SUNSEEKER MAN­HAT­TAN 66 TEST

Clever de­sign and se­ri­ous propul­sion make for a win­ning com­bi­na­tion

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - Words Alan Harper

Fol­low­ing hot on the heels of the record­break­ing Man­hat­tan 52, the new 66 boasts more cab­ins, more space and the same beach club. But how does it cope at sea?

The po­lice­men are get­ting younger. So, I find, are the politi­cians. And boats are get­ting big­ger too. This last is not a sub­jec­tive judge­ment caused by the on­set of age but a quan­tifi­able fact, and there is no bet­ter ex­am­ple than Sunseeker’s Man­hat­tan 66. In­tro­duced to re­place the Man­hat­tan 65, which is still a pop­u­lar model, and which is only the shorter boat on paper, the Poole ship­yard’s lat­est mo­tor yacht is both taller and wider, and clearly more vo­lu­mi­nous. In­deed, view­ing the two boats moored next to each other, stern to the quay, you could eas­ily form the im­pres­sion that the new boat must be a good ten feet longer than the old.

It’s an im­pres­sion which is height­ened as you step aboard. The ex­tra width trans­lates to a cock­pit that seems roomy even with the op­tional bar fit­ted, and the glass doors to the in­te­rior slide com­pletely out of the way. With much the same length of saloon to play with as in the 65 – the wind­screen is a long way for­ward – the de­sign team of the Man­hat­tan 66 has opted for an open­plan aft gal­ley, and the ef­fect is to trans­port you from the open space out­side into yet more open space in­side.

Head­room at the gal­ley is an un­usu­ally gen­er­ous 6ft 8in (2.03m) and it doesn’t re­duce by a mil­lime­tre as you step up into the saloon. These are the tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of a tall su­per­struc­ture and, set along­side the in­tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of light and air and the un­lim­ited sight­lines of­fered by those strangely shaped but un­de­ni­ably gi­gan­tic saloon win­dows, the over­all ef­fect is su­perb.

OP­TI­CAL IL­LU­SIONS

Once you have stood there and taken in the view, ad­mir­ing the thought­ful way in which the low-pro­file fur­ni­ture al­lows you to see from the cock­pit for­ward and right through the wind­screen, you’ll no­tice the com­pan­ion­way on the star­board side. This is one more sig­nif­i­cant change over the Man­hat­tan 66’s pre­de­ces­sor, and it leads down to the mid­ships mas­ter suite. The other set of steps, up for­ward be­tween the helm sta­tion and the bench seat on the port side, leads down to the VIP and the two guest cab­ins. A pri­vate com­pan­ion­way for the owner is an un­doubted luxury, es­pe­cially on a yacht of this size. But while it might at first sight seem a fairly prof­li­gate use of valu­able hull vol­ume, it is ac­tu­ally a prac­ti­cal solution that cre­ates more space down be­low, not less. Fun fact: the 2017 Man­hat­tan 66 can boast some 86ft2 (8m2) more floor area on the lower deck than the 2003 model – a phe­nom­e­nal in­crease in this class of yacht. A glance at the plans of the new 66’s most im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, mean­while, the Man­hat­tan 65 of 2013, shows how the cen­tral cor­ri­dor on the lower deck, that nec­es­sar­ily leads aft to the mas­ter suite, steals space from the smaller guest cab­ins, to the ex­tent that one of them is only big enough to ac­com­mo­date bunk berths.

Not so on the 66, which has two sym­met­ri­cal twin-berth guest cab­ins of equal size, one with en­suite ac­cess to the day heads. The sin­gle beds, it’s true, are only 27in (68cm) wide (although a full 6ft 4in long, or 1.93m), but un­less you’re very young that’s still a whole lot bet­ter than be­ing put in the top bunk. And the ex­tra cabin space comes with ad­di­tional ben­e­fits, no­tably stowage, while head­room in the guest cab­ins is a lofty 6ft 6in (1.98m).

As an op­tion, if you pre­fer your gal­ley to be down and out of sight, it can be in­stalled in the space oc­cu­pied as stan­dard by the port guest cabin. This frees up space at the af­ter end of the saloon for an­other L-shaped sofa.

