Review: Elan Impression 45

By: Kevin Green, Photography by: Kevin Green

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Elan Impression 45 sailing Elan Impression 45 sailing
Elan Impression 45 bathroom Elan Impression 45 bathroom
Elan Impression 45 electronics controls Elan Impression 45 electronics controls
Elan Impression 45 helm station Elan Impression 45 helm station
Elan Impression 45 stairwell to belowdecks Elan Impression 45 stairwell to belowdecks
Main bedroom in Elan Impression 45 Main bedroom in Elan Impression 45
Piran in Slovenia Piran in Slovenia
Solar panels and ventialtion of Elan Impression 45 Solar panels and ventialtion of Elan Impression 45
Elan Impression 45 deck layout Elan Impression 45 deck layout
Elan Impression 45 side view layout Elan Impression 45 side view layout

The Elan Impression 45 is a comfortable and sensibly designed sailing cruiser in the classic style, but with all modern requirements above and below deck.

The Elan Impression 45 is the mid-sized offering in the Impression four-boat sailing fleet and an ideal size for blue-water voyaging or indeed family cruising. Several of its smaller siblings, including the Elan Impression 40, have been supplied by Australian distributor Performance Cruising Yachts which offers yacht-share as well as ownership on them.

Over the years of sailing and occasionally racing Elans I’ve found a lot to like and I still occasionally check the classifieds for the stylish Elan 37 that I enjoyed racing in Hamo years ago. Its styling has long been superseded by the more angular designs of the current Performance range, whereas the Impressions retain the rounded hull shape with classic overhangs that not only look good but help when punching into a swell.


Elan Impression 45

Elan Impression 45

Another classic aspect of the Elan Impression 45 is the deep cockpit which on our boat was further enhanced by a tall sprayhood giving good shelter, and at the transom the tall drop-down swimplatform providing reasonable protection from following seas. At the twin pedestals I enjoyed using the Carbonautica fibreglass steering wheels that are lighter and more nimble than traditional stainless steel ones. Between them the top of the rudder shaft is visible, allowing quick control of the Lewmar steering gear in an emergency.

The cockpit is dominated by the fibreglass table with sturdy stainless steel handrail and drop leafs that can be used for bracing your feet. Teak-slatted benches, including guardrail corner seats, make this a comfortable space under the retractable bimini and there’s even drinkholders on the benches with sizeable lockers beneath. The Harken H46 sheet winches are just in front of the wheel pedestals and a pair of H40 halyard winches, along with jammers, are under the sprayhood. The pedestals hold the Garmin instrumentation and autopilot along with a compass on each and all are safely accessible while holding the composite steering wheels, including the starboardside plotter screen. Power controls are in the slightly awkward ankle-high spot on the coaming with bowthruster buttons above.



Elan Impression 45 saloon

Moving below decks – through the tall main hatch which has sensible traditional washboards – I’m supported by sturdy handrails and wide steps for the descent into the saloon. The four layouts available vary from a two-cabin with two bathrooms to a four-cabin. As mentioned, the two-cabin layout has the entire aft section as an en suite double, which is also a popular choice for some of the I45’s competitors including Jeanneau.

As our review yacht was a charter boat it also had the two-bunk cabin, which reduces the space of the double vee-berth. This berth is basic but the cabin voluminous (1.85m leg room) with bench seat, hanging locker, under-bed stowage and shelving. The corridor bathroom has a separate shower cubicle and manual head, with a similar arrangement for the stern bathroom which can also be a handy wet locker and has slots to neatly store the main hatch washboards.

Elan’s ‘semi-deck’ saloon arrangement is achieved by raising the cabin sole. This affords views through the teardrop coachroof windows, and while seated through two very small rectangular portlights which I’d prefer combined to make one panoramic portlight. But natural light is in abundance thanks to three skylights of which one opens and two are angled slightly to create forward visibility and headroom is 2m-plus. Just watch your footing on those steps either end of the saloon sole though.

Elan Impression 45 galley

The saloon layout is fairly traditional rather than the bare acreage fashionable on some competitors, so there’s plenty of hand support around the U-shaped dinette on the forward portside and large lounge with chart table behind, opposite the galley at the companionway. The dinette table folds out to create space for all the crew and another version slides down to become a bunk. A modern addition is the blonde oak veneer with nicely rounded ends, and there are grabrails throughout the saloon. Combined with a galley support post, longitudinal handrails and forward mast compression post, it gives plenty of confidence moving around in a swell.

