The NITRO® Z17 is a quick and compact bass boat that delivered impressive performance on a fuel-efficient 115-hp Mercury® FourStroke in our test runs. She planed in 3.7 seconds, reached a WOT speed of 51.3 and at a cruise of 3500 rpms and 25.8 mph, she maxed out at 7.5 mpg. Best of all, our test captain reported that she did not chine walk and he felt safe throughout his normal test maneuvers. A Minn Kota® bow-mount trolling motor, Lowrance® sonar, aerated Guardian™ livewell, and a factory-matched trailer are all standard.
|Length Overall||17' 4'' / 5.28 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||3.7 sec.|
|0 to 30||9.3 sec.|
|Props||Spitfire 12.7" x 19" 4-bl ss|
|Load||2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||68 deg., 42 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm|
1 x 115-hp Mercury ProXS FourStroke
1 x 90-hp Mercury ELPT FourStroke
1 x 115-hp Mercury ELPT Pro XS FourStroke
1 x 115-hp Mercury ELPT Pro XS FourStroke Command Thrust
Nitro developed the Z17 to be the company’s entry-level fiberglass bass-fishing model. She replaces the Z6, which was a popular model. To appease the first-time buyer, the boat comes standard with a custom-matched trailer, a fishfinder, a trolling motor, a cooler, and a livewell.
The Bow. The forward fishing deck on the Z17 measures 32 sq. ft. (2.97 sq. m). Up front the boat comes standard with a Minn Kota Edge trolling motor and accompanying recessed foot pedal plus accessory switches to trim the outboard motor and activate the anchor light. A fishing seat on a pedestal installs just abaft the foot pedal. There’s space in the bow panel for an optional fishfinder. The walking surface on the forward fishing deck is covered in 16-ounce marine-grade carpet, and there are two bungee cords to secure rods during a quick run to the next fishing spot.
Bow Storage. Outboard on each side just aft of the bungee cords, there are locking compartments with open space. They can accommodate rods up to 7’ (2.13 m) long and are carpeted. The center locker has space for rods up to 7’6” (2.3 m) long, has soft foam padding and it drains.
The Cockpit. One feature that sets apart the Z17 from other entry-level models is the 62-quart (58.7-liter) cooler in the step from the bow fishing deck to the cockpit. The boat comes standard with two seats. The center seat is an option and it can be removed when a pair of anglers want to participate in a tournament.
To port, an owner can order the boat with an optional console that’s equipped with a locking glovebox. It installs easily with three oversized screws. Whether the boat is ordered with the port console, outboard is a carpeted rod ramp so fishing gear can be quickly secured during a run between hot spots.
All three seats are hinged and fold forward to reveal storage outboard and access to fuel fittings under the center.
The Helm. To starboard, the helm console is identical to the port side unit in terms of the rotocast construction and the acrylic windscreen. The Z17 comes with multi-function VeeThree gauges including a tachometer and speedometer, plus a water pressure instrument, which is always a smart idea with an outboard motor.
A Lowrance Hook fishfinder is in the center of the black panel. Accessory switches are split on each side of the steering wheel and those that control the livewell are to starboard. The shift/throttle control is a comfortable reach on the starboard inwale and down below we found a cupholder and a storage tray lined with rubber mat.
Aft Casting Deck. As previously mentioned, the middle cockpit seat is an option. If the Z17 is ordered without it, an angler can easily step up to the aft fishing deck with ease. The area measured 6’6” (1.98 m) by 3’ (.9 m), or 19.5 sq. ft. (1.78 sq. m) and a movable folding seat that mounts on a pedestal can be quickly installed. Outboard to port are the fuel fill and a recessed cleat. Aft to port, the reboarding ladder folds up onto a nonskid mat. To aid in the process, there’s a small step below the ladder on the transom and a grab handle up high.
Livewells and Storage. Directly abaft the cockpit seats, two hatches with nylon straps open the 23-gallon (87.06-liter) livewell that has a removable partition, oxygenation and aeration systems. The well has rounded corners to help keep the fish inside calm. Outboard on each side are two locking hatches and inside these compartments are removable tubs that have slots for Plano tackle boxes. The aft center hatch ahead of the motor provides access to the two batteries and outboard to port there is a two-bank battery charger.
Vortex Technology. The Nitro Vortex Technology (NVT) bottom design on the Z17 includes the manufacturer’s Rapid Planing System. There are a total of six strakes plus a turned-down chine to get the boat on plane quickly and keep her riding level and true when she is up and “hanging on the pad” in the bottom at the stern. Our test boat planed in 3.7 seconds and ran to 20 mph in 6.2 seconds and to 30 mph in 9.3 seconds.
The Numbers. With two people, 12 gallons (45.4 liters) of fuel and test equipment on board, our test boat weighed an estimated 2,317 lbs. (1,050.97 kg). She was powered by a 115-hp Mercury ProXS FourStroke outboard with a 2.07:1 gear reduction turning a Spitfire 12.7” x 19” four-blade aluminum stainless-steel propeller. We hit a top speed of 51.3 mph (44.6 nots) at 5900 rpm. Best cruise came at 3000 rpm where she ran 20.6 mph (17.6 knots) and burned 2.8 gph (10.6 lph). That’s 7.5 mpg (3.18 kpl), which gives the Z17 a range of 162 statute miles (260 km) with 10 percent of the boat’s 24-gallon (90.85-liter) fuel capacity in reserve.
Maximum Power. The Z17 is rated for a maximum of 115-hp, and the 115 ELPT Pro XS is available with the standard gearcase that we tested or the optional Command Thrust gearcase (a $550 upgrade). Because it has a 2.38:1 gear ratio, the Command Thrust does give owners the opportunity to use any of Mercury’s V-6 series propellers, but because the Command Thrust is targeted more at helping heavier boats get on plane, we don’t think it’s necessary for the Z17.
Maneuverability. An entry-level boat should exhibit predictable handling and good overall manners and the Z17 did just that. We made a variety of turns in each direction and the boat did exactly what we expected. Fully locked over turns will result in a slight propeller ventilation at the end of the maneuver, but those kind of moves aren’t what this boat was designed for. She’s not intended to tow tubers, but she could if she had to.
Construction. The Z17 is built with a unitized hull and foam-filled stringers and deck, which provides good vibration dampening and positive flotation. The boat comes with four recessed stainless steel cleats.
Trailer. Nitro packages the Z17 with a custom-fit trailer finished with Galvashield impact and corrosion protection. The trailer comes with radial tires, an outboard-motor support, a swing-away tongue, a tongue jack, safety cables and low-maintenance hubs. Because the boat rides low on the trailer, it should tow and ride smoothly over the road.
• Transferrable warranty on the hull, stringers and transom for the life of boat to the original owner.
• One-year limited warranty on the following:
• All electrical components.
• Livewells and plumbing
• Stereo, gauges and switches
• Console, windscreen and steering wheel
• Steering system components
• Marine Grade vinyl
• Fuel System
• 6 years/100,000 miles on trailer.
The Nitro Z17 is categorized as an entry-level fiberglassed model, but we think that experienced anglers looking for a smaller boat would be hard-pressed to find any weaknesses in this one.
Her standard-equipment list includes everything an angler would want to get on the water including a trolling motor, fishfinder, integrated cooler and a livewell. With the 115-hp four-stroke motor, she should be affordable to purchase and to run.