Sargo has an enviable reputation for building tough, practical all-weather cruising boats but with its new flagship, the 45, the Finnish brand has pushed into new territory.
Going up against the like of the Targa 46 and Nord-Star 49, the 45 faces the best in the business but this is a boat dripping with astonishing practical detailing that allows you to cruise in comfort all year round, whatever the weather. With two or three-cabin variants and the choice of sterndrives and IPS, it can cater for a wide variety of cruising styles but it's all underpinned by a super tough deep-vee hull and rock-solid engineering. Is it the new market leader? Let's see, shall we?
Sargo 45 Key Facts
- LOA 14.6m
- Model Year 2023
- Cabins 3
- Max Speed 36 knots
- Status In Production
- Yacht Type Wheelhouse
- Use Type Cruising
Test & Review Video
Around the Marina
Even before we get on to the driver aids that make the 45 a cinch to handle at close quarters there are a lot of elements of the boat's design that take the stress out of berthing, even as a single-handed skipper. The side door, for example, allows the person at the helm to stand on the side deck and still have easy control of the joystick and a boarding gate aligned with the door means it couldn't be easier to step onto the pontoon and quickly attach an amidships cleat. Because the transom gate is on the same side as the helm, you can see the very end of the bathing platform from this position so the all-round view is good.
Those on crewing duty will be happy, as well. The boat feels very safe to move around on owing to its deep side decks and the sheer amount of handrails that sprout out at you from all over the deck, the ones on our Explorer spec test boat powder coated in black. Deck storage is superb with plenty of useful lockers to stow lines and more dedicated fender stowage than anyone should reasonably expect on a boat of this size. Not only are there dedicated racks on the transom but the dinette backrest pulls forward to reveal yet more fender storage and a usefully deep locker for stowing other kit.
The 45 is available with IPS or sterndrives and the former comes as standard with a joystick; with the latter, it's an option. Our test boat had IPS (as have most of the 45s built thus far) and it also had Volvo's Assisted Docking, which combines the pods and an electro-hydraulic bow thruster to give even greater control of the boat if the conditions are on the beam. This is a clever optional extra, at a very reasonable €3,715 for Volvo, that uses the pods until it feels the need to add the extra shove of the proportional thruster and brings that gently into play. It improves the Dynamic Positioning System too, because instead of having to push a button to activate it, as soon as you release the joystick the system engages and holds the boat in place, which is a nice safety net if you just need a moment to arrange your thoughts and take a breath. It's a dream to handle at slow speed, then, but what about when the revs are up?
For all the talk of the 45's go-anywhere ability and its year-round appeal, the Finnish archipelago couldn't have dished up kinder conditions for our sea trial - we've seen more waves in a puddle. It's difficult, then, to attest to the boat's rough weather handling but not such an issue to assess its cruising performance. Efficiency was a big focus during the boat's development and it's telling that the boat's fuel economy barely wavers between 15 and 30 knots. With the interceptor blades right down the 45 will just about plane at 15 knots and achieve 4-4.5l/nm and that economy really doesn't drop until you're up past 30 knots.
It should manage 36-38 knots flat out but it's the mid-range cruising efficiency that stands out. You should easily cover 400nm at a fast cruising speed with the optional 2,000-litre fuel capacity (1.600 litres is standard) and you'll be doing it in the insulated comfort of that purposeful wheelhouse. If anything, the sterndrive version, which runs a pair of D6 440hp motors, will be even more efficient and offer the added benefits of more engaging handling and the ability to trim the legs in the shallows.
Not that the handling is dull with the pods installed. It's a lovely boat to thread from lock to lock and the hull peels through the water beautifully. You can just tell that the boat has been set up well by the way the wake clears off the hull in your peripheral vision from the helm station. You wouldn't ordinarily catch us complaining about the perfect conditions we experienced for this test but it is a shame that we couldn't put the 45 through the sort of challenging seaways that it's so clearly designed for. It's an incredibly easy boat to drive fast, though, and because of that relatively flat efficiency curve, you can just set the speed at what suits your conditions or mood and know that you're not going to adversely affect fuel economy.
