The Fairline Targa 53 Gran Turismo could be the boat to revive the Oundle yard's fortunes. How does it fair on trial? Jack Haines finds out
Fun back in Fairline
In stark contrast to the boat’s refined fast cruising nature, the 53 is an absolute hoot to chuck around.
The steering is truly wonderful, so light and direct you could be forgiven for thinking she was running on sterndrives rather than shafts.
It’s no fluke. Fairline wants to be known for making driver’s boats again rather than ‘floating caravans’ and the engaging helm is a great start.
The D11 725s are mighty power plants and provide torquey grunt from low down the rev range right to the top.
You sit very high at the 53’s helm, which is brilliant for the view forward over the bow and means it’s very easy to stand and pop your head through the sunroof, though when I sat back in the chair the top of the windscreen was directly in my line of sight, meaning I had to lean forward to see.
And because the helm is higher than the saloon’s side windows it pays to have a good look around before you initiate a tight turn.
The steering wheel is in board of the navigator seat so the skipper will have to move to let people in and out but the more central location of the helm does improve the view forward.
We wrap up the sea trial by guiding the boat into her show berth, which means me negotiating the notoriously nasty pontoon bridge before squeezing £1 million of Fairline’s new baby into her show berth with the team that painstakingly crafted and built her peering over my shoulder.
Thankfully the twin shafts and Sleipner’s superb variable speed bow and stern thrusters ease the pressure and we pirouette into the berth in a way that proves pods are not the be all and end all.
To say the Targa 53 is make or break boat for Fairline would be overly dramatic, but after a period of relative instability this boat needs to do well.
The initial signs are thoroughly encouraging with significantly improved aesthetics, muscular performance and entertaining handling.
And even with bits of trim missing and no cockpit cushions in place it was clear to see that the Fairline of old was shining through in terms of perceived quality, detailing and the use of materials.
We will reserve full judgment until we complete our full test but, for now, it looks like Fairline is back in the game.
Contact See Fairline website for dealers.
We only had a brief run on the Targa 53 and, no matter what you think of the styling or certain interior compromises, it is an undeniably talented machine out on the water. The driving experience is back in line with Fairlines of old and that is pleasing to see. We will reserve final judgement for the full test.