QUINTREX 490 RENEGADE CENTRE-CONSOLE REVIEW
Self-confessed centre-console junky Angelo San Giorgio heads for the Gold Coast and winds up seeing red on the new Quintrex 490 Renegade centre-console.
An invitation to review a new Quintrex always makes me nervous. Part of the Telwater family, that also includes Stacer and Savage, Quintrex has been at the forefront of "tinnie" development for the best part of five decades. Ever since founder Terry Quantril coaxed an alloy sheet into compound curves in 1968, they've been poked and prodded by journos and boat testers (most more credentialed than yours truly).
You'd imagine just about anything that could be said has been, yet every now and again they throw up something genuinely innovative that makes us all go…aha! Well, this is one of those moments, but not in the way you might think.
Rather than deliver a rig that was crammed to the gunnels with gear, the manufacturer has pared one back and delivered just enough to get the mind ticking over.
Quintrex is often regarded as the elder statesman of the Australian alloy brigade. Yet, rather than being populated by stuffy old cardigan-wearing types, the company has a genuinely vibrant and youthful disposition. It has a proven track record of responding quickly to fishing trends and, just occasionally, pre-empting them.
It's refreshing and just a little disconcerting rocking up to a boat test only to be greeted by ambassadors as shiny and good looking as the boats they're escorting. I don't think I like good looking people anymore. I used to be one - or so I choose to remember - but the ravages of far too many early mornings and late nights spent on the water have taken their toll. I console myself with the thought that they too might succumb one day.
I like red things: my favourite cars are red; favourite band, Simply Red; favourite fish, snapper; favourite sand dune, Big Red. So, don't think I wasn't chuffed when I spotted Quintrex's gleaming red Renegade 490 CC nosed up on the beach at The Grand boat ramp on Queensland's Broadwater.
I took the opportunity to inspect its running surface and noted the Renegade's interesting hull: while retaining Quintrex's concaved Millennium design, there is no flared bow below the chine, which to my eye gives the boat a fuller more chiselled look. This is further enhanced by the smooth sides, devoid of the pressed clinker-style of other models giving it a decidedly "plate-y" look.
Renegades are, by Quintrex's own admission, back-to-basics fishing boats. Less glitzy than its popular Top Enders, they're stripped of all the non-essentials.
Available as standard in practical yet uninspiring, unpainted aluminium, the spicy paint job does add to the asking price, but ramps up the cool factor a couple of notches. It also has the added benefits of resisting corrosion and cutting down on the glare whenever the sun rages overhead. To contrast, the interior and coamings are painted white, as is the console, co-ordinating beautifully with 75hp Evinrude E-TEC.
Now, I'm the first to admit I have a rather unnatural obsession with consoles - side, centre, twin, rear - I love 'em all, and my motley collection of sunburnt and weather-beaten fishing partners can duly attest to that.
To me, they represent the consummate sport fishing layout, offering 360° access around the hull, perfect for when you're flicking lures at surface-feeding pelagics who very rarely seem to pop up on the "right" side of the boat.
Centre consoles are my personal favourite because I frequently find myself fishing at odd hours and, consequently, alone. With just the driver behind the wheel, side consoles and runabouts have a tendency to lean to starboard when underway. While a touch of up trim helps, it's hard to override physics (and too many meat pies). Centre consoles help balance by placing weight closer to the centre, and when carrying passengers a shuffle left or right is all that's required to maintain a level attitude.
The Renegade 490 CC's console is a simple, almost austere, affair. You get a rectangular box with radiused corners and a couple of cuddy holes capable of swallowing a smallish tackle bag and other gear. There's an angled helm with a basic sweep of gauges and a flat top section sporting a modest but thoughtful grabrail. Not a great deal, but do you really need any more?
A glance around the interior reinforces Quintrex's intent to provide a simple yet practical package that will see you on the water for a reasonable dollar. Quintrex has cleverly created a range of hulls for mobile sport-fishos who don't need (or want) the fluff, or who would prefer to tackle the final detailing themselves.
