Home BOAT TESTS Paragon Ranger 25
Paragon Ranger 25

Paragon Ranger 25

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  • Get underway and despite a limited top end of around 33 knots, her sea manners are truly excellent.
  • Those radically acute hull angles mean plenty of heel and lots of grip in the turn, allied to a ride as soft as any I can remember.
  • … if you always fancied an authentic four-season offshore boat in open form, then there is only one serious option available to you – and that option is the Paragon Ranger 25.
  • … the new Ranger 25 is in fact as singular and distinctive to look at as any leisure boat I’ve seen in the last couple of years.

Paragon Ranger 25

Alex Smith tests the new open boat from one of Sweden’s foremost builders of four-season offshore boats …

 

Well here’s a strange and diverting thing. Riding high on the horizon as it creams a path through the Solent chop towards me is a boat I’ve been keen to test for a while. Built by Paragon Yachts (part of the Nimbus Group alongside some other pleasantly resonant names like Nimbus, Storebro and Ryds), the Ranger 25 is a Scandinavian four-season boat with a couple of very pronounced differences. Firstly, it comes wrapped in a thick, Hypalon-trimmed, foam-filled collar that looks for all the world like that of a RIB; and secondly, it comes in the form of an open boat with its conventional walk-around pilothouse unceremoniously chopped down to waist level.

 

Now while Paragon already produce a couple of four-season boats in the classical Scandinavian offshore style, what we have here is their attempt to generate something fresh – ‘the open-version Paragon’ as they call it, built as a robust, year-round tool, but tailored towards the needs of ‘those who want to experience the sea without a roof’. However paradoxical that idea might sound, there is no doubting the appeal of the boat that is now cleaving the swells in our direction. By fusing the powerful aesthetic of an offshore workboat with the open-top posturing of a summertime plaything, the new Ranger 25 is in fact as singular and distinctive to look at as any leisure boat I’ve seen in the last couple of years.


On board the al fresco Paragon

Step on board the Ranger 25 and despite its slick summer styling and open-air configuration, the powerful practicality of the finer details is immediately evident. The elevated wrap-around rail runs all the way to the aft deck where it continues unbroken around the stern quarters, penning you safely on board. You also get a heavy-duty stern anchor, a robust and well-positioned fuel filler and the standard provision both of wipers and demisting vents beneath the screen. The thick, puncture-proof, foam-collar-cum-rubbing-strake is usefully buoyant and maintenance-free; and in addition to the space-saving, extra-secure, metal roller shutters for the cabin access, you also get dedicated aft fender cages and all-over canvas covers that almost turn the Ranger into a lightweight version of the hardtop 25. Here, as on every Paragon, the guiding principle of ‘function before design’ appears to hold sway.

 

And yet, while this boat, like the rest in the fleet, was designed to be ‘roomy, practical and safe’, the absence of a roof also means the absence of some handy roof-related features. For instance, there are no rooftop grab rails to help you make your way fore and aft. And at the helm, it’s not just protection that is reduced. It also means no bank of dash dials above the screen, nor any roof brow to minimise glare – and while the canvas fittings are very good, they don’t enable the same climate control as solid bulkheads, nor as many entry and exit points as the three-door pilothouse. Despite its powerful presence and quality build, it is therefore inevitable that the open Paragon feels just that bit less practical than its pilothouse sibling.

 

Even so, as an open boat, the Ranger is in a position to maximise its assets by really nailing the layout – and that all starts in the cockpit space. In here, there’s a neat pop-up pantry at the navigator’s station, with a fridge set into its base. The seats themselves are also beautifully trimmed and ergonomically sophisticated, but, with just a pair of helm seats and a fixed, three-man aft bench, the lack of scope for reconfiguration is noticeable. Certainly, it leaves plenty of room for the single-level open deck to orbit the cockpit without interruption, but there’s nowhere to lounge full-length in the traditional open-boating fashion – and with external deck seating limited to an inset perch in the front of the coachroof and a compact teak-topped storage bin at the transom, there’s very little potential to rework the passenger’s perspective during a day out.

 

To help remedy that, I would like to see some extra versatility built into the aft bench. Perhaps it could offer a second camping berth under canvas or a fold-out sunpad either to face aft or to take advantage of the key novelty of this craft, which is, of course, its exposure to the elements. And it might also be worth repositioning the fender baskets outboard of the aft rail, freeing up the section at the forward part of the deck for a hinged bench seat or some extra storage. However, notwithstanding the rather rigid simplicity of the layout, it has to be acknowledged that, from the thick teak deck to the details of the joinery and the precision and calibre of the trim, this boat’s rightful place is plainly at the top end of the market.


The perfect sea boat?

