With its rollcage and tenacious-looking matt-black shell, does the XO DFNDR live up to its road going counterpart?
Out in the rough stuff
Grizzly the 200hp Mercs may be, but they don’t half provide some shove to get the DFNDR out of the hole. Engage a small amount of the throttle and it’s up on its toes like a boxer waiting to throw the first punch. And the similarities don’t end there – the deep-vee hull is alert and agile, not to mention tough.
With such a messy, unpredictable sea, I misjudge the landing and we take a couple of whacks, but the DFNDR soaks it up, wipes its brow and prepares for the next one. We’re pushing 25 knots in speeds that would have your average 25-footer down to single figures; in calm seas, the DFNDR will top out well over 40 knots.
The downside of having the twin motors is all that weight out back on a boat that tips the scales just shy of 1,500kg. It is very sensitive to trim and it takes some real attention on the tabs to get it to settle down.
On a day like this when the wave pattern is so unpredictable, this is hard work, and it’s made worse by the trim tab controls being located above the throttle so it’s almost impossible to use them without knocking the levers.
The single 300/350hp outboard option would likely improve the boat’s natural trim, be easier to handle and lose very little in terms of out-and-out speed.
There is a perfectly valid argument that XO’s own 240 Cabin and 250 are more useful boats than the DFNDR, but they don’t have the quirky charm or the sheer cool factor it possesses.
There are customers who are drawn to it simply because of the way it looks but there is at least some depth to the tough aesthetic. And, as a tool for watersports and adventure, it is brilliantly equipped. You can picture stand-up paddle boards lashed to the cage, some waterskis and a wakeboard and a day spent messing around with them.
When you’re finished, head over to the beach where the aluminium hull can be run straight up the sand without the need to anchor. Or, drop the hook and use it as a floating climbing frame.
The whole thing is built to last and to be hosed down at the end of the day without worrying about ruining precious fabrics or scratching GRP. It’s utilitarian and fit for purpose – sound familiar? The Land Rover Defender may have gone, but in the DFNDR, it has a rather special waterborne homage.
Contact Wessex Marine. Tel: +44 (0)1202 700702. Web: www.xoboats.com
Many will simply fall for the looks and others will see how pracitcal, useable and cool it is. A great perfomer but likely better suited to a single engine