VIP cab­ins in mo­tor yachts of this size have a tricky job to do, need­ing to look im­pres­sive enough to jus­tify their name while of­ten be­ing squeezed for space if the de­sign­ers have in­dulged them­selves with a mas­sive owner’s suite. The Man­hat­tan 66’s has clearly been pushed well for­ward – the bed, although of proper do­mes­tic di­men­sions, is mounted way higher than you would con­sider ac­cept­able at home – but it still ought to go down as a rea­son­able suc­cess, with good head­room at the door of 6ft 5in (1.96m), a com­fort­able heads com­part­ment with a sep­a­rate shower, two hang­ing lock­ers, and of course a pair of big hull win­dows.

A space-sav­ing slid­ing door with a slightly fid­dly catch leads into the owner’s suite, where a walk-in wardrobe and the shower and head com­part­ment are ar­ranged along the aft bulk­head as added sound in­su­la­tion from the ma­chin­ery

These are the tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of a tall su­per­struc­ture and the ef­fect is su­perb

space. It’s not mas­sive, but it does fea­ture a sofa on the star­board side and a chest of draw­ers and van­ity unit to port. These each sit un­der huge hull win­dows, pro­vid­ing spec­tac­u­lar views out over the sea, or into the mid cabin of the boat next door, and fill the cabin with light. Head­room is a com­fort­able 6ft 5in (1.96m) and the bed is full size at 6ft 6in by 5ft (1.98m x 1.52m).

The in­te­rior decor of our test Man­hat­tan was an at­trac­tive com­bi­na­tion of white lac­quers, pale fab­rics and con­trast­ing black wal­nut ve­neers. An al­ter­na­tive scheme of sil­ver oak with con­trast­ing dark wenge high­lights is also avail­able, while the stan­dard of­fer­ing is cherry. Cherry used to be ubiq­ui­tous in pro­duc­tion mo­tor boats, and peo­ple made un­kind re­marks. Now it has rar­ity value. I’ve al­ways liked it, per­son­ally.

DECK SPA­CES

Out on deck, that com­fort­able cock­pit joins seam­lessly to the gal­ley area with the glass doors slid all the way across. The bar, although an op­tion, com­pletes the lay­out, ad­ding an essen­tial prac­ti­cal el­e­ment to the way in which gal­ley and cock­pit con­verse with each other. An­other op­tion which is ap­par­ently prov­ing pop­u­lar in fu­ture boats is a cen­tral is­land within the gal­ley’s square foot­print, which will aug­ment both work­top area and stowage space.

The fore­deck is clev­erly thought out, with hinged sup­ports be­neath the head of the sunbed that turn it into a com­fort­able, for­ward-fac­ing chaise longue, and a walk­way be­tween seat and ta­ble that calls to mind a Por­tuguese bridge. Up on the fly­bridge the think­ing has been even clev­erer – so clever, in fact, that you prob­a­bly wouldn’t no­tice it if it weren’t pointed out. Those long sec­tions of seat­ing run­ning along the port side are dif­fer­ent widths – wider for­ward, un­der the hard­top, where peo­ple will want to slouch around and re­lax, and nar­rower aft, where your guests will be eat­ing, and seat width is less im­por­tant than ac­cess around the ta­ble. I didn’t no­tice ei­ther.

We tested the Man­hat­tan 66 out of Port Adri­ano, a swanky ma­rina just out­side Palma. The ma­rina was de­signed by Philippe Starck, so it has street lights like stan­dard lamps, trees in gi­ant flower pots and moor­ing bol­lards that look like they would chafe through your warps in the course of a sin­gle sea­son.

Our test boat, the sec­ond off the line – you might have been aboard her at the Düs­sel­dorf show – was fit­ted with the larger of the MAN shaft­drive op­tions, 1,200hp per side, which gave her a top speed of more than 30 knots at 2,200rpm and com­fort­able cruis­ing in the mid-20s.

