by Dom Wiseman

Few boat brands are as well known in Australia as Quintrex. They have been parked outside countless homes since bursting onto the scene in 1945. With such a long history they are well placed to understand the market and track exactly what customers want before they even know themselves.
The Cruise About range is one of two bowrider models produced by the Queensland-based boat builder and is aimed at families looking for a versatile boat that can be used for entertaining, cruising and fishing. There are seven models in the range, starting with the 481 and going through to the big 650 models that are just over 6 metres in length. The Cruise About 490 sits second in the range and is the perfect size for a young family. The bowrider design opens up the entire boat for use so kids can sit up the front while the parents can hang out down the back. It’s also a size that is easy to manage and tow as well as being a very durable boat.
If you picture yourself pulling up to deserted harbour or estuary beaches, throwing the inflatables over the side for the kids, perhaps a quick wakeboard, some fishing and generally enjoying being on the open water without the need for a cabin, then this is the boat for you.
The boat we tested, which was supplied by Surf Coast Marine in Queensland, is also being given away to one lucky visitor to the Gold Coast Marine Expo next month. To be eligibible to take this fully registered and ready to go Quintrex 490 Cruise About home, you simply need to purchase your entry ticket online.

WHAT YOU GET
The Quintrex 490 Cruise About is the perfect family platform offering enormous versatility due to the open nature of the boat. The bow area, usually unusable space, features a deep set cushioned area, perfect for lazing about in the summer sun. The cushions extend up the side of the bow area creating a comfortable backrest while bow rails either side provide a comfortable space to hold on should it be required. Ahead of the bow seating is a deep anchor well, perfect for use in a secluded bay or beach while the anchor roller is standard.
490 Cruise About 8
490 Cruise About 9Back in the cockpit proper, accessed through a swing away centre section of the front windscreen there is plenty more seating with two of the most comfortable helm seats I’ve ever seen in a family aluminium runabout. Both come with bolsters, which is particularly relevant for the driver as it allows you to flip it up and sit with a grand view over the top of the windscreen rail enabling safer close quarters maneuvering. At the rear is a long swing away rear lounge, capable of seating three comfortably, four at a pinch. Being a fold away design adds to the versatility of this space creating a large cockpit space for something like fishing.
The cockpit floor is covered with Shark carpet, a new carpet developed to make it a lot more difficult for hooks to penetrate. It is still plush underfoot and was a dark grey in colour on the test boat. It matched well with the white finish on the hull and light grey interior and highlights. For those concerned about storage on a boat like this, Quintrex has included a ski locker between the front helm seats and a floor locker ahead of the rear lounge. In addition, by closing up the area ahead of the foot space for the driver and passenger they have created a small but manageable dry storage space accessed through hatches in the bow walkway without impacting on foot space for either. The passenger also gets a small glove box and open storage space on the dash.
The sides of the Cruise About are covered in a moulded plastic creating a comfortable arm rest for both the driver and passenger. There are also small pockets and cup holders moulded into the design. While I don’t really like the design, I have to admit they are neat and finish off the interior well. There also is moulded space for marine speakers and I would be adding a stereo for my boating. It’s amazing how much a soundtrack can add to the boating experience when pursuing watersports. Funnily enough I never turn a stereo on when fishing.
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490 Cruise About 4The gunwales are wide and include rod holders in the port and starboard corners with an optional bimini also fitted. The helm seats spin 180 degrees so it’s possible to throw a line out and kick back and wait for lunch or dinner to swim along. There is also provision for a tow pole as an option, another box I would tick.
At the helm, the windscreen provides good coverage from the wind and any possible spray, which didn’t happen on the test day. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the dash layout with the analogue gauges (I would prefer digital) arranged on an angle, Quintrex says it is done to reduce glare. What this arrangement does do though is allow more dashboard space for a sounder, a definite requirement if plan to use the boat for fishing occasionally.

POWER
The test boat was powered by an Evinrude 75 horsepower Direct Injection Two-stroke engine which provided ample power on the test day with two adults onboard. The max horsepower recommended is 90, however after my initial concerns that the 75 wouldn’t be enough I was proven well and truly wrong and would think that for a family new to the experience, it provides the best fit. It is built on the same block as the Evinrude 90hp anyway and would certainly save you some money without ruining the experience.
The torquey nature of the two-stroke platform gets the 490 Cruise About jumping along quickly and lacks nothing across the rev range.
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490 Cruise About 7ON THE WATER
This boat is built on the ‘Blade’ hull which is unique to Quintrex. Traditionally boats built with aluminium sheets are largely straight which affects handling due to the limited angles you can work with. By stretching the sheets for the bottom and sides, Quintrex has created a curve that allows them to have a deep angled entry and a flatter exit producing a boat that cuts chop well and is still stable at rest.
Does it work? Yes it does, although our test day was hardly what you would call rough. I did notice that it cuts through waves and chop effectively and is certainly stable and in the type of conditions families will mostly be heading out in it will provide a comfortable ride. The hull also keeps spray down and away from the cockpit. When running straight into the chop the best ride was achieved by trimming the engine down and allowing the leading edge of the hull to do its job.
Cornering though, for me, is a bit of a mixed bag. It does turn and power through the corners confidently as you’d expect. You can also add throttle through the corner safely. I just felt the hull remained a to flat for my liking. I feel more comfortable when a boat beds into the corner and rolls inwards a little. New or inexperienced skippers, however, may prefer the boat to remain flat as it can feel a little disconcerting for some when the boat tilts.
The helm position is designed with the driver in mind with all the necessary switches within easy reach. The seated driving position allows for protection from the elements behind the windscreen while the access to the throttle is also comfortable.

TOWING
The Quintrex 490 Cruise About sits on a 1298 single axle alloy trailer built in house by Telwater. A family sedan can be used to tow the 490, making it the perfect package for entry-level boaters. The flip guides make launching and retrieving a breeze, even for the inexperienced. A walkway and spare wheel can also be added to the trailer as options.
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OVERVIEW
The bowrider concept opens up the entire boat for use and is perfect as an entry point for families looking for a versatile platform. Dad can fish, the kids can pursue watersports and mum can simply relax and take it all in. Being aluminium the boat is also durable and manageable and allows everyone to be involved, or only a few if required.
Test Boat supplied by Surf Coast Marine, Labrador, Qld. Ph: 07 5563 7733.

POSITIVES
490 Cruise About 2
Space
Ease of use

NEGATIVES
Analogue gauges and alignment
Plastic mouldings

NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price: (As tested) $40,080
Construction: Aluminum
Length Overall: 5.13m
Beam: 2.25m
Max hp: 90hp
Engine Fitted: Evinrude Two Stroke DI 75hp
Capacity: 5 people
Weight on trailer: (approx) 1050kgs