- For a couple or a young family this boat certainly makes the grade as a capable weekender …
- … up top in the cockpit is really where this boat ticks, as there is plenty of space and great commanding views.
- The steering is quick and responsive …
Four Winns V255
Greg Copp takes the Four Winns V255 for a ‘spin’ in daunting conditions off the Spanish coast, but is it a breeze to drive or is its reputation just a storm in a teacup?
Sitting in Port Ginesta marina, just south of Barcelona, things did not quite add up. There was not a hint of wind, yet over the top of the harbour wall I could see the bow of a powerboat repeatedly punching for the sky. So I clambered aboard the Four Winns V255 with a degree of trepidation, which was not helped by the blank look on the Spanish skipper’s face when I asked for a life jacket. Just in case he had misunderstood, I gesticulated, which only prompted my Spanish journalist companion to ask whether I was cold. Resigning myself to this situation, I settled down to take notes while I could, and seeing that there was no GPS or radio, I turned on my wrist-mounted Garmin and flicked the switch on my hand-held VHF.
Once out of the marina, the true reality of the situation hit me. There was a big residual rolling swell coming in from the north-east, which was furiously smashing itself against the harbour wall. To top this off, my Spanish journo friend wanted to do performance figures from 2000rpm to wide open throttle, and briefed the Spanish skipper accordingly.
Off we went, running with the weather, while my journalist friend and I tried to record figures. I had a feeling this would not run full course, as by the time we reached 30 knots it was impossible to write and the boat felt like it could self-destruct at any moment. We were flying off the swell and crashing into the back of the forward wave, which would have been fine if the helmsman had been judging it right and we had been in a Hunton or a Scorpion, but in a medium-vee family cruiser this was madness.
My partner in crime not surprisingly called a stop to his test by proxy and decided to drive himself. Nailing the throttle he banked into a tight turn, which, with a big beam sea hitting us, virtually had my elbow in the water. The V255 has a lot of height and windage in relation to its length, and this can be felt when throwing it about in rough weather like a sprightly sports boat. Soon it was my turn on the roller coaster ride, which luckily coincided with the late arrival of the photo boat. Now there was no excuse for scuttling back into the marina, which is what the other two wanted, and I got a chance to get to grips with the Vista 255.
The first thing that struck me was the superb power delivery of Volvo’s relatively new 280hp 4.3L V6 sterndrive package. This was my first time driving one, and I will confess that out of total ignorance I thought it was the Volvo 300hp 5.3L V8, which Four Winns offer as an alternative. This V6 motor packs a lot of torque – 300ft/lb maximum to be precise – and from 2000rpm puts out a very healthy 260ft/lb, making it hugely responsive. On top of this, it has a capacity to push right up through the power spectrum with ease as it has a relatively flat torque curve. Given the sea conditions, there was no way I was going to be hitting its 5800rpm redline, but its mid-range power delivery was perfect for working the boat through the rough weather.
Running into the swell was hard work for the boat – the ‘stable-vee hull’, as it is known, is designed for family cruising in relatively sane conditions, not white-knuckle wave cresting. Given the conditions, 23–25 knots at around 3200rpm was comfortable and anything above this produced complaints from my ad hoc crewmembers. Regardless, I still got a feel for this jack-of-all-trades cruiser. The steering is quick and responsive, and the boat can hold planing speed down to 16 knots at 2800rpm if need be. This latter aspect is aided by wide chine flats that run three-quarters of the hull length before they turn up towards the bow, and the fact that the engine and sterndrive only weigh 408kg. This boat was fitted with the optional trim tabs, but the varying sea conditions and lack of wind did not justify the use of them. However, I will say that due to the high topsides of this boat she will lean into a beam wind, so this is an extra I would consider. Being a beamy boat, she is quite stable when crewmembers are moving about, but you don’t want to nail the throttle on a tight turn just as a large mass of swell smacks you beam on. Running with the swell up to 30 knots was bearable providing you worked the throttle quickly and had no illusions about what this boat is built for.
The cockpit is well elevated for a boat this size, so all-round visibility is good either seated or standing. A sensible feature is the pulpit gate, which, as I found out in earnest, works well when stepping off onto the high Mediterranean marina promenades. To access the forward deck you have a windscreen gate that is easy to step up to, and a lot safer than playing Spiderman on non-existent side decks. The cockpit enjoys a convertible sunbed/back seat set-up, which has a tilting backrest to convert this crucial area into an aft-facing seat – ideal for watching swimmers or skiers. The remaining seating is spread down the port side, so the only alternative forward-facing seating to the double helm seat is the convertible back bench seat. Sensibly the design uses a stainless steel radar arch, which serves to keep windage and topside weight down, as well as looking the part.
What I found unusual is that the only hob in the boat is mounted in a wet bar behind the helm. This is great if you intend to do all your cooking on one hob in the sunshine, but this is clearly unrealistic, not to mention the fact that this electric hob gets its fair share of saltwater spray. The galley has no room for this hob as to accommodate it would reduce the height of the under-top fridge, so the only cooking appliance below is a microwave. You have the option of a second fridge with the wet bar, which I would recommend as the galley fridge is not that big.
The heads is a full standing affair complete with shower, sink and toilet. The main cabin has 6ft 3in of headroom opposite the galley, but the convertible dinette/double bed is limited by the available length in this part of the boat, so has to be positioned diagonally. The cabin enjoys plenty of natural light from long rectangular portholes and deck hatches. My choice for sleeping space would be the queen-sized bed in the under-sole mid cabin, which to be honest is not really a cabin in its own right due to the open-plan design.
For a couple or a young family this boat certainly makes the grade as a capable weekender, but it is not a sports boat, which to be fair it is not designed to be. It could benefit from more internal space, but up top in the cockpit is really where this boat ticks, as there is plenty of room and great commanding views. It is fairly fast and efficient, and is one of the few boats that I do not feel needs the biggest engine option, unless you intend to have a full crew and plenty of stores. With the 280hp Volvo sterndrive engine as tested, I anticipate this boat to be good for 36 knots, with the 300hp engine pushing her to 38 knots. There are many extras, but the key ones I would advise are a bow thruster, shore power, camper cover and wet bar fridge.
What we thought
- Fast and efficient
- Quick steering
- Good commanding cockpit
- Quick and accessible engine access
- A good variety of hull colours
- Not sharp or tough enough to realistically deal with rough weather for any prolonged period of time
- Galley design not practical
- Forward double berth may be too small for some couples
- An extras list that includes nearly half the boat, and key safety items such as an anchor and fire extinguishing system
- LOA: 7.67m
- Beam: 2.55m
- Draught: 0.91m
- Transom deadrise angle: 17 degrees
- Displacement: 2810kg (with engine as tested)
- Power options: 240hp to 300hp (Volvo or MerCruiser sterndrives)
- Fuel capacity: 265 litres
- RCD category: C for 8
- Test engine: 280hp Volvo
36 knots (estimated) with 280hp V6 Volvo sterndrive
From: £88,782 (inc. VAT)
As tested: £ (inc. VAT) (euro exchange rate of 1.15)