In a break with three decades of tradition, Botnia has fitted its new Targa 25.1 with outboard engines. Jack takes a sea trial to find out how it drives
Since the dawn of Targa, Botnia has been fitting its iconic commuter boats with single or twin inboard engines and sterndrives. It’s the Targa formula and it’s been working a treat for more than 30 years.
Yet such is the clamour for outboard propulsion that even Botnia has caved and fitted its Targa 25.1 with a pair of them in a first for the shipyard. It must have been an easy decision, no doubt customer pressure played a part but outboard technology is so good that it’s a win-win, especially when you start with a blueprint as good as the Targa 25.1.
Botnia being Botnia though, it hasn’t just slapped the motors on the bathing platform and sent it off to market. The transom and aft end of the hull has been completely remodelled for the outboard version and the bathing platform split to give access down each side.
Without wishing to be unkind it’s not as if you can unbalance the aesthetic of a Targa so having the engines on the outside of the boat makes no real difference to the look and in fact they suit the boat’s boxy styling rather well. They suit the hull well, too.
The instantaneous power of petrol outboards means the Targa 25.1 GT shoots out of the hole like a startled ferret, reaching 30 knots in just 10.8 seconds and topping out at 44 knots soon after. It’s quiet, too. Our sound readings appear quite high but that’s nothing to do with the engines and more likely to do with the booming and rushing of water on the hull.
It’s easy to forget that the Targa 25.1 is just 27ft 5in (8.4m) long; its solid build and workmanlike decks making it feel larger than it is. It’s a small boat though and weighs just 3.5 tonnes so you can’t bash the waves aside in the nonchalant manner of larger Botnia models.
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Nick Burnham guides you around the Botnia Targa 27/27.1
The hull can take it because the boat is built like a missile bunker but the ride can be hard so it comes down to what the passengers can take as they’re far more likely to give in before the boat.
I’ve not tested the standard Targa 25.1 but the GT has a tendency to porpoise so attention needs to be paid to getting the outboard tilt and trim tabs in the correct position to level out the running attitude, something that would be easier if Botnia fitted trim gauges and not just rocker switches for the tabs.
A rudder indicator would be helpful too, given how much of a stretch it is to see the outboards from the helm when berthing. The rest of the dashboard is pure Targa simplicity and hard to fault. You miss a bolster action on the seat, especially given that the wheel and throttles tilt on a panel through four different angles so you can stand and drive the boat if you wish.
Practicality is not an issue and there’s a bonus on the GT because the lack of an inboard engine means the space where it usually is becomes a vast storage void, easily accessed via a gas-powered hatch in the aft deck.
The familiar forward cockpit is also decked out with storage options, including a bespoke slot for the table, and though the “outdoor” heads, accessed via a door in the front of the wheelhouse isn’t that practical in the middle of the night, it’s great in the day and a decent size.
Accommodation comes in the form of a pair of pipe berths that stretch back beneath the cockpit. It’s not luxurious but it’s comfortable enough and there’s adequate storage for extended stays on board.
The addition of outboards does nothing to water down the tough appeal of the Targa and – this is meant as a compliment – the feeling is unremarkable. In that it feels like a natural pairing, big outboards and the Targa.
Botnia will fit any brand and size of twin outboards you want within reason but these 200hp Mercs are a fine match providing smooth performance and a decent range at fast speeds. The ability to cover 150nm (with a 20% fuel reserve) at 32 knots is quite something.
Price as reviewed:
£219,300 inc VAT
If any further proof were needed that outboards are the propulsion choice of the moment, this is it.
Price from: £158,964 inc VAT
LOA: 27ft 5in (8.4m)
Beam: 9ft 5in (2.9m)
Engines: Twin 200hp Mercury outboard
Top speed: 44 knots
Fuel consumption: 42lph @ 20 knots
Fuel capacity: 420 litres