Watch Video test at here
We report on a versatile sports boat that offers an outstanding driving experience at a price that can’t be ignored.
Over the years, the marine industry has seen a few game-changing moments. Often these have been watershed moments in technology terms, or simply just some good old-fashioned naval architecture. Axopar’s new 22 is a case of the latter, albeit with a meticulous approach to hull design. Packing in a host of features, a new hull and a healthy price tag, this is one of the best-designed middleweight open sports boats on the market. Luckily for PBR,we were offered an exclusive pre-launch opportunity to put it through its paces for several days, prior to its premier on our PBR TV channel.
The new Axopar 22, in either Spyder or X Jobe version, is typically Axopar in looks and construction, and is the smallest boat in their range. Both models offer an open walk-around design, running on a twin-step hull. Axopar’s twin-stepped hulls have always proved predictable and efficient, and the new 22 is no exception. Extensive R&D has been carried out in the form of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), something not often found with a 22ft production boat. The end result is what you would define as a variable deep-vee hull, and it is fair to say that it has taken the ‘variable’ concept to the maximum. Starting with a mild transom deadrise of 17 degrees, this increases to 19 degrees within a few feet, before reaching 25 degrees amidships; the forward section of the hull sharpens to 40 degrees, with the forefoot sporting a dagger-like 54 degrees. You certainly can’t accuse Axopar of using an ‘off-the-shelf’ constant deep-vee hull.
Built on a template, there are variations to the layout and construction theme – more than enough to cater for the different needs this boat is likely to serve. There are four Mercury engine options: 4-cylinder 115hp, 4-cylinder 150hp, V6 175hp and V6 200hp. These engines are Mercury’s latest generation of engines, with the V6s being class leaders in terms of power to weight and efficiency. The cockpit layout comes in three forms: open with aft bench seat, U-shaped rear seating and central sun pad. There is also one very important option you can choose, rarely found in a 22-footer, namely a heads compartment. This is not a shoebox affair but a proper compartment on the front of the console, complete with either manual or electric toilet, that can accommodate a 6ft man. Like many heads compartments found in boats this size, it sits very low in the hull, utilising every centimetre of height.
The console sports a unique ‘adjustable’ windscreen that can either be used in the normal sloping ‘sporty’ mode or raised into a near-vertical ‘rough-weather’ mode, providing more protection. On this matter, though it is fair to say the adjustable windscreen works well in operation, the actual screen is a bit too flexible, considering the ‘spirited’ driving this boat is likely to be put through. As our test boats were prototypes, we understand that this should be rectified by production. The twin bucket seats, though comfortable, are taken from the Axopar 28/37, so in effect they are cruising-type seats and not the ‘race buckets’ they ideally need to be. In the hard turns this boat excels at, you do not get that lateral kidney support you could do with. If you choose to stand, you can place your feet on the angled footboard with your backside wedged against the folded-up seat bolsters, with a degree of security provided by the concave edge of the seat base. Visibility over the bow is spot on in both positions, and the ergonomics of the wheel and throttles are what you expect of a top-tier sports boat. When it comes to electronics, you have the choice of either a Simrad GO 9XSE or a GO 12XSE MFD. The dash being the size it is means you could actually fit two 12in displays, as one plotter on its own leaves a blank space needing to be filled.
When it comes to storage, this is virtually a story in itself. Starting at the bow, you get a deep anchor locker, and moving back to the foredeck reveals the hatch to a deep under-deck compartment that makes full use of the hull space below. If you do not opt for the heads, then you get a vast compartment in lieu, which like the heads also provides easy access to the wiring loom and well-laid-out fuse panel. Storage does not stop here, as beneath the cockpit sole lies a truly massive storage bay that you could virtually sleep in. If you opt for the sun pad, which runs down the centre of the cockpit, you get even more space on top of this, into which you can dump more skis and boards than you can tow.
Driving the Axopar 22
We got the chance to drive two versions: the 115hp Spyder and the 200hp X Jobe. Both boats have the same hull, but the X Jobe comes with a 200hp engine and X Jobe extras, while the Spyder comes with all engine options and whatever options you choose on top. The 115hp Spyder is a 34-knot boat, which will happily cruise at 25 knots. In terms of efficiency, the fuel consumption chart confirms what we suspected, i.e. that the bigger engine provides a better fuel burn across the planing spectrum.
