- It might be Glastron’s one and only cruiser but the GS 259 is an absolute beauty
- It’s no problem at all keeping the hull flat and fast, skipping across the crests and correcting any heel with a tweak on the tabs
- Our running attitude is so very good that those of us in the forward seats stay entirely dry
Glastron GS 259
Alex Smith discovers a few surprises aboard Glastron’s only dedicated cruiser.
Glastron are not exactly known for their cruisers. On the contrary, they’re far more famous for their iconic film star boats, like James Bond’s 1972 GT150, which flew over a police roadblock in Live and Let Die, or like the superb Carlson CV23HT, which Bond later used to escape a villainous fleet of Glastron SSV sports boats in the 1979 film Moonraker. They are an indisputably sexy brand, with a history defined by the kinds of sporting powerboats that make you feel like a potent and glamorous bon viveur of a man. Little wonder, then, that their modern fleet is still defined by small, dynamic sports boats …
There is, in fact, just one authentic cruiser in the Glastron range, and at just 25 feet in length, it is about as compact as a cruiser gets. It inhabits that key point in the market where the small-boat owner wants the luxury of proper overnighting facilities and space for a guest or two without incurring the burgeoning price, scale or running costs of a 30-footer. It’s such a tough trick to get right, because we, the buying public, make it so. The designers are required to cram sleeping for four, plus a downstairs galley and heads compartment, into a very compact platform without critically compromising either the looks, the external cockpit or the performance. And yet, as a small-boat specialist owned by the same company that brought us the FourWinns V255 (a boat with which the Glastron shares its underpinnings), there is every reason to approach the new GS 259 with optimism.
Working Every Inch
The cockpit is arranged around a starboard helm, which backs onto a C-shaped dinette. The walkway is offset slightly to port, alongside a bench-seat-cum-lounger that runs fore and aft along the port side, with a compact wet bar at the aft end. Behind all of that lies a very short, two-tier swim platform, which takes great pains to avoid stealing any hull length from the cockpit space. It would be easy enough to fit an extended platform if wakeboarding is your thing, but either way, in the absence of side decks, the benefits for the external living spaces are quite pronounced.
With a pair of reversible backrests, one at the helm and one on the aft bench, this remarkably spacious nine-man cockpit feels like a very sociable (and versatile) region indeed. The aft bench folds out over the swim platform to create a serviceable sun pad – and if you have no wish to retain the dining space or the driving position, you can also use the dining table as an infill and reverse the helm seat’s backrest to face aft. That basically transforms the entire starboard side of the cockpit into an unbroken sunbathing platform of around 11 feet in length.
This layout does of course mean there’s no traditional forward-facing nav seat alongside the helm – just a port lounger that faces aft or inward, allied to a forward-facing lounge position that is set back against the leading edge of the galley. On a long passage, therefore, as people naturally migrate aft, the skipper may well find himself isolated from the rest of the cockpit occupants – but given the size restrictions at play here, it’s very difficult to criticise the compromises Glastron have chosen to make.
When you head through the folding doors and down the steps into the cabin space, the layout feels quite traditional. There’s a well-proportioned convertible dinette directly ahead, a full-height galley to port, a heads compartment to starboard and a guest double, tucked behind a privacy curtain beneath the cockpit sole, with a compact access point at the back end of the galley. Aside from the heads compartment, there are no doors or bulkheads here to divide the space or swallow up valuable inches. Instead, that sense of open-plan expansiveness is maximised with pale woods and fabrics, alongside extended hull windows and multiple overhead skylights.
The primary berth itself is a large diagonal affair, which makes efficient use of the available space by extending further aft on the starboard side, right up against the forward bulkhead of the heads compartment. That squared-off bow shape, meanwhile, helps generate some decent breadth of accommodation, even in the forwardmost part of the dinette; and despite the fact that the 259 enjoys a relatively low-slung profile, the headroom in the primary traffic areas is very good indeed for a man of 6 foot. Of course, there will be those who hanker after a greater degree of privacy than curtains can provide, but if you decide you really can’t stomach your guests, you can always put them under canvas in the cockpit’s upper dinette.
The World’s Most Capable Pocket Cruiser?
