Formula 400 SSC

Forty-foot sports crossover satisfies every family member’s must-haves

by Marshall Brodie
Active boating families want to maximize their limited boating time but sometimes that can be difficult.

Specifications

  • LOA: 40'
  • Beam: 12'
  • Draft: 40"
  • Weight: 23,700 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 400 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 56 gals.
  • Power:
  • Price: as tested: $1,114,715

formulaboats.com

What if you want to overnight with your family for one or two nights because that’s all the time you get off from work? Or what if your teenage children ask to bring a group of friends to hangout and sunbathe for a day? What if the weather turns less than ideal? Do you need an express cruiser or perhaps do you need a bowrider? 
This is where a versatile, multi-purpose vessel may be the ideal solution. Such is the impetus for Formula’s new 400 SSC (Super Sport Crossover), an emerging new breed of boat that follows in the footsteps of the 430 SSC. The 400 SSC — with an open bow cockpit, aft deck lounge and spacious below-decks cabin — gives boaters the best of all worlds. 

Rare features

Formula realized that customers were asking for something other than an express cruiser or a big center console with an under-console cabin. Based on this feedback, Formula created the Crossover series, which has become a big hit. The Formula 400 SSC is sporty, comfortable and amenity rich. The single-level deck is nearly 37 feet long and includes two seating areas, the bow cockpit and aft lounge, which Formula has labeled SmartZones. Formula describes them as being separate areas for differing activities while also encouraging connectivity among guests. Passage fore and aft is unimpeded and makes socializing natural. The surprisingly large cabin below includes a convertible dinette/sleeping berth, plus an aft stateroom bed, private head compartment and entertainment galley with sink and microwave. 

The bow cockpit is a rare feature in a 40-foot sport boat that greatly expands the usability of the 400 SSC as a day cruiser. This area features wraparound seating for multiple lounging options, and twin motorized tables can be raised or lowered individually at the push of a button for dining or to create a lounge when cushions are added. For a break from the sun’s rays, there’s an optional bow sun shade that’s easy to assemble. 

Six of the boat’s 24 cupholders and two of the 10 USB ports are in the bow. Needless to say, no matter where you are, there is a cupholder or USB port nearby. An insulated cooler underneath the forward aft-facing seat keeps drinks cold, and a trash container stows litter so it doesn’t blow out of the boat when underway. A remote for the stereo controls sound levels in the boat’s four different zones.

Thanks to the large, tinted, tempered-glass windshield and fiberglass hardtop, the cockpit is protected from the weather. There’s also a zippered aft cockpit enclosure to protect the helm deck if needed. Unlike a large center console, this spacious area spans the full width of the cockpit yet still provides excellent sightlines forward and to the side due to the slim mullions and tall height of the windshield. With the full-width sunroof, side vent windows and the open aft end, the helm cockpit area is bright and airy. An optional powered sun shade extends sun protection over the aft cockpit. The available 18,000 BTU cockpit air conditioner keeps everyone refreshed on hot summer days, including the captain with powerful A/C vents in the dash and built-in louvers in the helm seat. 

The controls

The black helm features dual Raymarine Axiom 12-inch widescreen chartplotters, which can be upgraded to 16- or 19-inch displays. All switches and controls are well placed and fall easily under hand. Mercury DTS electronic throttle and shift and SmartCraft VesselView are standard along with Mercury’s Joystick Piloting. The Mercury VesselView display is mounted adjacent to the port side of the helm and the joystick control is mounted to starboard. The 600-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo control pad distributes sound to 10 JL Audio speakers and a 200-watt subwoofer that all have blue LED lighting. 

Underneath the stereo control panel is a cubby that stores the optional wireless iPad for Formula’s LaunchPort system, which controls multiple boat systems. The concealed windlass with 150 feet of chain and a polished stainless steel anchor is controlled from the helm as well. For all that is entailed with managing a vessel with four engines and accessories, the helm is uncluttered and logically arranged.

Seating at the helm has a wide range of adjustability to accommodate the captain and up to two companions. The seat bottom flips up to adjust for sitting, standing or resting positions and also adjusts fore and aft. Powered footrests make it a cinch to find the perfect position. Underneath the helm seat is a 35-quart Yeti cooler on pull-out slides.

Across from the helm, along the portside passageway to the bow, are storage lockers for a blender, cockpit TV and docklines. Immediately abaft is the outdoor galley featuring a Corian counter that includes a fiberglass molded sink, stainless pull-out refrigerator, trash container, paper towel holder and an assortment of drawers. Positioned further aft is an available electric grill.

