Fast, efficient and addictive to drive, few big RIBs will match this boat’s long legs. Greg Copp reports on the latest craft to emerge from the Twisted stable …
Like the Twisted T300S that we featured in Issue 179, the T450R is a new tune on an old fiddle. However, it is a rhythm that any powerboater with a taste for life past 50 knots will find hard to ignore. The T450R is Twisted’s take on the luxury RIB, in this case the Cobra Nautique 8.7. Similarly to the super-bespoke Land Rovers that this company builds, its boats are re-engineered with a great amount of zeal. Using the Cobra as a starting point is solid bedrock, however few boats are perfect, and as any powerboat racer will tell you, time spent ‘fettling’ pays dividends.
The aft sofa provides plenty of dining and sunbathing space
This craft looks typically Cobra with its distinctive raised aft-quarter coamings, deep-set secure rear seating and the luxury bucket helm seats sitting behind the all-protecting console. In the seating and upholstery department, Twisted have followed the theme used in their 4×4 vehicles. The seats are made by Twisted, and though they are original in shape, like the rest of the boat, they are upholstered with a square matrix pattern – in the same style as a Twisted Defender Land Rover. Twisted use a tough fabric-like material similar to Silvertex, and the upholstery is actually twin-skin – as a thermo-bonded waterproof layer lies beneath the top surface. Consequently, you never get that wet-posterior feel from residual moisture lying in the seat foam that has seeped through the stitching. Though it is not easily visible, the seats have inbuilt suspension. This is not of a commercial shock mitigation standard, but it certainly makes life a lot smoother for those at the helm.
The cockpit U-shaped sofa has the same standard of upholstery as the bow seating area and front console seat – and all sit on rot-free nylon boards, as opposed to marine ply. Both the sofa and the bow seating convert to sunbeds courtesy of infill sections. A cleverly designed fold-out teak table lives under the central back section of the sofa, removing that arduous task of having to pull out a tabletop from a hidden cavity. The T450R comes fitted standard with a Hertz marine sound system with 10in subwoofer, LED deck lights and LED underwater/bow lights, while a discreetly integrated fridge opens up at deck level in the back of the helm seat console. Above the fridge are two ‘glovebox-type’ watertight storage compartments, the upper of which is fitted with two USB charging ports. When opened, the compartment hatches serve as horizontal cup holders.
The Twisted upholstery is distinctive and hard-wearing
The forward sunbed inserts live in the side lockers.
Arguably, the most significant luxury for this 29ft RIB is the heads compartment. Located in the front of the console, it is accessed by lifting up the forward helm seat. Supported by gas struts, this hidden door reveals a generous heads compartment, complete with sink. Sensibly it makes use of every possible inch of headroom by pushing its deck level down below that of the external deck. A transom shower is located in the splash well.
The hidden heads is a major bonus for a RIB.
The stainless work throughout is black powder-coated, including the LED light surrounds, cleats and ski pole. As is fast becoming one of the most popular choices for decking, soft synthetic teak runs the length of the boat, which barefoot on a hot day is a blessing. As is to be expected, the colour scheme is distinctively Twisted: the console and helm seating are painted in a super-tough 7024 graphite grey paint, while the hull is an equally robust 7045 grey. In standard form, the Hypalon tubes come in 7045 grey, though they can be ordered in graphite black. Lifting the bow seat cushion in the forepeak reveals an anchor locker fitted with a power windlass and foot controls. The internal GRP finish of this locker, as found elsewhere behind the scenes, is of a high standard.
The windlass lives under the forepeak cushion.
