XO DFNDR 9 yacht tour: The Swiss Army knife of the boating world

At the 2021 Southampton Boat Show, MBY deputy editor Jack Haines took the chance to tour the XO DFNDR 9, which was making its global debut.

While it may seem blindingly cliched to compare XO’s evolution of its DFNDR model to what Land Rover has done with its own legendary Defender, it’s hard to ignore the comparison.

Like the road-going variant, XO’s original DFNDR was charming and very capable but somewhat compromised and crude to live with day-to-day.

The DFNDR 9, as with JLR’s comfortable, modern and technology packed modern Defender iteration, is a totally different proposition and proved to be one of the most eye-catching and versatile boats on display at the 2021 Southampton Boat Show.

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Based on the 250, does the XO DFNDR offer anything more than some fancy bodywork and cool gadgets? Jack Haines

Like the previous boat – and all XO boats, in fact – the 9 has a military-grade aluminium deep vee hull mated to a fibreglass deck. Propulsion is supplied by outboards, either single 300hp or 400hp Mercury Verados, or twin 225hp V6 outboards.

The twins will top out at 55 knots and reportedly burn just under 1.8 litres per nautical mile at 30 knots; the single 300hp outboard – good for 40 knots – will burn just 1.4 litres per nautical mile at 28 knots.

We know XOs can perform but the big difference here is the clever deck layout. As standard, the wheelhouse is open-sided with panels that zip in and out but sliding side doors are an option, which transform the DFNDR into a true year-round cruising machine.

Alternatively, you can open the doors and roof hatch and flip the aft bench to face into the cockpit to create an outdoor dinette or drop the table and add cushions to make a double sun pad.

Below there is a separate heads – albeit one that is quite short on space – and a double vee-berth. There is direct access via a forward hatch, which allows people to get down into the cabin without having to go through the wheelhouse.

Team this functionality in a sub-30ft shell with XO’s reputation for sea-keeping and you have a pretty tempting proposition.

XO DFNDR 9 specifications

LOA: 28ft 2in (8.6m)
Beam: 8ft 5in (2.6m)
Engines: Twin Mercury 225hp outboard
Top speed: 55 knots
Starting price: £140,000 (inc. VAT)


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