This far from slug­gardly show­ing nev­er­the­less made Sunseeker’s peo­ple a lit­tle non­plussed, be­cause ap­par­ently this very boat had ex­ceeded that speed quite com­fort­ably dur­ing win­ter test­ing in Poole Har­bour, with the en­gines pulling their full 2,300rpm. It was too early in the sea­son, even in the Med, for the bot­tom to be fouled to that ex­tent, although air tem­per­a­ture might have been a con­tribut­ing fac­tor. MAN’S UK engi­neers have doc­u­mented cases of air tem­per­a­ture af­fect­ing per­for­mance – in one case, re­counted through grit­ted teeth, a dis­be­liev­ing boat­builder who shall re­main name­less in­sisted on hav­ing the in­no­cent en­gines re­moved and dyno tested – and the con­di­tions in Poole in De­cem­ber were

Our test boat, the sec­ond off the line, had a top speed of more than 30 knots at 2,200rpm

a good deal chill­ier than the balmy 20°C or there­abouts that we en­joyed on our test day off Mal­lorca.

How­ever, it was felt that the main cul­prits were more likely to be weight and drag. For not only had the Wil­liams ten­der (325kg) and the passerelle (300kg) both been added since Sunseeker’s sea tri­als – and added right aft, where the ef­fect of their weight is quite dis­pro­por­tion­ate – but also the Sleip­ner fin sta­bilis­ers had been retro-fit­ted, stick­ing out into the wa­ter flow and ad­ding sig­nif­i­cant drag, notwith­stand­ing their slip­pery ap­pear­ance and their abil­ity, when prop­erly ad­justed, to con­trib­ute a mod­icum of lift. Sunseeker’s de­sign team will be look­ing at the 66’s pro­pel­lers with a view to fit­ting a pair of finer pitch, which should quickly re­in­state the miss­ing revs and speed.

Even so, the Man­hat­tan pro­vided us with an en­joy­able and pretty lively ride, with sen­si­tive, pre­cise han­dling and good ac­cel­er­a­tion. No doubt things would sparkle a lit­tle less brightly with the 1,000hp MANS, and it would also be

in­ter­est­ing to test this boat with the third ma­chin­ery op­tion, Volvo Penta IPS 1200s. In spite of the name this in­stal­la­tion uses 12.8-litre 6-cylin­der units of 900hp apiece, and in spite of the smaller en­gines, an Ips-pow­ered Man­hat­tan 66 tips the scales more than a tonne heav­ier than its MAN equiv­a­lent. But it might prove to be more fuel-ef­fi­cient than its shaft­drive sib­lings.

VER­DICT

At the time of our test Sunseeker claimed to have or­ders for 36 Man­hat­tan 66s, which is not bad go­ing for a boat launched last Jan­uary. But it is re­ally not hard to see why. With spa­cious and airy ac­com­mo­da­tion on the main deck, eight de­cent berths in four cab­ins, and ex­cel­lent lay­outs on all three lev­els, Sunseeker’s lat­est fly­bridge yacht is a luxury liv­ing plat­form which sits up there with the best in its class.

It is also very, very keenly priced, at least un­til you start tick­ing the boxes on the op­tions list, which is long and com­pre­hen­sive. With a real choice of propul­sion pack­ages and an at­trac­tive va­ri­ety of in­te­rior schemes on of­fer, this is a yacht which ought to be able to find favour in any mar­ket. Once the engi­neers have got those props sorted out, as they surely will, the Man­hat­tan 66 could prove to be the boat to beat.

It is very, very keenly priced, at least un­til you start tick­ing boxes on the op­tions list

Deep win­dows and low-level fur­nish­ings max­imise the views from the saloon

The gal­ley opens right out into the cock­pit thanks to ex­cel­lent slid­ing doors

The en­suite heads in the mas­ter cabin is as bright and roomy as you’d ex­pect

The owner’s suite comes with ei­ther a sofa or this break­fast dinette, or for an ex­tra cost, ad­di­tional stor­age

The mas­ter suite, amid­ships, has huge hull win­dows and a pri­vate com­pan­ion­way

The VIP is tucked well for­ward into the bows with an un­usu­ally tall bed One of the two iden­ti­cal guest cab­ins ac­cessed via the for­ward stairs

Throt­tle levers and Xenta joy­stick are con­ve­nient – as­sum­ing you’re right-handed En­gine in­stru­men­ta­tion and au­topi­lot screen are par­tially hid­den be­hind the wheel Wheel, radar and compass are in line, ex­actly as they should be for safe nav­i­ga­tion THE HELM VIEW

A big ten­der on the aft plat­form is a lot of weight where it’s not wanted

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