Southern XP 856

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Southern XP 856

The Works

By Freddy Foote

Southern Boats have always been a popular choice in the big alloy hardtop segment amongst discerning buyers. Freddy Foote checks out one of their latest release, a custom XP 856.

This Southern XP 856 was designed and built as a well appointed day boat, with the main criteria that it had to transport comfortably up to eight passengers, and have all the features onboard for diving and game fishing.

The layout was specified by the owner and having stepped aboard I could immediately see how well the whole package worked together.

“The hull is standard, but the entire layout was all custom. The owner is very happy with it¬ and so are we,” says Southern Boats General Manager, Jono Bakker.

“The 856 range has a number of configurations with enclosed and open hardtops, it all depends on what the owner wants as far as seating configuration and general appointments.”

Custom Layout

On the water, the boat visually is well balanced with a good split between cockpit and cabin size compared to its overall length.  Should you choose, you can have an enclosed hardtop, but you would loose some of the seating that this particular model has.

Forward, the generous cabin has a traditional upholstered vee berth, with a toilet located under the squab to the starboard side immediately forward to the helm bulkhead. For privacy, a canvas curtain can be zipped across. A full lock-up cabin option is also available, –a nice feature to add if you haven’t gone for the enclosed hardtop configuration.

The helm is lavishly well appointed and finished.  Centre is a large Garmin GPS Map 7412 multi-function display. Above that are the Yamaha engine instruments while to the left is the control for the Maxwell anchor winch and wiper switches. Below the helm is the VHF, stereo system and switch panels.

The helm seat is finished in leather and features a lift up bolster, with a footrest below. The dual throttles are well positioned within easy reach and a sliding window provides ventilation while underway.

The seating is made up of two large bench seats on either side, the port side seating area featuring a wooden table alongside. There is plenty of storage under both seats, with the starboard side seat insulated to keep items cold when filled with ice – more than enough room to hold a couple of big kingies too.

To port there is an additional bench seat with an adjustable backrest so that passengers can face forward when seated or face aft should they wish.

The seating configuration isn’t one you commonly see on this style of boat, but if you want a layout that invites more of a social feel for your passengers, this one certainly achieves that. The interior of the cabin is finished with black vinyl and grey macro suede giving a very nice look and finish.

Moving through into the spacious cockpit, it has high gunwales with thigh padding to assist anglers. Double cockpit shelving takes care of storage for rods and like the rest of the cockpit and top decks, is lined with a soft foam, detailed to replicate teak. A low profile walk through is a feature of both aft corners, leading through to twin dive ladders.

To port, there is a live bait tank complete with viewing window, while on the opposite side is a califont that is integrated with the heat exchanger on the outboards providing hot water via two pullout wash down hoses.

In the centre of the transom are two lockers for the batteries and various items, while below is housed the onboard systems for engines fuel filters and pumps etc. A small sink sits alongside the bait board in the centre of the transom.

Wide side decks around the cabin provide access to the foredeck, and can be finished with the same foam detailing as seen on the rest of the boat. Above, there are handrails to aid in navigating your way to the foredeck and plenty of space on top to secure a small inflatable tender. For navigating in and out of bays at night, a large spotlight is mounted on the roof.

The Twins

The owner of this big Southern specified twin Yamaha 250hp four strokes and although it doesn’t need that much horsepower, it can certainly handle it.

Wide open throttle, swinging 17” props, the big Southern 856 hit 44 knots @ 6100 rpm, burning 175 lph total for the two engines.

Economy across the two engines was pretty good. A comfortable cruise speed of 24 knots @ 3500 rpm saw fuel use of 47.8 lph for the two engines combined. Given that the 856 has a very generous 400L fuel tank, that cruise speed would give the boat a range of 180 nautical miles.

Family Boats aren’t quite happy with the performance of the boat just yet, and on our test day had been doing a bit of prop testing to find the optimal set-up. A couple of 19” props are going on next, which should improve the fuel economy and push the top speed up close to the 50-knot mark. Yeeha!

The engines weren’t overly noisy, in fact, they sounded fantastic. Midrange response was great and the elevated helm position gave excellent visibility not only forward but out to the side and astern. Three of us onboard we were able to talk normally amongst ourselves even while under full throttle.

With a Yamaha F350 V8 outboard on the transom, expect to achieve around 40 knots. Other power options come in the form of a diesel sterndrive.

“Most models we sell have the big single 350hp outboards, but the boat is certainly wide enough to handle twins as we see here, and it can also handle the horsepower,” adds Bakker.

The hull of the XP 856 is constructed from 6mm aluminum while the hardtop section above is resin infused meaning you still get all the strength without a whole lot of weight.

Stability on the water is excellent. The boat is big and wide, and you can feel that when you’re aboard. Moving around the cockpit, it was like you were on a 40 footer, it just didn’t budge.

Packages for an XP 856 start from $NZ239,000 and that will get you a Yamaha F350 V8 outboard on the transom.

I’ve tested a number of Southern’s over the years, and this one is exceptional – it has ‘The Works’. Everything seems to work exceedingly well, and I thought the general layout was just fantastic. The price tag is certainly up there at $NZ289,995, but once you count up all the items aboard, it’s all justified for this excellent vessel.


  • Model & Model: Southern XP 856   
  • Priced from: $NZ239,000  
  • Price as tested: $NZ289,995
  • Type: Hardtop                                  
  • Construction: Aluminium    
  • LOA: 8.60m                           
  • Beam: 2.8m               
  • Deadrise: 20 degree             
  • Height on trailer: 3.20m      
  • Trailerable weight: 3350kg 
  • Test Power: Twin Yamaha 250hp four-stroke outboards           
  • Propeller: 17”           
  • Power options: Single/twin outboard, diesel sterndrive 
  • HP Range: 250-500hp                     
  • Fuel capacity: 400L 
  • Trailer: Braked Tandem Axle

Performance & Fuel





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