Pod drives have been widely available on recreational boats only since 2007, which explains why there’s still so much enthusiasm for the propulsion in new models, like the Fairline 48 Targa Open. Each year more builders test the waters, debuting new models designed around this power system. Their goal is to capture the interest of skippers who are ready to leave the noise and smell of conventional diesels behind and embrace the benefits of pod drives, which include improved fuel economy, roomier accommodations, and the joy of piloting with a joystick. (No more nagging concerns about crashing into a dock.)

And even though some recent research shows pod drives can require more maintenance (and the money to get it done) than conventional shafts, boat owners still eagerly anticipate the introduction of new boats so equipped.

fairline 48 targa open

In some ways, models like the Fairline 48 Targa Open represent a new breed, especially for those who have been cruising for decades with straight inboards.

Thus, longtime fans of Fairline boats—a decidedly premium build with a proven reputation on international waters for performance and seaworthiness—will be intrigued with the 48 Targa. In addition to a Volvo IPS system, this cruiser with sporty-sexy lines is the first from the company to be constructed with resin-infusion. That construction process efficiently minimizes weight while maintaining strength, to create a boat built tough for real cruising yet nimble enough to raise a few eyebrows when the speedo hits 32 knots at wide-open throttle. Weight savings are gained elsewhere, too; the windows, for instance, are not glass but acrylic. In the end, says Fairline, the 48 is 25 percent lighter than it would have been if constructed with traditional methods and materials.

For this model, Fairline partnered with J&J, a division of the Seaway group in Slovenia, which designed the new hull and engineered the boat’s high-tech construction. The hull is more than a foot wider than the running bottom on the old Targa 47. The beamy hull adds a lot more volume inside. The pod drives also do their part to stretch the living spaces. If you’re familiar with pod drives, you know they’re installed farther aft than conventional propulsion and thus free up more usable space.

On the 48, those extra feet and inches are put to good use. Notable here is the big stateroom amidships, which is not something you’ll find on just any sport cruiser under 50 feet. It’s a competitive advantage for the 48, a two-cabin boat (the guest stateroom is forward) with a pair of ensuite heads. Between the cabins is a lower saloon that can be converted to a third cabin. To port of the saloon is a home-style galley.

pod drives

The use of pod drives opens up more available space belowdecks.

While accommodations inside are well done, no cruiser worth his salt wants to burn too much daylight snacking and napping below, particularly on a boat like the 48 with its five-star cockpit. There’s plenty of seating in lounges set under the hardtop (an electric Bimini shades the cockpit) and there’s room for others to kick back on a big sunpad aft. In true Fairline fashion, there are slick design details here, too, including a cantilvered folding cockpit table that stows away under a settee cushion. And at the transom, a big tender garage has a door that lifts easily on elegant hydraulic hinges.
Deadrise19 degrees
Displacement12.79 tons
Fuel capacity370 gal.
Water capacity116 gal.

The 48 Open looks as modern moving through the water as its engineering specs look on paper, and as you might expect, that kind of contemporary cool comes at a cost. The base price is near $870,000, and that really is for a base boat. While there are a good number of features on the standard equipment list, the options are numerous, to the point where some critics sniff this boat is somewhat minimalist. Yes, you’ll have to pay for the really cool stuff, like Recaro helm seats and the submersible swim platform. Fortunately, one of the swankiest features comes without an up-charge, and you can see it in action in our 48 Targa First Look Video: the huge roll-back convertible top that gives the 48 Open its name and lends a whole lot of wind-in-your-hair excitement to the experience of being aboard the boat. Which, in the long run, does seem to live up to all the buzz.

Other Choices: Those interested in the Fairline may also want to check out the Tiara 50 Coupe, which also runs with pods. Same goes for the Princess V48, another model launched recently.

See Fairline 48 Targa Open listings.

For more information, visit Fairline.

Written by: Jeanne Craig
Jeanne Craig has been covering powerboats since 1988. She spent ten years as a senior editor at Boating magazine and ten more as executive editor at Motor Boating. She’s now an independent writer based in Rowayton, Connecticut, where she’s close to the cruising grounds she most enjoys.