This 2008 AMIF Boat of The Year award winner (Fishing- Trailerable, Fibreglass Under 6 Metres) six-person boat will appeal to both keen anglers and family boaters.
At a full 5.5m in length from transom to the bowsprit and a beam of 2.49m she’s a big lady but having spent time aboard, (after which I had to be virtually pried out of the craft), I believe the Evolution 552 X-Series Gold will appeal to all manner of boaters.
A high quality finish, angler friendly fit out, plenty of features coupled to a gentle ride and easy handling will see this finely appointed craft enjoyed equally by old hands or complete novices.
Manufactured in Victoria, the Evolution 552 slides easily from it’s tandem wheeled Dunbier trailer and is soon ready for work and play.
Once aboard the craft the interior dimensions will impress. The cockpit’s work area is well over 1m in depth, over 2m long and some 2.1m wide. Cockpit corners are rounded for best comfort, there’s coaming padding at the transom and solid grab handles along the gunwale tops. An aft lounge is also optional.
The Evolution’s big window-equipped cuddy cab would sleep two on the well-padded single bunks: up to four with an infill, as provided.
The cuddy cab with its lockable sliding door also featured full length overhead shelving and had sufficient depth for genuine comfort if sheltering from the elements.
While the reviewed craft was equipped with an anchor winch, the bowsprit is long and well-formed to keep the pick of the lustrous gel coat with manual deployment. Access up front was via a cabin step plus a wide front hatch. Going ashore for a still photo I had no problem leaving or re-entering the craft.
Aft of the cuddy a four-piece grab rail equipped windscreen was sheltered by an overhead targa (with grab rail and six overhead rod holders within reach) linked to a well made bimini with zip-open front and side clears for easy visibility when needed.
Seating provisions for skipper and passengers consisted of very strong and supportive swivelling bucket seats mounted on drum-like storage pedestals large enough to hold PFDs or similar bulky items.
The Evolution’s moulded helm area was set up with a neat dash featuring a Humminbird 898C sounder plotter on the highest level, a pair of Evinrude I-Command dials lower, general duty switches plus controls for the power winch on a lower level, along with the rig’s marine radio.
A soft-feel wheel linked to hydraulic steering was positioned in a comfortable situation for easy driving while forward controls for the 150hp E-tec 2-stroke were side-mounted in the usual manner.
The Evolution sported useful side pockets with a 2m long pocket on the port side being set up with both a saltwater deck wash plus a full length two-rod rack; there being more storage space for a gaff or extra fishing gear down below.
The starboard side-pocket offers ample storage up front near the skipper but terminated mid-cockpit where a specially fitted (as per customer’s request) slide removable side panel was designed to allow the crew to boat a big fish. This panel, incidentally, was very well made; a credit to Evolution’s manufacturing facilities in every aspect.
Note that two underfloor storage areas were provided within the cockpit’s hose out non-skid fibreglass floor. Between skipper and first mate was a hatch equipped area which would be ideal for drinks or tucker; right aft was a big fish box complete with the necessary plumbing for an easy clean out at the end of play.
Pleasingly, I noted that these under floor storage areas had no tell tale gel coat smell that can be a great turn off when it comes to storage of tucker or the catch.
Other cockpit features consisted of a locking transom door to starboard, with storage under it. Further storage compartments within the full height transom (with the craft’s engine and house batteries plus oil bottle for the outboard, centrally) with a glass fronted live well to port.
Five special rod holders (for winch equipped snapper rods) were set into each cockpit corner to compliment the four rod holders set within the gunwales while a large bait station equipped with another two rod holders, a cutting board, plus a drained sink located centrally.
It was pleasing to see that all rod holders, grab handles, rails and other cockpit chandlery was top shelf stainless steel and of very robust proportions.
Twin boarding platforms, with rails, plus a berley muncher to port completed the transom features.
The 150hp Evinrude E-tec made easy work of powering the Evolution’s 820kg hull. An easy plane was noted at 2,200rpm at 18kmh, 3,000rpm saw 33.4kmh on the GPS, 4,000rpm recorded 44.5kmh, 5,000rpm 62.1kmh and 5,800rpm 71.8kmh.
Speed runs were done with two aboard plus a near full 150L fuel tank. Cruising at 4,000rpm and 44.5kmh, the engine was so quiet that normal speech was very easy.
The engine exhibited the usual smooth Evinrude E-tec chatter at idle and kicked into life with throttle application in a very impressive manner. In typical E-tec style power was on tap throughout the entire rev range, from idle through to half throttle, through to full noise.
While many four stroke engines have improved their on-power performance in latter years, the direct injection V6 two stroke still came across as a very strong, willing, and gutsy performer.
The Evolution’s ride and handling were, in my view, up with the very best of them. Hydraulic steering of course made sense, and the rig handled superbly; sharp turns and quick recovery from them were very pleasing to execute.
Work in the 1-1.5m prevailing swell saw the Evolution shrugging off with the greatest of ease. A rough weather boat? Certainly.
A well-formed bow plus a decent degree of V hull shape mated to well formed full-length under hull strakes offered an impressive and very dry ride in all conditions, while the craft’s wide reversed chine in the aft quarter gave the hull serious grip when either turning or at rest.
I found it was very difficult to impart any degree of lean on the craft even with both of us standing against the gunwale to leeward.
The big Evolution has virtually every fishing feature needed to fulfil anglers’ requirements. Not every angler will want the removable side panel in the big wide cockpit nor the snapper rod holders astern but the remaining features are virtually must-have items. The 850mm interior cockpit height plus impressive ride quality and at-rest stability ensures it will win favour with offshore and bay snapper anglers.
I’ve given the Evolution 552 full marks virtually in every department; this is a really top quality craft in every way. Finish was eye pleasing; it had great ride and handling, very easy performance plus ample features for every angler. Note that the foam filled strongly made GRP hull comes with a seven-year hull warranty, too.
Given the easy performance of the hull thanks to it’s good design for the budget conscious I’d see a smaller motor, such as a 115hp saving dollars all round. Handily, the 820kg hull weight will see the craft towed by a family six cylinder sedan or wagon.
For more information on these great boats and where to have a closer look, go to www.evolutionboats.com.au
|Length on trailer:||7.40m|
|Height on trailer:||2.15m|
|Engine as tested:||E-tec 150hp|