Big Boat, Small Package
Baja builds a tough boat, and uses the same construction to build the 245 Performance as for their bigger, faster models. Rigging components are all first-class, deck hardware is stainless steel and there are enough options to please the most fanatic go-fast guy. The 23-degree deadrise straight V-hull is a proven design that, while maybe not as fast as similarly powered stepped hulls, is comfortable, safe and easy to drive. The 245 is small enough for easy trailering, big enough for most conditions if driven sensibly, and should provide enough thrills for most people.
Hull and deck are laminated with hand-laid biaxial fabrics cored with end-grain balsa, then bonded with Plexus methacrylate adhesive. Using adhesive distributes stresses all along the hull-to-deck joint; high-speed boats like this one must endure lots of pounding and twisting, the forces often magnified by a heavy hand on the throttles. As the boat twists, mechanically fastened joints concentrate the stresses at the fasteners, which can cause gelcoat cracking. The extremely high-bond Plexus creates essentially a one-piece hull and deck, strong enough to take anything a sane driver will throw at it.
Baja uses premium gelcoat, backed by a layer of vinylester resin to protect from water absorption. The graphics, whether the four-color standard pattern or one of a bunch of optional schemes, are done in gelcoat rather than painted on after construction. Showy graphics don't make the boat any faster, and we'd spend our money on a bigger engine instead, but boats like the 245 Performance are as much about show as they are about go.
There isn't much in the way of accommodations in the 245 Performance, other than V-berths in the cabin. But nobody buys a boat like this for cruising; the berths are for casual use (a euphemism for "if you get lucky") or as a place to throw gear. Nevertheless, the cabin sole is covered with bare-foot-friendly 20-oz carpet, and folks belowdecks are protected by a carbon monoxide monitor.
The 245 Performance is a single-engine sterndrive boat. For 2011 Baja offers three engines, all MerCruisers: the 6.2-liter, 320-hp 377 MAG and the 380-hp 8.2 MAG, both with Bravo One drives, and our choice, the 430-hp 8.2 MAG H.O. with Bravo One X. (The Bravo One X is a stronger drive for higher-hp engines.) The sole raison d'etre of a boat like the 245 Performance is high speed – otherwise, you could buy any similar-sized runabout -- so why buy one that won't get up and go? We say spring for the Magnum H.O., even if it means giving up on some other options. Boats with the MAG H.O. get raceboat-style Latham external steering rather than the standard power steering of less-muscular 245s – another reason to upgrade.
We tested the 245 Performance when it was first introduced in 2004. With the middle engine at that time, a 375-hp MerCruiser 496 Magnum, we clocked a top speed of 62.5 mph. This is fast enough for most people, especially in a 24'6" boat, but only OK in the high-performance world. We think upgrading to the H.O. option would move top end to around 67 mph: A Baja 25 Outlaw with the Mag H.O. ran 65.6 in a BoatTEST.com trial; the 245 Performance is about 750 lbs lighter, so should go a little faster. This is just an estimate, so don't hold us to it.
Trim tabs with indicators are also optional, but you'll want them; we'd choose the raceboat-style 14" x 19" rather than the 12 x 12-inchers. For some reason, a compass is also optional – what's that all about? Selling a boat without a compass is like selling a car without headlights.
Except for the missing compass, the Baja 245 Performance is well-equipped as a standard boat. Other than what we've already mentioned, we would definitely recommend a fire-extinguishing system, which every boat should have; a second battery; a fume detector, which also should be standard; and a canvas cockpit cover. From a functional standpoint, that's about it.
Serious high-performance enthusiasts will want the Corsa Quick & Quiet II through-hull exhausts (through-hub is standard); those into controlling noise pollution can choose the Corsa Quick & Quiet Plus, which is switchable between through-hull and -hub. The standard rubrail is vinyl, but can be replaced with a heavier-duty version with a stainless-steel insert. We'd go for that, if only for peace of mind around pilings. (For a complete options list and pricing, contact your Baja dealer.)
Baja's MSRP for the 245 Performance is $65,925 with the 320-hp MerCruiser 377 MAG, $78,827 with the 375-hp MAG and $87,853 with the 425-hp MAG H.O. and Bravo One X drive; an even heavier-duty XR drive bumps the price to $94,302. We're not going to race our 245, so the Bravo One X is fine; the $6,449 we save will pay for our options. The actual price of your Baja 245 Performance will depend on your negotiation skills and your dealer's hunger, but we are confident you'll be able to buy a well-equipped boat with H.O. power for around $90 - $92,000.That price will get you a fast, fun and exciting boat from a quality builder. We love high-performance boats and have been driving them as often as we can for decades, so we can recommend the 245 Performance enthusiastically. But if you decide to go this route, test drive several boats of various quality, all in choppy water. That's where you'll see the difference first-rate construction and rigging make. Any boat's fine when it's calm, but you'll want a boat like the Baja when the whitecaps start to form.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Baja 245 Performance (2010- ) is 62.5 mph (100.6 kph), burning 29.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 112.04 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Baja 245 Performance (2010- ) is 35.5 mph (57.1 kph), and the boat gets 3.07 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.31 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 221 miles (355.67 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!