Used Boat Review: Tiara 4300 Sovran

By Scott Shane

In 2006, Tiara Yachts launched the first diesel-powered Volvo Penta IPS (Inboard Performance System) 4300 Sovran. The marriage between Holland, Michigan-based Tiara and IPS was consummated there and then, and the relationship has proven to be a great one. Production of the 4300 Sovran surpassed 200 hulls in the shortest time of any line in the history of Tiara.

The Tiara 4300 Sovran introduced many boaters to the joy of joysticks

The Tiara 4300 Sovran introduced many boaters to the joy of joysticks

“We wanted to take a leading role in new propulsion technology and introduce a new model designed exclusively for IPS,” said David Glenn, marketing director for S2 Yachts, parent company to Tiara Yachts and Pursuit Boats. “We believed, as we do today, that IPS and joystick technology would eliminate customers’ concerns about handling and docking and bring new customers to our brand.”

This yacht was different than most any other seen in the United States at the time. The builder combined its notable success with classically styled and well-laid-out cruisers and a commitment to a revolutionary propulsion system. This new system—with dual forward-facing propellers that pull a hull through the water, rather than pushing it—required a shift in the position of mechanicals as well as additional components. A new hull and interior were explicitly drawn for the IPS years before the first boat rolled off the assembly line.

“Our mission was to redefine cruising with technology and amenities not found in our Open series,” Glenn said. “With the IPS system, we were able to realize and achieve the interior accommodations lacking in so many products.”

Engine placement was oriented farther aft in the hull, changing the position of major bulkheads. The interior cabin volume profited greatly with better-proportioned cabins and heads. It was quite an accomplishment to offer a reasonably sized guest stateroom with comfortable twin berths (a filler cushion to convert to a queen was an option) and a private head on an express-style yacht; the 4300 Sovran did just that.

The master stateroom forward has a centerline queen berth with stowage beneath. The lockers are cedar lined. There is a private head with separate shower and a large deck hatch above for ambient light. The bulkhead and teak doorframe are quite solidly constructed in usual Tiara fashion, offering a bit more privacy than a simple room divider.

The main saloon is awash in rich hues from the teak joinery. Soft goods in light colors brighten the cabin, with the help of two overhead hatches. Stowage overall is ample, though not overly abundant.

Tiara excelled at taking advantage of the boat’s beam, which measures nearly 15 feet. To that end, the saloon is very open, and a casual observation of the headroom put it well above my nearly 6-foot height. The combination of the two eliminates any claustrophobic feelings other express models in this size range may promote.

The amidships galley is to port as you descend the wide teak steps from the helm. A U-shaped dinette is to starboard and the flatscreen TV is smartly secured within the bulkhead facing the dinette, which converts to a berth. An optional upper and lower stowage locker in the saloon reconfigured the dinette to an L-shape in some cases, a nice choice if you can find it.

Tiara created the feel of a larger yacht on the 4300 Sovran, with comfortable interior spaces

Tiara created the feel of a larger yacht on the 4300 Sovran, with comfortable interior spaces

Now down to the business end of the boat: The Tiara 4300 Sovran has a raised helm deck that provides excellent sightlines through a wraparound windshield. The helm area is capped by a composite hardtop that’s a sturdy work of art built for the long haul. It features built-in hatches, mounts for curtains, and LED lighting. The entire enclosure creates a tight seal so the helm-deck air conditioning has a fighting chance of cooling the space and keeping it comfortable even in 90-degree temperatures.

The windshield has an electrically actuated center vent and three wipers. The ergonomically designed console is hinged for access to wiring and monitors, and has a good amount of space designated for mounting all the needed navigation tools. The area is also outfitted with a sink and bar area, refrigerator, and ice maker. A plush settee is to port behind the navigation center, replete with chart stowage.

The helm deck and lower cockpit provide a multilevel social space whether at the dock or underway. The lower cockpit is a great area for family or friends to get close to the water and catch up. There’s a large L-shaped settee that sits atop a stowage area. The portside cushions raise to grant access to the engine room.

The cockpit also has an aft-facing seat with stowage below. The appropriate amenities, including cupholders, cushions, and a table, are selectively placed throughout both levels. There’s a large transom stowage compartment accessible from the swim platform. And good news for cruisers—the platform will support a small tender.

The masses now sing the praises of maneuvering about the docks and in tight quarters with the Volvo Penta joystick, but it wasn’t that way when the boat began production. Tiara decided to pursue this unproven technology at the time and invest in the idea. A handful of the early 4300 Sovrans had bow thrusters. The joystick effectively eliminated the need for the added expense; having both was widely considered to be redundant. The results spoke for themselves: Family members who ordinarily shied away from the helm lost their apprehensions about piloting the vessel, adding to the popularity of the system.

There may be a few pre-owned 4300 Sovrans still within the manufacturer’s transferable, five-year hull warranty—this is always a good thing if you can find one. The hulls are constructed with an outside gelcoat layer, followed by a hand layup of fiberglass and premium resin. The molded-in foam-cored stringers are encapsulated in fiberglass.

IPS propulsion requires less horsepower to achieve the same performance numbers as conventionally shafted boats. In turn, that equates to all-around greater efficiency. Published performance data reports that the 4300 Sovran will provide a 23-knot cruising speed burning 31 gph at 3200 rpm; this suggests a 250-mile range at that speed with a 10-percent reserve. Some brokers that are well versed with the product suggest there’s only a modicum of benefit with the larger 435-horsepower IPS600 option over the 370-horsepower IPS500s, while others seek it out. The standard genset is an 11.5-kilowatt Onan.

A dark-colored helm console reduces glare.

A dark-colored helm console reduces glare.

The engines are under the lower cockpit sole and the entire deck lifts on actuators for easier servicing. The IPS drives minimize vibration and noise and the well-insulated engine room further promotes the cause. It’s easy to navigate within the compartment and on either side of both powerplants. The IPS pods are obviously behind the main engines and secured within the hull in areas designed and reinforced for optimum support and handling.

Tiara Yachts didn’t skimp on the standard equipment. Beyond the fabric and color preferences, the original option sheet has a few items that, when factory installed, make some examples of the 4300 Sovran more desirable on the brokerage market. The upgraded helm-deck air conditioning is one for certain. A washer-dryer, guest-cabin filler cushion, and macerator for the head also make sense—a spare set of props couldn’t hurt either.

Overall styling remained consistent over the years, as with most of the distinctive Tiara models, and only true brand aficionados can easily tell the difference in model years. The 4300 Sovran was replaced by the 4500 in 2011. The IPS propulsion, and the performance and spacious cabins it delivers, makes the 4300 Sovran a winner on the pre-owned market.


Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who each had a Tiara 4300 Sovran listed on BoatQuest.com. Here’s what they each had to say about the model and what it has to offer on the brokerage market. ➤

LOA: 45’3″
BEAM: 14’9″
DRAFT: 3’7″
DISPL.: 26,800 lb.
POWER OPTIONS: 2/435-mhp Volvo Penta IPS600s; 2/370-mhp Volvo IPS500s
FUEL: 375 gal.
WATER: 110 gal.
YEARS BUILT: 2006-2010
PRICE RANGE: $339,500 to $560,000

Click here for a survey report on the Tiara 4300 Sovran.