Fairline Targa 48 Review

Issue: January 2001

It is hard to imagine how a country that is more often than not shrouded in fog and battered by Atlantic and North Sea gales can produce boats so perfect for sun-filled and fun-filled days afloat. But of all the European manufacturers – and more specifically the Italians who are renowned for their so-called Mediterranean style – few come close to epitomising the leisurely outdoor lifestyle than the Brits.

The grandest of luxury and comfort, combined with pure sportsboat performance, is encapsulated in the Fairline range.

These boats are in such demand throughout the world that Australian distributor Squadron Boat Sales often faces a lengthy wait for new models to launch. Consequently, any new Fairline arrival is akin to a royal visit. With the stunning Targa 48, subject of this test, Squadron Boat Sales found it necessary to provide an invitation-only, on-water viewing day for the many customers who had expressed interest.

The Targa epitomises the lifestyle, quality and performance that is to be found only in a true Mediterranean-style sportscruiser. Its price tag nudges the magic million-dollar mark but for that money, this boat provides quality and class wherever you care to look.

I could rave on about the quality of the interior joinery and how that quality doesn’t stop at the doors or hatches; or the sophistication of the high gloss finish that is rarely found in residential or other building work, let alone out on the water. But suffice to say no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of quality.

Look inside the cupboards and lockers, get into the engine bay and see how every piece of electrical, plumbing or other service component is neatly set-out, securely fixed and of top quality, and you will quickly appreciate the care and workmanship that go into these production boats.

When I get to test boats of this calibre, I tend to get extremely finicky and very particular in my evaluation, looking for even the most minute flaw or shortcoming on which to hang some comment. But there is no such flaw to be found on the Targa 48.

It may not be your style of boat, and it may be out of most people’s budget, but when it comes to refined and sophisticated boating and quality engineering, this is one that stands way out ahead of the rest. A sportscruiser with a cruise range of almost 300 nautical miles at 16 to 20 knots, the Targa 48 will comfortably accommodate up to six people for any extended period or long range cruise.

There is every necessary convenience, and more. The berths are very generous and well appointed, with abundant storage and hanging lockers and adequate privacy for all passengers. A 24,000 BTU air-conditioning system maintains a comfortable temperature below deck.

As a reflection of the various lifestyles that this boat promotes, there are two galleys. The conventional below-deck galley is equipped to serve up full course meals for its cruising compliment, though six people may find table space a bit limited.

With so much emphasis placed on an outdoor lifestyle and use of the extensive cockpit and its facilities, the cockpit galley is a delight. It provides the usual wet-bar facilities plus ice-maker, refrigerator, and choice of ceramic two-burner cooktop or electric hot plate and griddle.

The design and layout of the cockpit appears to have covered just about all the bases when it comes down to function and operation. From the simple but well set-out helm console, to the lounging and entertaining facilities, to the garaging for the water toys, the Fairline makes for more and better relaxation time.

An enormous rear sunlounge hinges open to provide access to a vast storage compartment. It is primarily designed to house PWCs (it will accommodate the likes of a Yamaha GP 760/1200), a small dinghy, or diving equipment.

Stored away instead of strapped across the transom, they are safe from prying eyes and thieving hands and protected from the harsh elements. As well the boarding platform incorporates a small “launching ramp” to make retrieving the dinghy or PWC an easy task.

With its beautiful raked lines, sleek profile, and a pristine white moulded finish that highlights the cool and slight green tint in the glass screen, the Fairline Targa 48 boldly displays its athletic pedigree.

This boat is so very smooth and quiet when underway and there is little to reveal that its massive twin power source is diesel not petrol. With pollution laws necessitating better controls on exhaust emissions, and the engine manufacturers making use of computer and electronic technology to operate complete engine management systems, new age marine diesel engines such as the Volvo 74P EDC are free of that tell-tale black exhaust puff.

The Volvos on the test boat were extremely impressive with their smooth, quiet operation and clear clean exhaust.

At cruise speeds the Targa is efficiently smooth and quiet and will skim effortlessly over the seas without the slightest hesitation and with the driest and most comfortable of rides you would expect. In fact, this boat cruises so easily and smoothly you need to check the GPS to reassure yourself just how fast you are actually going.

Inclusive of GST (and depending on currency exchange rate), the Targa 48 is going to set a buyer back anything from $907,000 up to $1.034million (for a boat as tested) – even more if you can think up some options or extras that have been overlooked.

This base price is inclusive of the twin 480hp Volvo diesels and would drop a little for the smaller Caterpillar 426hp models.

There won’t be a long line of buyers queuing up but those who do will have worked hard for their success and now want to enjoy all benefits and luxuries of life that they deserve. The Fairline Targa 48 represents the perfect way to enjoy the water, the outdoors or some long range coastal cruising.

While the finish and styling of the Targa 48 can’t be faulted, the performance is equally as impressive.

The twin 480hp Volvo diesels produce a top speed of close to 33 knots at 2600rpm, consuming about 200 litres of fuel per hour. Drop those revs back to around 2200 or so and you cut fuel consumption by around 45%, while cruising speed is still a very respectable and impressive 27 knots.

It’s in the 1800-2200rpm range that this boat provides optimum performance. Fuel economy is great and the cruising speed range of 20-27 knots can be maintained in just about any sea conditions.
Response to the throttle is remarkable for a boat of this size and manoeuvrability is excellent no matter the speed. With a total of 960hp, idle speed is quite fast (better than six knots at 600rpm). There is not much wash created at this speed, though, so the fast idle shouldn’t upset anyone in the no wash zones.

Although not essential for an experienced skipper, the 6hp Sleipner bow-thruster is of an enormous benefit in getting in and out of a tight mariner berth, or sneaking in alongside the dock where there is little more than a boat length of space available, or a strong cross wind.

Words by David Toyer.