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Nitro Z20 (2019-)

1 x 250-hp Mercury Pro XS 4-stroke


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Key Features

  • NITRO® Vortex Technology™ (NVT™) hull
  • Rapid Planing System™ (RPS™)
  • Adjustable 12" (30.48 cm) jack plate
  • Dual-axle NITRO® trailer with fold-away tongue
  • Lowrance® HOOK2 5 Combo flush-mounted fishfinder
  • Hydraulic steering with tilt

Test Results

600 3.6 3.1 0.8 4.8 4.2 216 187.8 62
1000 5.4 4.7 1.4 4 3.5 180 156.5 61
1500 7.2 6.2 2.6 2.8 2.4 124 107.6 68
2000 9.1 7.9 3.5 2.6 2.2 116 101.2 74
2500 21.3 18.5 4.3 4.9 4.3 222 193.4 77
3000 26.3 22.9 5.3 5 4.3 223 194.2 80
3500 32.1 27.9 6.9 4.7 4.1 211 183.4 81
4000 39.5 34.3 8.4 4.7 4.1 213 185.1 82
4500 47.9 41.7 11 4.4 3.8 197 171.2 80
5000 58 50.4 13.7 4.2 3.7 190 165.5 85
5500 66.9 58.1 17.6 3.8 3.3 171 149.1 85
6000 75.1 65.3 22.9 3.3 2.9 148 128.5 86
6200 76.6 66.6 23.4 3.3 2.9 148 128.3 87


Length Overall 20' 2'' / 6.15 m
Beam 7' 10''
2.39 m
Dry Weight 2,000 lbs.
907 kg
Tested Weight 3,105 lbs.
1,408 kg
Draft 16''
0.41 m
Deadrise/Transom 16-deg.
Max Headroom open
Bridge Clearance N/A
Weight Capacity 575 lbs.
261 kg
Person Capacity 4
Fuel Capacity 50 gal.
189 L
Water Capacity N/A
Total Weight 3,105 lbs.
1,408 kg

Acceleration Times & Conditions

Time to Plane 3.8 sec.
0 to 30 7.7 sec.
Ratio N/A
Props 24p fury
Load 2 persons, 3/5 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
Climate 85 deg., 62 humid; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: 0

Engine Options

Tested Engine 1 x 250-hp Mercury Pro XS 4-stroke
Std. Power 1 x 225-hp Mercury Pro XS 4-stroke with Torque Master
Opt. Power 1 x 250-hp Mercury Pro XS 4-stroke with Torque Master

Captain's Report

Contents of Report


Serious bass anglers want to know, how fast does it go? BoatTEST’s answer for the Nitro Z20 with Mercury 250L Pro XS is 76.6 mph WOT.

Nitro Z20: Mission


The Nitro Z20 is a freshwater fishing platform outfitted for tournaments, with rod and tackle storage, plus electronics to get on the fish, and then the speed to get them back to the dock for weigh-in.

Major Features

• Z-Core™ seating system for driver and passenger seats

• Guardian™ 19-gallon (71.92 L) livewells with digital timers

    Nitro Z20: Design


    Nitro’s Vortex Technology (NVT) hull design contributes to the Z20’s speed, lift, and handling.

    When people start designing “organic parabolic strakes” into their hulls, protecting the design, and trademarking the names, it could have some advantage beyond simple marketing. So BoatTEST dug a little deeper and asked Nitro about the Z20 hull’s running surface properties.

    Their response was that it “delivers a remarkable hole shot, exceptional top end speed and lift – plus improved midrange acceleration-all while maintaining the agility and smooth dry ride in rough water that are Nitro’s trademarks.” According to Nitro, parabolic shapes are stronger than flat or angled surfaces, providing reduced resistance and truer tracking at higher speeds and improved strength to weight ratio in the finished product.


    Nitro’s bottom design, Rapid Planing System™ or RPS, consists of a stepped transom with a notch in it. The reason for this is to “release air during a hole-shot and deliver undisturbed water to the prop for better performance and more responsiveness”.

    When Nitro combines NVT with their Rapid Planing System (RPS), they say the boat gets up on plane faster, is more efficient (less drag), and turns positively.

