By Craig Ritchie
One of the greatest things about pontoon boats is that their open, level footprint allows boat designers to truly run wild with fresh and innovative ideas. No longer constrained by the shape of a V-hull, pontoon designers can take any idea from concept to reality. Sylvan’s Mirage 8522 LZ PB is a perfect case in point.
Here’s a pontoon that offers all the comforts of home with three lounger sectionals and a mid-cabin peninsula, complete with barstools and a sink. Think of a seating area just off the breakfast bar at home and you get the picture – this is a boat designed for busy families with places to go and things to do.
It is the brilliantly functional port-side peninsula that truly sets this model apart. With its solid-surface counter, integral sink with 5 gallon water tank, cup holders and four pedestal-mount bar stools, it’s a multifunctional area that serves equally well as a lunch counter, conversation spot and informal hangout once the kids go to sleep. As with the breakfast bar in a home, it’s the spot everyone naturally gravitates to when they step aboard this boat. And with its innovative two-facing-two seating, it makes the most of its footprint while still leaving plenty of deck space for other uses. The fact it further provides massive amounts of storage space beneath, with mesh-fronted shelving and a cavernous locker, is a real plus. It even houses a convenient waste bin and a 12-volt outlet.
Situated opposite the helm, the lunch bar area neatly bridges the bow and stern. Up front, two wrap-around loungers surround a removable pedestal-mount table for additional dining space. The port-side lounger conceals a convenient change room in its aft face, which opens into the clear space adjacent to the side entry gate.
Aft of the peninsula, a pair of freshly updated-for-2015 loungers at the stern provide comfy seating and a place to stretch out and dry off after a swim or a turn on the wakeboard. The Mirage 8522 LZ PB features a great extended swim platform designed with water sports in mind, as evidenced by its standard rear boarding ladder and optional ski tow.
The stylish fibreglass helm – also freshly updated for 2015 – conceals additional storage space below. The attractive wood grain dash includes classic black-on-white gauges in two clusters, including a 50 mph speedometer, tach, voltmeter, trim gauge, fuel gauge and a multi-gauge with warning lights for oil level and engine temperature. Left of the racy black-and-chrome tilt wheel sits the control head for the Infinity AM/FM stereo with auxiliary input for an MP3 player, while to right a row of classy black-and-chrome rocker switches handle dock lights, courtesy lights and such. Up top, multiple beverage holders and a pair of storage pads with rubberized bases keep small items secure.
Overhead, a new-for-2015 Bimini top with gracefully arcing frames provides an escape from the sun.
Our review boat came equipped with an Evinrude E-TEC 150 H.O. outboard, which represents maximum power on this boat in its two-log configuration (the tri-toon variant handles up to 250 hp). The E-TEC gives the big Mirage plenty of get-up-and-go, easily pushing it into the mid-30 mph range. Handling is exactly as one expects from a Sylvan – crisp, sure, and secure, with no ill manners or surprises for the driver.
Sylvan has been building pontoon boats for a long time, and this heritage is evident in the Mirage 8522 LZ PB. With its multi-functional floor plan, super-comfortable seating and impeccable build quality, it’s the kind of boat that families can easily come to love.
By Craig Ritchie