We'll cover the helm position in greater detail later on in the review but the driving position is outstanding. The shock-absorbing seat slides to the helm and bottom section of the dash - not just the wheel - adjusts so you can get good and close to the controls without your back leaving the support of the chair. Equally, you can slide the seat back and stand at the helm, grasping the swivelling steering wheel knob, which makes swinging the pods from side to side so easy.
Builder Speed & Range Data
817 nm @ 9.4 knotseco
511 nm @ 23.3 knotscruise
396 nm @ 37.2 knotsmax
Sargo 45 version 2023. *Data supplied by the manufacturer.
View Full Test Results
The design of the 45 will be familiar to any Sargo fans but it's the sheer size of the 45 and its potential rough weather capability that is so enticing. The business-like looks mask a deep-vee hull, a near 40-knot top speed and the sort of handling agility that could embarrass some sportsboats half its size.
There is nothing on this boat that is there for show or purely aesthetic reasons. It is fit for purpose, designed to do a job and that job is to transport people across the water at speed, in comfort and at any time of year. There is a laser focus on practicality, like the amount of deck storage, the exemplary engine room fit-out, the designers' ability to make use of every inch of space and the functional, high-quality finish throughout.
The walk-around deck design is tried and tested and, as with the rest of the Sargo range, you can have it in Explorer trim, which adds darker hull colours and black powder-coated stainless steel, which gives it a meaner aesthetic. The shapes are simple but it's a striking machine with its imposing flared bow and a wheelhouse with inwardly raked windscreens.
The 45 is designed to run on both sterndrives and IPS; twin 440hp Volvo D6s on sterndrives and 480hp IPS650s with pods. It's about €40,000 to upgrade from legs to IPS and, at the time of writing, it is the latter that has proved more popular. Either way, you have joystick control and razor-sharp handling, though the sterndrives are likely to be a bit more engaging at speed whereas IPS comes into its own when it comes to slow speed control.
What's it like on board, though? Let's find out.
The 45 is available with a two or three-cabin configuration on the lower deck. With two cabins, the owner's cabin, forward, gains a bit more space, as does the ensuite/day head. The three-cabin version adds a useful double cabin on the starboard side. The packaging of this accommodation is very smart, especially the VIP amidships, which is accessed by lifting up the co-pilot seat in the saloon and has a large double bed and spacious private ensuite. Headroom isn't great over the bed but there's room to get changed in the entrance way and the bathroom has well over 6ft of standing headroom.
The two forward cabins are accessed via a companionway to port of the helm where there is a small lobby area packed with useful additional storage solutions. Even in the three-cabin guise, the owner's cabin is a good size and, as will be repeated throughout this review, there is no shortage of storage space. The finish throughout is more functional and practical than luxurious but the spaces are comfortable and very well thought out. There is some great detail, like simple pop-out hooks mounted at head level to hang towels and coats and the built-in radiators which will keep the interior temperate in colder months without the need to lay storage heaters.
The utilisation of available space is outstanding. The simple fact that they have managed to fit a washing machine and its necessary pipework underneath the floor in the saloon is an impressive feat in and of itself but the practical attitude to design shines throughout and there's a pleasing lack of automation that breeds reliability. The TV, for example, doesn't whir up from behind a sofa on an electric motor but swings down from above the helm on a pair of gas rams and the side doors use chunky wooden catches to lock in place. It's simple, robust engineering and it just works.
There is access to the saloon via the aforementioned side doors and a door at the aft end of the wheelhouse, which opens out into the cockpit. Unlike the Targa 46 and Nord-Star 49, access to the amidships cabin isn't from the aft end of the saloon so there is space here for a useful flat storage area and a surprisingly large dishwasher in the base of the dinette. Opposite, the galley is hidden under a couple of flip-up counter tops and they lift to reveal a gas hob and sink with good space on either side to prepare food. There's a good selection of drawer storage options, all mounted on soft close runners, but the under-counter fridge is a touch on the small side for a boat that could be away from marinas for long periods of time.
The dinette is opposite and it's big. There are neat little armrests built into the end sections, too, so those on the outside can lean in comfort and the powered table can rise to the same level as the galley counter so it's easy to spread across both flat spaces. It's a bright space, too with glazing all around, a sunroof and the option to have three further panels of glass in the aft section of the roof. Our test boat had the optional solar panels to serve the domestic supply but still had a single strip of glazing with a blind for shade. Natural light certainly isn't an issue inside the wheelhouse of the 45 and the Alpi wood interior, though not as cosy or expensive looking as the walnut option, only enhances the effect.
