What do two more metres get you on a boat? Graham Snook sets the Hanse 348 and Hanse 418 against each other to find out
Head to Head: Hanse 348 & Hanse 418
Size matters, so the saying goes, but what do two extra metres get you on a modern cruising yacht?
Usually, a bigger boat means a different layout or different features, but Hanse’s sub-50ft range of easy-to-sail family cruisers follow a tried and tested layout: forecabin, saloon, an aft-facing chart table and a heads compartment to port, an L-shaped galley to starboard and a cabin or two under the cockpit.
Regardless of model, it sticks rigidly to this formula.
We wanted to find out what you gain and what you lose by going bigger or smaller.
The two boats we chose were the Hanse 348 (Price as tested: £166,804 inc VAT) and Hanse 418 (Price as tested: £254,534 inc VAT) as they hadn’t been tested by YM before.
Both had the same number of cabins and berths.
Both are evolutions of older models (345 and 415 respectively), and both were released at the same time (2017).
The two test yachts we used for this feature are also a similar age.
In fact, on the water both boats were so alike to look at, only the number of hull windows distinguished between the models (the Hanse 418 has three hull windows, the Hanse 348 just one).
We were lucky to have bright sunshine on the day of the test, with wind ranging from 10 to 18 kts true.
With a length overall of 9.99 (32ft 9in) the 348’s performance figures were respectable, more so considering the test boat was on loan from Pure Latitude Boat Club and had a full complement of safety clobber.
Even so, she was a delight.
She was overpressed at times (at 20 knots over the deck many yachts are) but she retained her composure and behaved impeccably.
When we did reef, her performance was still good.
The Jefa steering made the helm light and responsive.
She cut a fine balance between being entertaining and lively to sail, without feeling flighty or tender.
Not only is she enjoyable, but she’s also incredibly easy to sail as well.
All one has to do is raise the mainsail and unfurl the jib, take in on the sheets and away you go.
With a self-tacking jib, tacking is as easy as turning the wheel.
Hanse use a self-tacking jib on all it yachts – it’s a well-proven system and only when sailing off the wind did the smaller jib and narrow sheeting angle cause an inefficient sail shape.
At all other times, the smaller jib makes loads lighter and sailing a doddle.
A detailed tour
Space around the helm is good; there’s a solid section behind the helm that whilst not wide on its own is wider by the top edge of the fold-up transom.
Forward of the twin wheels, the cockpit seating is good, with the rounded corners at the forward end making it a comfortable area to hunker down.
With two aft cabins below, deck stowage is limited to two sole-depth cockpit lockers and a lazarette locker.
It’s also a shame there isn’t any dedicated liferaft stowage.
On deck, the moulded tread pattern offers good grip and a lack of genoa tracks and sheets keeps the side decks clear.
From the mast, all lines are led aft outboard of the coachroof where they run under the deck to exit at the aft end of the coachroof and run along the coaming top to Lewmar 40ST winches at the helm.
There were a second pair of Lewmar 40ST winches for use with a spinnaker.
The neat anchor locker has a platform for the windlass, and as it is moulded as part of the deck, the inner surface of the locker is gelcoat and easy to clean.
The lid is made from a two-part mould and the addition of a Hanse logo is a nice touch too.
The Hanse 418 felt slower to react than the 348, giving her a more graceful feeling on the water.
She would also find a groove and stay in it, and was less affected by wave motion and gusts.
Like the 348 we were also sailing at the top of what would be considered a suitable sail plan.
The larger Hanse 418 gave plenty of warning that she was overpowered and wanted to round up – the helm would load up and then she would slowly head towards the wind.
It was, however, possible to catch her and apply helm to halt her course and take her back.
It gave an excellent feeling of confidence.
Reefing was a push-button affair, thanks to the electric winches, and all done from the starboard helm.
She lost a bit of speed through the water (dropping from an average of 6.4 knots to 6.1 knots) but gained more surefootedness.
The grip from the single rudder was excellent and, like the 348, the feedback from the Jefa steering was good too.
It appears Hanse use the same steering unit on both yachts, meaning the distance between the larger wheels on the Hanse 418 was narrow, given the width of the cockpit.
Both boats have the option of using a German mainsheet system which can be operated from either wheel, though the 348 was set up with the mainsheet going to one side.
Exploring the cockpit of the Hanse 418
The Hanse 418’s cockpit felt 50 per cent wider, but only a little longer, while you also get more space around the helm.
The helm has the same raised seats outboard (that neatly hide the rope bins), but behind the helm there are also broad seats which lift to allow access to the large lazarette area beneath.
With the seats locked in the raised position, access is very easy.
Unlike the 348, the ropes atop of the coaming are covered with a GRP panel making the whole cockpit ahead of the helm line-free.
The lines emerge just forward of the helm to an electric Lewmar 45ST winch on each side.
