As a family boat that you can take anywhere on the back of the car, the Quicksilver Activ 455 has a lot going for it… it offers a great package for anyone who doesn’t want a bigger, more cumbersome boat… used intelligently it will provide years of enjoyment on the water. For a small boat, the Quicksilver Active 455 offers a decent performance from modest horsepower.
Simon Everett tests the Quicksilver Activ 455 and uncovers a small family boat with plenty to shout about …
We can all remember our first boat – the adventures it took us on, the fish we caught, the picnics we had and the sights we saw. Best of all, though, are the memories of our first solo adventures or family days etched on our brains that will go with us to our grave. Other boats come and go, but there is only ever one first boat.
The Activ 455 is a far cry from the pram dinghy, Avon Redstart, SportYak or Cadet that so many of us cut our teeth on. Even if the Activ 455 isn’t your first boat, there are some nice features to be found that make her suitable for so many things.
The Activ range from Quicksilver is aimed at the … well … active water user. They are at the sportier end of the spectrum with a smart helm layout and optional stereo system. There is even a mobile device charging socket in the dash tray. The larger boats in the range won awards right from the moment people clapped eyes on them. The 645 was crowned ‘Motor Boat of the Year’ in 2012, so that will give you an idea of how much boat you are getting for your outlay. The Activ 455 is a good bit smaller than her award-winning sister, but she comes from the same pedigree and has similar family values.
One immediately noticeable trait across the Activ range is the very full hull. The boat seems quite blocky in shape, because the design team chose to provide the maximum amount of internal space they could within the confines of the length. To do that, they extended the beam forwards to create an unusually spacious cockpit for such a small boat. Having provided the space to carry all of ‘Rabbit’s friends and relations’, their safety had to be considered, so the freeboard is generous for the entire length. Recognising the limitation of the length, little is wasted at the stern either. There is the merest hint of a step either side of the engine, just enough to place a foot upon to haul yourself out of the water – or in the case of youngsters, stand on to dive off. It is smaller than on other craft, but it is there and is complete with a ladder to make that exit from the water even easier. At the bow there is a well-defined step between the pulpit rails for landing.
Within the extremities there is a variety of combinations on offer. The helm console is an integral part of the deck moulding and so determines the helm on the starboard side right above the planing point. The aft bench, with its three distinct seating places including that for the helm, runs right across the 6ft beam, providing plenty of space for three adults. There is no room for a table, though – the boat simply isn’t big enough. If you need, or want, a table you have to look at bigger boats. What you do get is an interior with an elegant S-shaped walkway snaking through the boat that provides a classy interest for the eye as well as a practical walkway through the boat.
The entire forward part of the cockpit can be filled and cushioned to create a full sunlounging area. It just takes two drop-in cushioned bases. For convenience, these infills stow neatly in dedicated racks, with lashing straps provided, under the seats either side forward of the helm. This solves the problem of where to keep the loose seat cushions when not in use, and the locker space is still sufficient to provide somewhere for your own picnic and gear, while under the aft seating, along with the fuel tank, are the battery and mast light.
For a small boat, the Activ 455 offers a decent performance from modest horsepower. We had one that was fitted with Mariner’s new version of their 60hp outboard and it didn’t look out of place either. Not only did it suit the boat in terms of aesthetics, it also gave her a top speed of 33 knots, so she is no slouch when pressed. The hull is refined enough to use all of that power too, being able to carve neat turns under control at full speed. Pressing too hard in a turn causes the propeller to lose its grip and cavitation results, but this is not a failing in real terms – they had to be really tight, hard-pressed turns that would be far beyond what you would do in normal boating for it to manifest itself.
As a family boat that you can take anywhere on the back of the car, the Activ 455 has a lot going for it: the safety levels provided by the secure cockpit and high freeboard; the extra space created by extending the beam so far forward; the styling, which, while modern, has a retro air about it harking back to the aft cockpit sporting boats of the 50s and 60s; and of course, the very competitive price. There is even the option of a folding canopy to cover the helm and aft seats for winter use. All in all, it offers a great package for anyone who doesn’t want a bigger, more cumbersome boat, and used intelligently it will provide years of enjoyment on the water.
RPM Speed (knots)
Fuel capacity: 25L
CE cat: C
Max. persons: 5
Max. power: 60hp
Engine options: 40hp, 50hp or 60hp
From: £14,698 (inc. VAT)
As tested with Mariner 60hp 4-stroke on trailer with sunbed extensions and tonneau: £19,250 (inc. VAT)
There is a special offer available of boat and trailer with 60hp at £14,995 (inc. VAT).
Test boat supplied by BOATSMART, Eastlands Boatyard, Coal Park Lane, Swanwick. SO31 7GW
Telephone: 01489 559842