Fountain 32 Thunder Cat Boat Test

The new Fountain 32 Thunder Cat is designed to make going very fast very easy. Powered by a pair of 400 hp Mercury Racing 400R outboards, the Thunder Cat can be coaxed to a top speed of 120 mph. But what makes this boat really fun is its ability to simply cruise along, with no drama, at 80 to 90 mph. At that speed, the motors are just loafing at about 5,000 rpm and return their best fuel economy. Talk about smiles per gallon.

The 32 Thunder Cat fits the booming “sport cat” segment of the ­performance-boat ­market, a sort of roadster for the water intended to be a good dayboat that’s fast and easy to own. Outboard power keeps the initial cost and cost to own under control compared to ­sterndrive power, and this boat’s 10-foot-2-inch beam and carefully considered balance make it stable and steady at speed. The hull and deck are formed from infused composite in a ­vacuum-bagged process, and the fully rigged boat weighs just 5,400 pounds. The bottom has a pair of steps, three ­pronounced lifting strakes and 15 degrees of over-all deadrise, but each surface is variable, and the most inboard pad section has a slight concave shape and allows the boat to heel over a bit into turns. Iconic Performance Group says the center of gravity and location of twin ­60-gallon fuel tanks ensure that the boat stays steady all the way to top speed.

The cockpit features a pair of bucket seats and a bolstered bench aft, with plenty of legroom. Our test boat had an all-glass helm, with a 16-inch Garmin 7616 on the center of the dash, and a 12-inch Garmin 7612 in front of the port seat, intended for use by a poker-run navigator. A Mercury ­VesselView 703 is mounted in the starboard inwale, forward of Mercury Racing Zero Effort digital controls. The motors hang on stout 8.5-inch aluminum setback brackets that are easy to adjust for height. Mercury Racing wing plates accommodate a two-piece Zeiger tie bar. The Merc 400R motors have a bulletproof reputation and are the perfect power for a boat designed to deliver carefree performance.

High Points

  • Outboard power makes this performance boat reliable and easy to own, fuel economy is outstanding, and the motors are self-draining and require minimal maintenance.
  • Easy to upgrade performance when Mercury Racing offers more outboard power.
  • Cats always look seriously fast.

Low Points

  • Merc Racing 400R outboards run best on 91-octane fuel, which is not always available on the water.
  • Catamaran design offers no cabin or other amenities.

Toughest Competitor
Stunning glasswork and anything-goes custom paint and fabrication set the 34-foot MTI 340X ($400,000 to $450,000 with twin Merc Racing 400R outboards) apart from the sport-cat crowd. Top speed is about 116 mph.

Price: $399,999

Available Power: Outboard

How We Tested
Engines: Twin Mercury Racing 400R outboards
Drive/Prop: Outboards/Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver 15″ x 34″ 5-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 60 gal.
Water on Board: 0 gal.
Crew Weight: 410 lb.

More Information
Fountain Powerboats – Iconic Performance Group; Washington, North Carolina; 252-975-2000;

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