By Zenon Bilas
The innovative new Formula 500 SSC is the longest (53’4″), widest (14 1/2′ beam), most powerful (2400 hp) and most luxurious debut in the company’s 65 year history. The versatile 500 SSC is an ultra-spacious bow rider with plush living and sleeping amenities in the cabin below deck, yet capable of going almost 70 mph at full throttle. I got to experience this impressive new boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Also, watch Power Boating Canada’s video review on the Formula 500 SSC:
When Formula began design work on the 500 SSC three years ago, their initial plan was to equip it with five Mercury outboards. But Mercury- who enjoys a close relationship with Formula- suggested a new, more powerful outboard they were working on–a 7.6L, 12-cylinder 600-hp powerhouse.
John Adams, Formula’s long-time exclusive designer, began designing the 500 SSC around this new engine. Formula could make the 500 SSC more efficient and reduce drag by going from five outboards to four. The new engine is not only the most powerful engine made today, but the most sophisticated outboard ever made. The Mercury 600 hp outboard features a two-speed transmission. Instead of the entire outboard turning to steer, only the lower gear case turns. Twin contra-rotating propellers maximize power and efficiency. Engine maintenance is simplified by providing access to key fluid checks via an access hatch on top of the engine.
The innovations in Mercury’s new outboard allowed Adams to optimize the design of the 500 SSC. Since the outboards remain stationary above the gear case, space between each engine is reduced. This tighter squeeze allowed Formula to extend the swim platform aft on the outer side of the port and starboard outboards. Adams also designed the 500 SSC to keep hoses and wiring from the outboards hidden to provide a clean transom.
The thoughtfully designed space enhances the boating experience for both driver and passengers. The deck from the swim platform to bow is one level, allowing for uninterrupted movement of passengers. Cabin space below deck is generous providing 6’7” of headroom. The head compartment that features a shower is spacious.
The visuals point to a modern aesthetic with an abundance of straight lines, angles and edges on the exterior. This aesthetic continues inside on deck and below deck in details like tables, counter tops, rails and faucet fixtures. Hinges, screws and fasteners are hidden.
There is abundant dedicated storage throughout the boat. The equipment room in the aft section below deck is more than generous. The space also provides for easy access to features such as Seakeeper 9 gyro stabilizer, sea chest, batteries and generator.
Convenience and Luxury
Each section of the boat has been thoughtfully designed independently. For example, the helm/salon section can be completely enclosed by closing the forward and aft doors and the hard top skylight windows. This keeps the area warmer on cool days or cool on hot days with two dedicated AC units. With doors and windows open a pleasant sea breeze comes through the salon.
The salon, aft deck and cabin each include table space and features for cooking and refrigeration, for comfortable dining in multiple areas of the boat. Seating throughout the boat features an upscale, soft Ultraleather material. The queen bed in the stateroom boasts a plush mattress. The stateroom couch offers comfortable seating perfect for watching the room’s dedicated TV. The below deck cabin has its own A/C unit. Speakers and subwoofers for the Rockford Fosgate stereo system are placed in each section of the 500 SSC, including the swim platform. Music choice and volume can be controlled individually in each section.
Many features work electronically with the touch of a switch. The two tables in the bow and the table in the v-berth section, as well as the 65″ TV in the salon on deck rise or lower electronically. The aft window in the salon and the two skylight windows in the hard top also operate electronically. The antenna mast folds down to provide 9’4″ of additional bridge clearance. A SureShade canopy extends and retracts over the aft deck at a push of a switch. Cabinets and drawers in the salon and below deck can be locked by pressing a switch, a great safety feature when the SSC 500 is on the move.
Another upscale feature is the ample use of LED lighting throughout the deck and cabin. To allow for a customized look and feel, the LED lighting offers a choice of 11 different colors.
Sophisticated Helm Station
Manning the wheel is sheer pleasure. The dash is state of the art and well organized, reminiscent of a super yacht. Two 24″ Raymarine chart plotters make it easy to see all critical information. The new Mercury Digital Throttle and Shift control allows for smoother and more exact movement and the Mercury joystick allows for effortless and precise docking. As an innovative option, Formula includes a second joystick control at the swim platform to make dock even easier. Since only the gear case turns, there is a wider turning radius at idle. This made docking with the joystick easy, and a bow thruster was not needed.
During our test, the 500 SSC reached 30 mph in 10.7 seconds and 50 mph in 20.7 seconds. At full throttle we reached 68.5 mph in 2′ seas. The multi-step hull with 19-degree transom deadrise provided a solid, comfortable ride in bumpy seas.
The Mercury engines were amazingly quiet at idle and throughout the power range. With the salon doors and hard top windows closed I did not realize we were travelling nearly 70 mph in 2′ seas until I looked at the GPS speedometer.
Back at the dock it was hard to leave the Formula 500 SSC. The combination of the size, design and innovations of the boat, coupled with the power and technology of the Mercury 600 hp outboards made for a memorable day on the water.
Formula 500 SSC Specs
Length (LOA) 53’4”
Beam 14’ 6”
Dry Weight 43,400 lbs
Fuel Capacity 650 gallons
Deadrise at Transom 19 degrees
MSRP Approx. $2,800,000 U.S.