The Q8 SSi is the new flagship of Tahoe’s bowrider line, and it is even better since its No-Haggle, No-Hassle price dropped by several thousand dollars over last year’s Q8i, which it replaces. The interior features a cleaner look with more open space than before. Instead of wrap-around cockpit seating that abuts the captain’s bucket seat, the new layout features a full-width stern bench seat that flips up to reveal a giant insulated cooler. On the port side, the seat bottom slides backward to form a fiberglass step up to the walk-through from the swim platform. Tahoe got rid of the sink behind the co-pilot’s bucket seat, which is a plus in that both of the crew seats can now freely swivel 180 degrees.
Our test boat is powered by MerCruiser’s newest small-block V-8, the 6.2L, which puts out 320 hp, the max horsepower for this model. Tracker is pricing the Q8 SSi at $29,995 with the carbureted 190 hp version of the 4.3L, but that engine won’t be available after the existing stock is sold. According to Tahoe, that package should yield a top speed of 46 mph, which is respectable, but after testing this boat with more power, you won’t want to go lower. Time to plane was 2.7 seconds. The 6.2L MerCruiser pulled very strong in the midrange, and we reached 30 mph in just 5.3 seconds, while top speed was an outstanding 57.3 mph. We could hold plane at 16 mph, and one of its best attributes was that it felt good at whatever speed we chose. Helping to control the Q8 SSi is the unique sport wheel with thumb rests at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. With 20 degrees of deadrise, it sliced through the big-lake chop.
Tahoe is stepping up the bling factor with an all-new collapsible wakeboard tower option with racks and coffee-can speakers. The Jensen stereo that resides in the port console cranks out the best sound I’ve heard on a Tahoe. The only radio station we could get to test the six-speaker-plus-subwoofer system played classical music, but I’m pretty sure Vivaldi has never been played louder or clearer than on that day on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. – AJ