Last summer rumors were swirling around about the possibility of a new pontoon manufacturer entering the industry. Those rumors quickly turned into breaking news as it was soon confirmed Barletta Pontoon Boats would in fact be the newest manufacturer to offer a pontoon lineup. PDB magazine had a chance to sit down with the Barletta management team in early October at its new facility and it was clear from the start this Indiana-based manufacturer was not just content with simply being in the industry, but had bigger plans and goals to actually improve it.
Determined to make sure manufacturing trends and retail customer trends went together in harmony, Barletta set out to build a solid, user-friendly pontoon lineup with long lists of standard features, a simple, yet refined list of options, and floorplans packed with innovative designs.
“I feel comfort and luxury is of utmost importance combined with excellent performance and handling,” explained Bill Fenech, president and co-owner of Barletta. “In everything we do, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we make the dealer and retail customer experience better?’”
Fast forward a couple of months and those ideas along with a stack of renderings quickly evolved into reality as Barletta pontoons began popping up all over the country at boat shows including the first model off the line that ended up at the Minneapolis Boat Show in January. It earned a coveted NMMA Innovation Award in the pontoon category at that show and the early response from attendees was positive as Barletta quickly established itself as a serious contender. The next step: get one on the water.
February is not the ideal boating month in Indiana, so plans were put in motion to get a Barletta to Florida as soon as possible so we could be the first to test it. As luck would have it, we were able to get our hands on that first Barletta pontoon ever built that we saw first-hand in Minneapolis.
As we pulled up to the marina on East Lake Tohopekaliga in St. Cloud, Fla., the Barletta L25UC shined brightly and looked ever more impressive than it did sitting on boat show carpet. Each Barletta pontoon goes through an extensive “white glove” pre-delivery process with every inch being inspected so we knew we were in for a great test. The breakdown on this model’s name goes like this: the L25UC is part of the Luxury class, the “U” is for the Ultra Lounge and the “C” is for the co-captain chair on this 25-footer and we’ll get into more details shortly.
“YETI-ready” is a buzz word the Barletta president loves to work into conversation when talking about the key features on his pontoons. YETI-ready simply means the cupholders throughout the boat were designed to perfectly support the popular YETI Rambler Tumbler family. Even the removable table includes built-in oversized cupholders.
In the bow are two long bench seats with armrests that provide plenty of comfortable places to sit to support the maximum passenger rating of 14. The Dolce marine vinyl used throughout the boat is top-of-the-line and is truly soft to the touch, yet very durable. Combined with different contrasting patterns, the seating really is as comfortable as it looks. Below the seats are deep, easy-to-access storage compartments with powder-coated bell hinges, instead of the traditional chrome piano ones. Another feature we love in the bow are the multiple USB ports that are built into the seat bases so everyone onboard can stay charged.
Hidden below the starboard bow chaise lounge is a trash receptacle with an easy access door as well as designated storage for the removable table. Below the port lounge is a pop-up table with folding legs and you can also option to a changing room if wanted. Barletta did its homework here – given the choice, many consumers seem to favor the table over a changing room as a standard but according to the manufacturer a combination of the two is on the drawing board for future models.
The Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl flooring helps not only tie in the high-end look, but the durable material is soft on your feet and makes cleanup extremely easy. Barletta offers several types of flooring on all its boats and it’s easy to see why this is one of its more popular choices.
As Barletta was getting started, every option was considered and no detail was overlooked as they searched for outside suppliers to partner up with. Hertz Audio was one of those companies.
“We did several blind tests against other marine audio systems and Hertz won every time,” said Jeff Roth, Barletta marketing vice president during our test. “They’re an award-winning stereo company from Italy known for their audio systems on motorcycles so they understand wind and other factors boats face.”
The Bluetooth-capable Hertz system comes standard on the L-Class Barletta pontoon boats and includes a subwoofer, amp and four marine-grade speakers. The U-model we tested comes standard with six speakers with two additional ones facing outward in the stern.
At the automotive-style helm you’ll find plenty of legroom; we’re talking miles of leg-stretching room for even the tallest captain with a seat that is wide and extremely comfortable. Centered on the dash are two multi-function Mercury gauges, but everything you truly need can be accessed through the standard Simrad touchscreen.
Another added touch is the PWR-ARM fully automatic Bimini top from Schwintek. With a simple press of a button you can raise or lower the top and it too is part of the long list of standard features included on this Barletta.
On the side of the driver’s helm stand is a large glove box and besides net storage, the dash now includes a recessed cubby with a USB port so you can store your phone out of the sun. Plus there is an additional hidden storage compartment forward of the helm. One final note: included with the raised platform is a unique feature we’ve never see before. Built into the side of the platform is a slide-out doggy dish that stows away nicely when not needed, but is available for the family pet that keeps those four-legged guests happy while onboard too. And to top it off, it’s removable for easy cleaning.
In the stern just past the dual captain’s chairs that slide, swivel and recline is a multi-use seating area referred to as the Ultra Lounge. It starts as a traditional L-shaped seating area but you can pivot forward the backrest to create rear-facing loungers. The backrest can be lowered even further to convert this space into a huge sundeck lounge. And finally you can individually ratchet up the stern cushions to create two forward-facing lounges. Having so many different ways to use this space is only the beginning of the versatility this pontoon has to offer.
