molds, then adds layers of glass cloth in high load areas to build the hull and deck for the Open 5.5. The stringer adds strength and support for tankage.
Two types of tube material are available: PVC, for which Zodiac uses the trademark of Strongan, or Hypalon, a rubber material that uses the trademark Neoprene. PVC is cheaper, more susceptible to breakdown in sunlight, and not quite as resistant to puncture as Hypalon. The Neoprene (Hypalon) version is available in two colors, black or light grey – the Strongan (PVC) version is only available in light grey.
Knowing which fabric is used on a RIB is critical, if repairs are necessary, since each requires different glues and prep for repair. In a nutshell, there is a reason the Hypalon is $2,660 more expensive on an Open 5.5 – it’s better. Either will last a long time if kept properly maintained and inflated.
- Swim platforms w/boarding ladder ($2,450)
- Bow anchor locker cushion ($203)
- Bow rail ($1,777)
- Backrest for leaning post ($808)
- Roll bar/ski mast ($2,065)
- Synthetic teak deck EVA, gray or black ($1,575)
- Synthetic teak deck EVA platforms, gray or black ($370)
- Console mooring cover ($415)
- Bolster mooring cover ($208)
- Bolster mooring cover with backrest cover ($286)
- T-top ($4,720)
- Fishing rod holder 90-degrees ($106)
- Flag holder ($97)
- Lure holder ($62)
- Cup holder ($67)
- Venture VB-2200 trailer ($2,249)
The Zodiac Open 5.5 PVC boat without engine lists for $27,496 plus dealer prep and freight. The Hypalon boat without engine is $30,156 plus dealer prep and freight. The PVC boat with competitors’ 115-hp engine ready for water, is listed at $36,995 (Defender) plus prep and freight.
Evinrude's pricing for the new E-TEC G2 115 H.O. averages $11,957.
Zodiac’s versatile 18-footer can accommodate a crowd and is both safe and fun to drive, especially when paired with the all-new Evinrude E-TEC G2 115 H.O. It’s a tidy package for around $40,000.
The move of G2 technology into the mid-range engine market will shake up the industry. No other engines in class can boast of the torque, light weight, low emissions, fuel economy, or driver-centric features these engines have.
Keep an eye out for our continuing tests of boats powered with this engine and reviews of her new three-cylinder stablemates, the 140-hp and the 150-hp.