As modern outboards have become better and better, more and more builders of mid-sized cruising boats have expanded their stern-drive offerings to include outboard models. A new player in this field is the Four Winns Vista 355 Coupe OB, a boat that looks like a stern-drive sport cruiser from bow to… well, almost stern.
Sitting on the platform behind the 355 OB you’ll find a pair of 300- to 350-horse Mercury or Yamaha outboards, in all their shining modern four-stroke glory. They not only spice up performance to the tune of a 44-mph top-end, they also come with all the quiet, smooth, reliable operation outboard owners have grown to know and love about today’s engines. Wait a sec—you say you’re a died-in-the-wool stern-drive lover? Not to worry, you can still get a Four Winns Vista 355 Coupe without the OB tag on the back of the model name nor the outboards on the transom.
From the swim platform forward, the outboard version of the boat is more or less just like the stern-drive version. The cockpit has a swing-back aft seat so you can sit facing forward while cruising or kick back and look at the water or watch the kids swim while at rest. We should point out here the one potential downside to going with outboard power on a boat of this nature, the loss of some swim platform space. You still get platforms going back behind either side of the powerplants plus a center walkway, but there’s no way around giving up some territory to the eggbeaters.
The cockpit also has a spiffy outdoor galley with a grill and refrigerator (complementing the full galley in the saloon, aft of the helm). Our favorite thing about the cockpit, however, is the way it’s closed off—or not—from the saloon. The aft bulkhead of the main cabin swings open, the port-side window flips up, and the cockpit and cabin suddenly become one seamlessly joined social area. They’re on the same level, too, so there’s no step to divide the areas and/or trip over.
You say you want even more fresh air and sunshine in the cabin? Not a problem. Slide back the side windows, pop open the twin sunroofs, and you’ll have a tough time telling the inside of this boat from the outside. Added bonus: the companionway has an open atrium design, so natural light and breezes also filter down to the lower cabin.
Down below in that lower cabin is where it becomes apparent that the Vista 355 Coupe OB clearly belongs in the sport cruiser category, as opposed to being a glorified weekender, because it has some serious sleeping accommodations. There are two berths, a V forward which swings together to create a full-size berth, and a king aft in the full-beam mid-cabin. There’s an extra spot to relax in the atrium itself thanks to a small settee set into the port side. Also worth noting, the head has a separate stand-up stall shower, not one of those pull-out-get-everything-wet shower heads you sometimes see on boats this size.
One unusual touch Four Winns designed into the 355 is a double-wide sidedeck to starboard of the cabin. They accomplish this without giving up cabin space by narrowing up the port sidedeck. That makes going forward to hit the loungers, open the anchor locker, or handle bow lines extremely easy, just as long as you remember to head up there via the starboard side. And while you’re up there, you’ll also notice that there’s more room than one might expect. Four Winns keeps the beam widened out right up to the slightly-squared stem. They also mount a step in the forepeak where the bowrails meet. That could come in handy should it be necessary to moor up bow-first, but we like it more as a cool spot to sit down and chillax while gazing back at your boat. And yeah, the view of the transom may be blocked by the cabin, but we know it and you do, too: there’s a pair of modern, reliable, easy-to-love outboards back there.
Four Winns Vista 355 Coupe OB Specifications:
Displacement: 16,000 lbs.
Max HP: 700
Fuel Capacity: 200 gal.
Water Capacity: 44 gal.
Price (MSRP): $411,538
By Lenny Rudow