Written By Bob Brown
Dry Land Evaluation : Chris Hamlin of Prestige Marine, Aaron Fluent of Absolute Speed and Marine
Photos by : Dusty Wooddell (Primary) / Andrew Ruzek (Secondary) / Bob Brown (Back Up)


One of the most encouraging indicators that the custom performance boat industry is showing signs of economic recovery from its deepest slump of the last fifty years is the willingness of manufacturers to develop fresh tooling and introduce new models. The investment to accomplish this is significant even in the best of times, but to boldly move forward with new projects in the anticipation that the buying public is beginning to heat-up speaks volumes about the confidence that boat builders have in the future.

Certainly one of the most ambitious efforts to bring a new boat to market of the past twelve months is that of the 270 Python deckboat by Cobra Performance Boats. Cobra previously established itself a "player" in the competitive performance deckboat arena with two earlier Python models, the 260 and 280, both successful boats in their own right. However, given the recent explosion of demand for high-end luxurious pontoon boats and the fascination for more performance, the timing seemed appropriate to bring a totally new Python model to the marketplace with the "wow" factor.


To make sure the new 270 wasn't just a microwave warmed-up version of existing Python models, Cobra collaborated with renowned marine design and tooling expert Rob King. If there is any doubt about its origin, creation from the drawing board to finished product, it is well documented on the Cobra Performance Boats website with dozens of step-by-step images as it emerged from a bare wooden skeleton to a masterful sculpture of fiberglass art.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the 270 Python appears to have hit the mark it was aiming for. It is unique and will not be mistaken for any other deckboat on the market. Bow to transom, it's a new piece. If you want, it's a hybrid of sorts blending the functionality of a deckboat with the looks, feel and styling of a performance sportcat. Because this was boat number one, you also can't fault Cobra for going all-out. The one-hundred percent capping of hull and deck was flawless and only added to the flowing and well-proportioned exterior contours. If you can afford the up charge for the capping option, do it, a boat like this deserves it.


When you see a 270 Python in person, you need to spend a little extra time to fully appreciate all the detail amenities and styling nuances that have been incorporated into the tooling instead relying on bolt-on after-thoughts. Lets start with glove boxes. I know it's a trivial thing to most, but the glove box built-in to the port-side co-pilot bulkhead is actually large enough to put real people-things inside with a sturdy aluminum billet lid.


The same can be said in the aft seating area where there are glove boxes molded-in as part of the fiberglass liner on both the port and starboard side gunnels (lid hinges, however, could be refined a bit to improve general eye-appeal). The wrap-around tinted windshields shielding driver and co-pilot are one-piece and made from thick, hi-optic acrylic. No distortion of vision here. It's also supported with substantial fabricated billet support braces at the point of walk-thru where passengers might naturally use the top of the windshield lip to steady themselves as they move about the cockpit.


At the bow, the initial walk-off point has a nice non-slip insert which is always a good idea. Then, as you step into the interior, there's a flattened step-pad which leads to another carpeted (snap-in) step-down landing area and finally one more step-down to the actual cockpit floor level. Overall, it's a comfortable and convenient boarding and debarking route for passengers.


Although you can find Cobra's hidden bimini feature on several of its other models, it's still a welcomed amenity on the 270 Python. Instead of having the bimini frame bang and rattle around on the outside of the deck as is so often the case, Cobra engineered the aluminum frame to fold-down inside the gunnels and the motor hatch closes over the top of the bimini out-of-the-way behind the rear seats.


Deck hardware also far exceeds the norm. Be sure and check-out the flip-up flush mount deck fuel fills, the integrated aft air vents for the engine compartment and the cool Eddie Marine electric/hydraulic motor hatch hinges... it's what a genuine custom boat is suppose to look like.


Storage is also a prominent agenda item for deckboats since they are usually heavily laden with passengers and lots of boating stuff. Cobra scores well in this category with ample storage areas under the seat, inside the dual helm consoles and a very roomy in-floor locker. As an extra bonus, Cobra turned the cavernous space under the fiberglass mounting boxes for the driver and co-pilot bucket seats into stowage as well. In fact, this space appears to have been designed to accommodate a couple of handy 24-beverage soft-sided coolers to perfection.