Nestle into the helm position and things feel very sound. There’s a stitched brow above the primary dials on the dash to help prevent glare, and despite the fact that the compact screen is set a good distance ahead of the skipper, its capacity to deflect the elements above your head is actually very impressive. The throttle is set quite low and there’s an unusual amount of travel in the lever, but in all other regards, the helm station feels every bit as natural and intuitive as those on Glastron’s small, fast, overtly sporting powerboats.
There are some lively winds and lumpy seas around during our test, so I begin with some tentative exploratory runs – but it rapidly becomes apparent that the helming experience on the 259 is way beyond the commonplace. Despite the vertical scale, the modest waterline length and those fulsome, virtually flare-free forward quarters (all unavoidable characteristics of a small cruiser), this boat is an absolute treat to drive.
With the standard 4.5-litre MerCruiser 250 in that cavernous engine bay, we make our way to the top end of 32 knots, blithely unconcerned by the swells all around us. Into quite an aggressive head sea, where you would expect a rotund, feature-packed cruiser to incur the bulk of its handling issues, the 259 is absolutely first rate. It’s no problem at all keeping the hull flat and fast, skipping across the crests and correcting any heel with a tweak on the tabs. It’s such a compliant hull, such an easy boat to drive to the conditions, that we incur no stiff impacts at all; and despite those steep, almost contour-free hull sides, which look tailor-made for inviting water up and into the cockpit, our running attitude is so very good that those of us in the forward seats stay entirely dry. And when you spin her around to run with a following sea, or indeed across the swells, her dynamic behaviour is equally pristine.
According to Glastron’s own figures, a cruising sweet spot between 20 and 25 knots sees a range from our 265-litre fuel tank in excess of 120 nautical miles. Given the right sea conditions, that’s exactly where most cruise boaters will tend to operate – but even at the 32-knot top end, with wide-open throttle and the engine spinning at 5000rpm, you still get a range just beyond the 100-nautical mile mark. As for engine choice, there’s no doubt that this hull could happily handle an additional 50hp – and given the very accessible package price of £81,448, an extra three grand for the MerCruiser 6.2 L 300 is unlikely to be a major issue. More to the point, it only adds another 50kg or so to the equation, and all of it low down and central, so on a 2.5-tonne craft, that ought to make no real difference at all. By enabling the boat to achieve its cruising speeds at lower revs, and by increasing the vigour of the throttle response, it might well improve the all-round performance of the 259 by a useful degree. But if you can’t afford the extra outlay or you simply don’t favour the big-block V8, you shouldn’t feel short-changed. In standard form, this is already a spectacularly enjoyable driving package.
From the skipper’s perspective, it’s easy to abandon hope when you come across a compact cruiser with four berths and a proper heads and galley. Both the helming experience and the aesthetic tend to become too prosaic and baggage-laden to be any real fun. But the GS 259 is a magical little cruiser. It’s easy to drive flat and fast and it’s easy to drive well. We tried it through some aggressive lumps, we tried it with a stiff breeze on the beam, and we tried it running with and against the seas – and it excelled in every way. True, I would like some slightly neater finish here and there, plus a forward-facing nav seat and a bit more fuel. I might also replace those decorative foredeck rails with something more practical. But given how seamlessly the 259 combines authentic cruising facilities with helming dexterity and ride comfort, it would be churlish to complain. It might be Glastron’s one and only cruiser but the GS 259 is an absolute beauty.
- Superb driving experience
- Remarkable head sea ability
- Dextrous helm responses
- Sociable cockpit
- Impressive internal space
- Absence of traditional nav seat
- Aft-facing transom bench needs grab rail
- Open-plan accommodation lacks privacy
RPM Speed (kn) Fuel flow (L/h) Range (nm @ 90%)
1,000 4.0 6.0 159.0
2000 7.0 13.6 122.8
3000 12.0 34.0 84.2
3500 19.0 37.2 121.8
4000 24.0 46.5 123.1
4500 29.0 62.0 111.6
5000 32.0 76.0 100.4
- LOA: 7.7m
- Beam: 2.6m
- Weight: 2472kg
- Fuel capacity: 265 litres
- Freshwater capacity: 100 litres
- People capacity: 9
- Maximum power: 300hp
- Test engine: 4.5-litre MerCruiser 250