If we have one general criticism of American-built sportboats it is that they look very much the same. Often, in class, they have the same layouts, use hardware from the same venders, use the same engines, and make the same performance claims. It is one of the reasons why boaters come to BoatTEST.com to do their research – they are trying to sort out what is the advantage of one boat over another because they nearly all look alike. The great thing to our mind about the Cranchi CSL 27 is that it is different! One thing is for sure, the Italians certainly have a way of thinking outside the box. Just a glance at the layout will show that this boat is featuring some characteristics that you just don’t find in American boats. We’re not saying that they are better or worse, just that they are a breath of fresh air.
- Pilot and copilot rorating seats
- Electrical marine wc
- 15 liter non electrical water heater
- Water pump
- Radio CD with loudspeakers and USB connection
- Wet bar with sink
- Electrical engine room hatch with electrical control
- Shower (hot/cold)
- Power steering and single lever engine control for petrol/D3 version
- Hydraulic steering and electronic lever engine control for D4 version
- Ritchie compass
- N.2 batteries engines/services
- N.1 automatic fire extinguisher in the engine room and n.1 manual fire extinguisher in the cockpit
|Length Overall||28' 1'' / 8.56 m|
Currently no test numbers
The Unique Layout
The CSL stands for Cranchi Sport Line, and just a glance at the layout shows a unique feature...a center mounted helm. It’s almost sad to say that it’s unusual, as it makes so much sense. Ask anyone who has ever driven a boat from the center, whether on a center console, a sport fisherman, or a luxury megayacht. The center mounted helm is a much more natural control point for any boat, but it’s rarely considered for a boat the size of the Cranchi 27, however, because it blocks the entry to the cabin, or forward in the case of a bowrider.
In this case, however, the design team at Cranchi has seemingly found a “work-around,” and it works. By moving the cabin entry to the port side, the center helm concept is workable. Not only that, but they have made the skipper’s seat large and comfortable, and have done the same for a companion seat to starboard. Note that there is room for the navigator to exit to starboard without having to climb over the driver. We think this is admirable design work in a 27-footer.
Better yet, both seats swivel completely around allowing for turning the cockpit into an al fresco dining area with the simple addition of a pedestal table. Set the bimini top and you’re all set for a fun lunch on the water.
For all the amount of clever use of space, coupled with the smart center mounted helm, we were surprised that more care was not taken with some of the helm details. The instrument panel is a large, high oval shape with lots of wasted space on it. Because it is high, visibility forward has been limited. We’d much rather see that wasted space removed and a far lower profile to the panel which would increase visibility. We also think there would still be room to mount a small screen for a GPS moving map.
As regular readers know, we like our throttles mounted horizontally, or nearly so. The engine controls on this Cranchi 27 are mounted almost vertically. We’d prefer a horizontal mount so that the operator’s hand moves fore and aft to work the controls, not up and down which is awkward and not given to precise control. We understand that is easier said than done on a center helm with both seats able to swivel, but we have faith that the Cranchi design team can figure out a way. And while they’re at it, they can also make sure that the operator’s right elbow isn’t in the way of the navigator. Perhaps a nav seat that slides to starboard is part of the answer.
Cranchi did a great job on the huge sunpad atop the electrically actuated engine hatch. The swim platform is also large enough to make using it a pleasure, rather than a balancing act, and notice how it extends well past the outdrives. It’s also hard not to love the high rails that surround the sunpad and walkthrough. Extending the windshield frame well aft into the cockpit was another smart move that adds an extra level of safety and helps keep guests dry.
Instead of simply making the aft seats hollow for use as storage bins, Cranchi left the front of the seat fixture open, more like a park bench. This allows you to see what you have placed under the seat with just a glance, and you don’t necessarily have to get people to get up out of their seats to get what you want from storage. We like this approach.
One of the design tricks that Cranchi has used to be able to get the companionway to port and off the centerline, is to remove any semblance of side decks. That means you must pass through the windshield to get to the bow. Here we get even more Cranchi out-of-the-box thinking: note the asymmetrical windshield. We have never seen anything like on this size and type of boat. On the port side it bows forward making it easier to get down the companionway, and on the starboard side it is more conventional going almost straight across, permitting a swing-open windscreen, for access forward.
Power choices, at least for the American market, are strictly Volvo Penta. For gas, choose from twin 225-hp V6 GXi’s with DP-S outdrives, or a single 320-hp 5.7L V8 MC GXi with DP-S drive. For diesel options, a single 190-hp D3 or 260-hp D4 are the choices.
It appears the Cranchi has done a good job of making a comfortable day boat that also doubles as an overnighter. With the unique features that their design team added to this boat, and only a couple of downsides, we think this CSL 27 will give some serious competition to some other boat brands, regardless of what country it’s selling in. And you will not have to worry about your boat looking the same as the one next to you.
The Cranchi 27 is not an inexpensive boat. But if you want something that that is different, very well-built, a genuine all-Italian boat and not an American me-too design, then you should give the Cranchi 27 a serious look.