XO DFNDR 9 Review

This time topRik experts found themselves on board the new boat from XO Boats - XO DFNDR 9 crossover. We talk about our personal experience of researching and testing this aluminum boat at sea.

The review is supported by a selection of photos, layout plans and videos; we also present the opinions of other yachtsmen about this almost 9-meter-long boat.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

In recent years, more and more aluminum boat manufacturers are seeing opportunities to expand their range in the direction of versatility, and the trend is towards larger, faster and more weather-resistant boats.

XO Boats has been at the forefront of change. From the very beginning, XO boats were designed to be fast, seaworthy and durable. The path of XO was not an easy one, but now all the crises of formation and entry into the wide European and American markets are behind them.

XO Shipyard builds aluminum and outboard boats. The company's model range includes 9 models with lengths from 7 to 9 m in 3 series: DFNDR, DSCVR and EXPLR. All models are united by one motto, the meaning of which is: while others on the shore wait for good weather, XO boats go to sea regardless of weather forecasts.

Lessons have been learned from mistakes when designing new models, and the assembly plant in Poland took a different approach. According to the manufacturer, quality control is now seamless.

Currently, a significant proportion of XO boat hulls are produced in Ähtäri by Campnou Oy, which also produces hulls not only for XO boats, but also for the Yamarin Cross models and the Swedish Alukin boat. From Ähtäri, the hulls are transported to Poland, where the laminated deck is joined to the hull and the boats are finished.

With the choice of accessories, the boat turns into a completely different beast. The colors of the textiles and body wraps significantly change the appearance. The XO DFNDR 9 follows the stylistic example of the DFNDR 8, but is clearly larger, wider and more versatile in terms of features. The model designation (complete with vowels) creates a certain image in the group of boats designed to transport people, something like a “sea Range Rover” or “sea 4x4”, in a word - a crossover on the water.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

The manufacturer characterizes the DFNDR 9 as a multi-purpose boat, and not just a boat for transportation. And why not, because boats can almost always be used for many purposes. However, in its basic configuration, the DFNDR 9 is precisely a passenger delivery boat with four to five comfortable seats and an entire modular furniture system. For example, the additional seat in the wheelhouse can be quickly unfolded and, together with the additional table and sofa, forms a chaise lounge.

This use of boats - for transportation - is very typical for areas consisting of many inhabited islands and islets, or with an indented coastline with rocky formations, in a word - for European countries and the northern seas.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

Although the coastline of the Mediterranean, in particular Croatia and Montenegro, can also compete for primacy in its ruggedness. And we, of course, will not forget about the USA, where such boats are as popular and in demand as in the UK and Australia.

As is common these days, the main purpose of using the XO is determined by the list of accessories. If you need a boat for camping or traveling, better go for a refrigerator, heater, fresh water system, toilet, sliding doors, mattresses and some electronics, perhaps also a sofa, table and umbrella on the aft deck. For day trips you won't necessarily need the same amount of everything, but it's good to have solar panels on the bow and stern. And when you're primarily fishing, the most important thing is open space and the best fish finder. The list of accessories has sixty options.

But, of course, it’s not just the list of accessories that won the XO DFNDR 9 over by the stern jury of the Motor Boat Awards 2023, which declared it a category winner for its innovative design concept and quality after rigorous sea trials.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

On the one hand, this is simply a larger boat compared to the already known XO DFNDR 8, on the other hand, they have many fundamental differences, so it’s complicated.

The most obvious thing is the deckhouse: instead of a frame made of pipes, there is a rigid structure and side covers with zippers. Without this protection, you can enjoy fresh air and warmth, and if it gets cold, turn on the heater in the wheelhouse and create home comfort. Options with transparent sliding doors are also available for warm and cold climates/regions.

An increase in length and, accordingly, width entailed a change in layout, which we will discuss later.

The hull of the XO DFNDR 9, like all XOs, is welded from a durable aluminum-magnesium marine alloy, the deck and internal hull are made of fiberglass. The DFNDR 9 is almost a ton heavier than its predecessor, which is why the maximum permissible power of outboard engines is higher for it. The fuel supply has also been increased: 450 liters versus 355 liters. According to the manufacturer, the maximum speed reaches 50 knots (6000 rpm), and in cruising mode at 4500 rpm (about 40 knots) you can count on a cruising range of 200 miles. You will find out whether this statement will be confirmed when you get to the sea tests of the boat by the topRik team in this review.

