With its rollcage and tenacious-looking matt-black shell, does the XO DFNDR live up to its road going counterpart?
Ordinarily, if I were about to get behind the wheel of a boat of this size in these conditions, I would be making my excuses and rescheduling, but there’s no way the XO DFNDR is going to shirk a challenge.
How can it? With a black, spotlight-fringed cage protecting the four helm seats, a jerrycan lashed to the forward end, suspension seats for helmsman and navigator and a snorkel sprouting from the deck, if there was ever a boat to take on what’s waiting outside the shelter of the harbour, it’s this.
The looks aren’t a total gimmick, either. That cage can be enclosed by canopies and heated (hence the snorkel, which is actually the exhaust for the Webasto heating and not purely aesthetic) to keep you toasty on windy winter adventures.
The similarities to Land Rover’s iconic 4×4 (in looks and name) are hard to ignore and sitting at the chest-high wheel, it even feels like you’re driving a Defender. An upright, unfussy dash topped with a stubby windscreen and the throaty grumble of a pair of 4-cylinder Mercury 200hp outboards provide a suitably chattery backing track.
There are plans to tweak some of the details here, like reducing the height of the lowest edge of the canopies so you don’t trip on them as you step into the helm seats, and covering the inside of the frame with some soft material in case the occupants accidently bang their heads.
The hull is the same as the regular XO 250, hewn from aluminium and topped with a GRP deck that feels a little more user friendly than the hard-edged all-aluminium interior of the likes of the Anytec 747. The difference between this and the 250 is that the motors are mounted further aft on a transom bracket and you can have twin engines.
It’s far from luxurious, though, the only creature comforts being some shock-absorbing seats for the lucky pair who are sitting at the helm and a very large dry storage area beneath the foredeck whose lid can be used as a sunpad.