As far as function is concerned, you won’t find a lot of pontoon swim decks as versatile as this one. It includes an easy-to-use wide boarding ladder with tall handholds that reaches deep into the water and is slightly angled away from the engine as a safety precaution. There is also a cutout of the pontoon log that creates a storage compartment capable of holding a YETI Hopper Flip 18 soft cooler, or because it has its own bilge pump, you could fill it with ice and be the most popular boat at the sandbar.
A lot of pontoons have ski/tow bars with a rating of around 2,100 or 2,200 pounds. Barletta refers to its towing system as a tube/tow cage and because it’s directly mounted to the chassis it has a test rating of over 3,000 pounds according to the manufacturer. Next to the tube/tow bar are two dedicated torpedo-style storage cages for your fenders and the E-Z fill fuel station is centrally located just below. On a triple pontoon model like this one it comes standard with a 48 gallon fuel tank. The motor pod has also been extended for better performance, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Added touches include the deep in-floor ski locker that is plenty wide for wakeboards and other water toys, as well as a beefy top rail around the perimeter of the boat that has an indented ridge below for the snap-less cover. That’s right; you won’t find any cover snaps on this boat, just another way Barletta helps make your boating experience easier.
The solid rail supports for the bow gate are a good indication of the overbuilt look and feel to this pontoon. It’s extremely solid, as is the rest of the boat. Below deck Barletta uses a hybrid cross member design with C-channel construction with a box I-beam design for the seams as well as in the stern to help increase the maximum horsepower rating that is currently rated for up to 350hp, but could be on the rise. Barletta additionally employs V.I.P. technology, a small rubber landing pad, which helps lessen the vibration and rattling that might occur underdeck with metal on metal attachments. With the L class the boat comes standard with a full aluminum skin below deck along and the three 26-inch diameter pontoons that help with the overall flotation. Another unique feature is the two-stage lifting strakes, not only in design, but in function. We’ll talk about performance in a bit, but the strakes were designed with the ability to flush invasive species for those of you who might trailer your boat from one body of water to another.
When we first saw this pontoon on display at the Minneapolis Boat Show it had a Mercury outboard on the back. This time around for our test it still had a Mercury, but it was upgraded to the brand-new 3.4L V6 that was just released the week before our test. The new 225hp four-stroke works well with Barletta’s dual-stage strakes and helps get the boat up on plane quicker, but then keep the pontoon gliding across the water at higher speeds.
At full throttle we reached a top speed of 41.8 mph, but it was the quick 4-second zero-to-20 mph time that impressed us most. You’d never guess the dry weight was more than 3,700 pounds by the way this boat maneuvers. One of the key factors to the new Mercury V6 lineup is the midrange torque and you could really appreciate that added power on this Barletta.
We had a little extra time during our test so Mercury rep Paul Adams walked us through some of the key features that are dealer-added items that were possible because this pontoon was equipped with a Simrad as well as Mercury’s Vessel Link system. Of course with Vessel View Mobile app a lot of these same features are available too on your smartphone.
Key Mercury features include cruise control where you can pre-set the RPM’s or by miles per hour with the ability to dial in your exact speed on the fly. There is also a smart tow setting that you can pre-program in advance so you can slow down your holeshot when you’re towing younger children on tubes.
By far our favorite feature is the GPS-based trim system. It’s all controlled through the Simrad and you never have to touch the manual trim button again. Even in our tightest turns the Barletta trimmed quickly and automatically, which truly helps even the most inexperienced boat drivers look like veterans on the water.
Coming back into the dock we switched over to Dock Mode, which limits the RPM’s. This allowed us to comfortably maneuver the boat safety without worrying about accidentally “punching it” when pulling into the slip.
Any doubts that Barletta wasn’t ready to compete in this industry quickly dissolved as we walked away from our test more impressed than ever. Led by a team of industry veterans, Barletta has positioned itself well and is ready to compete. This builder is just getting started and we’re excited to watch them grow.
LOA: 27’ 6”
Beam: 8’ 6”
Dry Weight: 3,793 lbs.
Max Capacity: 14/2,025 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 48 gals.
Top Speed: 41.8 MPH
0 to 20 MPH: 4.6 seconds
MPG @3500 RPM’s: 3.4
Base MSRP (Boat Only): $53,310
As Tested (Boat Only): $68,604
Dual battery trays w/switch, Vibration Isolation Pad, E-Z Fill fuel tank, solid full length keel, hybrid cross members construction, extra-large top-rail extrusion, sealed Deutsch electrical connectors, tube skirting, underbelly skin, Hertz marine stereo with 4 speakers, sub and amp, YETI-ready in-floor stern cooler, tube/tow cage, USB charging ports, YETI-ready cupholders, LED dock lights, ss ladder, waste basket, underseat mood lighting, flip-up table and mechanical steering.
Blackout Package, Triple Pontoon Package, exterior lighting, bow filler seat, in-floor ski locker, Mercury rigging and stainless steel prop.
PWR-ARM (Power Bimini)