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Riviera 395 SUV - Welcome back

by John Curnow, Editor, Powerboat-World.com 6 Jul 07:36 UTC
A long tradition of offshore craft sees Riviera's 395 SUV have a fine entry with a deep V, and also heaps of volume for muscle in the waves. © John Curnow

It’s been a while since Riviera had a product offering that was less than 40 feet. So when you choose to re-enter that space, which is now even more crowded with good craft than ever before, then you’d want to make your new boat was something really special.

To do that, you would create a new hull, and then give it that one ingredient that’s all it’s own. A real Riviera pedigree. That means offshore DNA for when the ripples become swells, as well as terrific fit and finish that is commensurate with a high level of standard specification. Now make sure you understand that last point, for the ultra-new 395 SUV, which had her World Premiere just weeks ago at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, is a true Riviera. Just as much so as her larger sisters, in fact…

On water review of the brand new Riviera 395 SUV

We’ll talk more about what the 395 SUV is and where she fits in to Riviera’s line-up and plans, but for now, and having ramped it all up in the preceding paragraphs, let’s head out to sea. We tested the boat near her home in Queensland (AUS), which of course meant we had come out of the Southport Bar as it used to be known, before it got its much cooler name, the Gold Coast Seaway. Once outside we were met by a 1.2m seaway and 10 knots from the Sou’souwest. The latter would go on to build into the mid-teens smartly enough.

Before getting going, you ensure you have full deployment of the interceptors to assist with getting on the plane as soon as practicable, which should happen at around 15 knots. Once there, you’ll bring them back to 25-30%. You can option for this to be delivered automatically, but if you are going offshore often, then it may not really provide you with any distinct advantage, as we’ll see in the next paragraph.

The first element you notice is just how comfortable the craft is. In flat water she’ll ask for about a 27 knot/3250 RPM/115 litres per hour (combined) preferred cruise platform, which yields a 300nm range. You do not see any significant reduction in burn by coming back to the low 20s (say 108 lhr), nor a gain in range (it’s a reduction actually). So yes, blast away, as long as it is safe and comfortable.

Now to my thinking, when heading uphill and offshore, this will be scaled back to 2650 RPM, and that will yield around 22 to 23 knots depending on the conditions. You will use a little more fuel doing this next trick (up to low 120s), but with the interceptors set at 50% this delivers a far greater experience for all on board, and that is especially so for anyone that is not as nautical as you. Small price = huge benefit.

Planing so early, and not loosing revs in waves would have to be the primary benefits of the common rail, turbo and super charged, intercooled high speed Diesels, such as the pair of Volvo Penta IPS 500s (2x370hp) found on board. The next would have to be that you don’t need to mess about trying to wind the motors up by graduating the throttles open. They are far better suited to being given something like 80% throttle from a standstill, and then let her get up quickly and efficiently past 15 knots, and from there adjust back to your nominated speed after that.

So heading uphill at 27 knots into a building seaway of 1.3m is not for everybody, especially if you have non-boaties on board, but it is certainly what you are going to do when running away. This is one commendable sea boat. She is predominantly dry and instils you with confidence that she is not trying to bust herself apart, and will go exactly where you instruct her to. Depending how long your journey is, you will also hand steer, a lot, for it really is both pleasant and easy!

I did also set the interceptors back to 0 when running downhill and grabbed a smidgeon more pace with the aid of the wind and seaway, but to my mind the 25% just added some control and smoothness, without costing too much at the bowser later on.

Not sure about Interceptors? This video from on board Riviera's 4800 Sport Yacht explains their use...

The 395 SUV might not be the turn in machine that her Sports Yachts sisters are famous for, but then she is not trying to be either. Her intended use allows for increased capabilities offshore, and having more volume per linear foot, which her more traditional flying bridge hull design affords. The profile alone will also tell you that she is not trying to be the same kind of craft, either. Having said all of that, she does have a lovely behavioural pattern, and will come fully about and back over her own wake in around 8 of her own lengths.

Blue water credentials is a critical element in the whole Riviera ethos, and the 395 SUV is every bit the true Riviera. To Riviera the SUV stands for a crossover between a Sport Yacht and a flying bridge style motor yacht. The former stands for all the nice, one-level living, helm on the main deck, rear awning, aft bulkhead and door that open up to the cockpit, so that everybody is part of the party.

The latter translates to a beamier, more sportsfisherman and offshore style hull, large open cockpit with no moulded seating and so forth. It is about staying stable and dry, feeling secure, comfortable and confident and knowing you will get to where you are going. If you have to back off to 8 knots due to weather, then it will take you a long time to get anywhere. Whereas if you can do low 20s in relative comfort, then you’ll cover some ground.

I was not entirely sure that 39 and a half feet would be enough to pull it all off. If I was impressed by going through the static boat displayed in the water at Sanctuary Cove, then driving the craft in her natural environment was like a pleasant trip down memory lane when my family of six took to the seas to explore the coast in a 35-footer.

Of course there are TVs and fridges, stereos and water tanks to consider, and you can read all about those here, and also download the full brochure here here. As mentioned, there is a very healthy standard specification, and personal taste will demand you choose what you want from literally the two-pages of options. If it were me, then I would take the rear awning, and the two 12-inch Garmin MFDs. Not many additions at all…

Coming back to the beginning then, just exactly what is the 395 SUV’s Raison d'Être? Probably the most qualified to answer this is Stephen Milne, Brand and Communications Director for Riviera. The 395 SUV is the first instalment of a pair of fraternal twins. Her new sister, the 39 Sports Motor Yacht, will be unveiled to the world at the Sydney International Boat Show.