Several commonly-requested options were added to our boat to reflect a "real world" impression. There was a bow mount plate for later installation of a trolling motor and I loved the standard livewell's removable divider. While obviously conceived with tournament bream and bass anglers in mind, filled livewells can also be utilised to add ballast to the bow when travelling distances in rough conditions. When not acting as an aquarium, they also double as dry storage or a cooler (optional configurations can be factory fitted to this space depending upon the owner's needs).
Side pockets were handy, as was the short rear deck which houses batteries, a complimentary aerated baitwell and handy tackle trays. All I would add is some decent electronics, a splash of fuel, and some rod storage.
I'm about to channel fellow boat tester Warren Steptoe and have a bit of a rant. Since this boat was obviously designed to entice sportfishermen, most of whom pride themselves on their tackle collection, the lack of dedicated rod storage as standard seems to me to be a glaring oversight. (It must be said that most local boat manufacturers are guilty of this omission and I've often resorted to fitting my own.)
Two pairs of angled plastic rodholders in the top of the coamings, while welcome, does not suffice. All the effort to promote an uncluttered workspace falls in a heap when you have to constantly step over thousands of dollars' worth of carbon fibre sticks littering the floor.
I've confirmed with the factory and have been assured that a carpeted rod locker is available as an option. But for a boat of this calibre and intent, it should be standard (IMHO).
When the Gold Coast turns it on and the weather gods are kind, I defy anyone with a pulse not enjoy the shimmering waters and invigorating breeze that hints at a great day on the water.
Hopping behind the wheel, it felt at once familiar. The simple yet functional layout and sporty feel enhance the hull's soft and sure-footed characteristics. Quick to plane in around four seconds, a quick jab on the throttle was all it took to elicit a nice flat running angle and she topped out at around 34kts (62kmh).
Refreshingly, this rig was not set up for ultimate top end speed. In my opinion, a well-sorted rig should feel willing throughout the rev range and responsive to throttle and trim inputs. Sacrificing a few clicks of top end and gaining a sweeter midrange and more aggressive acceleration down low is a good compromise.
Special mention must be given to the outboard. The recent alliance between Telwater and BRP has spawned a shift in thinking behind the doors of the R&D department, and in this instance hull and engine complemented each perfectly.
While I found the engine note different to similar-sized four-strokes, it was never obtrusive, just eager to please and always on song. Pulling back to trolling speeds, the engine was still docile while exhibiting only slight vibration levels. Then again, I love to nitpick.
All in all, Quintrex is on the money with the Renegade series. As tested, the 490 CC provides an elegant and incredibly functional solution for the inshore sportfisher who still has a hankering to head out wide if the conditions allow.
The boat has plenty of street cred, particularly in its fire-engine red garb, and with a little bit of tinkering could be all things to all fishos. My gripe about rod storage notwithstanding, this deserves to be another winner for the Quintrex stable.
ON THE PLANE...
· Great value for money
· Looks sharp in new smooth side sheet
· Responsive down low and sweet mid-range
· Stable platform
· Great starter sportfishing platform
· Brilliant forward livewell
· Standard step and rail
DRAGGING THE CHAIN...
· No standard rod storage
· A driver's seat slide would be nice
6.9kts (12.7kmh) @ 1500rpm
8.8kts (16.3kmh) @ 2500rpm
18.4kts (34kmh) @ 3500rpm (plane)
24.2kts (44.8kmh) @ 4000rpm
28.5kts (52.8kmh) @ 4500rpm
32.3kts (59.8kmh) @ 5000rpm
34kts (62.7kmh) @ 5200rpm
Specifications: Quintrex 490 Renegade CC (centre-console)
Price as tested: $28,280(BMT)
Options fitted: Bow mount thruster plate, painted hull, two-tone painted hull, drinkholder
Priced from: $26,590 (BMT) with 75hp Evinrude E-TEC, Quintrex trailer, safety gear, reg and on-water costs.
Type: Centre-console fishing boat
Hull weight: 435kg (hull only)
Rec. HP: 60-90
Max. HP: 90
Make/model: Evinrude E-TEC
Type: Direct Injection two-stroke
Gear ratio: 2.00:1
MANUFACTURED & SUPPLIED BY
Quintrex Aluminium Boats
Originally published in TrailerBoat #289, December 2012.