Trade-a-Boat first tested American Wellcraft centre consoles in late 2017 with the top of the range Wellcraft 302 Fisherman powered by twin Mercury Verado 400R outboards, as well as a Wellcraft 242 Fisherman with single Mercury Verado 200 horsepower L4. Bringing a sporting performance and the freshest designs found in a centre console, Wellcrafts have come a long way in a short time, making some decent headway into the Aussie market.
Like most brands, the larger high-end models sport price tags that, although competitive, can be out of reach to the average boater with budgets under six figures. However, they also offer the 162 and 182 Fisherman, and these smaller models come in at under $100k loaded with some awesome features and inclusions.
Up for test today is the latest Wellcraft 182 Fisherman and for those chasing a centre console that features stylish design, multi-purpose family and fishing comforts (and a boat that’s easily towable), this little pocket rocket ticks the boxes and is most certainly worth a look.
Like its big brothers, the 182 Fisherman’s Scarab-style design is an instant eye catcher. There are numerous options available to suit your colour preferences whether it be bright and graphic, or something more subdued.
MAXED OUT OPTIONS
Onboard, the contemporary design continues with colour coordinated vinyls and gelcoats to match. The hulls come loaded with standard options and features.
However, the upgraded two-tone grey and white hull, T-top with white powdercoated tubes, seaside upholstery, offshore hull graphics, grey seagrass mats, extra rod storage, seating and bow cushion, helm footrest mat and bow pads – to mention just a few – add to the styling and comforts onboard.
The test boat also included the upgraded stainless-steel package, removable ski pole, transom cutting board with tool holder, anchor with chain and warp, plumbed cast deck livewell, Fusion stereo, hydraulic tilt steering system, and a camping-style portable toilet inside the console.
For a small centre console, Wellcraft have done well to include the innovative front entry to the console and head option. If not used as a head, it’s another decent storage spot for gear.
The plumbed livewell with clear view is also worth a mention and thanks to its position in the cast deck you will always have an eye on those precious baits – it's also vacuum sealed to prevent excessive movement and leaks while underway. The 2.4 metre beam allows for a wider console with huge flat dash to mount monster electronics, a nice wide dual seat with backrest, as well as increased side walkthrough area to the bow.
Overall, the 182’s layout is packed with features without compromising on space.
There’s enough seating on board for the family, plenty of storage space for gear, and with the addition of some decent electronics and an electric motor you could have quite the handy multi-purpose rig.
Fitted with the optional tilt hydraulic steering on the port side of the helm it’s comfortable to drive whether seated or standing.
Having the adjustable backrest on the console seating transforms the seat into a leaning post – if standing is your preference while driving.
Out on the water the 182 is as feisty as they come. Sporting Mercury's 115 horsepower Pro XS four-stroke, the hull planes effortlessly and gets up to around 36 knots at full tilt with two adults on board.
A notable handling characteristic would be the stability at speed and at rest, and that’s attributed to the wide beam with wide reverse chines. The 19-degree variable dead rise does a good job of cutting through the short chop commonly found in the bays, and for a centre console it’s quite a dry ride at all angles to moderate chop.
As a relatively small centre console it’s most certainly a playful boat to drive. When chucking it into turns there’s no excessive banking or roll, and it maintains stability at all speeds.
Rated from 90 to 150 horsepower, the 115 horsepower would definitely be my motor of choice as it provides enough power to pull the kids on skis at the dam, can take a decent load onboard and maintains decent speeds whilst still being economical.
Despite the 182 being rated to 150 horsepower I don’t think it needs that extra gumption and weight. Generally, I’ll always promote max horsepower, but perhaps not in this case...
Whether it’s playing at the dam or running to your favourite bay, islands and offshore grounds, the Wellcraft 182 comfortably caters for all. Like many boats, if you load it up with a plethora of options – like our test boat – it will significantly dent the bank balance, however you can get into a 182 from around $83,000, potentially less if you can get your hands on a pre-2019 stock model that came with better dollar value.
At around 1800 kilograms fully loaded and 5.54 metres in length, the 182 is easily towable, not too big to store at home, and doesn’t need a clan of mates to help you launch and retrieve at the ramp.
Overall, the Wellcraft 182’s refined finishes, stylish design, trims and features will certainly turn a few heads.
Wellcrafts are available through HighOctane Marine in Queensland, and distributed in Vic, Tasmania and SA by Sundance Marine.
MERCURY 115HP PRO XS
Mercury’s 115 horsepower Pro XS has made quite a name for itself over the past few years, thanks to higher performance and exceptionally good economy than others in its class.
So, what makes the Pro XS the motor of choice and where does the extra gumption come from? Well, tweaking the ECU and changing the intake increases the RPM from a standard 6000 to 6300 when maxed out. Mercury also have the Command Thrust gearbox (CT model), which at a 2.38:1 ratio enables you to run larger props to increase holeshot and top-end performance - standard boxes are a 2.07:1 ratio.
Is the difference notable on the water? Yes, it is, and particularly with the holeshot in my opinion.
Swinging the Mercury Enertia 14x19P prop produced a nippy and instant jump onto the plane, as well quick acceleration up to a wide-open throttle of 36.6 knots at 6200rpm – at full trim before cavitating. Considering that the 182 Fisherman weighs in at around 1800 kilos all up and probably closer to 2 ton with a few sizable adults onboard, that’s not bad performance at all. On a lighter boat I reckon you get 40 knots out of the Pro XS.
Unfortunately, the 182 was not rigged with digital fuel data, however, having a look at speed trials on other similar sized craft running the Mercury 115 Pro XS, the economy at a cruise speed should be around 14-15 litres per hour at 18-20 knots.
The 182s have a colossal sized 212L fuel tank and would give you a seriously extended range of approximately 530 kilometres at cruise speeds. Wide open throttle at 36.6 knots the 115 Pro XS should sip around the 42-48 litres per hour. Again, this is indicative from data taken from other 115 Pro XS trials.
Weighing in at 175 kilograms, the smooth-running 2.1 litre eight-valve four-cylinder is one of the lighter 115 horsepower outboards on the market. At idle and in the mid-range the Pro XS settles into a nice quiet purr and when opened up to flat stick the noise factor is still low and pleasant.
Sticking with the traditional Mercury black, red and white colours, the 115 Pro XS is most certainly a stylish and refined looking outboard that’s far from obtrusive on any transom. Mercury has most certainly come a long way in a short space of time over the past few years with its new generation four-strokes.
Facts and Figures
Wellcraft 182 Fisherman
Price as tested
115hp Mercury Pro XS upgrade, trailer upgrade, two-tone hull, T-top, offshore package, bow seating package, stainless steel package, removable ski pole, cutting board, anchor with chain and warp, live fish well, Fusion stereo, hydraulic steering, inshore safety gear, toilet, plus more.
Type Fishing/Family Crossover
Beam 2.44m (8’0”)
Weight 1800kg (BMT)
Recommended HP 115hp
Max HP 150hp
Fuel capacity 212L
Make/modelMercury 115hp FourStroke Pro XS
Type8-valve single overhead cam (SOHC) in-line 4
Gear ratio 2.38:1
Propeller Enertia 14.0 x 19P
WELLCRAFT BOATS USA
VIC / TAS / SA: Sundance Marine
P 1300 55 00 89
QLD: HiOctane Marine
P 0419 221 117