Being so close to the helm, manual winches would be easy to use, but the electric winches fitted make a lot of sense and enable the crew to tend them easily.
Both boats had the cockpit table with an integral stainless-steel enclosure for a multi-function display in the aft end.
The side decks are a little narrow going past the sprayhood, but it has the same excellent non-slip grip texture as the 348.
Below decks on the Hanse 348 & Hanse 418
Below decks, there are many common traits on all models in the Hanse range, the most obvious being the saloon table; the design is similar for all, although on the Hanse 418 (as one might expect) the unit is longer and the leaves wider than on the 348.
You’ll also find Hanse’s excellent touch-panel lighting (if you opt for it) on both models, although it could have been better positioned; on the end of inboard end of the kitchen unit it could be accidentally knocked on or off.
The saloon of the 348 has the table with built-in bottle locker.
Strangely the latch is set back in the tabletop and part of the top pulls out with the draw that holds the bottles.
To port is a straight bench seat while to starboard is L-shaped seating.
With the starboard table leaf lowered, access to the seating is blocked, so you need the leaf raised to slide in.
The lighting onboard is good, with LED strip lights beneath the deck-level top-hinged lockers and seat bases.
The floor lights also handily illuminate the stowage under the saloon seating.
There are hull windows but they are a little small.
The L-shaped seating of the 348 is been replaced in the Hanse 418 by longer C-shaped seating that is just under 2m (6ft 5in) long with the end cushions in place – the 348’s saloon seat was just 1.91m (6ft 3in) long, with the cushions removed.
One area where the Hanse 418 shone over her smaller sibling was in the feel of quality of the saloon.
Behind the seats is a fabric-covered fiddle, giving a straight line along the cushion backs, rather than bumpy rounded cushions.
It’s a very neat visual trick that keeps all the lines inside the boat clean and straight.
Outboard of them are contrasting light-coloured fabric panels giving different tone and texture, standing out against the Alpi interior.
It gives the entire boat an air of quality that many manufacturers could learn from.
The 348 lacks the other visual details that ooze quality in this class of boat though.
It also lacked the deck-level stainless-steel handrails of the Hanse 418, but with the saloon being much narrower it was possible to brace against the table instead.
The chart tables of both yachts are remarkably similar, even down to the cut out in the corner in place of a fingerhole.
The switch panel is the same on both yachts, and above it, lockers for instruments are the same.
The main difference is the 418’s chart table is longer than it is wide so one sits at the short end of the rectangle.
The Hanse 418 has more space for instruments outboard as well as a unit aft which provides more stowage and more space to mount a display.
Inboard of the chart table, in the sole, the 418 had a handy wine locker, a feature the 348 sadly didn’t have.
Remembering that the 348 is a 9.99m (32ft 9in) hull, the forward cabin is what one expects to find.
There’s a 1.93m (6ft 4in) vee-berth that’s 1.55m (5ft 2in) at its widest, with a handy space for phones, glasses and other night-time necessities outboard at each corner.
There are also reading lights on both sides with USB charging points in their base.
Given the proliferation of USB-charged devices, it still amazes me that more manufactures aren’t doing this, especially as it’s as easy as fitting a reading light.
Above the lights are fiddled shelves, very handy and nice to see.
To starboard is a hanging locker while to port there is a shelved locker.
Beneath the berth is the forward water tank.
Overhead is a large opening hatch that also has a forward-facing section that gives more light.
As nice as the 348’s forecabin is, the Hanse 418 blows it away.
There is no comparison.
The 418 feels like a proper cabin making the 348 feel like a high-sided berth.
If there was one area alone on the 418 that would tempt me to buy bigger, this is it.
The difference was staggering.
Rather than a vee-berth, the head of the bed is forward, a handy unit provides space for books, glasses and iPads, and there is storage inside too.
You get two large hull windows, allowing you to see your anchorage while still tucked up in bed.
There is also more space aft of the berth – enough to be able to add an en-suite heads cabin as an option (although the berth becomes V-shaped as in the 348).
There is a greater feeling of quality, with lockers instead of shelves, drawers underneath and in the step at the foot of the berth.
Like the 348, the forward berth hides the water tanks.
The only thing that lets the 418’s forecabin down is the suprising lack of styling, unlike in the saloon, where tones, colours and textures are used to shake things up visually.
There are deck-level lockers, but it’s dominated by Alpi wood and light-coloured GRP.
Whilst one might expect all the areas on board the 418 to be a lot bigger, the L-shape galleys on both boats were little different.
The 348 has a one-and-a-half sink set athwartships and a good splashback, with a little workspace before the lid of the deep fridge is found outboard.
There is also a handy aft-facing door for the fridge, so getting contents from the bottom needn’t be a challenge.
There’s the two-burner stove and aft of that is a narrow workspace.
Below this strip of worktop is the bottom-hinged pull-out bin.
