- Terhi are onto something very modern and relevant with their distinctive brand of compact, efficient, easy-riding powerboats.
- The sober, self-imposed limitations of this package don’t detract in any major way from its excellence as a safe, practical little trailer boat …
- … it’s an enjoyable piece of work – and better than most boats of its size and price by quite some distance.
Terhi 475 BR
Alex Smith pays his respect to a very unassuming little plastic runabout from Terhi.
After nearly half a century and a quarter of a million boats, Terhi are in no doubt at all about what they are and what they do. Based in the fishing village of Rymättylä in south-western Finland, they might be one of the largest boatbuilders in Scandinavia, but even today, they produce just eight compact motor boat models on four hulls from 4.0 to 4.75 metres in length. Every model from this extraordinarily specialised small-boat specialist is designed and built in Finland, and the principles and processes that underpin them are just as carefully focused as the size range …
All Terhi boats are built from ABS plastic, a strong and durable material with high impact strength and very obvious suitability for affordable marine applications. To make the boat as safe, buoyant and quiet-riding as possible, two separate ABS mouldings (or in the case of the new 475, three layers of ABS plastic) are joined together and the internal cavities filled with non-absorbent polyurethane foam. And the fact that ABS is so easy to process means that Terhi are also able to factor in all kinds of complex, integrated moulding features, from recessed drainage channels to cup holders and fender baskets, without the need for the weight or expense of additional components.
However, while Terhi tend to stick to the tried-and-tested formula that has won them so many fans, the new 475 BR is in fact the first bowrider model ever released by the company. Of course, we’ve already witnessed a Twin C model at this length, and we’ve watched it become one of the best-selling boats in the whole of Finland – but while the Twin C is helmed from the aft bench, the new BR model features an authentic sports boat cockpit, with two separate helm seats and sheltered seating for up to five people aft of the consoles. Prolific though the Twin C model has been, that suggests that Terhi’s debut bowrider is designed to spread the appeal of the popular 475 to an even greater range of users.
Storage and Shelter
The first thing that strikes you when you step on board the new 475 is the remarkable depth and security of the cockpit. The freeboards are high, the guard rails are unstinting and the screens are as vast as they are steep. They also come with peripheral grab rails to aid your progress fore and aft, plus an excellent two-part central partition to keep the cockpit protected from wind blast. And to make things even cosier, there’s an all-over, Nordic-style cockpit canopy concealed behind the backrest of the aft bench, with a neat rollback section to enable you to stand up at the helm with your head in the fresh air.
The storage is also remarkable. For instance, the bow locker’s big enough for four fenders and a set of lines – and yet the inclusion of dedicated fender holders recessed into the internal cockpit lining enables you to keep this space free for any bulky gear that won’t fit in the spaces further aft. The vast majority of the storage spaces are also lockable, and there are proper rope lockers with moulded cut-outs so you can stow your lines without detaching them from their cleats. The hinged, fold-out lockers recessed into the consoles are another fine touch, bringing greater capacity, greater accessibility and a useful space in behind for the fire extinguishers – and while the lids, particularly over the aft bench, are very lightweight and flexible, the spaces are all sensibly shaped, easy to access and cleanly lined, enabling you to stow all the gear you need for a family trip with remarkable ease.
Elsewhere, the practicalities go further still. The deck furniture looks very simple but its ergonomic clarity is very pronounced, wherever you choose to sit, stand or walk. The single-level, obstruction-free decking gives you safe passage through the centre of the boat from the aft bench to the forepeak; and the bow space, which can be transformed into a sunlounger, also doubles as a very useful casting platform by simply removing the cushions. The shiny back-end mouldings are certainly in need of the same fibrous grey tread plates in evidence on the cockpit deck and at the bow, but that aside, the 475 BR is a very safe, comfy and satisfying place to spend your time.
When One Trick is Enough
Get underway and it’s immediately plain that this is going to be an easy boat to drive. The helm feels just right, and despite the short waterline length, the off-plane tracking is uncommonly stable. The protection from the elements is outstanding and yet the view through those virtually frameless screens is also superb. It gives you plenty of confidence to plant the throttle, and when we do, we hit the plane in around 7 seconds, before passing 20 knots in 11 seconds and 25 knots in 17. The top end of 27 knots takes around 23 seconds from a standstill, but that’s with three men on board and a fair bit of kit.
Now plainly, our little Honda BF50 has to work quite hard – and we see that in a hard turn at wide-open throttle, where a little bit of prop slip sees us drop from 27 to around 19 knots. But driven with a modicum of common sense, this remains a commendably efficient performer, with a fuel flow of around 0.4 litres per nautical mile at a cruising speed of between 20 and 22 knots.
It’s also a very yielding boat in terms of its ride. That’s partly down to the cockpit protection, partly to the modest speeds and partly to the relative flex of the ABS construction. Despite a moderately shallow 15-degree deadrise and a modest weight of just 390kg, it seems to offer quite a cosseting, bum-friendly ride compared to the clinical rigidity of fibreglass. And while the vigour of the impacts is pleasantly muted, so is the impact of the elements. The 475 BR keeps three people (two at the helm and one in the centre of the aft bench) warm, dry and sheltered – and that is at least one more than you would ordinarily expect on a boat of this scale.
Back at the helm, as I fiddle with the controls and encourage the boat to play, it’s notable that with any more than a couple of notches of trim, the boat begins to gently porpoise. That obviously doesn’t allow you the finest degree of control, but the natural running attitude of this boat is so very good that in truth, it rarely needs much correction. Instead, this is a simple ‘stop-or-go’ dodgem of a boat, with a hull that does its thing and does it well, making you, as the man at the helm, a slightly passive (if begrudgingly impressed) spectator.
If you want to help mitigate that sense of idle passivity, and turn this very competent conveyance into something more diverting, you can trade in the test boat’s Honda BF50 for an outboard of up to 60hp and claimed performance of up to 32 knots. The BF60 is certainly an option, but its 12kg penalty takes you within 5kg of the transom’s 115kg limit, and the £1,600 price difference is very substantial on a package like this, so I might be inclined to look instead at Suzuki’s DF60. Either way, while the eminently safe and competent 475 BR is not the last word in helming fidelity, it’s an enjoyable piece of work – and better than most boats of its size and price by quite some distance.
Terhi are onto something very modern and relevant with their distinctive brand of compact, efficient, easy-riding powerboats. Like its acclaimed sibling, the 475 BR is cleverly designed, with lots of intelligent storage solutions, a high level of security, finely judged ergonomics, wonderful shelter, remarkable all-round visibility and a driving performance entirely free of flaws. After a while at the helm, it can of course begin to feel a touch linear and monosensory, like a single-speed pushbike on an uphill incline – but don’t let that put you off. The sober, self-imposed limitations of this package don’t detract in any major way from its excellence as a safe, practical little trailer boat that a small family will find very easy to enjoy.
- Excellent storage options
- Outstanding shelter
- Great visibility
- Quirk-free handling
- Very stable off-plane tracking
- Easy and cheap to own and run
- Slippery surfaces aft
- Flimsy box lids
- The keen driver may want more
- LOA: 4.75m
- Beam: 1.75m
- Weight: 390kg
- Carrying capacity: 405kg
- People capacity: 5
- Max. power: 60hp
- Max. transom weight: 115kg
- Test engine: Honda BF50
2018 prices pending