But you can already judge the seaworthiness of the new boat at least from the memories of the XO DFNDR 8, which, with its smaller length, weight and power, during our test easily cut through a half-meter wave, quickly responded to shifting the helm and easily made a full circle at full speed, leaning on the cheekbone.

And XO DFNDR 9 has the "deep V" hull (22° deadrise), two couples of longitudinal steps were added, and receiving RCD category "B" was another leap forward. All this was confirmed by the first tests in the Baltic Sea on the route Finland - Sweden and back, when the boat covered 800 miles in not the easiest conditions. You can also find out about this event when you reach the Reviews from Professionals section.


Features of XO DFNDR 9

  • Brand: XO
  • Hull type: Monohull
  • Overall length, m: 8.8
  • Overall length, ft: 29
  • Width, m: 2.6
  • Draft, m: 0.99
  • Displacement, t: 2.71
  • Exterior design (architect): XO
  • Interior design: XO
  • CE Certification: B/C
  • Engine quantity: 2
  • Type of engines: Outboard
  • Power, hp: 2 x 225 - 450
  • Fuel tanks, l: 450
  • Cruising Speed, knt: 40
  • Max Speed, knt: 50
  • Range, n.miles: 200
XO DFNDR 9 Get Price

Maximum Speed and Fuel Consumption

Max speed Up to 50 knots
Cruising speed Up to 30-40 knots
Fuel consumption 41 l/h when planning at a speed of 30 knots

Review of XO DFNDR 9 by topRik Team

Sometimes, however, the harsh XO boats can be seen near the berths outside of their “natural habitat”, and the topRik team manages to take a first look at some of them or even go to sea to test their performance. We, of course, trust our partners, among whom are well-known yacht manufacturers and dealers proven over years of cooperation. But personal experience is always more reliable.

XO DFNDR 9 Review


Familiar Exterior

Indeed, at first glance at XO DFNDR 9 experts at topRik immediately remembered how they tested its predecessor, DFNDR 8, which, by the way, also became, if not a champion, then one of the finalists of Best of Boats 2023 in the Best for Performance category. And what is this if not confirmation of the stable quality of XO boats!

But let's return to the DFNDR 9 at the pier. Despite all the similarity of these metal V-shaped hulls and evoking thoughts of special forces, we still immediately appreciated this stationary wheelhouse. Yes, covers are also used here, which, together with a tightly closing door, give you the opportunity to exclaim “Save haven!” with relief if bad weather is approaching. But the difference from the frivolous T-top predecessor is noticeable to the naked eye. This protrusion in front of the wheelhouse brings to mind not only the presence of a cabin, but also some amenities - and this is already a significant difference from the completely free gondola of DFNDR 8 (except for the helm station with T-top).

The location of the deckhouse is the same - in the middle of the hull, with the possibility of going around on both sides from the transom platform to the chain locker in the very bow. High sides and powerful handrails are a common characteristic of almost all series.


At the Transom

Until recently, it was more common to see boats of this series moored with their sides to the pier or their bows to the rocks. But as they spread across warm regions, they also mastered the Mediterranean maneuvers. Therefore, we can not break the traditions of the order of our research and start from the transom. Following the same tradition, we offer the XO DFNDR 9’s vertical projection to give you a sense of scale, as well as a projection of the main deck to give you an idea of what parts of the boat we are talking about.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

XO DFNDR 9 Review

As of now we are looking at the transom, and in addition to two outboard engines, we also see quite spacious islands of the swim platform. Moreover, one of them is equipped with a folding ladder, along which you can go down into the water and then climb aboard.

The photo above will help you compare the sizes of XO DFNDR 9, passengers and bathing platforms. Now, come up to our cockpit...


In the Cockpit

Previously, we have repeatedly explained that we divide boats into zones according to their names, adopted on sailing ships, as all topRik experts come from sailing. In fact, on such a boat the entire area inside the hull is the cockpit, just like on RIBs. But we decided not to deviate from the sailing ship exploration plan, so the XO DFNDR 9’s cockpit is the part of the deck from the transom board, that is, from the end of the platform to the step of the deckhouse.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

This small area accommodates a comfortable two- or three-seater sofa and a folding table, which is also height-adjustable. If you've read at least a few of our reviews or are familiar with modular furniture on other boats and yachts, you already know what comes next: you need to lower the table to the level of the seats and cover it with a mattress to get a berth or a large sun lounger... You might ask – how can it be large in here?

