TEXT BY FREDDY FOOTE
Having tested a number of Southern Boat’s over the years, it had been a while since we had let writer Freddy Foote loose on one. We sent him out to look at one of their popular models, the Southern XF 676 for a trip down memory lane.
It had been a number of years since I had tested a Southern. From memory, they had always been a popular hardtop model on the market, with a great finish, good performance when it counted and a diverse range of sizes to suits everyone’s needs.
The company in recent years had gone through different ownership hands and a few tweaks in design, but now has stronger ownership, whilst the brand itself retains its core strengths.
Getting to experience the new generation of Southern Boats for the first time, I was testing the Southern XF 676 and also the much large XP 896 which you can read about in the September/October issue our sister publication Pacific Powerboat Magazine.
The company has a small yet strong dealer network, with Queenstown Marine retailing the brand in the deep south, Boat City in Wellington handling the lower north island and upper south, while Family Boats in Auckland handles northern sales.
The 676 comes in two model configurations. The XF 676 comes with and open cabin bulkhead and a more fishing focus, with a single seat pedestal at the helm, a nyalic finish and vinyl hull wrap as an option. The XP 676 comes with a full cabin bulkhead and lockable sliding door as well as a full paint scheme, carpet, dual pedestal king/queen seats and an overall high level of finish.
This particular boat came from Southern’s Auckland dealer Family Boats and as it sits is a standard package, but has everything you would possibly want in a boat. Once aboard, the level of design and appointment is quite evident. The boat visually is well balanced with a good split between cockpit and cabin size compared to the overall length of the boat itself.
Up front in the open cabin, a large vee berth converts to a double with the addition of an infill. The cabin is fully lined with carpet giving a warm feel, and has storage available underneath the bunks as well as side shelves for extra storage. There is a provision for fitting an electric toilet, and if you choose that, a privacy curtain might be a nice idea too.
Above, a large hatch opens to the foredeck where a Maxwell winch takes care of anchoring.
At the helm, seating is made up of a pedestal seat, mounted on a base with storage underneath. The seating position gives the skipper a great-unobstructed view forward through the windscreen. Standing there is plenty of headroom and more, so the very tallest among us will be able to stand to drive very easily. What I loved was that the extended headroom inside the hardtop didn’t interfere with the overall profile and look of the boat.
The dash itself is neatly finished with a Raymarine 9” cSeries GPS/Sounder, whilst a Raymarine VHF Radio, switch panel and Maxwell anchor winch controls are located below alongside the steering wheel.
Though a footrest wasn’t fitted on our test boat, it is an option. As this is a stock boat, Family Boat’s elect to wait on fitting one until a buyer indicates their preference on positioning. Clever thinking and shows attention to detail.
Either side of the helm area are handy and convenient cubbyholes for storing keys, phones and the likes.
Over to the port side, seating is made up of a pedestal seat mounted on a base with storage underneath. However, this side gets an aft facing passenger seat as well. Between the seats, there is an under floor storage locker, ideal for dive bottles and wet gear.
The roomy cockpit has high gunwales with thigh padding to assist anglers. Carpeted cockpit shelving takes care of storage for rods; additional rod storage is located above via the rocket launcher as well as in the coamings and at the bait station aft.
A walk-through in the starboard corner gives spacious access to the boarding platform and accompanying dive ladder and can easily be shut off by inserting the gate. A wash down house for the cockpit is also located here, allowing quick and easy cleanup of the tread plate cockpit.
Over to port, and built into the transom section is a sizeable live bait tank with viewing window. Underneath is a large storage area, which can easily accommodate a 56L Icey Tek bin. This is a great use of the area, providing storage, whilst being able to further free up cockpit space when needed.
In the centre of the transom are two lockers which provide storage for various items, whilst below is housed the onboard systems for engines, fuel filters, pumps and batteries.
Pick Your Power
The standard and minimum power rating for the 676 hull is 150hp, as we saw on this version, with Yamaha’s four-stroke variant fitted. However, they hull will happily handle up to 200hp outboards.
Alternatively you can specify a diesel sterndrive, of which Southern’s first diesel sterndrive 716 is near completion. To be powered by a Hyundai SeasAll D170 2.2 litre turbocharged Common Rail Direct injection (CRDi) engine, the boat will be the subject of a performance comparison in an upcoming issue.
But back to the 150 Yamaha four-stroke. Overall it was a great match for the hull and the economy figures were quite good. At 4000rpm and 28.5mph on the GPS, fuel burn was 26lph. At a trolling speed of 8mph or 7 knots and 1500rpm, the fuel burn was down to 4.6lph.
Punch out of the hole with the 150 Yamaha was great and helped propel the 676 to a top speed of 42mph @ 5800rpm. Fuel supply for the 150hp Yamaha comes via a 200-litre fuel tank.
The Yamaha was nice and quiet too, even with the hard top configuration, which tends to trap sound a bit. However in this case two of us were able to converse quite normally whilst underway.
The hull is rated for outboards up to 200hp, but I don’t see the need to fit one. Even with the boat loaded up with gear and passengers, I would felt the 150hp option was adequate, not to mention the premium price you’ll pay for that extra 50 horse.
We experienced some fairly typical Auckland conditions on the day of our test, with an incoming tide and wind presenting some rough waters. The kind of waters that you usually face on your return to the ramp after a great day on the water. The 676 hull delivered a great ride, pushing through the chop very easily.
Our test boat wasn’t fitted with trim tabs, they come as an option. I would suggest they should be standard on any hardtop. However, we trimmed the boat the old fashioned way in the side on and quartering seas by just moving a passenger towards the centre or side of the boat.
Although the 676 has a big feel about it, it’s, in fact, quite the opposite and weighs in at just 1900kg on the trailer. The hull of the 676 is constructed from 5mm aluminum and the sides out of 4mm. The hardtop section above is resin infused which gives the boat the strength it needs without a whole lot of weight.
Overall, the XF 676 is pitched as a ‘more basic’ fishing version of the XP model of the same size. However, when you glance over the boat, there is nothing basic or sparse about it. It has everything you could want and more.
Packages for the XF 676 start at $99,990 with a Yamaha 150hp four-stroke outboard. Opting for a larger horsepower motor pushes the package up over the $100,000 mark
Having spent a morning aboard the XF 676, I loved it. A great finish, loads of features and I’m a real fan of the vinyl wrapped hull. Great to see that a boat from Southern has not lost any of its appeal and in fact is probably now better than ever.
- Make & model: Southern XF 676
- Manufacturer: Southern Boats
- Priced from: $99,990
- Price as tested: $99,990
- Type: Hardtop
- Construction: 5mm/4mm Aluminium
- LOA: 6.75m
- Beam: 2.45m
- Deadrise: 20 degree
- Trailerable weight: 1900kg
- Test Power: 150hp Yamaha
- Propeller: 17″ Yamaha Reliance
- Power Options: Outboard or diesel sterndrive
- HP Range: 150-200hp
- Fuel capacity: 200L
- Trailer: Custom