Regal 36 Grande Coupe Boat Test
A sterndrive-powered boat delivering the best of a runabout and a cruiser.
In a world where boat companies come and go, or ownership and leadership changes at bankruptcy and the whim of the economy, Regal Boats is one of the few companies that can boast 50 years of continuous, family-owned leadership. While it’s always a nice thing to celebrate a big year, that consistent management brings great benefits to the boat owner too.
And, in my opinion, that jubilee year is key to Regal’s continued quality, high-scoring awards in consumer surveys and its innovation in bringing boats like the 36 Grande Coupe to the water.
The 36 Grande Coupe we tested showed how the experience of Regal engineers is not only applied to designing a smooth-riding hull, and a comfortable and convenient, flowing deck plan, but they also carefully select each and every component of hardware, custom-designing many, and even choosing hardwood furnishings to complement fabrics, cushions, couches and berths.
Our test boat was powered with twin Volvo Penta 350 hp sterndrives that were digitally controlled, complete with a joystick for close-quarters maneuvering. Our 45.7 mph top speed satisfied us, and the hull’s efficiency proved itself with an economical cruise speed of 36.8 mph at 5,000 rpm. If you need to push through seas at a slower speed, the torquey sterndrives will be almost as efficient—24 mph and 30.5 mph at 4,000 and 4,500 rpm, respectively. Regardless of planing speed, the Grande Coupe was easy to control at those speeds, offered a clear view ahead, and cornered well without dumping off plane. It even got the tip to plane in a respectable 6.7 seconds, and did so without obstructing our forward view.
Our test boat also boasted joystick steering for docking and navigating tight quarters. We are getting used to seeing this on premium cruising boats, popular not only because it shortens the learning curve of safe docking, but also because one-handed control over rudder, throttle and shifting is intuitive and convenient—enough throttle-docking captains quickly abandon the double levers and grab the stick. Our experience revealed the Volvo Penta joystick controls smoothed shifting, completely eliminating the banging gear shifts of other joysticks, and allowed us to slide the joystick from sideways to forward, and reverse to quartering in at an angle, and it was done so smoothly, passengers would not be startled or annoyed by the shifting and accelerating.
Regal is also offering an outboard version of the Grande Coupe, and it boasts the same cabin and deck, with more space below but smooth outboard power.
While the Grande Coupe is built to go, it’s also ready to stay, giving families a comfortable home on the water that begins the moment you enter the cockpit via the transom door from the swim platform.
An aft-facing transom lounge invited us to step on the swim platform and lean back against a comfortably firm seatback. That seatback could slide forward, extending the sunning area, or it could slide aft, increasing the cockpit accommodations for cruising. A portside lounge featured backrests, one forward and one aft. Both of them were movable, allowing the lounge to be customized to the crew’s taste.
The captain’s lounge is designed for a companion as well, and bolsters accommodated piloting from a standing or seated position. Electric controls adjusted legroom, as well as the reach to the throttle and wheel for added comfort and convenience.
The Grande Coupe is built to be an entertainer, and presents a full galley with grill, sink and refrigerator on the starboard-side. Stone surfaces are smart-looking and easy to maintain.
The Coupe moniker comes from its hardtop covering and glass side windows with large sunroof. It can be enclosed aft, if desired, but either way, when equipped with a genset, you can enjoy the comfort of air conditioning in the cockpit as well as the cabin below.
The hardtop’s expansive windshield offers a panoramic view, but the neatest trick was the large portside glass door that opened to the bow. Walkways to the bow pulpit and anchor windlass proved easily traversed, and we found them protected by thigh-high rails. But that’s not the most exciting reason to access the bow: Instead of simple sun cushions, we discovered a wide, sculpted lounge to offer secure seating, and do so without negatively diminishing cabin headroom.
Entering the cabin is easy too, via a wide stairway and well-positioned handrail. Below we found an aft berth, and an enormous forward berth that also provides port and starboard galley seating. And yes, there is a comfortable head, big enough for larger individuals to move about in comfort.
If you wanted to tear yourself away from the Grande Coupe and look at a competitor, you’d need to turn to another family-owned company, Formula Boats, and its 37 PC performance cruiser ($595,00 with twin 380 hp MerCruiser 8.2L Mag ECT sterndrives and joystick). The consistent leadership of Formula aligns with the integrity of its designs and construction, and gives a bigger nod to the cabin below while keeping the cockpit wide open with a classic hardtop.
If you want to customize your Grande Coupe, Regal offers 10 color choices for the side-hull, boot-stripe and hull-bottom colors—you tell me how many combinations that offers.
Coupe enclosure can be completely closed to offer weatherproof boating.
Woodwork and stone counters are elegant.
Custom lighting adds to the open feel of the cabin below.
Long acceleration period to 30 mph can be shortened by dropping trim tabs.
Price: $468,290 (with test power)
Available Power: Sterndrive
How We Tested
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta 5.3L V-8 350 hp
Gear Ratio: 2.32:1
Fuel Load: 160 gal.
Water On Board: 0 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb
Regal Boats - Orlando, Florida; 800 US-REGAL; regalboats.com