Back to the starboard side abaft of the helm seats is the U-shaped lounge that wraps around an electrically actuated table. Similar to the bow tables, when lowered, filler cushions are used to create an additional sunpad. A stainless steel and acrylic gate to port opens to access the large aft-facing sunpad to starboard. The sunpad has individually adjustable backrests. Storage underneath provides space for bulky fenders and filler cushions for the cockpit lounge.

Even with the quad outboards, the swim platform offers a lot of usable deck space for dockside boarding, hanging out with your feet in the water or climbing back aboard. Standard equipment includes a removable stainless steel swim ladder and a retractable safety ladder.

Below deck

The below-deck cabin provides comfortable overnight accommodations for four. Headroom measures 6 feet, 5 inches, and the cabin spans the width of the hull. Abundant storage is located throughout the upscale cabin. The quiet 7.5KW gas generator powers the air conditioner and electronics when anchored. At the forward end of the cabin there’s a U-shaped Ultraleather lounge and dinette table that lowers to create a V-berth. The hinged forward backrest can be raised to extend legroom for the V-berth. 

A stand-up shower and head are located to starboard between the galley and the aft berth. A full fiberglass liner, light colored molded vanity with a Corian countertop and sink with high-gloss woodgrain trim keep the compartment bright and easy to clean. For showering, a Corian seat covers the Vacuflush toilet. 

The cabin galley is forward of the shower and head and continues the premium appearance that Formula is known for, with Corian countertops, hardwood trim and blue LED accent lighting. The galley includes a sink with cover, microwave oven, available coffee maker, an electric stove with a cutting board cover and a concealed trash container. To port, there’s a stainless steel pull-out refrigerator and additional drawer storage, plus a cedar-lined hanging locker. Adjacent to the companionway is the electrical panel and controls for air conditioning, stereo and lights.

Access to the generator, batteries, water heater and filters is through a day hatch in the port walkway to the stern. For comprehensive service, the entire aft seat structure raises on a power-actuated lift. The optional SeaKeeper gyro stabilization system is mounted here as well.

Fast and nimble 

Powered by quad Mercury Verado 300- or optional 350-hp outboards, the 400 SSC is fast and nimble. Either engine package will come with Joystick Piloting, Mercury Active Trim and Bennett hydraulic trim tabs. Inboards, sterndrives and outboards all have their proponents, but there is no denying the interior space that is created by having the propulsion system mounted outside at the stern. Additional benefits include: Better power to weight ratio; ease of maintenance; a shallower draft; and better corrosion resistance by being able to tilt the lower units up and out of the water.

I tested the 400 SSC with a crew of three on a hot day in South Florida. The test boat was powered by four 350-hp Mercury Verado outboards. Unfortunately, we had just a light chop that could not test the mettle of the deep-V 400 SSC. We did find some waves to cross outside of Haulover Inlet in Miami-Dade County, but they were handled easily and without drama. Acceleration from 1,400-hp on the stern was strong as we inched up to a top-speed of 61 mph at 6500 RPM. Our most efficient cruise speed was a comfortable 37 mph at 5000 RPM, which yielded about .7 mpg. Handling is crisp and predictable even through hard turns at speed. 

Although the 400 SSC shares a similar twin-stepped 21-degree V-hull with the 430 SSC, each hull was designed specifically for that model. In fact, Formula says the 400 SSC may be the most efficient hull they have ever built, which is saying something with their long history of performance boat building. The 400 SSC’s stepped hull is also very user friendly. It maintains a comfortable, level ride through a variety of speeds and conditions with little need to adjust the trim tabs on many occasions. 

Upon returning to the dock, the real world convenience of the Mercury JoyStick Piloting when squeezing into a crowded space is impressive. The excellent visibility from the helm and easy access to the bow and stern for the crew to handle dock lines make it even better. 

There is a lot to like about the Formula 400 SSC. The SmartZone layout with the open bow and aft cockpit is versatile, efficient and sociable. It’s loaded with amenities, and is a strong-performing and solidly constructed vessel. The 400 SSC is a very capable dayboat or overnighter. Even if you had the time, you still wouldn’t want to bring three or four families out for a week-long trip; however, with the 400 SSC, you could take a lot of people out for a fun-filled day or sleep overnight with a family of four — and that’s probably perfect for most boating families. 



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