Formula 380 SSC Boat Test

Formula Boats
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This hot ride has several places on deck that make a great social hotspot.

Like its predecessor Super Sport Crossovers—the 430 and 400—the Formula 380 SSC is a joy to operate. It’s a 10-ton boat that, once up and running, carves through the water with the grace of one of Formula’s 24-foot bowriders. While Formula enthusiasts have always appreciated the brand’s performance attributes, any boater looking to cruise or anchor up at the sandbar in style will appreciate the layout.

From stem to stern, the 380 SSC is designed with relaxation and entertainment in mind. Start with the bow, which features a deep, secure and spacious lounge with wraparound seating and stainless-steel grab rails along the gunwales. It makes a fantastic sun lounge, or you can set up the bow table and turn it into a social gathering point. This is a welcome trend we’ve seen from other builders over the past few years—many builders of yore would have built boats this size with an enclosed bow to maximize cabin space below, forfeiting the additional outdoor space abovedecks. Putting in a bow cockpit better reflects how and why people use their boats: to be outside on the water, whether cruising to the Bahamas or idling around the local waterway. In its Crossover series of boats, Formula came up with a design that provides the best of both worlds.

The portside walkway to the main cockpit is notable for two reasons. One, the passage remains at the same level, so there is no step up or down to trip over in transit. Two, the windshield access is mounted on a smooth-as-silk slide system rather than hinged, so opening and closing it isn’t a chore. The rest of the boat is chock full of other well-thought-out details.

Visibility from the helm is excellent, with the driver’s line of sight extending above the heads of any bow passengers. The flush-mounted MFD screens are easy to read underway, and the standard Joystick Piloting system makes docking and close-quarters handling stress-free endeavors. I especially loved that the triple-wide helm bench had three independent flip-up bolsters so the captain and crew could adjust their seats to individual tastes.

There’s an entertainment center to port of the helm, packed with plenty of amenities. It has a Corian counter with a freshwater sink, a built-in refrigerator, slide-out drawers, trash container and even a dedicated spot for the blender. Margaritas anyone? With a love seat to port and an aft-facing one behind the helm, along with the engine-compartment lounge, the space under the hardtop forms a natural conversation pit. Formula calls this layout Smart-Zone seating. Adjust the lounge backrests to face the stern while at rest and get a great view of the action off the extended swim platform. All of these features exist on a level deck, so the flow from the bow to the stern is excellent. Raise or lower the hydraulic section of the swim platform to help your crew in and out of the water.

Looking to overnight? The 380 SSC has got you covered there too, with an air-conditioned cabin below with a full galley, a settee that converts to a V-berth, and a cozy midship berth. The well-appointed head has room for a stand-up shower. Large hullside windows that bathe the entire area belowdecks in natural light can be covered with blackout shades when it’s time for some shut-eye.

As mentioned, the open-bow design is a welcome development that’s being embraced by boaters, and other builders are offering similar layouts. The Sea Ray SLX 400 (starting at $620,915 with twin 430 hp 8.2L Mercury HO sterndrives) comes to mind, though it has a less spacious cabin and a smaller swim platform. Sea Ray offers the boat with sterndrives and outboards. Pure outboard enthusiasts will also want to take a look at the Boston Whaler 380 Realm (starting at $775,641 with quadruple Mercury 400 Verados). Or you can check out the Tiara Sport 38LS (starting at $642,590 with triple Mercury 400 Verados), which has the option for triple Yamaha, Mercury or Seven Marine outboards.

Want outboards on your 380 SSC? No problem. Formula offers the boat with triple Mercury Verado and Mercury Racing configurations. You sacrifice some space on the swim platform and the hydraulic swim step, but you can have 1,350 hp worth of outboards making you go. No matter what power you choose, you’ll benefit from Formula’s Fas3Tech hull, a performance design with twin steps to improve efficiency and running attitude. Powered by twin Mercury Racing 520s coupled with Bravo Three XR sterndrives, we raced to a top speed of just over 51 mph, an excellent number for a boat of this size. The 380 SSC definitely lives up to its performance roots while offering a layout that provides entertainment and creature comforts that anyone who steps aboard will love.

High Points

The extended swim platform is gigantic and features a hydraulic swim step for easy water access and reentry.

The helm bench has three independent flip-up bolsters.

Sunroof on the hardtop bathes the cockpit in natural light.

Low Points

Dockside boarding can be a challenge when side-to at a fixed dock.

We prefer fiddled counters to keep items from sliding off while underway.

Price: $1,038,170 (as tested)

Available Power: Sterndrive

How We Tested

Engines: Twin 520 hp Mercury Racing

Drive/Props: Bravo THREE XR/BIII XR 21″ propsets

Gear Ratio: 2.00:1

Fuel Load: 188 gal.

Crew Weight: 430 lb.

Formula Boats - Decatur, Indiana; 260-724-9111; formulaboats.com

LOA: 38'0" | Beam: 11'6" | Draft: 3'5" | Displacement: 20,500 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 11'8" | Max Headroom: 6'6" | Fuel Capacity: 250 gal. | Water Capacity: 43 gal. |...
 

LOA: 38'0" | Beam: 11'6" | Draft: 3'5" | Displacement: 20,500 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 11'8" | Max Headroom: 6'6" | Fuel Capacity: 250 gal. | Water Capacity: 43 gal. | Max Horsepower: 1,040 | Available Power: MerCruiser or Mercury Racing sterndrives

 

Belowdecks there's an air-conditioned cabin below with a full galley.

 

The cabin offers a settee that converts to a V-berth.