Author : Barry Tyler
It was hailed as the saviour of Queensland cruiser manufacturer Mustang Marine, but few were fully prepared for a model release that as well as being up to the minute with styling and specification, also confirmed the fact the designers and the management team had done their homework – for the Mustang 430 Sports Coupé heralded a whole new direction for the company, into the luxury lifestyle side of the market that is currently enjoying a significant renaissance among discerning boaters.
Without dwelling too much on the immediate past history of the renowned Gold Coast cruiser manufacturer, the only direction following a well documented volatile period of upheaval within the company – was undeniably upwards. They had but one chance to restore the company’s reputation as one of Australasia’s leading cruiser marques, and it had to be taken in earnest. With a new management team at the helm and more importantly a complete new team behind the design desks, the new model had to be indicative of the new direction the company was heading in – and a bold statement to not only the industry, but more importantly to the loyal band of Mustang protagonists – that the brand was back!
In only 12 months since the resurrection of the business, this latest 430 Sports Coupé model was designed, tooled and built. It was launched at a recent glittering ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Molendinar, on the Gold Coast. Certainly, if all the oooo’s and aaaah’s at the launching extravaganza were anything to go by, the model made an immediate impact on the assembled media as well as a large contingent of shall we say – ‘interested’ guests.
Fresh, clean and bold, were my initial thoughts on the new model, for it was just so different from the Mustangs of the past; the company had indeed come of age. The side profile was visually compelling with a slight hint even of the macho Chrysler 300C automobile shape about it – thankfully the designers have resisted the temptation to continue with the aesthetically disappointing (in my opinion) ‘bubble’ top peculiar to the earlier Mustang ‘sports’ models! This new model was aesthetically completely in proportion and certainly it exuded an air of individuality – that figuratively beckoned you to step aboard, for a new, exciting and very different boating experience.
The Epitome of ‘Sports’
From the moment I stepped aboard I appreciated the fact this was something very different for Mustang, and that is certainly not to decry/denigrate the earlier models. So many items had been added to this new model, luxury thinking that would fully embrace the lifestyle aspect offered in today’s flow-through style of sedan-configuration sports cruisers.
The first of the ‘discretionary’ items that impressed me was the electric hydraulic rise and fall boarding platform. Teak-covered and with appealing panels crafted into the surface to reduce ‘backing up’ pressures, this huge platform couldn’t help but appeal to swimmers and divers alike. Also, aft of the transom was a wet locker along with a hot and cold shower, and beside it, a moulded cover lifted up to reveal a sink with hot and cold water and beside that, a stainless steel electric BBQ.
A starboard-side transom cut-away, two teak steps and a S/S gate led up onto a cockpit generous in dimension, which offered a number of most innovative features. The forward-facing aft seating was full-width (apart from the entranceway), and there was provision, courtesy of floor mountings, to mount the saloon table in front of this lounge. Moulded into the base of this lounge were recesses to store the fenders in – a good idea when all of a sudden the skipper yells out for the fenders to be attached, just a minute prior to berthing!
Not immediately obvious though was any tangible form of access either to an engine room or indeed lazaretto. The teak-lined cockpit was just one big floor area that I subsequently discovered – hydraulically raised and lowered to reveal sublime access to all the mechanicals. Within this cockpit also, nice touches included down-lights, mood lighting, a eutectic fridge/freezer unit against the cabin bulkhead, and neat steps portside and starboard that led you up onto nice wide walkways forward to the foredeck.
The stainless steel workmanship was again most impressive, as was the general presentation of the bow area. There were plenty of mooring cleats, and the anchor was permanently mounted on a fairlead that was forward of the confines of the walkways. Only the anchor chain and the low-profile Muir VRC1250 rope-chain winch interrupted what was a decidedly uncluttered anchoring area. The ladies especially will love the foredeck of the 430, for recessed into the deck is a sun-pad that in a break from tradition (with most examples I find) – actually looks like it belongs there! The stereo speakers and remote controls at the base of the front windscreen are another really nice touch, too.
Moving from the cockpit to the saloon you were left with the indelible impression you were aboard a very classy ‘lady’. The beauty of a sedan configuration is the flow-through effect from the cockpit to the saloon. I have seen various versions in my travels but none better than this instance where the entry doors slid back and the starboard wall above the cockpit freezer completely opened up courtesy of the electric window that dropped down and in behind the refrigeration module.
Elegant and spacious are two words which sprang to mind to describe the saloon, for it was comprehensive enough to address a weekender or extended-stay situation, yet spacious enough that the areas were able to be accurately defined. In other words discretely separated, for you had the bar and within it the brilliant space-saving ETA Multiplex touch screen electrical control centre to port as you entered, with forward of that again the dining facility (when you brought the cockpit table back in) that would ideally seat three adults.
Opposite the dining setting was a galley that while certainly not outlandishly opulent nonetheless was certainly very well appointed to cater for a two-family situation. Galley equipment included a dishwasher, convection microwave oven, a two-burner stove top, a 135-litre refrigerator and sufficient bench, drawer and cupboard provision around a Corian-style sink bench with single sink and hot and cold water. The décor in here provided a most ambient feel, the lashings of teak and American cherrywood blending nicely with the leather trim, vinyl wall and roof panels and a (very) small amount of gelcoat finish. Overhead and sited virtually in the centre of the room was the electrically operated sliding sunroof that provided good ventilation and of course light.