The galley is L-shaped and well-equipped featuring double fibreglass sinks with composite covers that create enough workspace when needed, surrounded by deep fiddles. The navigation table opposite is large enough for paper charts, while above is locker space which I presume could be used to house a plotter alongside the switch panel. Useful storage below can house your binoculars and an emergency grab bag as well. Engine access is nearby under the companionway steps that proved a heavy item to lift with no gas-assisted struts, but the upside is more access when fully inverted. The elevated cabin sole means the 55hp Volvo Penta saildrive is somewhat sunk down but I could clearly see most of the maintenance points – impeller, oilways, fanbelt – apart from the diesel filter which is slightly awkward on this four-cylinder unit. However there’s also access from the adjoining cabins.


Furling mainsail

Elan Impression 45 furling mainsail

Our boat was fitted with the optional Selden in-mast furling main – instead of standard slab reefing – which I’ve used without mishap on many yachts and is an ideal compromise for easy sailing or when shorthanded. Similarly the roller headsail with cars adjustable from the cockpit, while the Dacron sails are from Italy’s OneSails. Not so good is the lack of a mainsheet track, unlike the older Impression 394, with only two blocks used to control an already far-forward located sheet-to-boom connection. But the boom is well-supported by a metal vang and performed satisfactorily in the light Adriatic breeze.

Holding up the alloy mast are inboard wire shrouds (supported by tie-rods through to the hull grid), with twin backstays that avoid impeding the transom. Deck access is fine thanks to stainless steel handrails to guide you along the coachroof and teak toerails, while cleating is fore, aft and amidships. The pulpit is well-equipped with twin rollers and Quick vertical windlass operated by foot buttons, a deep chainlocker in between. Elan’s signature stainless steel bow shield is a sturdy plus-point as well.

Solid vinylester is used below the waterline and closed cell foam sandwich above, while the decks are balsa cored for insulation. Hull rigidity is created by laminating a solid fibreglass grid into the finished hulls. Keels are cast iron with a conventional single deep-spade rudder used. Running the numbers on the Impression 45 produces a reasonable stability ratio of 30 per cent (the percentage of ballast to displacement), while sail area to displacement (SAD) is a modest 19.1 and compares favourably with similar competitors such as Hanse and Bavaria.


Performance on the water

Elan Impression 45 turning

Leaving Portoroz, the main marina for the largely landlocked Slovenia, I throttled the engine as my bow pointed west to where the horizon hid Venice just beyond. Our test yacht will operate along the island-strewn Dalmatian archipelago of Croatia and should be eminently suitable for it thanks to an easily operated sail plan which I hoisted in a few minutes. Simply unwind the mainsail outhaul and then trim it before pulling on the genoa sheet beside the steering pedestal to unfurl it. This arrangement is quickly reefed, handy for when the infamous southerly Sirocco wind howls up the narrow Adriatic, bringing a steep-wave fetch all the way from Greece.

Our spring day, though, had steady pressure of only 10kts and is what brings thousands of charter tourists here, so we gently slid along under genoa with the Impression 45 managing a reasonable 6.2kts hard on the breeze at 35 degrees. Snugly sitting on the outboard coaming with clear view of the horizontal telltales and shielded from the strong sun by the bimini, this was cruising at its best.

The views of the ancient town of Piran and its battlements made it difficult to concentrate on sailing, but the balanced helm of the Impression 45 took little effort anyway and when tacking the deep rudder commanded the 11-ton hull easily, while walking between the helms was unobstructed. The modest beam allowed reasonable performance off the wind too, where we managed 5.2kts at 170 degrees.


The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Elan Impression 45 at rest

As an owner’s boat you’d want to fit a cruising chute to avoid the noisy engine. Of course engines are needed at times and our Volvo Penta with folding prop powered us along to a maximum of 2800 revs with the Garmin plotter showing 8.3kts and few vibrations were felt on the comfy Carbonautica wheels. Docking in the busy marina required a few jabs of the Quick bowthruster (which, wisely, has its own battery bank forward) and ended an enjoyable outing on the very competent Elan Impression 45. 



• Easy sail handling with in-mast furler

• Protective cockpit

• Quality finish throughout



• Steps in saloon floor

• Small portlights


Elan Impression 45 specs

Elan Impression 45 price: $381,000

Priced from


Price as tested: $POA



Garmin instruments and autopilot, Quick bowthruster, sprayhood and bimini, folding propeller, Sony audio pack, and Selden in-mast furling




TYPE Keelboat

LENGTH 13.85m overall

BEAM 4.18m

DRAFT 1.9m; 1.6m shallow

WEIGHT 10,900kg

BALLAST 3310kg; 3450kg shallow




FUEL 270lt

WATER 516lt; 788lt optional



MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D2

RATED HP 55; 75 optional



MAINSAIL 46.47m² standard; 39.75m² furling

GENOA 52.47m²

GENNAKER 135.45m²



Performance Cruising Yachts

Sydney By Sail Festival Pontoon,

2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, NSW, 2001

Phone +02 9281 4422



See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #470, on sale October 1, 2015. Why not subscribe today?


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