If there's a criticism of the saloon it's that it can be awkward for two people to pass along the narrow companionway but given the width of the side decks and the amount of living space they've packed in this doesn't come as much of a surprise.
It's not the most exciting dashboard you'll ever set eyes on but, that aside, it's totally faultless. The amount of adjustment alone should serve as a lesson to any boat builder who thinks a fixed wheel and seat are a good idea. Here, not only does the wheel adjust but the entire bottom section of the dash can be fixed in three different positions to alter the angle of the major controls for standing or sitting.
The helm seat has plenty of slide adjustment, armrests and shock-absorbing capabilities so you romp over the waves like you're sitting in a tractor. It's a wonderful driving position where you can sit back in the chair with the wheel and throttles resting easily under your hands safe in the knowledge that your sprung seat will iron out any bumps that manage to evade the hull.
The 24in Garmin screens are just magnificent and worth every penny of their €19,400 option price, especially if the boat is going to be in areas of challenging navigation. In the Finnish archipelago, where we tested the boat, you tend to run with one screen on a wide view of the islands one closer in to follow the track so two chartplotter screens become a must-have. With two smaller screens with engine information mounted above the windscreen, it's easy to keep an eye on the numbers at the same time. It's not a flashy helm but it is the epitome of being fit for purpose.
For now, in contrast to its rivals from Targa and Nord-Star, the 45 isn't available with a flybridge so the external living spaces are focussed around the cockpit and the foredeck. The IPS version of the boat is available with a fixed or hi-lo platform; you can't have the hi-lo with sterndrives because they would get in the way when it deploys. Our boat had the fixed platform and, as in the way up north, it was kitted out with a stern anchor so you can edge the bow to shore and tie off for the night. Here there is also a handy fender rack and a deep locker set into the platform that is just the right size to swallow a pair of ball fenders, which are usually a total pain to stow on a boat of this size.
There is access into the cockpit via a transom gate to starboard where the seating is biased to port and arranged in an L shape with a table in the middle. There's space on the other side of the bench for a couple of folding chairs, which handily stow in the massive locker that's built into the aft end of the wheelhouse. This is large enough to swallow said furniture plus a host of other kit and it has clips mounted to hold the table legs in place if it's ever dismantled. You shouldn't need to take the table apart, though, even if the electric engine hatch is raised, because there is enough clearance between the table top and the bench seating for them not to clash.
Talking of the engine hatch, access to the motors is outstanding. The hatch lifts to port so as not to block access on and off the boat and the engines sit resplendent in a fastidiously executed engine room where it couldn't be easier to get to the motors and the ancillary parts. It's as clean as a whistle and even has built-in radiators (the same as the ones on the cabins) to keep the oily bits nice and toasty in the teeth of winter.
Back on deck in the cockpit and we find more storage both underneath the dinette and a deep locker accessed by tilting the backrest forward. It's perfect for cleaning supplies and yet more fenders. To starboard, there is a neat rope bin and a longer unit that has been cleverly adapted into a cool box so there is somewhere on deck to keep drinks cool. This can be upgraded to a wet bar with a sink and grill.
The side decks are symmetrical, wide and deeply protected by towering bulwarks and there are hand rails at every turn. At this size, it doesn't get much easier or safer to crew than this. Forward, the coachroof is kitted out with sunbathing cushions and there's a neat little bench moulded into the forward end of the moulding. There are two little cushioned perches opposite (with storage beneath, naturally) and a table slots in to create a great little drinks area away from the fuss of the quayside. We found ourselves gravitating towards this spot during speed-restricted sections of the route to catch the breeze coming over the bow.
There's no two ways about it, over €1 million (ex VAT) for a boat to the spec of the one we tested is a lot of cash for a 14.5m boat. What you have to consider with the 45 and its rivals such as the Targa 46 (which is similar money) is the return you get on your investment in terms of hours you can actually use the boat. This boat could live in the water all year round and extend your boating season well past the usual parameters. Cold, bright and breezy winter days are when this type of boat shines and it's the year-round usability that somewhat justifies that heft price tag. That and the obvious quality and attention to detail that is so clear to see throughout. Yes, it's pricey, but it's a quality machine of immense capability.