The reality is that fuel efficiency will be the last thing on your mind when you enjoy this superbly soft-riding hull. As expected, construction is rock solid, which, combined with its ability to easily cut through short sharp chop, makes for a great upwind driving experience ‒ which we got on day two of our Baltic test. Running downwind, the boat is perfectly composed, picking up quickly over the waves, with no tendency to bury the nose. The stern picks up quickly, providing planing speeds down to 15 knots if needed. Consequently the boats rides very level, only requiring a moderate degree of trim out once you start going past 30 knots. Fast cruising is anything between 30 and 35 knots, which produces a frugal fuel burn. Not many petrol-powered 22ft boats are capable of 4mpg at 30 knots, while still having plenty left in reserve ‒ which can be improved upon if you have the self-restraint to drive it at 25 knots. Cynics of stepped hulls often criticise their unpredictability at speed, which can be the case with some twin-step designs, but not this one.
The steering is quick and composed, while maintaining a steady sure-footed course. You can easily throw this boat about with one hand on the wheel, while keeping a grip on the power with the other. It can perform superbly tight turns without a hint of slip or twitch ‒ you just need to remember that some of your crewmembers may not be as securely ensconced as you.
Axopar X Jobe versions
Axopar have combined with water sports specialists Jobe Sports to create two specialist models, each one with a choice of four bespoke layouts. The Revolve is offered with a white hull and neon/turquoise graphics, while the Revolve XXII is finished with a special hand-painted turquoise gelcoat. The upholstery is Silvertex and Sunbrella with Jobe detailing, and the decking is Jobe EVA decking, as fitted to the Jobe knee and wakeboards, which are part of the optional Exploration package. Both these versions come with the ‘Experience Package’ as standard. This includes a bespoke ‘Peak towable water toy’, conveniently shaped to fit exactly in the foredeck section, an Aero Yarra Teal SUP board and a very handy foredeck hammock that can be rigged from the console to the forepeak. Other options include a forepeak seat, a drop-in table, a sea scooter package and four variations in terms of aft seating. All X Jobes come with the obligatory ski pole.
In an industry where existing hulls often get tweaked or stretched to create something new, it is pleasing to see a new design whose performance on the water vindicates the R&D invested in it. As a result, I suspect the Axopar 22 will make a big impact, not just because of the point-and-shoot driving experience it offers, but because in its various guises it will appeal to a wide audience ‒ not least due to the price tags. In comparison, a 7m RIB with far less deck space, fewer features and no toilet does not stack up well against the Axopar 22.
Axopar 22 Fuel figures (Mercury flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (nmpg)
1500 5.7 4.0
2000 7.2 3.0
2500 10.7 3.2
3000 18.0 4.4
3500 24.0 4.3
4000 28.0 4.0
4500 32.2 3.8
5000 37.0 3.8
5500 39.0 3.4
5800 (WOT) 43.6 3.2
Range 175 miles with a 20% reserve at 25 knots
What we thought
Great seakeeping and handling
Solid build quality
Helm seats need more lateral security
The windscreen on the prototype was a bit too flexible for serious use
Axopar 22 Specifications
Displacement: 1200kg (with 200hp engine ‒ dry)
Power options: 115‒200 hp
Fuel capacity: 230L
RCD category: C for 7
Test engines: 200hp Mercury V6 and 115hp Mercury 4-cylinder
Axopar 22 Performance
200hp Mercury: 43.6 knots (2-way average), 70% fuel, 1 crew, sea conditions moderate
115hp Mercury: 34.1 knots (2-way average), 70% fuel, 1 crew, sea conditions moderate
22 Spyder with 150hp Mercury, Mercury VesselView upgrade, U-shaped rear seating, freshwater shower, electric toilet, Fusion stereo, dual battery, antifouled ‒ £68,000 (inc. VAT)
X Jobe Revolve with 200hp Mercury V6 and full standard Experience package ‒ £81,000 (inc. VAT)