Like all the latches they are neat and easy to use – a squeeze undoes the latch.
It was simple and well laid out for the size of boat.
Where there was a narrow worksurface and bin on the 348 (next to the aft bulkhead), on the 418 there was a more usable area of workspace, with a long cutlery drawer and bin beneath it.
The sink had changed its orientation and now sat parallel to the centreline.
There were lockers outboard at deck level on both yachts, but the 418’s lockers were both deeper and taller.
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The 418 offers the opportunity to extend the galley aft if you do away with one of the aft cabins.
If you don’t want a bigger galley, the extra space from a cabin could be a separate shower compartment with access into the large cockpit locker aft.
Opposite the galley on both yachts were the heads.
Both yachts have a single aft cabin as standard unless you need twin aft cabins – one to ponder, particularly on the 348.
While the heads compartment was OK, it wasn’t particularly spacious.
The aft end of it feels as if you’re being wedged in, so rather than face the sink, it was easier to stand side on.
The tap control and the mixer come out from a black faux slate panel, more reminiscent of a funky hotel than the heads of a yacht.
The mixer head pulls out to become the shower.
There is no grating over the drain so you’ll probably end up with wet socks if you need to use the toilet after someone has had a shower.
Again, the quality touches on the 418 come through.
The toilet compartment is separated by a semi-bulkhead and can be partitioned off by a Perspex door enclosing the toilet and shower compartment.
There are also dedicated shower controls with the cubical as well as a fold-down lid to stop the toilet getting wet.
Aft, in the heads compartment, is a shelf next to the sink and mirror-fronted lockers above the slate effect panel.
Both boats are available with single or twin double aft cabins.
One of the adaptations from the 345 to the 348 was the addition of narrow horizontal windows.
While they add natural light, the thickness of the window surround in the deck mould means it’s tricky to see out of them, particularly behind the cockpit moulding.
Speaking of which, the cockpit reduces the height over the berth to 55cm (1ft 11in) for most of its length, except where one person can sit up straight.
There are handy shelves above the head of the berth outboard.
The berth size between models is very similar, the 348 only losing 11cm 4in in width to the 418, though the latter also has two lockers here.
The cabins on the 348 felt a little enclosed in comparison, due to the 418’s large hull windows and extra hatches, and all but the inboard 56cm (1ft 10in) having at least 1m (3ft 3in) clearance over the berth they felt airier.
The aft cabins on both boats mirror each other and have lockers outboard.
On the 418 they are shelved and have hanging space, on the 348 there are just shelves.
Forward of the berth on the 418 is a handy fiddled unit with a small amount of stowage.
On both yachts, beneath the berths in the port aft cabins was the calorifier while in the starboard was the fuel tank.
Access into and around the engine compartment was good from the sides, although a panel needed to be removed to get the best access to the engine when when entering from the front beneath the companionway steps.
The test verdict
Hanse trade on the fact its boats are easy to sail.
During the photoshoot, both boats were handled singlehanded and sailed in formation, a testament to Hanse having delivered on its aims.
Both handled the conditions without complaint and felt great on the helm too.
The 348 felt more responsive and alive which, for short cruises or port hops, is what you want.
The 418 felt more refined but still rewarding and enjoyable; like the difference between a hot hatchback and a grand tourer.
One difference I wasn’t expecting was the step up in quality.
Both boats come out of the same factory after all.
As boats increase in size, so do owners’ expectations.
Where on the 348 you’ll have shelves, on the 418 you’ll find top-hinged lockers.
The 418 conveys her build quality better, with more detailing in fabric panels and areas like solid wood fiddles in the cupboards.
When compared to its rivals it is one of the better-finished boats at this price point.
The obvious difference between the two yachts is their size – indeed, the main aim of this test was to discover what that extra 2m gives you.
The 418m isn’t just longer, it also has extra beam (around 60cm/2ft), and more headroom, all of which creates more volume.
However, despite the extra space the 418 gives you, the clever people at Hanse have still managed to fit a surprising amount into the smaller 348.
The smaller sister works as a boat in her own right without losing very much at all in terms of features.
Only the heads compartment felt like a compromise, although she would be wonderful as a two-cabin boat.
Pure Latitude, the company we borrowed the 348 from, already owns two 345s and has ordered a second 348 to cope with the boat’s popularity, and it’s easy to see why.
They are both great boats.
The extra space on the 418 would be nice, but I could happily cruise the 348.
Regarding performance, the youthful side of me (and I like to think I still have one) relished the feeling on the helm and the way the 348 reacts, whereas my older, more mature side preferred the graciousness of the 418.
But I keep thinking about the forward cabin on the 418.
For me, it is the clincher.
If there is a criticism of the smaller 348, no cabin feels like an owner’s cabin – they are all pretty much the same.
On the 418 however, you’re left in no doubt.
Is it worth the extra investment?
That’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
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