Behind the wheel
I have always liked Cobra’s tall helm consoles, and sensibly Twisted have seen no need to alter the console on the T450R. They have inserted their own custom black dash in which are located two Simrad NSX 9in MFDs. An AIS-equipped Simrad VHF sits on the starboard side of the console, while the throttles are sited centrally to hand, with a large binnacle steering compass just forward of them – in a position where it can be accurately read underway. If you intend to clock up some sea miles in a leisurely manner, you will likely feel inclined to sit back and enjoy the comfort of the bucket seat, and the weather protection of the console. If you want to enjoy what this boat does well, you will probably stand with your feet on the angled footboard, while leaning securely into the raised seat bolsters with a good view over the bow.
The bulk of the several hundred hours of R&D that have gone into this boat is in propulsion. This, in simple terms, is based on two aspects: Twisted’s custom-built billet engine lifters and their ‘performance-tuned’ 24in Mercury propellers. The lifters are manual not electric, so you choose what engine height you want and they are set at that level. If, at a later date, your requirements change, the engines can be moved to a different height setting. The propellers have had extensive tuning through many hours of race experience-based R&D. Our test boat had the engines set at middle height, giving a good blend of mid-range power delivery and top speed. Apparently, at the highest height setting, the T450R can reach a claimed top speed of 65 knots lightly loaded, but at the cost of lower-range power delivery.
Acceleration is impressive, as 40 knots flashes by in 7 seconds, and before you know it, you’re running at 50 knots and counting. One thing that was pointed out to me was the efficiency benefits produced by Twisted’s tuning. Running at 4000rpm at around 35 knots with a moderate amount of engine trim produced a burn rate of 82Lph. This reduced to 63Lph when the speed was increased to over 38 knots, as a result of trimming the outboards out to 50%. Efficiency claims are often made, but rarely so obviously seen. Further testing showed that this boat has an efficiency sweet spot at 32 knots, returning an impressive 2.9nmpg, but at this speed the boat is barely getting into its stride, so most skippers would likely sit at 38–40 knots if they are looking to clock up some leisurely sea miles. Once you start pushing past 45 knots with her trimmed right, the Twisted produces an impressive rooster tail, and the ride, as is typical of Cobra’s wide-beam, deep-vee, non-stepped hull, is reassuringly steady.
In the turns, the boat’s level-headed attitude pays dividends. She just hangs on steadily, producing great lean angles supported by the buoyancy of the tubes. Running through the sharpish chop of the day, I started to appreciate what the T450R is about, as the sturdy sharp-entry construction and composed attitude make driving this boat to its full potential a joy.
The top waterproof compartment houses two USB sockets
All decking is synthetic
A fridge is built into the back of the helm seat
This boat’s biggest assets are its fuel efficiency and performance, which serve to enhance its impressive driving experience. Twisted have shown what can be achieved if you are prepared to spend a good chunk of time on R&D – a lesson they have no doubt learnt from their experience in the automotive industry. The T450R has also been crafted and finished for durability, with a good amount of luxury thrown in. It is effectively bespoke out of the box, and eye-catchingly distinctive. However, its most unique aspect is probably the fact that it only has two items on the normal options list: a T-top and a Vanclaes trailer.
What we thought
- Fast, responsive, sure-footed steering
- Soft-riding hull
- Great performance
- Good fuel efficiency for a 56-knot boat
- Fantastic finish
- Virtually no extras
- It has a serious price tag, but then it is effectively a bespoke RIB in standard form.
- LOA: 8.7m
- Beam: 2.53m
- Transom deadrise angle: 26 degrees
- Displacement: 2.8 tonnes dry with engines
- Power options: Twin 225hp Mercury Verado outboards
- Fuel capacity: 400L
- Water capacity: 50L
- RCD category: B for 12
- Test engines: 2 x 225hp Mercury V6 Verados
- 56.1 knots (2-way average), sea conditions F3 to F4, crew 2, fuel 70%
- 0–40 knots in 7 seconds
- As tested: £155,000 (plus VAT) to include a colour-coded SBS trailer – demo boat special price
- For future orders: £189,000 (exc. VAT)
Twisted Marine, Brewery Quay, Island Street, Salcombe TQ8 8DP