Beneteau GT40

The flair’s con­ta­gious. Slip be­hind the helm and open the sun roof. You’ll feel like you’re worth a lot more.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY JOHN EICHELSHEIM

The Gran Turismo’s GRP hull is in­fused with vinylester resin, while the decks and su­per­struc­ture are bal­sacored com­pos­ite to keep weight down. Fea­tur­ing Beneteau’s Gen­er­a­tion II Air Step hull, the GT 40 is good for 35 knots and cruises hap­pily at 25-30 knots with twin Volvo Penta D4 300hp diesels and duo-prop stern­legs.

WIDE OPEN SPA­CES

The teak-soled bridge-deck area is open at the rear with steps on the port side lead­ing down to an ex­pan­sive, elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated, sub­mersible swim plat­form. There’s no cock­pit as such – or it’s all one large cock­pit, de­pend­ing on how you look at it – and the whole aft deck is one level.

This lay­out works par­tic­u­larly well, with a nat­u­ral flow be­tween the ‘wet’ area with a BBQ and op­tional bait sta­tion on the swim plat­form and the ‘dry’ area un­der the the hard­top and can­vas awning ex­ten­sion. On the star­board side moulded steps af­ford ac­cess from the plat­form to

the side decks and bows and there’s side deck ac­cess on the other side from the aft deck.

The GT 40 is pro­vided with side and rear drop cov­ers. When they’re fit­ted, the aft deck is cosy and warm, diesel heat­ing eas­ily ban­ish­ing a chilly morn­ing on re­view day. With drop cov­ers re­moved, the aft deck feels won­der­fully open and fresh, es­pe­cially when the vast slid­ing roof panel is open to the sky. Elec­tric side win­dows also roll down.

The bridge deck en­ter­tain­ing area is nat­u­rally so­cial with seat­ing for up to 11 peo­ple and the op­tion to turn most of it into a large sun lounger (or ex­tra sleep­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion). It fea­tures a cen­tral wet bar with a 12V Isotherm fridge on the port side and ded­i­cated space for a cooler un­der the set­tee on the star­board side.

Dou­ble hatches in the sole lift to ac­cess the D4 Volvos, PVC fuel tanks, me­chan­i­cal and elec­tri­cal sys­tems, with plenty of stowage space left over for bulky items, in­clud­ing an in­flat­able ten­der and out­board. Beneteau hasn’t skimped on sound sup­pres­sion, so the boat is quiet un­der­way.

The sun lounger theme is con­tin­ued on the fore­deck where re­mov­able squabs cover vir­tu­ally the whole deck. They’re fit­ted with ad­justable back­rests for added com­fort. A stain­less-steel Ul­tra an­chor and an all-chain

rode take care of an­chor du­ties and there’s a wrap-around bow rail for se­cu­rity on the fore and side decks.

Some­what un­usu­ally, the GT 40 helm po­si­tion is on the boat’s cen­tre­line. The stylish, mo­du­lar helm con­sole is de­signed so that ev­ery­thing falls eas­ily to hand. There’s space on the dash for a sin­gle large-screen MFD, in this case a 12inch Sim­rad unit with radar, Gps-chart-plot­ter and sonar, switch pan­els ei­ther side, a cen­trally-mounted com­pass, elec­tronic throt­tle and shift con­trols, trim tabs, auto-pi­lot, Volvo elec­tronic gauges, bowthruster con­trols and a joy­stick for low-speed, close-quar­ters ma­noeu­vring.

Volvo Penta’s joy­stick steer­ing was de­vel­oped for IPS but is now avail­able for stern­drives as well. It works very well, mak­ing berthing the GT 40 a breeze, es­pe­cially with the ex­tra help of the bow thruster.

GEN­ER­OUS AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

This par­tic­u­lar ves­sel is quite highly specced. She’s a syn­di­cated boat with many fac­tory op­tions ticked, but the base ves­sel is $699,000, which sounds pretty de­cent for a 42-footer. With a length over­all of 12.67m she’s too big for a 12m ma­rina berth, but the Beneteau’s large vol­ume hull of­fers a mix of com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion and great in­door-out­door flow with more us­able liv­ing space than many equiv­a­lent ves­sels.

Be­low decks is a well-ap­pointed gal­ley with a spa­cious seat­ing and din­ing area that con­nects with the bridge deck via wide com­pan­ion­way steps. Curved glass pan­els, one of them slid­ing for eas­ier ac­cess to the steps, and open­ing port holes flood the cabin with light. A tinted glass door shuts off the be­low decks from out­side and the ves­sel’s main switch panel is on the wall in the com­pan­ion­way.