For those not familiar with Cobra build techniques, most of their larger models feature micro-lam full length hull stringers and balsa core reinforcement. The 270 Python also is a one-hundred percent vinyl ester resin boat with an assortment of bi-directional mat and cloth. Already mentioned, this particular Python was completely capped from bow to transom, and exceptionally well done. The gelcoat color scheme uses a luxurious-looking pearl silver base with a tasteful measure of flake and orange, blue and lime accent graphics. The black pinstripes do make the graphics pop, however the pins could be a tad sharper if you really wanted to get picky.

In the interior, Cobra stepped up its game by utilizing the ultra-plush Alcantara upholstery fabric for the seat covering. If you're not familiar with Alcantara, it is a composite material made up of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane which has both the look and feel of genuine suede but it has far greater durability and stain resistance than the real thing. Alcantara has become a popular fabric used for the interior of private jets and extreme high-end automobiles. Without question, it did make the 270 Python interior striking and unique, moving it a little further out of the conventional deckboat realm and into the custom performance sportboat category.


At the helm, Cobra fully intends that a Mercury Vessel View 7 digital monitor occupies the center position on the elevated instrumentation pod flanked by a Livorsi Monster GPS speedo and tach left and right. The optional Isotta Carlotta steering wheel is also a nice touch and so is the IMCO hydraulic/tilt helm. Dual lever controls for shift and throttle are located in the recessed starboard-side gunnel. Depending on your arm length, the controls are generally well placed. What is cool, is another pair of Livorsi Monster GPS speedos present for rear seat passengers to view placed in the gunnel cavities just behind the two bucket seats.


From a driver's perspective, the 270 Python was comfort personified. Instrumentation was right at eye level and no obstructions. Visibility through the wrap-around acrylic windshield was neither distorted or blocked.

Proportionately, the inside of the cockpit, fore and aft felt right. The bow area appears to be especially roomy and because the hull has above average freeboard for a deckboat, you feel as though you're seated more deeply into the cockpit rather than on top of it. The aft bench across the back is definitely an adult three-seater plus room for walk-way access on the starboard side to the stern integrated swim platform. Be sure to check-out the styling of the wrap-around transom while you're back there, it's unique, sexy and functional all at the same time.

Making things really sanitary in the engine compartment is the optional silver/gray gelcoat finish and a first rate job of rigging. Wiring and hoses are cleanly routed and well supported using stainless steel adels. The only thing that seemed a little out of place was the plastic battery box holder. As for engine service access, no problem there, the Mercury Racing big-block package had plenty of tool-maneuvering space on both sides with no interference.


Power for the first new 270 Python out-of-the-mold was Merc's 565, the newest and largest naturally aspirated offering from the Racing division. Making it even more intriguing was the fact that it was coupled to a Bravo ITS system which positions the propeller about one-foot further behind the transom than a conventional Bravo set-up. The drive unit itself was also not stock. It was an XR Sportmaster (longer torpedo than a standard Bravo XR, designed for hulls capable of top speeds in excess of 90 mph). The question is, what does the ITS and XR Sportmaster add to the 270 Python's performance equation given this engine choice?

The ITS, because of its set-back, does deliver more potential trim leverage and that was evident on take-off as the launch attitude of the 270 remained remarkably level with the drive tucked nearly full under. As on plane speed increased, it was important that the trim be repositioned to a neutral level, and then gradually nudged into the positive trim range as speed increased. The hull responds nicely as the bow lifts and water breaks right at the CG point (just slightly behind the helm station) at about 50 mph. Was the Sportmaster gearcase a plus compared to a standard Bravo unit? In this case it was hard to evaluate since we weren't running that close to triple digit speed numbers. If we were, the Sportmaster option would be a wise choice.


Going strictly by the numbers, the 270 Python combination of engine, drive, and propeller (a Bravo I labbed, 30 pitch) is almost dead-on. The acceleration is solid right up to 80 mph, then those last 6-7 miles an hour come slowly as might be expected when swinging a 30 pitch prop. For the record, top speed on radar was 86.4 mph at 5,280 rpm and a commendable 87% propeller efficiency factor. If you were willing to sacrifice a couple of miles an hour on the top end for more low and mid-range punch (especially when hauling around a boat-load of passengers, extra gear and a topped-off load of fuel), propping with a 28 pitch is probably going to be your best all-around wheel where rpms are likely to max out right at the 5,400 Merc redline.