Where as the 395 SUV has the IPS500s, the flying bridge version (access from where the fridge is in the cockpit) will have Volvo Penta’s IPS600s (435hp each) to account for the added mass. Naturally, given they are the same boat, not withstanding the added deck, the obvious question is can the single level boat have the same donks? Milne commented, “It will not be an option on the SUV at this point. We think she is a sweet boat, just as she is, and she already achieves over 30 knots no problem on her brand new hull form.”

The 395 SUV has only been around for some six weeks. Hull #1 was floating in the marina at Sanctuary Cove, Hull #2, the very craft we tested, was the one that was revealed to all at the Riviera Festival of Boating Gala event held on the Saturday evening of the Sanctuary Cove Show, which really does epitomise the whole Riviera Experience by the way, #3 has just made it into the water, and #4 will be the first of the SMYs.

So with it all being so new, Milne explained where they are to fit in. “We believe there will be two types of boaters interested in the 395 SUV. Those perhaps coming down from bigger Rivieras after the children have left home, but still want all the latest features and technology like joystick control, IPS efficiency, performance and quietness, the digital switching system (including fly by wire), the five-year warranty that also includes all Volvo Penta engine and drive systems including electronics, delivering a total turnkey and trouble free boating experience.”

“Next there are those that might be coming up from smaller boats or sport cruiser style craft that are wanting their first big boat. They may be in their forties with younger kids, so the three beds in the aft cabin will really suit. By the way, you can have a fill in for that, making it a huge double. This of course means two couples can get away for the weekend or even a week.”

That accounts for outright purchase, but Milne also adds, “Syndication is working well for us across the board in all different boats from our 6000 Sport Yacht down to the 445SUV. It all depends on where the boat is located and what people are wanting, but of course our model limits it to six shareholders per craft, which means the boat gets used less, it is more like your own boat, and the hours are considerably less.”

At AUD850k the 395SUV is a huge offering, with quite a lot on board already. I think there is just the one option I would consider mandatory, which is the Dynamic Positioning System. It will help unbelievably with manoeuvring on your own or when short-handed, which is bound to be part of the use of a boat such as this.

“Our philosophy on what a base boat constitutes is far superior to that of many of our competitors. It ensures that the boat comes ready to turn the key and go boating. You won’t need to tick too many boxes on the options list. Of course there are some nice things to have, but a base boat for us must stand up on its merits, and to support our commitment of the ultimate boating experience to our owners.”

I think one of the ways to affirm this would be to look at electric sunroofs above one’s head, as opposed to manual operation.

“If you pick your weather windows, and a sensible captain always does anyway, then she could easily cruise to Sydney from here on the Gold Coast (approx 440nm) enjoying the cruise and the stopovers alike. Plus you’ll have a great platform to base yourself from at each of those locales.”

“We see our craft as boats people will develop their confidence in and become more rounded boaters, and cruise further afield. Of course our dealers run many owner trips for this very reason. Going further and having even more enjoyment from your boat are one of our guiding principals”, added Milne.

“Southeast Queensland has a lot of bridges to contend with, so the one level really suits this type of location. Day tripping and weekenders also account for a lot of the activity in places like Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, so to have the choice of SUV or SMY, depending on where you are and what you do, will be great for our existing customers, as well as those wanting to join our family of boat owners.”

The 395 SUV will be premiered at the upcoming Sydney International Boat Show along with the world premiere of the 39 SMY in August. Later in the year at the Fort Lauderdale show in Florida in November, the 395 SUV and its sister 39 SMY will join the mighty 72 SMY for their Americas Premiere, along with the World Premiere of the stylish new Belize 66. This will all really make it something to crow about. Certainly it will be a big outing for all in the Americas to look out for!

“Our new 395 SUV really is a bluewater boat in every respect. She’s a Riviera with all the advantages of state-of-the art design and the technology. All of our thinking flows down to our smaller models from superb new craft like our 72 Sports Motor Yacht, so this is where the refinement and usability stems from. Equally our latest thinking in terms of cabinetry, fit and finish and selection of materials also flows down into all our new models. This level of refinement is available in our new 40 foot craft, and all the way through to the 70-footers.” Yes. The 395 is quite a lot of boat to walk into. You’re starting on the 18th floor as it were, not the lobby.

“We often here this phrase from people who are moving out of sports cruisers to one of our boats. ‘Wow, this is a real boat!’ when they step onto a Riviera and they run it offshore. They are used to their craft performing in a certain way, and all of a sudden everyone feels more at home and confident, because our boats DNA was written offshore. We design our boats for Australia’s harsh and often challenging offshore conditions – the conditions that are right here at our back door. We are certainly not a lake boat company!”

“The 395 SUV does have strong forward sales, but as she is a bit smaller, her build time is shorter, and we find with all our new models, that after we have launched the first three or four boasts, we attain our natural production rhythm and this means that Riviera can deliver more craft per annum. So if you’re ready, then the good news is you could well have it by the time Spring in the Southern Hemisphere comes around. We are always keen to welcome new members to the Riviera family, so will do what we can to help people purchase their dream boat”, said Milne in closing.

To start your Riviera 395 SUV Experience, please go here.

To take in the whole Riviera Experience, be a part of the annual Riviera Gala

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