Immediately forward again of the electrically-operated slide-out galley, was the helm station. The very epitome of a European-inspired Sports classic, it was as much a conversation piece as it was an extremely user friendly area to operate the boat from. Two Besenzoni helm chairs, a stylish dash, good visibility, an ultra-ergonomic driving position, a comprehensive Simrad electronics package, Volvo steering and throttles – this dash was tailor made for the most discerning of boaters.
There are two layout options available in the downstairs forward accommodation areas of the Mustang 430 Sports Coupé, either two or three bedroom configuration. In this instance the new owner chose the two-bedroom option which offered a master stateroom in the bow. With décor commensurate with that in the above saloon area, this cabin boasted a queen-size island berth, his and hers hanging lockers, good storage, overhead Bowmar hatches, reading lights, air-conditioning, DVD stereo and elongated hull side windows (non-opening) that again were a breath of spring as regards innovative design and flair.
The portside bathroom was generous in area and consisted of separate shower and (Sealand Vacuflush) head cubicles within, a vanity, lighting, overhead ventilation hatch and a porthole. In the three-cabin version this bathroom is smaller so as to include a third bedroom portside, that extends further aft into what in this particular (two bedroom) instance was a centrally accessed (under the lift-up companionway stairs) workshop/laundry/machinery room.
The second bedroom was quite unique in design and I must confess my initial feeling was this boat was very under-done with only two bedrooms, one of those only a twin-single room. However, I soon found that the lower berth extended out to become a full ‘double’ berth. At a pinch you could sleep two children on the upper rather unusually shaped (very contemporary) berth, so with the bottom berth extended out to the double configuration it would capably handle a full family situation. The décor was the usual high standard of specification, and I have to say the usual high standard of workmanship also – panels and doors fitted well and opened and shut well, and features operated exactly as they should.
Mechanicals & Performance
An integral facet of any ‘sports’ package is a mechanical inventory and with it performance attributes – which genuinely and capably match the ideology. Yes, the hull – built utilising Mustang Marine’s in-house recipe of composite cloths and rovings, cores and resins – certainly looked the part. And yes, it appeared to be built like the proverbial battleship, but Mustang has stuck rigidly with a proven performer by employing the underhull design of the current 43 flybridge model.
The one thing that was changed however was the power source. Working closely with Volvo Penta, Mustang’s design team redesigned the aft section of the hull specifically around a pod-drive assembly, in this instance, the Volvo Penta twin IPS600 package. This is really where you come to grips with the sports analogy, for the two 5.5-litre, 6-cylinder turbo-charged and after-cooled 435hp diesels running through Volvo gearboxes and IPS drives to the duo-prop configured propellers (T4 pitch in this instance) propelled the coupé to a most creditable 34.2 knots at the maximum 3500rpm.
It’s therefore not too hard to work out why this package also cruised well at around the 25-knot mark, where it was so sublimely comfortable and yes, docile. It was one of those hulls that just did everything right, not so much at 25 knots where any hull will handle most conditions in an acceptable manner; but at the full speed of 34 knots when things happen a lot quicker and more forcefully.
I mentioned the fact earlier that the full cockpit floor hydraulically lifted to provide good access to the mechanicals, surely the understatement of the year for from a maintenance perspective it would be a walk in the park to look after this baby. Everything was within easy reach, the two Volvos, the 9.4kW Cruisair reverse-cycle air conditioning system, the 9kVA Kohler genset, the Victron 12V/60A and 24V/30A battery chargers and of course the AGM deep cycle battery banks of 600Ah for the house and 600Ah for the engines and genset. The tankage was in the next bulkhead forward of the engine bulkhead, so as to better balance the boat whilst underway. The water pay-load was 600 litres, acceptable in a weekender situation, and the fuel payload was 1900 litres in alloy tanks effectively each side of the internal machinery room.
Value for money, most definitely! The latest technology, quality equipment and innovative thinking were all wrapped up in a package claimed to be considerably cheaper than its nearest competitors. The standard of workmanship, the accuracy of fit and the general level of presentation was exemplary, certainly up there with the very best I’ve seen from an Australian manufacturer! I’m always looking for innovation from manufacturers and in this respect I feel Mustang has really stepped outside the square, dared to be different, and has come up with a boat that truly stands out from the crowd.
- Year Launched: 2009
- Designer: Mustang Marine
- Interior Designer: Mustang Marine
- Builder: Mustang Marine
- LOA: 14.98m
- Beam: 4.61m
- LWL: 13.40m
- Draft: 1.2m
- Displacement: 12,500kg (dry)
- Max Speed: 34.2 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Construction: FRP composite & balsa
- Fuel Cap: 1900 litres
- Water Cap: 600 litres
- Engines Make: 2 x 435hp Volvo IPS600
- Gearboxes: Volvo IPS600
- Price As Tested: AUD$950,512