The Element line is Bayliner’s most explicit modern day attempt to eradicate the expense, the difficulty and the complication of boating and to enable new boaters to enjoy their seasonal recreation without fear or doubt. To that end, this latest model (like the original 16-foot Element, the larger 18-foot XL model and the vast, 25-foot, pontoon-style XR7) uses Bayliner’s patented ‘M-Hull’ as the starting point. Take a look at Alex Smith's First Look Video from last year's Southampton Boat Show.
Though it sounds very exotic and bespoke, the M-Hull is really nothing new at all. It’s essentially a shallow, trihedral shaped platform – and in common with its great many forbears, it is designed to plane easily, run flat, corner without too much heel, track steadily in displacement mode and remain stable when people wander about on board. In other words, it aims to offer the novice a thoroughly accessible and unintimidating experience.
However, if the underpinnings fall neatly into line with precedent, the fit-out is something distinctly new. Because while two of the three existing Element models employ shallow, jet boat-style internal mouldings, this fourth craft heads down the altogether more useful, versatile and comfortable route of the classic centre console layout.
The benefits of the CC layout
One of the key problems I had with the original Element and the Element XL revolved around their use of fixed, inflexible seat mouldings. On the one hand, it meant that the helm station was impossible to adjust to fit anyone except those with the legs of a heron and the arms of an ape. And on the other, it meant that the vast majority of the seating was inward facing, which can be distinctly wearing when underway over anything except the smallest of ripples.
Well happily, those shallow, moulded, sideways-facing internals have been ousted here in favour of a more grown-up centre console layout. In addition to creating proper forward-facing seats for five people aft of the helm console, it generates lots of extra deck space, enabling you to make your way from the dual aft swim platforms to the forward step-through bow with much greater ease and security.
At the helm station, the benefits are even more stark. As on previous models, the two-man helm seat is positioned way too far aft to offer proper lumbar support but with its swinging backrest, it enables you to face the stern seats, creating a pleasantly inclusive five-man cockpit. The fact that the helm is located in the centre of the deck also means much better weight distribution, particularly when operating singlehanded. And you also get a more commanding driving position plus a much loftier, more protective screen, complete with a useful wraparound grabrail.
Up at the bow, the beam-forward design carries the breadth further forward than traditional day boats. That is used here to incorporate an anchor locker, some seating that can be converted into a large sundeck and a set of surprisingly spacious storage lockers. The broad lateral walkways make it very easy to reach, the elevated guardrail keeps it attractively secure and the step-through bow is an excellent development on the Element theme – enabling easy beaching and user-friendly Scandinavian-style bow-forward berthing. Of course, a bow ladder would add some extra value to this forward section but given the constraints of the hull length, there’s little to complain about here.
Back aft, there is more design intelligence in evidence. In place of the classic aft bench, the CC6 uses three distinct sections – namely, a pair of folding jump seats on either side of an elevated central storage box. This set-up provides the regular trio of seating positions but adds better access to the extended swim platforms, plus a usefully flat, grippy casting platform for fishing fans.
In short, although the CC6 uses the same hull as the 18-foot Element XL, it is better in a great many ways. True, its extra deck space and flexibility of application comes at the expense of outright seating capacity (down from eight to six), but that seating is much more versatile. The XL’s ergonomically awkward helm is also radically improved and the wet, stiff ride is likely to be usefully mitigated by the improved weight distribution and uprated helm protection. Even the modest fuel capacity has been substantially uprated, which means that if the nature of your recreation demands it, the optional 100hp or 115hp outboards make significantly more sense.
Until this point, I’d seen far more merit in the clarity of Bayliner’s Element concept than in the execution of the boats themselves. But in the form of the CC model, the potential of the Element’s core ideas seems to be experiencing its most powerful expression yet. Its layout appears to have minimised the majority of the Element’s inherent weaknesses without radically diminishing any of its innate strengths – which means that for modest coastal cruising with a spot of gentle fishing and some low-key watersports, the CC6 looks like a very serviceable runabout indeed. Previous incarnations may have been lavished with international boating awards, but the CC6 is far and away the most complete Element model to date.
Specifications: Bayliner Element CC6 review
LOA: 5.57 m
Beam: 2.29 m
Weight: 907 kg
Fuel capacity: 114 litres
Max power: 115 hp
Max people: six
Base engine: Mercury F80
Base RRP: from £24,520
Notable standard features
Two-man helm seat with swinging backrest
Gunwale storage for four rods
Forward-facing jump seats with storage
Centre console with internal storage
Pre-wired trolling motor landing
Six mooring cleats
Mercury F100 or F115 four-stroke
Bimini top with boot
Bow filler cushion
Digital depth indicator
Folding watersports arch
24V trolling motor
Lowrance Elite fish finder
Bow and stern casting platforms
Live well under front centre console cushion
For an interesting comparison, check out: De Antonio D23 Cruiser review: distinctive look