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Evolution 552X with 150 Mercury four-stroke
  |  First Published: May 2016



The 552 Evolution is the sort of boat every angler would be happy to own. Made in Bayswater, Victoria, it’s exactly right for Australian conditions. With an extensive legacy of fibreglass construction behind each hand-laid craft, the Evolution series of boats offer an outstanding ride, great stability, and a real sense of value for the dollar. They also come with a seven year structural hull warranty.

With an opportunity to review the 552X Evolution (in Silver class trim level) in and around the Jumpinpin area recently, I was able to re-familiarise myself with the new 552 which took the place of the acclaimed 550 – a craft I had previously enjoyed time aboard.

New Hull, full stop

Evolution’s Paul Junginger went the hard yards with the 552, manufacturing a different hull this time. It’s offered in three levels of trim, with the 552X Silver offering most items a serious angler would want while still remaining what Paul calls ‘an entry level craft’.

Entry level seemed an understatement to me, given that the 552X came with two under floor storages areas, 50L ice box, adjustable seating up front, full sized grab rail above the four piece windscreen, moulded and well-padded bunks with storage under them, hydraulic steering linked to the 150 Mercury astern, four stainless steel rod holders, plus a rod holder rack in the starboard side pocket.

Slipping off its Dunbier trailer with ease, the Evolution 552X immediately impressed me with its stability as I boarded the craft at Jacobs Well. The Evo sports one of the widest hulls for its length in the business, at 2.49m against its 5.5m length. The stability this imparts was obvious as I stood to drive in the 6 knot area where there seemed to be a flotilla of kayak anglers wetting their backsides.

When you’re standing to drive you’ll appreciate the handy brace point at the front of the height-adjustable bucket skipper’s seat, but while seated at the helm I found the visibility to be just as good as I poured on the power from the 3L 150 Mercury 4-stroke, as Springwood Marine’s Gyula Vari and I headed for the ‘Pin bar to play.

Lots to like about the 552

Several things impressed me about the Evolution during the test drive. The seating was as good as it gets; I had plenty of leg room and a foot rest to boot, and 100% visibility. The passenger had a similar seat set-up, but with an ice box under it. The wide dash area aft of the big screen with its full grab rail provided handy storage for personal items. There is easy access into the cuddy cab area (a locking door is an option) that allowed me to tuck my camera case in there with full confidence that it would stay put. The wiring loom aft of the main instrument area in the cuddy cab has a hatch cover and is easy to access.

Side windows and moulded step to allow anchor well access via the big cabin hatch were cuddy features, but I reckon most owners of this offshore-orientated craft would opt for a power winch from the outset.

Another good option is the well-made and strongly framed bimini that I was very glad to see on the test boat on such a hot, sunny day.

The Evolution’s instrument layout was as modern as tomorrow. The 7” Mercury Vessel View unit provided every detail of true engine management in a clear, bold, digital array in a very efficient touch screen. As a bonus, it’s designed to interface with a Simrad or Lowrance sounder/GPS units. Space is no issue, there is ample room above the VesselView screen for a large sounder to be installed with ease.

As a serious offshore fishing craft, the Evolution Silver’s cockpit was designed to maximise fishing pleasure. As well as the features already mentioned, it had a thoughtful layout which saw 800mm high cockpit sides topped with stainless grab rails for additional security; full cockpit length side pockets for gear storage; an optional 3-person, drop-down padded seat aft to cater for passengers when heading out for a fish; plus the additions of further options such as a clear sided bait well, deck wash and a well set up bait station. Another feature I like is the craft’s full height locking transom door, which swings inwards to help you land extra large fish.

The cockpit transom width was a full 2.1m, and with a length of around 2.5m I can see four anglers working there with ease. The Evolution’s immense stability comes courtesy of a 21° deadrise deep vee hull, plus it has massive reversed chines, well formed under hull strakes and a not inconsiderable weight of some 820kg dry weight.

I’d experienced the Evolution ride previously and the new 552X Silver continued the tradition in fine style. A fine entry and big strakes to break up underwater surfaces and get some air into the mix provided the sort of ride that serious offshore fishing demands, and the 4-stroke Mercury 3L 150 was in many respects the perfect choice of engines. Although the 150 was listed as top power, factors such as crew capacity (the craft is rated for up to six people) and the beaminess of the solid hull must be taken into consideration, which is why I consider the smooth running 150 as ideal power.

During test runs the Evolution planed sweetly at 20.1km/h at 2650rpm, cruised at 3000rpm at 34.2km/h, started to boogy at 4000rpm at 48.5km/h recorded while 5000rpm and 5600rpm recorded 67.2 and 74.4km/h respectively. What I could not adequately record was just how good the ride was in the Jumpinpin bar area with the hull taking incoming crests fair on its shoulders and just pushing them out of the way. Offshore work? Count on it being easy in this rig with 150L of fuel under the floor for maximum range.

Summing Up

The Evolution 550 Silver, looks good, rides well and is a great boat all round. It’s surprisingly small on the trailer but very large when you’re aboard. The standard features fulfil a lot of offshore fishing requirements, and that’s not mentioning the many options available. Three grades of finish are offered: Silver, Gold and Platinum.

With a Dunbier roller trailer, the reviewed craft would come home for a very reasonable $72,309 which includes a VHF radio, coloured hull, Simrad G07 GPS sounder combo, rear lounge, live bait tank, deck wash, bow rails, rocket launcher, bimini, fibreglass bait station with rod holders, rear steps with rail and ladder. Included is full and comprehensive safety equipment as standard.

A base price of $69,517 would also be worth discussing with MotoSport Industries, which incorporates Springwood Marine. For more information give them a call on (07) 3297 8200 or check out their website at motosport.net.au.

Quoted performance figures have been supplied by the writer in good faith. Performance of individual boat/motor/trailer packages may differ due to variations in engine installations, propellers, hull configurations, options, hull loading and trailer specifications.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Length overall6.2m
Length on trailer7.4m
Height on trailer2.15
Beam2.49
Deadrise21°
Hull weight820kg
HP100-150
Max persons6

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