It seems that Piranha RIBs is a company on the up. Based at Sparkes Marina on Hayling Island, MD Nick Edgington, has been importing these Chinese-built boats for more than two years and in that time, a great deal of progress has been made. Not only does the range now run from the 3.3-metre ‘Pearl’ right up to the new and improved flagship 8.5-metre cabin RIB, but the fleet also comprises a five-strong aluminium line, ranging from 2.4 to 4.2 metres in length.

Piranha old 2011 model

The old 2011 model had plenty going for it… but Piranha listened to its customers, introducing a new and improved version for 2012

In addition, the company is also now at the forefront of a new event called the National Used RIB Show. Due to make its debut in 2012, it is an attempt to grasp the spirit of the age by tuning into exactly what UK RIB buyers want - and that is a very apt example of the approach Piranha RIBs takes to doing business. They listen to the input of their customers and they stay in close contact with their very amenable Chinese factory. Then, when a change is genuinely required, they make it happen - as proven by the recent transition from the established Piranha 5.8 to the new and improved 2012 version.

Piranha 2011 model

The original 5.8m was easy to drive

The merits of the 2011 model
The 2011 model 5.8 was a very decent family RIB. Coming in with a ‘Boat Only’ price of just £13,995 (or £20,995 with a Suzuki DF70), it offered a traditional layout with a broad inflatable collar, an aft bench, a centrally positioned console and a V-shaped seating section in the bow. What was more surprising at this price level, however, was the quality (and generosity) of the features list . . .

70hp outboard

The 5.8 should have been getting better pace from its 70hp engine

It came with good stainless catches on the storage compartments, lots of teak-lined mouldings, plenty of well-positioned grab handles and decent storage capacity. It also provided stainless rails on top of the collar, plus sunken cleats, nav lights, a ski pole and a set of GRP steps moulded into the back ends of the tubes. And it didn’t end there. Among this boat’s additional standard features, you also got hydraulic steering, a metal-spoked wheel, a full set of cushions, an anchor and rope, lifting eyes, a boat cover, an air pump, some oars and a repair kit. In short, the original 5.8 was indisputably excellent value, fully justifying Piranha’s claim to provide everything a new owner needed to get straight out on the water.

But as a very new boat, the old 5.8 was not without fault. Some of the storage spaces were poorly conceived, with obstructive lid-top cushions, limited access hatches and poor drainage. And while the cleanly moulded hull, with its low-slung aft tube sections, made this a very easy boat to handle, a top end of around 32 knots at 5,500rpm (700rpm short of the Suzuki’s usual limit) suggested that performance was falling short. These were issues that Nick took very seriously - so seriously in fact that he made a careful note of our findings before jetting off to the Chinese factory on a mission to make the boat better.


Piranha 2012 model

The new 2012 model features a number of improvements

The new and improved 2012 model
As you can see from the (somewhat grainy) photographs, the 2012 boat represents a very marked change. The colourways have become more aggressive and dynamic with stark orange hull accents on the tubes - and happily, this is a feature that is now to be used across the entire range. The bow moulding, always a major asset, has been subtly enhanced with a GRP channel for the bow line and the helm console has also been reworked. In place of the angular, rather awkward helm console, the new unit is smoothly raked with the metal grab rails brought inside the edges of the curved screen to generate more space on either side. And in addition to its radical aesthetic overhaul, the storage space inside the unit is now much more easily accessed via the swinging frontal seatback.

Piranha 5.8 new nose moulding

New nose moulding on the 2012 model

Aft of the console, you get a completely redesigned radar arch with a much broader base. It offers not just more aesthetic impact but also greater security for the passengers on the aft seat. In addition, the extensive tube top grab handles of the old model have been replaced with a new aft rope section on either side, allied to the existing forward tube-top metal rail. Not only is it very effective, but it also cleans up the lines of the new 5.8, making it a far more desirable looking boat.

Piranha 5.8 new console

The new console

As regards the more fundamental changes, the integral 120-litre fuel tank has been upgraded, with an increase to 150 litres and a reworking of the access to the filler cap. And even the hull itself has been modified with a slightly broader beam and a deeper V, generating not just more space but also preemptively remedying any hardening of the ride. At the same time, a repositioned throttle and a raised bracket on the transom should enable the engine to rev to its full capacity, bringing 35 knots well within the reach of this boat with the same Suzuki DF70 outboard. And yet despite all these improvements, the 5.8’s foam (rather than plywood) sandwich construction, means that the all-in weight is actually 20kg less than the outgoing model.

New Piranha 5.8m

SummaryPiranha 5.8 Specifications
If the old 5.8 was a good boat waiting to happen, the new model is everything we had hoped it would be. The price may have gone up by around £3,000, but that extra money has been spent in a very sound, constructive and sustainable way, as Nick Edgington explains: “We’ve kept it as well priced as we feel we can - but given how much more comprehensively specified the new boat is, we feel it is actually better value than ever.” With a quality lay-up, an even more generous features list and a raft of cleverly targeted improvements, it’s very difficult to disagree. For more details see Piranha RIBs.



Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.