Our Options & Pick
Our test boat had pretty much the highest specification you could choose minus maybe the Seakeeper and hydraulic bathing platform. The base price for the boat with IPS is €811,023 ex VAT (at the time of writing) and the one we tested came in at €1,020,161 ex VAT.
The options list is extensive, but here are a few must-have extras that we would advise ticking the box for. We would opt for the sterndrives over IPS for a couple of reasons, one being that it saves you around €40,000 at base price (though you need to add the sterndrive joystick if you want that type of control). The sterndrive boat is likely to be more fun to drive, even more agile and slightly more efficient thanks to its slippery drives compared to the bulkier appendages of IPS. Finally, the sterndrives have adjustable trim so, if you like to explore the shallows or head to the beach that boat's draft can be reduced if necessary.
What else would we spec? The 3.8kw generator, 400Ah service battery and 450W solar panels (€30,000 in total) give excellent autonomy and allow you to tweak the boat's energy production depending on what you're doing and where you're cruising. An electric bow thruster is standard but an upgrade to the proportional one is worth the €2,965 it costs for even greater control at close quarters (especially with the sterndrives).
It's €6,000 in total to have the foredeck cushions, seat cushions and the bow and the table and these are key because they effectively double your exterior living space, which is important when you don't have a flybridge. We've mentioned the Garmon MFD upgrade, which we'd recommend, and the sunroof (€6,719) is a must-have - it makes so much difference to the amount of light in the wheelhouse and your ability to ventilate it.
Some items will be personal and depend on where the boat is, such as air-conditioning (30,000 BTU), which is a €26,000 option and the Seakeeper, given its cost, will always be a careful consideration on a boat of this price point. You can't have the hydraulic platform on the sterndrive version but we'd recommend it on the IPS boat for its added functionality and tender launch/recovery benefits.
Reasons to Buy
- Outstanding dynamics
- Go anywhere capability
- Attention to detail
- Surprisingly comfortable cabins
Things to Consider
- No flybridge option
- Interior is a little plain
Rivals to Consider
When it comes to rivals there are only really two boats to cover and they are both built within a few hundred kilometres of Sargo's Finnish base: The Targa 46 and Nord-Star 49.
The Targa, probably the direct rival, needs little introduction. The Targa brand has been synonymous with this genre of boating for decades and despite their obvious similarities, the boats are actually quite different. For a start, the Targa is available with or without a flybridge and though it shares the sterndrive or IPS engine options, it's available with the more powerful 600hp IPS800s for a potential top speed of over 40 knots. It's more traditional in look and layout, too, with lashings of teak inside the interior and an arrangement that sees access to the aft cabin via a companionway at the rear of the saloon and access forward to the owner's cabin and ensuite. Like the Sargo, it can be specified with two or three cabins with similar access via the pilot seats to the third cabin if chosen. It's not as comfortable on deck as the Sargo but the flybridge is appealing, both for its additional living space and the thrill of driving from up top.
The Nord-Star 49 shouldn't be discounted. It has a similar mix of engine options to the other two and will do around 37 knots flat out and, like the Targa, it has a decent flybridge with a comfortable additional seating area and a couple of helm seats. On deck, it has more in common with the Targa than the Sargo but it's inside where things get really interesting. The layout is totally different to the other two with an aft galley arrangement and forward dinette that feels much more like a traditional coupe or flybridge boat and avoids the narrow passageway through the saloon that the other two suffer. It's a brilliant use of space that provides a bigger galley, larger dinette and more floor space around the commanding helm station. Below, there are two double cabins, with access to the aft double neatly integrated into the galley and a companionway forward to the owner's cabin. Both cabins have separate bathrooms but there's no option for three cabins, so that could be a deal breaker. It's a great package, though, and is likely to be slightly cheaper to buy than the other two.
Specifications & Performance
Sargo 45 version 2023. *Data supplied by the manufacturer.
Test Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS650
- Liters Per Hour
- Liters Per Mile
- Range (nm)
Yacht Load: 0 Litres of water 50 Litres of fuel 4 members of crew