If you study the bottom configuration of the 270 Python, it's similar but not identical to its successful 260 Venom air-entrapment models. It's got triple-step sponsons and a stepped vee center pod that flattens to a no-deadrise pad a couple of feet from the stern. Ride attitude is good in the mid-range needing only moderate amounts of positive trim angle for the hull to take a nice set. At 60 mph and above, adding a little additional positive trim encouraged the 270 to start packing air and begin reacting like modified tunnel with very steady tracking. As the tachometer climbed close to 5,000 rpm, we were just a tick less than 80 mph. The last 300-400 rpm to full throttle were important as they added about six extra miles an hour to the top end. Getting there took 20 to 30 seconds, but it was worth it.


Was Python 270 hull number one completely dialed-in at full throttle? Close, but not quite. As is so often the case with air-entrapment hulls, unless the set-up is absolutely optimized, you may encounter a measure of porpoise in the 75 to 85 mph transition range. It's a common trait among many brands of this general hull type. However, skillful manipulation with the trim button was able to negate some of the porpoise motion but not all as the GPS registered consistent mid to upper 80 mile an hour top-end numbers with approximately a one-quarter fuel load. Given that this was the first 270 to hit the water, Cobra was still in the process of refining the total performance package when it arrived at our tests. We hope to get an opportunity to run a future model and comment on a second-look impression at a later date.

Although air-entrapment hulls are generally most comfortable when they are pointed in a straight line, cornering is also an important consideration too, especially for deckboats that are primarily used for purely recreational purposes. No surprises here, however, the 270 Python got above average to excellent marks during aggressive slalom exercises as well as a variety of turns ranging from snug 180s to 60 mile an hour sweepers. Cornering was flat, absent of stern slide, forward sponson grab or propeller ventilation. Overall, a confident feeling that driver and passengers will appreciate and enjoy driving.


Checking out the Cobra sell-sheet, this particular 270 Python had approximately $77,000 worth of optional upgrades over the base model which comes with a stock Mercury 8.2 MAG ETC (380 HP) and standard Bravo One drive for $107,900 (including trailer). Without question, 270 Python number one was a full throw-down show stopper featuring the best of everything that Cobra could think of. Makes you kind of wonder what Cobra will do for an encore in the future.


Manufacturer: Cobra Performance Boats
Model: 270 Python
Hull type: Air-entrapment deckboat
Length (centerline w/swim platform): 28'
Beam: 104"
Deadrise at transom: N/A
Weight (approx. total as tested): 5,000 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 90 gal.
Price (base suggested retail, with trailer): $107,900
Price (as tested): $185,000


Mercury 8.2 MAG ECT/Bravo 1, multiple gelcoat colors/graphics, hand lamination balsa core construction, Fiberglass interior floor liner, all thru-bolted S/S fasteners, fusion-coated billet aluminum hardware, Autometer gauges, dual batteries w/isolator switch, LED interior lighting, electric engine hatch actuators, integrated bow and stern swim platforms, Alpine CD stereo w/six speakers, triple-stitched marine upholstery, four quick-pin cleats, boarding ladder, storage enclosures, three automatic bilge pumps, dual lever controls, hideaway bimini top, dual soft coolers, billet glove box, 12 fusion-coated cup holders, wrap-around acrylic windshield, Extreme tandem axle trailer.


Mercury Racing 565/Bravo XR Sportmaster Drive, Mercury integrated transom system (ITS), IMCO hydraulic steering w/tilt helm, Mercury Vessel View 7, fully capped hull/deck, custom gelcoat w/full metal flake, audio upgrade (4 Alpine 12" woofers, 8 Alpine 6.5" speakers0, Alpine Bluetooth head unit, 2 Livorsi Monster GPS speedos for aft passengers, Lab finished propeller, billet drive shower, gelcoated engine compartment, hydraulic engine hatch hinges, Isotta Carlotta steering wheel, snap-in carpet kit, Alcantara upholstery fabric, cup holder LED mood lighting, and bow entry foot rinse. Other options available upon customer request.


