With honest 3- to 4-foot seas running close together, Intrepid’s 438 Evolution delivered confidence and control at about 32 mph, the triple Mercury Racing 450R outboards revving at 4,000. Still, I wanted to see more.
Throttling back to 3,050 rpm, applying full trim tabs and full negative engine trim, the 438 Evolution stayed on plane at a super-comfortable 17 mph. Many boats force you to either drop down to trolling speed or subject yourself to slamming your way through big seas at speeds in the 20s. While the 438 Evolution’s 53 mph top speed is great, its low minimum planing speed is just as great—and just one feature I discovered about this new Intrepid.
A rough test day also allowed me to discover that the 438 Evolution’s seat cushions do not bottom out. Notably, Intrepid regularly produces custom seating options for owners. I also was able to determine that moving around the boat while underway is safe and secure. This means that handrails are well-placed, such as the one on the back of the helm seat and the bow rail that extends aft to the side-deck steps, where it can be grabbed from the cockpit. But it also means that seatbacks, consoles and other bits of accoutrements where one’s hand might fall proved solid and robustly installed. Belowdecks, the galley counters showed no sharp corners; their rounded corners make wave-induced bumps less of an issue.
Then there’s the RCG quotient: Rattles, creaks and groans were not in evidence aboard the 438 Evolution, despite the gray, whitecapped water through which I was running it. Credit the smooth ride to the latest iteration of Intrepid’s transverse step hull, optimized for efficiency, comfort and handling. Credit also goes to Intrepid’s resin-infused, PVC-cored lamination for great stiffness and strength-to-weight ratios, plus acoustic and thermal insulation. The boatbuilder’s fastidious assembly and rigging result in tight seams, properly fastened fixtures, and well-supported runs of plumbing and wire. If it’s not meant to move, it doesn’t aboard an Intrepid.
Interior and Accessories
The layout boasts a 10-by-6-foot self-bailing cockpit with a hullside dive door; in-sole stowage, including a macerated fish box; excellent access to the bilge to service pumps and through-hulls; and more. There are steps to the side decks served by grab rails on the top uprights, wide coaming bolster pads, and a lot of toe room under each gunwale. A raw-water washdown is handy. There is a grill and sink under a lid at the forward end of the cockpit to port; to starboard is an aft-facing lounge that opens electrically to reveal massive stowage. Aft, there’s an aquarium-style livewell and a folding aft bench. A sunshade extends aft to protect the cockpit at the touch of a button. Intrepid will work with individual owners and install accessories such as a hot-and-cold transom shower, a cockpit table, dive-tank racks and more. You can fish this pit as well as use it as space for diving or entertaining.
Up a step, under the hardtop, is the helm deck, with its large, portside lounge and double-wide helm seat. The raked and curvaceous windshield provided excellent protection, and I’ll add that its size and style add to the 438 Evolution’s racy look. The helm is a sculpted console showcasing a pair of large touchscreen multifunction displays and plenty of room for an admiral’s array of controls, including an engine joystick, a bow-thruster joystick, and a full complement of accessory switches. The helm seats, with flip-up bolsters and armrests, and flip-down footrests that are broad platforms, make the captain and mate feel in command.
The 438 Evolution’s cabin feels bigger, brighter and airier than most. There are hard reasons for this: Six hullside windows and a pair of fixed lights in the cabin trunk simply let in loads of light. But the signature use of many light surfaces on the vertical surfaces and overhead is offset by tastefully contrasting darker colors underfoot and for furniture. So, the head door, bulkheads and exposed cabin sides are gloss gelcoat. But the cabin sole is faux teak, the cabinet fronts at the fully equipped galley are gray, and the forward lounge, which converts to a berth, is a rich, clubby brown. Again, Intrepid will work to satisfy the decor needs of individual customers.
Aft, the stateroom was roomy with stand-up access and sitting headroom at its athwartships berth. The sole is, again, teak. Boasting two of those big hullside windows plus a skylight, it is decidedly uncavelike.
Shopping? We know of no other outboard-powered boat that delivers this kind of performance, and can fish, dive, cruise and entertain. Tiara’s 43 LE ($1,149,900 with triple Mercury Racing 450R outboards) won’t really fish or dive, but does kill it for entertaining with its foldout cockpit sides and revolving All Sports Module lounge.
Seeking a boat with sleek looks, with performance to match, and that’s ready for anything? Sea-trial an Intrepid 438 Evolution.
How We Tested
- Engine: Triple 450 hp Mercury Racing 450R
- Drive/Prop: Outboard/14.6″ x 19″ 4-blade Revolution Four stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.60:1 Fuel Load: 400 gal. Water on Board: 100 gal. Crew Weight: 400 lb.
- Tremendous ride, handling and efficiency.
- Truly versatile, this boat allows its owner to be ready for most anything.
- Elegant in design, excellent in build.
- Please add a second reading lamp to the main cabin berth.
- Sand-style nonskid on the bow works well, but molded nonskid would look better and be easier to keep clean.
Pricing and Specs
|$900,000 (as tested)
|Max Cabin Headroom:
|Twin or triple outboards of customer’s choice to 1,800 hp
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Intrepid Powerboats – Largo, Florida; 954-922-7544; intrepidpowerboats.com