I admit having a pre-ordained soft spot for Glastron's GX 235, the wide-beam 23-footer that's one of two new entries in the company's upscale bowrider series. My sympathies stem partly from its colour - a vibrant blue that's remarkably similar to the accents on a sporty runabout that I drove about 15 years ago. Aside from being a bigger boat, the GX shows how far Glastron has come.
The Minnesota company has always been a high-value family runabout specialist. With the GX line, Glastron's designers have freer rein to incorporate touches of luxury.
First of all there's the two-tone colour, Laguna Blue on the test boat,moulded into the gelcoat above and below the rubrail where the hull and deck are joined. The other colour choices are Radiant Yellow, Sunfire Red and Jet Black (for those who demand a more subdued, classic effect). Upholstery and interior trim follow suit with deep yet supportive foam and soft yet durable vinyl in off-white and taupe with accents to match the chosen colour.
At the helm, there's a leatherette and simulated burlwood steering wheel with adjustable tilt and a burlwood dash with gold-bezel Faria instruments.A visor eliminates glare, switches and controls are properly at hand and there's a four-speaker Clarion AM-FM/CD stereo. The helm and companion seats are supportive swiveling buckets; the helm seat adjusts full and has a flip-up seat bottom for added height when you need it.
Aft, the cockpit has the U-shaped seating found on many bowriders in the 20- to 25-foot range. Glastron adds a hinged cushion in the middle of the aft sunpad that lifts to expose a walkway.No more footprints on the sunpad. An aft cockpit table and the cushions to turn the U-shaped settee into a full-width sunpad are standard equipment.
A bow compartment deep enough for kids to ride safely and a swim platform with telescoping boarding ladder round out the day-cruising accommodations. The huge moulded-in swim platform carries the boat's band of colour aft with a design flourish that gives the 235 a really sleek appearance.
More practical problems such as storage are solved in style. The moulded aft lounge area has clean, convenient storage below the seat bottoms. There's a huge cockpit floor locker for skis and wakeboards with carpeted storage lockers under the bow seats. Options are few; on the test boat they included a Bimini top and snap-in carpets. The Bimini was appreciated as test day - in the midday sun on the Gulf of Mexico off St. Petersburg, Florida - was positively steamy. A few top-speed runs soon cooled me down.
Even with the Bimini in place and more than a half-tank of fuel, the boat tops out at 51.4 mph at 5,000 rpm. Equipped with a twin-propeller Bravo III sterndrive as well as the 300-hp 350 MAG MerCruiser engine, the test boat is on plane quickly, accelerating to 20 mph in under five seconds and reaching 30 mph in 6.18 seconds.
Even if top speed is not a major concern, consider the test boat's lively cruising speeds - 37.2 mph at 3,500 rpm and 30.2 mph at 3,000 rpm - and the fact the boat stays on plane right down to 2,000 rpm where it still moves along at 16.9 mph.
Good looks aren't all a family needs in a big bowrider, but Glastron's 235 GX sporty appearance is just a visual indication of the kind of care the builder has taken to provide an appealing, sporty platform for the family boating lifestyle.
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