Manufacturer (engine): Mercury Racing 565
Number of engines: one
Cylinder type: V-8
Cubic inch displacement: 533 c.i.
Max rated PSHP @ RPM: 565HP @ 5400 rpm
Propulsion type: Bravo XR Sportmaster gearcase
Gear ratio: 1.50:1
Propeller make: Mercury Bravo 1
Propeller blades: four
Propeller diameter x pitch: 15.562" x 30"

Top speed @ Max RPM (radar): 86.4 mph @ 5280
Top speed @ Max RPM (GPS): 86.3 mph @ 5280


0-30 mph: 7.88 seconds
30-50mph: 6.83 seconds
50- WOT: 16.77 seconds


RPM @ Speed and PEF (propeller efficiency factor)

1000rpm @ 5.2 mph = 27%
2000rpm @ 14.2 mph = 37%
3000rpm @ 32.4 mph = 56%
3500rpm @ 43.7 mph = 65%
4000rpm @ 56.7 mph = 74%
4500rpm @ 65.3 mph = 77%
5000rpm @ 78.8 mph = 83%
WOT: 5280 rpm = 86.4mph = 87%


SCORE CARD (subjective ratings/opinions by test team)

LEVEL 1 (rating scale, 1=least, 10=best)

Hull/mold: 10.0 (excellent new tooling with fresh styling approach)
Construction: 9.5 (solid throughout, very nice fiberglass innerliner)
Rigging/installation: 9.5 (no corners cut on this installation)
Interior/upholstery: 10.0 (bold use of the Alcantara fabric, matches the modern, luxurious interior theme)
Innovations/unique features: 9.0 (taking deckboat styling to a new dimension, love the attention to detail, especially the integration of custom hardware, check-out the cool transom)
Driveability: 9.0 (as comfortable as it is good looking)
Attitude/set: 7.5 (easy to drive, still dialing-in that full-throttle set-up)
Turning/slalom/handling: 9.0 (no surprises here, and that's a good thing)
Acceleration (low speed): 9.0 (Merc 565 delivers ample bottom-end punch)
Acceleration (mid-range): 9.0 (good throttle response, prop nicely hooked-up)
Acceleration (high end): 8.0 (30 pitch prop takes some time/space to find the redline)
Performance (low speed): 9.0 (no intimidation factor here, good low speed manners)
Performance (mid-range): 9.5 (always feels ready to go, and under total control)
Performance (high end): 9.0 (a fun ride for all on-board, predictable and stable)
Suitable purpose/function: 9.0 (styling doesn?t sacrifice essential deckboat practicality)

LEVEL 2 (rating scale, 1=least, 5=best)

Gelcoat/graphics: 5.0 (bold colors, great design and tasteful use of flake, a winning combination)
Helm/instrumentation: 4.5 (get acquainted with what helms' will look like for a long time to come)
Comfort/ergonomics: 4.5 (sit down and settle back, just like your corporate jet)
Amenities/storage: 5.0 (you can never have too much)
Engine serviceability: 5.0 (rigged clean, no mysteries in this engine compartment)
Cockpit noise level: 4.0 (about what you'd expect with 565 HP and headers under the hatch)
Cockpit wind factor: 4.0 (breezy in the bow, nice wrap-around protection for those in the cockpit)
Appropriate power: 4.5 (comfortable with 380 HP up to how fast do you want to go)
Tracking: 5.0 (if you can't hold a straight line, let someone else drive)
Lateral stability: 5.0 (no rock, no roll)

SCORECARD TALLY: 182.0 out of a possible 200 max

To read what the members of RDP are saying about this boat and this review click HERE to visit the thread in our forums.


Cobra Performance Boats
5109 Holt Blvd.
Montclair, CA 91763
(909) 482-0047

Written By Bob Brown
Dry Land Evaluation : Chris Hamlin of Prestige Marine, Aaron Fluent of Absolute Speed and Marine
Photos by : Dusty Wooddell (Primary) / Andrew Ruzek (Secondary) / Bob Brown (Back Up)