    Engine and Propeller


    The 4-stroke 8-cylinder Pro XS Series is factory tuned to provide top-end speed and good hole shot times. Mercury claims it gets 1.5 mph (2.41 kph) better top-end speed and provides 15% quicker hole-shots than their discontinued 2-stroke OptiMax engines. The 250-hp is the maximum recommended engine for the Z20.

    Why is ANY outboard engine a distinguishing feature? The short answer is, because it was designed specifically for use in tournament bass boats.

    Mercury’s Pro XS Series V-8 engines range from 175 to 300-hp and are aimed at those wanting professional level performance, particularly competitive anglers looking for every advantage they can squeeze out of their equipment. They’re paired with the Torque Master gear case – a beefed up 19-spline stainless steel prop shaft specifically designed for high-speed boats.


    Mercury’s Fury prop has a smaller diameter than most (14”, 35.56 cm), but has larger surface area along the hub. The prop comes in 3 or 4-blade configuration and is shipped with no vent plugs, for maximum air.

    Mercury claims its top-of-the-line Fury Propeller, an X7 alloy prop is 30% stronger than standard stainless and provides better top end speed and better hole shots. Our test boat topped out at 76.6 mph WOT at 6200 rpm in our tests.


    Accessory switches for the bilge pump, lights, horn, and livewells use the capacitive touch keypad.

    Sealed touch pad switches are not new, but neither are they common on a small boat. The waterproof, capacitive touch digital keypad is another example of how Nitro deploys technology and that distinguishes them from the competition.


    The passenger console is a factory fastened option, but the boat is designed for it to be removable as well.

    Nitro Z20: Performance


    The Nitro Z20 rides at speed on a small fraction of the hull.


    Nitro offers the Z20 with a standard Mercury 225 Pro XS Fourstroke or the upgrade to the 250 Pro XS. Our test boat had the optional 250 ($1,180) on an optional 12” (30.48 cm) T-H Marine hydraulic jackplate.

    The Nitro Z20 measures 20’2” (6.15 m) long with a 7’10” (2.39 m) beam and the hull draws 16” (40.6 cm). The empty weight is listed at 2,000 lbs. (907 kg). With two people, 30 gallons (114 L) of fuel and test equipment on board, we had an estimated test weight of 3,105 lbs. (1,408 kg).


    Trimming for speed, an optional wheel mounted trim control is available.

    Our 250-hp Mercury four-stroke outboard motor spun a stainless-steel 14” x 24” (35.5 x 60.9 cm) Fury three-blade X7 Alloy propeller.

    Top Speed. We ran the engine up to 6200 rpm, hitting a top speed of 76.6 mph (122.3 kph).

    Best cruise came at 3000 rpm where we saw 26.3 mph (42.3 kph) and a fuel burn of 5.3 gph (20 lph), giving us 5.0 mpg (2.1 kpl) and a range of 223 statute miles (358.88 km) while holding 10 percent of the boat’s 50-gallon (189 L) fuel capacity in reserve.

    Nitro Z20: Acceleration


    The bow rise of the Z20 coming out of the hole doesn’t last long, as the boat’s Rapid Planing System assists the boat onto a level ride.

    The Z20 is equipped with Nitro’s Rapid Planing System and she leveled off in 3.8 seconds and ran through 20 mph (32.1 kph) in 5.3 seconds and through 30 mph (48.2 kph) in 7.7 seconds.

    Nitro Z20: Handling


    In turns, the boat comes off the keel pad and digs in the six parabolic shaped strakes that run the full length of the boat.

    The Z20 wants to climb up onto the pad and haul the mail. In arcing turns, she holds her line well and completes the maneuver. Running across boat wakes or through chop, just touch the down button on the trim and she rides smoothly. A side note, water doesn’t wash over the transom during deceleration.

    Mid-range acceleration with the four-stroke motor is strong enough to plant passengers in their seats.

    Nitro Z20: Boat Inspection

    Nitro Z20: Cockpit


    An optional Power-adjust pneumatic lumbar support is available for the driver’s seat.

    The twin Z-Core bucket seats are built with Force Flex suspension and contoured frames. Nitro team angler Kevin VanDam worked with the company on the seat design. The collaboration worked, as we found the seats comfortable and supportive, even at 75 mph (120.7 kph).


    Forward of the port bucket seat is the optional second console, for anglers who like to fish with a partner and run at high speed.

