Saving $200,000 ain't something most folks would sneeze at. So if you're considering a big express cruiser, test ride the Four Winns V458. It has the size, goodies, and technology-Volvo Penta's IPS tractor drives and a three-sided "coupe" hardtop-for loads less than same-size, comparably equipped offerings from Formula and Tiara. Is there a catch? Digest our test, then decide for yourself.
Up and Running
Designed from the start for IPS, the V458 runs great. Other boats offered with either IPS or V-drives tend to run bow high. (One notable exception is Formula's 45 Yacht, $931,200 powered like my test boat.) This is partly due to the upward lift delivered by V-drive prop thrust, which occurs because of props that turn in tunnels, instead of being mounted "on the deadrise" as they are in IPS setups, and the weight distribution requirements that result. Suffice to say, I've noticed a price to pay, in the form of excessive inclination and reliance on trim tabs when boats are sent out in the world serving two masters. However, the V458's tabs are for refining the ride, not to compensate for a hull and drive design that don't mesh. Simply put, it's a joy to run.
Palm the levers and slide 'em forward. As you crest 2400 rpm, both turbos spool, the boat planes at about 20 mph, and the running angle peaks at six degrees. You haven't laid a finger on the trim tab switches nor have you lost sight of the horizon. And you have another 1000 rpm to play with-so do it. At 3000 rpm, you're running 31.1 mph, bursting smoothly through wakes. The V458 carves turns with the casual élan of a skiboat. Economy is about a mile per gallon, netting a range of 340 miles. Accelerate from here and the V458 jumps, topping 40 mph at full throttle. Noise levels are quiet, something I've come to expect from IPS-powered boats. In fact, while leaving the slip, a pretty, fine-lined Whitehall skiff was stroking toward us. The rower, naturally, was looking where he'd been instead of where he was going. Had I not yelled to him, he would have slammed into our topsides, despite the fact that somewhere lurking deep within the V458 was a pair of in-line-6s chortling away. When a guy in a rowboat can't hear your twin diesels from 10', rest assured you're aboard a quiet boat.
I also found it uncommonly quiet while inspecting the engine room. Often, while hip-deep in big iron, I'm tsk-tsking and noting departures from ABYC guidelines like a buyer's broker. (After decades inspecting boats, chafe hazards, structural shortcuts, and hurry-up workmanship jump out at me like spooks in a carnival fun house.) But the V458's engine space shut me up. Dipsticks, filters, batteries, bilge pumps, and seacocks- the quintessential set of maintenance points-are easy to get at. Plumbing and electrical runs are chafe protected, neatly routed, labeled, and generally easy to follow. Corrosion protection, in the form of electrical bonding and the drip protection afforded by the hatch's deep gutter, is top notch. There's even a contact switch that automatically lights the engine room when you open the hatch. It's a job well done.