You’ll be surprised what you can do with XO boats and in particular the DFNDR series. You need to turn the sofa from the wheelhouse towards the cockpit - like this.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

And then everything will work out - just like that!

XO DFNDR 9 Review

But until the time for rest comes, let’s continue our research...


Inside the Wheelhouse

Watch your step! Yes, we are dealing with a small boat with an open cockpit. Although it is self-draining, so much water gets into the cockpit during turns or simply when driving at high speed that it can flood the wheelhouse.

Therefore, you get a step and a tightly closing door. But the door is not mainly to protect from water, but from wind and cold, if we are talking about cold regions.

But if you are traveling in warm seas, keep the doors wide open, open all the windows with the hatch overhead and enjoy the wind in your hair.

As you can understand by looking at the cockpit interior, the designers took care of the comfort of passengers. They did not forget about the helmsman's workplace. The helm station is equipped with two very comfortable swivel chairs with modern shock-absorbing devices.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

The chairs and its parts (armrests, backrest, seat) are adjusted to suit the height of the skipper and the chosen position when operating the boat (usually, of course, in a sitting position).

The helm panel is thoughtfully filled with navigation equipment, indicators that reflect the life of the boat, communications equipment, a helm in the form of a car steering wheel and a powerful, reliable engine control lever. When you look at the helmsman in the photo below, you can directly feel how securely and comfortably you can sit at the helm.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

By the way, this is Kevin Koenig, the author of the review to which a link is offered in the section below -he was the one who started and described this grandiose journey in the Baltic Sea, which was mentioned in the introductory part.

And this is what the helm panel looks like as standard, so a second display with a plotter, a thruster, automatic trimmers and other accessories will cost extra.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

Do you see these steps along the sides? It's time to go visit the bow of the boat.


In the Bow Cockpit

This fairly large space can be used in two ways, again, depending on what role you want your DFNDR 9 to play. If this is a boat for a family vacation or for transporting people from point A to point B (from home, to a cottage, to work, to visit a neighboring island, etc.), then choose a version with a comfortable sunbed covering the entire area of the bow cockpit.

XO DFNDR 9 Review

And if you intend to use your DFNDR 9 for active recreation on the water, then this lounger will only get in the way. By “active” we mean fishing, including in coastal waters, hunting in enclosed water bodies and rivers, spearfishing, diving, and towing sports.

The DFNDR series is ideally suited for all this. After all, this hull made of military alloy is not afraid of shallows, rocks, much less reeds or snags. And the speed of up to 50 knots makes it possible to please water skiers and other fans of flying over the waves on various devices attached to a special rod on the transom.

Both family people and active athletes require a little rest. How are things going with this on the model 9? DFNDR 8 had the transforming seats in the wheelhouse for this purpose.


Inside the Cabin

Yes, there is a cabin here, and although it is small, two people can have a great rest on this bed.

And before you go on vacation, get yourself in order by using the shower and washbasin. The toilet can also be installed in this miniature bathroom.

XO DFNDR 9 Review


At the Sea

XO DFNDR 9 fully met our expectations both in terms of seaworthiness and ease of handling. Well, we expected good results, if only because we had our own experience testing the DFNDR 8 and other models from the large XO family on the water - DSCVR and EXPLR.

As usual, we tried to artificially create waves as the dawn sea was too calm. A responsive helm, obedient rudders, a maneuverable boat - we understood this right away. Moreover, we reached planing already at 16 knots, or at 6 seconds. This is despite the fact that the boat we tested was equipped with a pair of engines producing only 225 HP.

However, we were convinced that the declared speed of 50 knots was achievable - we managed to achieve this figure at 6000 rpm, but we did not risk boosting the engines further. We recommend maintaining a cruising speed on DFNDR 9 of 30-40 knots. Only 41 liters of fuel per hour will be enough for you at a speed of 30 knots, and at a speed of 40 knots the consumption will be about 60 liters per hour.

The steering console is ergonomic, the armrest provides reliable support for the hand when working with the engine control lever. Nothing superfluous, but everything you need is available. That is, even in standard configuration this boat shows itself to be perfectly adapted for many tasks, and with the use of options it becomes literally perfect.


