‘FINALLY I’M FREE TO PUSH THE THROTTLES FORWARD AND WAKE THOSE MIGHTY V8s’
beyond the harbour mouth. Finally, the moment comes and I’m free to push both throttles forward and wake those mighty engines from their slumber. Again, I’m surprised how muted the noise levels are from those two giant V8 motors just behind me. Meanwhile the boat accelerates and the bow starts to rise out of the water – but then seems reluctant to flatten out. The regular captain suggests I fully deploy the trim tabs (foot-square fins mounted in the water right at the stern of the boat, which act as spoilers in reverse to force the bow of the boat downwards). The AM37S levels out as we climb onto the plane and really starts to motor.
I watch the digital speed readout rapidly change from 25 to 40 knots on the wonderfully clear navigation screen positioned just to the right of the wheel. Aother bespoke item, it reminds me of the huge info screen you find in a Tesla. It’s yet another pointer to the depth of engineering that has gone into this boat.
It’s a great day to be testing a sports boat but there’s a bit of chop out here and I’m doing my best to throttle back slightly as we crest a wave (to stop the boat slamming down on the other side of the ramp), as well as steer around any lumpier ones I spot ahead of us. I’m surprised the steering isn’t a bit sharper. It’s geared for 4.5 turns lock-to-lock, which is relatively slow for a sports boat and means you need to add a bit more lock than you might expect to when out on the water. What I am impressed with is the hull, and in particular how well it’s handling the chop out here. We’re piercing the waves beautifully and then riding through with minimal disturbance to those on board.
We’re also staying completely dry inside the cockpit and this all points to an excellent hull design, helped by the fact that it’s not a particularly light boat at 6.7 tonnes unladen. This relative heft also helps give the AM37 a great ride quality, with impressively little in the way of creaks and groans coming from the superstructure. The helm position isn’t quite perfect when standing – the seat base is pushing me too close to the wheel and I either need the wheel to be a little less dished, or the nonadjustable seat a bit further away. Another minor gripe is that the display is dominated by the round speedo dial, with engine revs displayed in two much smaller dials positioned to one side. That’s the wrong way round. I want to know what each engine is revving at to make sure I’ve got them balanced. I can always read the speed off the navigation screen, which is more accurate anyway.
All these issues are fixable though, being typical teething problems on an early build. As I turn back to Monaco, I can’t help feeling this is one of the most exciting new ventures for a brand like Aston Martin to be involved in. The great thing about designing a boat today is the lack of legislation designers have to deal with. Talking to Marek later, he tells me only the lights had to comply to strict maritime regulations; everything else was down to the whims of the design team, who could then be much bolder than is currently possible in the highly regulated automotive world.
All this comes at a cost, of course, with the AM37 range starting at £1.26m. The ‘S’ costs £1.62m plus local taxes, which is massively more than a ‘regular’ 37ft sporting day cruiser would set you back. Does the Aston Martin badge justify the circa £1m premium over similar-size boats like the Windy 39 Camira or Riva Aquariva Super? That’s up to customers to decide, and Aston already has a few orders in the bag. Quintessence CEO Mariella Mengozzi tells me production volume is expected to be only six to ten boats a year, making this a highly exclusive purchase, so maybe normal supply and demand rules don’t really apply.
And here’s another thing. There’s no way Quintessence would invest in a dedicated production facility and create so many unique parts for just one size of boat. It would only make sense if you were considering creating a range of boats. That’s why I’m sure there’s going to be more Aston Martin boats coming in the future and, on this showing, that has to be a very exciting prospect indeed.