It’s a light and pleas­ant place to be, with colour­co­or­di­nated up­hol­stery and cush­ions, textured easy-clean moulded sur­faces and oak ve­neer pan­el­ing, doors and floor. The kitchen cab­i­nets are painted in a warm creamy-yel­low, which con­trasts nicely with green cush­ions and the ves­sel’s lighter-coloured up­hol­stery and wall pan­els. The drop-down ta­ble con­verts the set­tee to an­other dou­ble berth.

There’s drawer stor­age in the un­der-bench gal­ley units, which also ac­com­mo­date a fridge and a rub­bish bin, with room for crock­ery in the over­head units, one of which fits

The bridge deck en­ter­tain­ing area is nat­u­rally so­cial with seat­ing for up to 11 peo­ple...

a mi­crowave. More space be­hind the counter tops keeps large bench­top items se­cure, in this case a Ne­spresso cof­fee ma­chine. Cook­ing is gas, on two burn­ers, or use the rail-mounted BBQ on the swim plat­form. A deck gal­ley is a Beneteau op­tion.

The GT 40 is a two-cabin ves­sel with the mas­ter in the bows and the sec­ond cabin tucked up un­der the bridge deck sole for­ward of the en­gine room.

The bow cabin fea­tures a queen-sized is­land berth with stor­age un­der­neath. The cabin is sim­ply dec­o­rated, its white moulded sur­faces con­trast­ing nicely with dark wal­nut ve­neers. Light blue ac­cents work well. An open­ing sky­light with night and in­sect screens com­ple­ments the cabin’s long, nar­row side win­dows.

The sec­ond cabin oc­cu­pies the ves­sel’s full beam. It has two fore and aft sin­gle berths, or by adding in­fills it can be con­fig­ured as a large dou­ble. There’s rea­son­able stor­age for cloth­ing and gear, and while the moulded ceil­ing is low, it doesn’t feel cramped. Beneteau has clev­erly pro­vided stand­ing head­room down the mid­dle of the cabin, so it’s easy to dress. The bath­room is shared. It’s a de­cent size, but there’s no sep­a­rate shower box.

AIR STEP HULL

The Beneteau GT 40 sports the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the com­pany’s ‘Air Step’ hull de­sign. Stepped, an­gled chan­nels in the hull di­rect air un­der­neath the rear sec­tion of the ves­sel where it’s trapped against the hull, form­ing a cush­ion of air. This not only soft­ens the ride, claims Beneteau, it also re­duces fric­tion on the hull, re­sult­ing in fuel con­sump­tion and per­for­mance ben­e­fits.

The boat cer­tainly gets along nicely. It’s very re­spon­sive and feels quite sporty. Top speed is 35 knots and it

cruises at 25-30 knots. Beneteau reck­ons Air Step 2 has given the boat an ex­tra knot and a half at the top end, with bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion as well. It feels like you could cruise all day at 25 knots: it’s rea­son­ably quiet and there’s very lit­tle buf­fet­ing on the main deck even when the roof and win­dows are open. Noise has been well-sup­pressed. Fuel con­sump­tion at 25 knots showed as 35 litres per hour per en­gine.

I re­ally like the helm po­si­tion, which of­fers ex­cel­lent vi­sion in all direc­tions. The raked wind­screen with its sin­gle wiper is vast. With the roof open, the screen still di­rects the slip­stream over your head, even if stand­ing up to drive. Both seats have fold-away bolsters for thigh sup­port when stand­ing and are ad­justable fore and aft.

This is an easy ves­sel to helm. It’s the first in New Zealand with Volvo Penta’s IPS joy­stick con­trol mated to stern­drives. Drive it in con­ven­tional fash­ion us­ing the elec­tronic throt­tle and shift and it be­haves like any other stern­drive ves­sel, which to all in­tents and pur­poses means it’s like driv­ing an out­board pow­ered trailer boat, only big­ger. But en­gage the joy­stick con­troller, which is only pos­si­ble at low speed, and you are treated to a whole new level of manouevring fi­nesse. And there is a bowthruster as well!

Trim tabs level the boat nicely and an au­to­matic mode takes any guess­work out of trim ad­just­ment. The ves­sel adds cruise con­trol to sup­ple­ment the au­topi­lot, so sit­ting in the helm seat can be quite re­lax­ing.

VALUE AND PER­FOR­MANCE

The Beneteau GT 40 has a lovely open feel, es­pe­cially the cock­pit-bridge deck area. It would be a great boat for sum­mer, but easyto-fit cock­pit drop-cov­ers and diesel heat­ing mean it will be cosy in win­ter as well. The sleep­ing ar­range­ments are flex­i­ble and the boat is well-equipped for Kiwi-style boat­ing, whether tak­ing day trips or longer cruises.

A sporty char­ac­ter, sharp han­dling and stress-free joy­stick dock­ing, matched with Euro styling and a ver­sa­tile lay­out, should give the Beneteau Gran Turismo 40 broad ap­peal. BNZ

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