The Ranger uses the same hull as the pilothouse 25 but it strips 124kg of elevated weight from the topsides – and in combination with an extraordinarily acute 26.5-degree deadrise, that deep centre of gravity has a very big impact on the driving experience.

 

Get underway and despite a limited top end of around 33 knots, her sea manners are truly excellent. Those radically acute hull angles mean plenty of heel and lots of grip in the turn, allied to a ride as soft as any I can remember. Despite a mix of wake and chop from a characteristically messy Solent, she is also remarkably dry, with barely a drop venturing its way inboard. At the helm, the standard 8″ Simrad chartplotter entirely fills the usable section of dash, relegating the dials to a position far too low to be usefully visible; but with otherwise excellent helm ergonomics, plus a profound solidity to the build and a hull of the most uncompromising offshore potency, this is a boat I would happily take out in some very lumpy seas.

 

In fact, to say that this is one of the softest-riding, most composed and most compliant boats you will ever drive is by no means far-fetched. Visibility is good, throttle response from the 300hp Volvo Penta D4 is usefully aggressive and the steering is finely weighted, and with a pivot point directly beneath your backside, confidence, control and accuracy couldn’t be better. The charming irony of all this is that, with the extra dash space, greater helm protection and additional grabbing points of the exiled roof, this excellent sea boat might well have been even better …


Is it worth the money?

Even in the context of the notoriously expensive Scandinavian four-season walk-around market, a base price of £141,000 for the Ranger 25 looks quite dear. After all, starting prices for comparable models from Paragon’s competitors (the Sargo 25, Targa 25.1 and Nordstar 26) are all around £27,000 cheaper. On the other hand, none of these examples is an open boat – and the price of them all could easily be elevated to near parity by means of upgrades and options. More to the point, while the use of space on these other boats is more versatile, hard-working and ingenious than the rather one-dimensional Ranger layout, the soft-riding, swell-slicing excellence of the Paragon hull is unsurpassed by anything the market has to offer. In short, then, if the concept makes sense to you, then as a serious offshore open boat the Ranger 25 has to be worth the money. Otherwise, you should take refuge (literally and figuratively) in a proven pilothouse model.


Verdict

Given that the pilothouse on the established Paragon 25 features two roof hatches and a sliding door on each of its three sides, it’s open to question whether a roofless, al fresco version is actually required at all. In my view, it probably isn’t. And by the same token, it’s also questionable whether the concept of a proper four-season boat can ever be happily reconciled with the inevitable exposure of an open layout. Again, to my mind, it probably can’t. However, if you can divorce yourself from the oddness of the concept, what we have here, even in standard guise, is a beautifully built, high-spec walk-around boat with a superb offshore hull and great looks. With that remarkably deep V, the soft ride, the responsive throttle, the game heel, the driver-friendly pivot point and the excellent weight distribution, it is a truly sublime boat to drive, even in the rough. It might not be able to match the outright practicality of its various pilothouse competitors, but if you always fancied an authentic four-season offshore boat in open form, then there is only one serious option available to you – and that option is the Paragon Ranger 25.


For

  • High-spec features as standard
  • Quality materials
  • Top-class build
  • Great handling
  • Supersoft ride
  • Fine looks

Against

  • Cramped dash
  • Limited accommodation
  • Minimal light down below
  • Lack of furniture versatility
  • Big price tag

Performance

RPM               Speed            (kn)     Fuel flow (l/h)            Range (Nm)

700                 1.2                  1.4                              246.9

1000               7.0                  3.7                              544.9

1500               12.8                11.0                            335.1

2000               19.4                25.0                            223.5

2500               24.0                30.0                            230.4

3000               27.8                42.2                            189.8

3420               33.0                57.0                            166.7


Notable standard equipment

  • Simrad 8″ chartplotter
  • ICOM VHF radio
  • Bow thruster
  • Screen demisters
  • Trim tabs
  • Stainless steel arch
  • Side-rail gates
  • Canopy for deckhouse
  • Cockpit table
  • Pantry with single hob
  • Hot-water system
  • H&C transom shower
  • Refrigerator
  • Sea toilet with holding tank
  • Antifouling (choice of three colours)
  • Fenders and warps

Specifications & Price

  • Overall length: 8.52m
  • Beam: 3.0m
  • Dry weight: 3.37kg
  • Deadrise: 26.5 degrees
  • Engine options: Volvo Penta D4-225/260/300
  • Test engine: Volvo Penta D4-300
  • Fuel capacity: 320 litres
  • Water capacity: 42 litres
  • Septic capacity: 40 litres
  • People capacity: 6
  • Berths: 2
  • CE category: B
  • Base price: From £141,776
  • Price as tested: £151,533

Contact

Offshore Powerboats

01590 677955

www.offshorepowerboats.co.uk

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