    The removable second console has a locking glovebox with an opening that measures 16” (406. cm) wide and 6” (15.24cm) tall. There are grab handles forward and outboard.


    The passenger console has six built-in rod holders (red arrow) next to the footrest.

    Outboard of the port seat is a carpeted ramp for butt ends for six rods. Forward under the console, there are six dedicated racks for fishing rods plus additional storage just inboard forward of the angled footrest.


    Optional single or dual wheel-mounted engine trim controls require also ordering a hydraulic jack plate.

    To starboard, the helm console has Veethree analog gauges, including the tachometer with an integrated trim indicator to port, the speedometer with a built-in fuel gauge to starboard and instruments for water pressure and volts. The Lowrance Hook2 5 fishfinder comes standard and owners can choose from a plethora of additional electronics.

    To port of the tilt steering wheel are the master power and ignition switches. On the starboard side of the steering wheel, a panel houses the switches for navigation/anchor lights, the bilge pumps and all the livewell controls. Just below are the switches for the livewell pumps.


    The round stereo remote to the left of the throttle is for the optional Bluetooth®-capable Sony® stereo system.

    Outboard to starboard are the stereo remote and the conventional shift/throttle controls. The Z20 comes standard with hydraulic steering and on a boat that tops 75 mph, we would add the optional foot throttle and turn-signal-style trim switches so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel.

    Bow Casting Deck


    Viewed from the cockpit, the step to the carpeted casting deck houses a cooler below.

    Between the consoles are steps up to the forward casting deck. On each side of the step are cupholders and tool racks.


    Beneath the hinged step between the consoles is a 62-quart (59 L) cooler that has a removable wastebasket and sandwich tray.


    The bow casting deck has an anti-fatigue mat below the carpet as standard equipment.

    The forward casting has bungee cord tiedowns for rods during a quick run to the next spot.

    Forward, the Z20 comes standard with a Minn Kota 24-volt trolling motor with 70 lbs. (32 kg) of thrust and a 42” (106.68 cm) shaft.


    The bow panel has space for optional fishfinders up to 12” (30.48 cm), and to starboard are the switches for the navigation lights and outboard motor trim.


    The foot pedal control for the trolling motor is recessed – standard.

    Just aft are a tool rack and cupholder, plus the foot pedal for the trolling motor. The boat comes standard with a folding fishing seat built with a composite frame. When the seat is in place in the bow, the trolling motor foot pedal should be a comfortable reach.


    Bow storage is found in three lockers, all of which open on gas struts and can be locked.


    The port side locker can store 10 rods.

    New for 2019, there are cupholders inside the center locker, which is lighted, measures 38” (96.52 cm) long by 24” (60.96 cm) wide and has removable dividers. The starboard locker is open and has clips for securing a paddle and a fire extinguisher.


    For tying up to a dock or hanging fenders there are two 4” pull-up cleats on each side.

    Aft Casting Deck


    A hinged storage box with non-skid top acts as a step to the aft casting deck.

    Moving to the aft casting deck, there’s a 22” (55.88 cm) wide step between the cockpit seats. Beneath the non-skid covered step is a shallow storage tray.


    Abaft the seats, there’s a spot to store a net. There is also a removable catch ruler. Note, the center seat shown is optional.

    The standard aft deck carpet covers non-fatigue padding, as in the bow.


    The dimensions of the aft casting deck run gunwale to gunwale with two swim steps behind.

    The second of the two standard fishing seats secures in an in-deck socket so it won’t fly out when underway.


    In the port quarter, the boarding ladder folds up on a non-skid step and there’s a padded grab handle.

    There are four hatches in the aft deck. Those in the center, lift to reveal twin 19-gallon (72 L) Guardian livewells with digital timers, 750-gph (2,839 lph) pumps, a recirculation system and rounded corners. Outboard on each side are removable tubs with slots for seven Plano 3700 tackle trays.


    In-deck storage for Plano tackle boxes flank the livewells.


    An optional factory installed CoolGuard™ livewell cooling system can be added to the twin livewells.

    Abaft the livewells, a large hatch opens to provide access to the batteries, switch, charger and other mechanical accessories. The boat comes with dual trolling batteries plus a dedicated engine starting battery.


    An extra trolling motor battery can be added in the battery compartment along with an optional four-bank, 40-amp battery charger.


