Barchetta 502XR

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Barchetta 502 XR

Barchetta— Italian for ‘little boat’; originally an Italian style of open 2-seater sports car that was built for racing.  Weight and wind-resistance were kept to a minimum,and any unnecessary equipment or decoration was sacrificed to performance.


It is little wonder that these little boats are so exciting to drive and ride in, with the Barchetta designer, Scott Robson, who has had successes in race boat design and ‘petrol head’ Barchetta company owner (Don Weir) and Offshore race boat competitor himself – the Barchetta 502 XR had no other choice – be a performer or be scrapped!

Among the first things one notices about the XR are the very alluring and clean lines from the bow right through to the stern. The transom area remains totally uncluttered thanks to the low mounting of Mercury’s new low-profile, canted 100hp MerCruiser Vazer sterndrive. This Barchetta/Vazer combination we believe is a world first for a GRP application – see side bar on Vazer towards the end of this article.

With a beam of about 2.2m, the XR would have to one of the beamiest 5m boats available on the market. Seating consists of a full aft lounger seat that generously accommodates three and two bolster style swivel seats. Turning the swivel seats to face backwards makes a nice relaxed seating arrangement. With the bolster seat dropped down, the windscreen deflects the wind effectively over the heads of the crew, with the bolster up there is a nice breeze and an excellent position for the skipper to view all the action whether docking at the wharf or collecting dropped skiers. The driving position felt comfortable and instrumentation was easily visible in both seating arrangements.

The large volume cockpit is fully carpeted right to the deluxe upholstered side panels that boast good-sized lined side pockets each side for storage. Other storage areas include the aft lounger seat, some space within the engine compartment, a lockable glove box (although very narrow) within the port dash console and lastly two side storage areas within the bow area.

There is good access to the bow and anchor well via the walk-through screen and large walk-through for’ard hatch, which we used with ease for beach access.

With XR sterndrive model being the prototype, Don has still to further develop some of the transom and rear deck area. He intends to give it hinged seating and a hinged top ski locker section, providing even further storage. Other options presently being worked on in the Barchetta factory for the XR include a full width moulded boarding platform, a half width platform and a retro bolt-on option with stainless rail and teak decking.


The Barchetta 502 XR is most definitely just like any sports car and many boats – you need to get to know and ‘learn the machine’. It is certainly not the fear of the 100hp on board, but more to ensure you get the maximum enjoyment out of the hull and all it has to offer. You often hear people speak of a driver’s car. Well, the Barchetta 502 XR is a driver’s boat – throw the optional 135hp 3.0 litre on board and you have a driver’s boat with a whole heap of get up and go, good for close to 55mph.

The boat, whether powered by the 100hp or 135hp, was easy to learn – simply give it plenty of throttle – and the Vazer did require plenty – once on the plane, trim out ’til the boat starts to porpoise, then pull it back in a little, you’re there trimmed to perfection cruising the seas in a stylish little sports boat.

The lower powered 100hp Vazer takes full throttle to get up on the plane, although quicker than a similar sized, lighter, alloy boat I have recently experienced powered by the same Vazer sterndrive. I put this down to the previously mentioned Scott Robson design influence. As with the 502 XC the XR retains the proven vacuum break step in the forward outer chine, designed to help release the hull free from the water much quicker when getting onto the plane. It’s subtle and not as intrusive as a full step across the bottom. The deadrise at the transom is a steep 21 degrees, which carved up the moderate chop we experienced while not causing any problems with stability at rest. The wide, down turned strakes run parallel with a double chine arrangement that provides quick lift when getting onto the plane and offers more boat in the water when at rest.

The hull handles well and is responsive. With a small amount of trim it can be hooked into hard turns with no slipping – in fact you have to remind yourself that you are only in a 5m boat, although you are quickly reminded when you come across a wave with a bit of size to it, although remaining dry at all times on our day out.


Another great 5m from this South Island Barchetta design / boatbuilding combination. An ideal replacement for the ever-popular older 14’6” runabouts that are coming up for retirement.

We found the XR to be pleasurable and entertaining boat suitable for many, powered by the Vazer – an economical unit easily managed by an older boater or those who do a bit of boating on their own, or a dependable and reassuring entry level boat for those new to boating which can be easily towed behind an average family vehicle, weighing in at under 1000kg. Throw in the 135hp MerCruiser and you have a great coastal all rounder for family picnicking, exploring, and ideal boat for skiing or wake boarding.


  • Make: Barcetta
  • Model: SXR Runabout
  • Price: $42000 (as tested)
  • Designer: Scott Robson
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Runabout
  • LOA: 5.02m
  • LOH: 4.95m
  • Beam: 2.2m
  • Deadrise: 21 degrees
  • Trailerable Wght: 950kg
  • Height on Trailer: 1.9m
  • Engine Capacity: Outboard 70-140hp Sterndrive 100 or 135hp
  • Fuel Capacity: 100L

Performance -Mercruiser Vazer @100hp

500 rpm1.8 mph
1000 rpm4.0 mph
1500 rpm4.7 mph
2000 rpm6.0 mph
2500 rpm7.0 mph
3000 rpm7.6 mph
3500 rpm13.1 mph
4000 rpm22.1 mph
4500 rpm29.0 mph
5000 rpm31.5 mph
5500 rpm36.9 mph
6000 rpm38.0 mph
6500 rpm39.4 mph

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