formosa tomahawk
Large reverse chines push the spray down and away.

Formosa Tomahawk Classic 520 Bowrider boat review

AS a keen fisho and family man I know the importance of buying a product or service that offers the ‘best of both worlds’.

This buying philosophy certainly rings true in the boating market, with innumerable boat manufacturers striving to build a craft that pleases all comers, whether they be hard-core fishos, water sport enthusiasts or occasional family anglers. It only took a few minutes aboard the Formosa Tomahawk Classic 520 Bowrider to know Formosa had nailed that sacred middle ground.

Our recent test day off Cleveland Point presented us with mild conditions (actually a perfect day to pack the wife and kids and head over to Peel Island) but straight away the Tomahawk Classic 520 impressed with its smooth lines and stability. Several factors influence on-water stability, one of which is the width of the boat. And this Formosa is a seriously wide boat. Its massive 2.4m beam goes close to the maximum on-trailer width in Queensland of 2.5m. With an overall length of 5.35m, it would have to be one of the beamiest boats in its class.

Under way and motoring towards Peel Island, applying full throttle saw the 520 get straight on the plane with absolutely no squatting – and this was with the minimum 90hp Suzuki four-stroke. Flat out across Moreton Bay we managed 60km/h, which was far from disappointing considering the minimum horsepower fitted. The Classic 520 is rated to a whopping 140hp and with such horsepower on the back I have little doubt the boat would be an absolute rocket ship. I’m sure most buyers would be happy to sit between the two extremes with a 115hp motor.

However, what you lose in top-end speed with a smaller motor, you make up for in fuel economy, with our test boat returning an outstanding 2.9km per litre fuel figure while cruising at an easy 42km/h (4800rpm). Considering the standard 115-litre underfloor fuel tank, this equates to a theoretical range of 333km, or travelling from Cleveland Point to Tangalooma and back again four times. Needless to say, on this day the Classic 520 was untroubled by the conditions and passing boat wakes were tackled with ease, with the reverse-chine hull carving through the water and pushing spray down and away from occupants.

Being a bowrider, the driving position was lower and further aft than in a cabin boat or runabout and due to the flat attitude of our boat on the plane, even with the motor trimmed up, forward vision was perfectly acceptable. At 188cm tall I was easily able to find a comfortable driving position thanks to excellent seats that swivelled and could be adjusted backwards and forwards. It was even possible to fully stand up while driving due to the laid-back bimini design allowing you the room to poke your head and shoulders up over the windscreen, which would be handy in low-light situations or if visibility through the tinted windscreen was impaired.

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The ideal rig for family fun, fishing or day-tripping to Peel Island.
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The stern of the boat featured a fold-away rear lounge and easy access via the door.
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An in-fill can be placed in the bow section to convert the front lounge into a casting platform.
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The comfy and adjustable seats ensure a good driving
position for the captain.


In terms of fit and finish, as with other Formosa boats I’ve tested, this rig was top notch in all areas. Fully welded side decks ensure a high-end finish as well as adding strength and 4mm smooth plate alloy bottom and side sheets continue this theme. This is not a massive boat in terms of length, however the super-generous beam means you’re able to make the most of the available room. And if heading out on a purely fishing trip, removing the bimini would open up a whole new dimension of space.

While on the subject of space, unfortunately the test boat had limited room to mount a sounder or GPS due to a raised, car-like instrument binnacle taking up the prime real estate on the dash. However Formosa is easily able to customise boats, so I’m sure the team could move the gauges down to the face plate either side of the steering wheel, freeing up heaps of space if you wanted to fit a widescreen unit. In all other areas, the Classic 520 perfectly encapsulates that best of both worlds idea.

The bowrider section is accessed by a swing door and provides comfortable, cushioned accommodation whether at rest or under way. If planning on fishing, simply remove the seat cushions and you’ve got a raised and flat cast platform, with a removable in-fill slotting into the middle section to convert the bow into a full-on fishing platform. In addition, lifting the lids on the cast deck sections reveals deep storage lockers for myriad items including life jackets and tackle.

The interior is carpeted throughout, including in the anchor well to minimise noise created by the anchor. The stern features a three-quarter width fold-away lounge with cushioned backrest to provide additional seating, two recessed hatches with clear Perspex doors for dual-battery setups, a third hatch for miscellaneous items, decent-sized side pockets and a generous kill tank. A door for access in and out of the boat via the full-width rear pod and boarding ladder is also on the port side.

This boat is clearly no one-trick pony and makes a compelling case as that ultimate all-rounder. Whether chasing whiting in the Nerang River, trolling for snapper and flathead in the bay or towing the kids around on a tube, the Formosa Tomahawk Classic 520 Bowrider is happy to do it all. Even with the exceptionally high build quality, 4mm plate construction and customisable features, this boat presents good value with a drive-away price of $42,900 as tested with a 90hp Suzuki. Stretching to that 115hp option won’t break the bank either and will give you a bit more punch when towing a tube or making double time to your secret fishing spot.

Our test boat was supplied by Australian Marine Centre, so for any inquiries about putting a new Formosa in your driveway, call the friendly team at AMC on 07 3808 7333, visit or stop in at 3491 Pacific Highway, Springwood.


About Ben Collins

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