    The panel, lower left, provides access from the battery locker to the pumps for the livewell system.

    A hinged panel ahead of the batteries folds up to reveal the bilge and livewell pumps. There’s also a removable tray that drops in place above the batteries for more storage.



    The internal grid of the Z20 is gelcoat-finished so that it also acts as a liner for storage compartments. This is an important detail and distinguishes the boat from some fiberglass bass boats and all aluminum ones.

    Hand-laid fiberglass hulls are built with engineered, woven fiberglass fabric for strength and chopped fiberglass strand for puncture resistance. The Z20’s one-piece stringer grid is constructed with a resin-infused closed molding process and then bonded to the hull to provide longitudinal and transverse supports to the running surface.

    Extra-thick, molded knee supports reinforce the transom to hold outboards and shallow-water anchors. The 100-percent composite transom is chemically bonded in place. The deck is both chemically and mechanically bonded to the hull.


    Expanding foam is injected below the Z20’s liner to meet USCG level floatation regulations if the boat is swamped.



    A dual-axle trailer with fiberglass fenders is included; optional retractable tiedown straps are available.
    To complete the package, the Z20 comes standard on a custom-made trailer that has a swing-away tongue.


    The Z20’s stowed length with the tongue folded away is 23’8” (7.21 m).

    Nitro Z20: Equipment Discussion

    Nitro combines many of the favorite options together in a “Pro Package” upgrade that saves the buyer $3,530 over individually ordered upgrades. It includes:

    • Bow Hummingbird® HELIX™ 9 DI G3N gimbal-mounted fishfinder with MEGA Down Imaging, CHIRP Digital Sonar and GPS

    • Console Hummingbird® HELIX™ 10 SI G3N flush-mounted fishfinder with MEGA Down Imaging, CHIRP Digital Sonar and GPS

    • 2 Minn Kota® 10’ (3.05 m) Talon shallow-water anchors (bracket mounted, dealer installed)

    • Minn Kota® Ultrex® 36V, 112-lb. (50.8 kg) thrust, 45” (1.14 m) shaft trolling motor with Universal Sonar 2 and i-Pilot® Link™

    • 3-way ethernet communication between bow and console fishfinders and trolling motor

    • T-H Marine G-Force Conservation livewell culling system

    • Power-adjust pneumatic lumbar support for driver’s seat

    • Factory-applied keel protector

    • 1 standard and 1 automatic bilge pump

    • Hot Foot™ throttle and Pro-Trim lever

    • 4-bank, 40-amp battery charger

    • 1 extra trolling battery

    • Retractable transom trailer tie downs

      Nitro Z20: Optional Equipment to Consider

      • Hot Foot™ throttle ($185)

      • Trim Lever on wheel ($70)

      • Dual trim lever on wheel (requires hydraulic jack plate) ($120)

      • Carpet embroidery ($190)

      • Spinning rod organizer ($95)

      • SmartCraft gauges ($840)

      • Ventilation fan in bow storage box ($155)

      • Removable port console (factory installed) ($1,025)

      • 12” (20.48 cm) TH Marine hydraulic jack plate ($1,070)

      • 12” (20.48 cm) Bob’s Marine hydraulic jack plate ($1,150)

      • Bluetooth capable Sony stereo system ($350)

      • Power-adjust pneumatic lumbar support for driver’s seat ($175)

      • Two oxygen generators with shutoff switch ($390)

      • Automatic bilge pump ($125)

      • Coolguard livewell cooling system (factory install) ($550)

      • HydroWave electronic fish attractor ($540)

      • Keel Protector in black or white ($315)

      • Loc-R-Bar with alarm (dealer install not included) ($230)

      • Mooring cover for 2 consoles ($755)

        Nitro Z20: Price

        $44,995 with Mercury 225l Pro XS motor and trailer

        $46,175 with Mercury upgrade to 250L Pro XS

        Nitro Z20: Observations


        The Nitro Z20 will delight any bass fishermen.

        The Nitro Z20 is a tournament-quality bass boat and when paired with the Mercury Pro XS outboard has the speed to compete. Numerous standard features keep the price down.

        With the new hull design, this boat should be able to go toe-to-toe with any bass boat on the market in terms of performance, with like engines. And, she can do that for far less money.