Advantages of XO DFNDR 9

Quality and reliability of design, the highest possible comfort and convenience for life on board and in operation, as well as affordable cost - these are the main advantages of XO DFNDR 9.

It is no coincidence that it was highly appreciated by specialists in the maritime community. The boat embodies all the latest innovations and achievements of naval architecture, which include a hull made of military alloy, lined with fiberglass on the inside and a method of gluing a fiberglass deckhouse to the hull. At the same time, the boat is light, since most of the alloy is aluminum.

The hull design of this bowrider prevents the jerkiness that might be expected due to the boat's light weight. The ergonomics of the helm panel and skipper's chairs provide maximum comfort when operating the XO DFNDR 9.

The boat has the necessary minimum to provide passengers with comfortable living conditions - a cabin with a berth for two, a toilet room with a shower, washbasin and toilet. The galley is still present, at least in the form of a grill or plancha...

XO DFNDR 9 is perfectly suited for multi-tasking: from a weekend boat for the whole family to a vehicle for fun sports and fishing, as well as just transporting people along the coastline. And if you read the report by Kevin Koenig, which is presented in the next section, then you’ll be convinced that it is also a reliable coastal cruiser.


Reviews of XO DFNDR 9 from Professionals

This is the link to the report promised above on traveling through the Baltic Sea on board the XO DFNDR 9, which the author called Baltic Blast.

Report by Kevin attracts not only with the exact characteristics of the boat being tested, but also with the geographical notes and humor of the author as he talks about the characteristics of the Baltic countries and their population, while also speaking with irony about his own unexpected adventures in a new environment. What is especially interesting is that he actively quotes Erkki Talvela and shows him not only as the head of a large and already well-known yacht company, but also as an original person who, it turns out, knows martial arts and is interested in pistol shooting.

In the first paragraph, Kevin stated that the Baltic region, in particular Scandinavia, is greatly underrated for cruises. He himself risked going to XO DFNDR 9 from Stockholm to Helsinki. In the report, he said that he smiled several times along the way just from steering this boat.

The author noted that three tall men felt quite comfortable and free on board. He liked that this boat had a cabin and other amenities.

He recommended using sailing directions, or even better, a guide when traveling in the Baltic Sea, since an underwater rock can emerge unexpectedly. In this regard, he was relieved that XO DFNDR 9 does not risk ending up with a hole in this case.

Kevin talks about how the performance properties of the boat manifested themselves, about the design features of the hull, that are associated (who would have thought!) with the low salinity of the Baltic waters, and also a lot of interesting things about the nature of the boat, its companions and the places they visited on this trip. For more details, follow the link provided to the Power and Motoryacht’s website.


Video Reviews of XO DFNDR 9

Let’s continue with looking at the boat from a new angle – or maybe multiple angles? Here are best videos on XO DFNDR 9 we could find.

XO Boats themselves proudly present their creation:

MBY does a great job with their lengthy review of this model:

Even longer review (more than half an hour) from BoatLife:

And first XO DFNDR 9 in Australia reviewed shortly:



Tough, lightweight, and easy to maintain and repair, XO's famous deep-V aluminum hulls mean that as polished and refined as they look, XO boats are also great for rough conditions - rocky beach cruising, rafting at busy piers, sea crossings and everyday family holidays.

This is an excellent choice for both the beginner who wants to join the maritime community and the tired sea wolf who wants peace and even solitude in sea voyages.

XO DFNDR 9 is perfect for a cheerful group of fishermen, towing sports enthusiasts, or for a romantic couple wishing to spend some time together.

This is a great option for a family, including those with children, due to its reliability and safety.

We advise representatives of the charter business to also take a closer look at this inexpensive and sought-after boat.

XO DFNDR 9 Review


Where to Buy XO DFNDR 9 at a Bargain Price

You don't even have to think about where to buy XO DFNDR 9 at a great price because you are already here – check out the topRik marketplace page dedicated to the XO aluminum boat DFNDR 9.

Feel free to ask any questions to our experts, who will give you a free consultation on all questions regarding optional equipment, and also, if you wish, will take on all the numerous tasks of negotiations with the seller, paperwork, control of equipment at the place of shipment and delivery of the boat to the point you specified.

To get all these services, just dial the phone number above, send a message at [email protected] or fill in the feedback form.

XO DFNDR 9 Get Price

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