Review: Axopar 24 T-Top Day Boat
It’s a funny thing to be told that what I believe to be one of the more clever and striking designs around is being bought for the simple utilitarian purpose of transport around our fantastic waterways. But then you realise it’s not most buyers’ first or only boat; it’s a side piece, an extension of a lifestyle. As such, its appeal beyond its primary purpose becomes important.
Whether stepping back from the Axopar 24 T-Top or moving in close for details, I’m constantly in awe of the thoughtfulness of the layout, the exacting finish and the individual looks. Like the 37 Cabin and T-Top, and the 28 Cabin I’ve been lucky enough to drive, the 24 had me instantly captivated.
If you read our reviews on the other models we have tested you’ll know the Finnish artisans who created the Axopar range started with a blank sheet and a different approach. A naval architect was involved in the hydrodynamics but more importantly – and I think a concept missing from a lot of products these days – an industrial designer was employed to work on layout and ergonomics, plus there’s that Scandinavian essence in the overall shape and lines, most evident in the axe bow.
A disadvantage of the Scandinavian design is the beam; like a lot of imported vessels, it’s over-width for non-restricted towing. A touch fuller than 2.5m at her widest, anyone towing a 24 will be subject to restrictions.
The underside of the 24 mirrors the larger models, albeit a touch smaller in all dimensions. This means twin reliefs to help separate the water from the hull when planing, aiding efficiency. Also like her big sisters she has strakes to add lift, and reverse chines for grip in turns.
There’s more to the axe bow than looks; it lengthens the overall waterline length, again boosting efficiency. Add this to the reliefs and Axopar claims an impressive 0.9 litres fuel burn per nautical mile. That’s 1.6km per litre at best cruise with the base Mercury 150 Verado outboard. With a standard 230-litre fuel tank, the 24 has the range to truly commute; Sydney’s northern beaches from Circular Quay or Balmain becomes a trip experience worth sharing, to be proud of achieving, not a burden like hours sitting in a car.
The 150hp Verado is a capable engine for the 24 T-Top but with all boats sold having been optioned to the transom’s 250hp maximum rating I knew I’d leave this test feeling that I’d missed some action.
Still, as the camera boat for last issue’s magnificent Lagoon 630 I’d watched this hull play around us en route to Wave Break Island on the Gold Coast. Initially there was nothing of peculiar interest to my eye; it looked like an Axopar, tracking straight and responding to driver input quickly and calmly, but it took me less than 30 seconds to fully realise how fuss-free the ride and handling were. Taking the helm for some play time around the Heads felt eerily familiar.
HANDLING & RIDE
I’ve now tested or been on the tests of every hull currently in production for most Cabin, Open or T-Top arrangements, and without doubt the hull design works. Comparing the 24 to the four-times heavier and half-as-long-again 37 is unfair – the 24 is a small boat so can’t have a big boat’s ability to cleave the water. It tends to feel higher on the water, lighter and more agile. The 150hp Verado was adequate but not as impressive as I’d expect a 200hp Verado would be, and oh how I would love to experience the 250hp in harmony with this hull.
We saw 34kt at wide-open throttle from the supercharged 1732cc four-stroke. That’s plenty for most but the 24 felt like it could go harder and begged for a level of thrust the 150 Verado couldn’t provide.
It’s an inspiring and confident steer – one of the best around. Don’t be put off by the axe bow; we had the 24 as the tide was running in at the Heads and anyone who knows the way the water rounds the point will appreciate the troughs that can appear. Punching the 24 into and across them, we never had the bow bite or cause concern. The hull responded to trim well. I’ll admit it took me a moment to respect and trust trimming the bow fully in when running against the tide and I dropped the hull side-on to a few crests when turning tight but after some time to adjust to how much the hull would respond to trim, it came alive and inspired confidence.
STABILITY AT REST
As mentioned, the underside mirrors the 28 and 37, with defined chines, strakes and reliefs. The strakes do a good job of helping lift, while the chines grip in turns and aid stability. Although 20 degrees of deadrise is moderate for Australian standards, and the waterline is long thanks to the axe bow, the 24 is stable at rest. It won’t beat a RIB or some flatter hulls but it sits nicely between what you’d expect from a deep-V and a flat hull.
Being a fresh design, users were perhaps better considered than more traditional designs and the outcome is a real surprise. The bow is spacious enough to take four for lunch while there are five large and supportive aft seats. But perhaps the biggest surprise was the space in the two bunks; either is capable of swallowing my 2m frame and with an infill between there’s room for three to sleep. The height under the T-Top was also good, while the walk-through to the bow is wide with easy handholds throughout. Admittedly, the open transom design combined with low sides may worry some but they never had me concerned during testing.
The helm proper is well laid-out, with USB charging and a neat factory-installed Garmin GPSMAP 7410 that’s more than capable of plotting a route home. The Mercury gauges and all the switch gear have well-planned positions, another welcome impression borne from the clean-sheet design.
The bow table option is one I’d recommend even if your 24 will be a commuter; stored and retrieved for long summer hours tucked in a remote bay, this would be heaven.
WHAT TO OPTION
The 24 T-Top doesn’t want for much and mitigates some future costs through astute design. The seating arrangement is standard and covered in quality upholstery, with the option to extend the same to the bunks. Harbour covers are included, as is the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The soft dash is standard and one of the smartest features of the helm. It’s replaceable too, perhaps for a sounder upgrade. The designers wanted to simplify the purchase process so Axopar offers the self-explanatory Toilet Package, up to a Premium Package with upgrades to soft furnishings plus the table and more cushioning for the bow. I would consider the Toilet Package, fresh water system and drawer-type fridge to complement the Premium Pack and stretch this day boat’s abilities out to 24 hours, bringing our long summer nights further into the mix.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Our test boat came in around A$153,043 but that excludes a trailer, so it can become an expensive proposition – especially if you upgrade the engine, as I’d recommend. With a 250hp Verado, expect to pay around A$145,000, again sans trailer and with only a few options. But the real point is that while there are many boats to choose from at 24 feet, there are few like the Axopar. You could consider a Boston Whaler but will pay more. The obvious competitor is a RIB, based on layout and primary purpose, but that’s like comparing a kayak with a canoe; yes both float but they go about it in different ways. You could save money and buy a locally made boat but there’s nothing like the Axopar produced here, which genuinely disappoints me.
At Trade-a-Boat we won’t tell you what to like aesthetically; we strive to demonstrate value and describe such virtues as ride and handling, but just look at it! To me, this is one of the most striking designs around for under A$500,000. Yes, the price is considerable for some, as is a new Aston Martin to most, but they share much more beyond that. Axopar gives you exclusivity, performance and a contemporary touch that was missing from our market ’til now.
- Just a pity she isn’t 5cm slimmer
Premium Package, Gamin 7410, FUSION Stereo, North Sails roof, fridge and more
PRICE AS TESTED
WEIGHT 1790kg (hull only)
MAKE/MODEL Mercury 150 Verado
TYPE Fuel-injected inline four-cylinder four-stroke
RATED HP 150
GEAR RATIO 2.08:1
The Quays Marina, 1856 Pittwater Rd,
Church Point, NSW 2105
PHONE +61 (2) 9979 6612