We trawl the classifieds to find a secondhand 50ft flybridge cruiser that won't break the bank

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PRESTIGE 500
2015
£584,050
Prestige 500

When the 500 launched in 2011, it was a bit of a game changer. From the hull windows instead of portholes to the mirrored saloon glazing and taut clean lines, it was very much a product of the Teenies. But the real game changing took place inside.

INTERIOR
The galley-aft layout, putting the kitchen directly inside the saloon doors, whilst modern, was nothing new, although the one-piece glazing either side of the saloon is pretty swish.

What was unique on an aft- cockpit flybridge cruiser just under 50ft was separate access to the master. The forward companionway leading to cabins two and three is in its usual place forward of the saloon, but to reach the owner’s quarters you need to hook a sharp right as you pass through the saloon doors to your own private stairway.

A useful corollary of this layout is a narrower forward passageway as it no longer has to allow access aft, resulting in twin beds rather than bunks in cabin three.

Prestige 550

EXTERIOR
Unusually, the saloon doors slide in both directions. Slid one way, they make an easy route from saloon to cockpit, slid the other, they give direct access to the galley.

On the flybridge, creating more headroom inside results in a large sunpad next to the double helm. But that still leaves space for a generous L-shaped dinette further aft.

PERFORMANCE
Twin Volvo Penta IPS600s gave 435hp aside for a top end of 28.5 knots when we tested it, for 20-25 knots of cruise speed.

SEAKEEPING
A main benefit of IPS is siting the engines further aft than traditional shaftdrive, which is what creates space for the big mid cabins.

Unusually though, Prestige chose to sacrifice a little of that by positioning the engines slightly further forward and linking to the pods with jack shafts. Doing so moves the centre of gravity forward to keep the bow planted.

DATA
Length 49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 9in (4.5m)
Draught 3ft 5in (1.1m)
Displacement 13.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

BENETEAU MC5
2016
£475,000
Beneteau MC5

Jeanneau realised fairly early on that if it wanted to extend its range into the upper echelons of six-figure prices, it was going to need a posher brand.

‘Prestige’ was the answer, the aquatic equivalent of Lexus to Toyota. Beneteau already owned an Italian superyacht builder called (weirdly) Monte Carlo Yachts, so when it began exploring more rarified areas of the market for its French-built mass- production boats, it riffed off its exclusive offshoot and introduced the MC range, first of which was the MC5.

INTERIOR
It wasn’t just the name that tapped into its aristocratic cousin’s lineage. Beneteau also adopted Monte Carlo’s signature circular hull windows for the master cabin, albeit one – the genuine Monte Carlos got two per side.

Beneteau MC5

It gives the midships master cabin a unique outlook, mirrored by the circular portholes for the two guest cabins, the smaller of which gets twin bunks. On the main deck, the galley is fashionably aft and the woodwork fashionably pale.

Beneteau MC5

EXTERIOR
The designer ambience extends to the outside, where those big circular windows are bezelled with a rim of stainless steel, matched by the other portholes.

Beneteau MC5

Check out the black pillars that surround the saloon glazing and single-piece windscreen, as well as the front of the flybridge.

PERFORMANCE
Twin Volvo Penta IPS500 engines at 370hp each were an option, but the twin 435hp IPS600s of this boat are a better fit, pushing its 15 tonnes to a top speed of up to 28 knots and cruising comfortably between 22 and 25 knots.

SEAKEEPING
A prominent sprayrail that curls back from the bow and delves down to the waterline aft combines with the flared bow to do a great job of keeping the spray down. The ride is soft and planted and the pod drives provide plenty of grip, both during low-speed manoeuvres and high-speed turns.

DATA
Length 49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 1in (4.3m)
Draught 3ft 1in (1.1m)
Displacement 14.7 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

FAIRLINE SQUADRON 52
2000 £249,950
Fairline Squadron 52

The Squadron 52 is a great example of the confidence Fairline portrayed at the turn of the century.

Rather than another three-cabin cruiser, Fairline set out to produce a mini superyacht aimed at luxury and comfort rather than maximising sleeping space. The result was an intriguing, offbeat alternative to the mainstream.

INTERIOR
The best thing is two huge cabins rather than three, almost unheard of for a boat in this sector. There’s no obvious master cabin but both are equally spacious and luxurious.

Fairline Squadron 52

Ensuites include separate shower stalls and even bidets – rare on anything under 80ft! On the main deck, the helmsman is surrounded by a console that wouldn’t look out of place on the Starship Enterprise, and the saloon and dinette are a feast of gentle curves, highly lacquered cherry and cream vinyl and carpet.

You’ll find a galley tucked away low down on the port side and even a small utility room off it complete with washing machine.

EXTERIOR
The curved and fluted aft-side sections of the superstructure look fantastic and ease access to the side decks. The flybridge gets a vertical mast- style radar support rather than the ubiquitous arch, and the stanchions supporting the deck rails are similarly superyacht vertical rather than canted forward.

Fairline Squadron 52

Add the imperiously aircraft-styled sweep of curved glass around the helm and you end up with a boat that exudes class and style and stands the test of time.

PERFORMANCE
Caterpillar 3196TAs were an option but most got twin Volvo Pentas, earlier boats the TAMD122s at 610hp a side, later ones the electronically controlled D12s at 675hp each. All these options should be achieving circa-30 knots, the D12 with a little more economy.

Fairline Squadron 52

SEAKEEPING
Classic Olesinski hull design combines with classic shaftdrive layout to create reassuring heavy-weather handling with steady directional stability.

DATA
Length
49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 9in (4.5m)
Draught 3ft 5in (1.1m)
Displacement 13.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

PRINCESS 500
1992 £125,750
Princess 500

Launched in 1991 and a mild (mostly cosmetic) evolution of the Princess 48 that launched a year earlier, the 500 was the first of a new ’90s styling wave for Princess, introducing sexy curved windscreens in place of the squared-off designs of earlier boats and toning down the distinctive but dated double-knuckle hull moulding halfway up the topsides of ’80s boats.

INTERIOR
In production during the introduction of Princess’s high-gloss burr maple ‘superyacht’ finishes, the busy-looking woodwork looks rather dated now.

This boat just predates the era, being fitted out in tasteful grained light oak, the alternative to standard teak. But the big news (literally) is just how huge the interior is on this boat.

Princess 500

The saloon is massive – there’s a generous galley that hovers neatly twixt main and lower decks. On the lower deck, the master is forward, with matching twin-berthed cabins either side.  A twin-berthed crew cabin beneath the cockpit seating was a popular option.

Princess 500

EXTERIOR
Twin slats on the aft saloon side windows are the key differentiator between the 500 and the short-lived 48, though the boat is actually slightly longer.

It’s of the era that gets the transom door but not the moulded steps to the flybridge, so it’s a raked ladder to the top deck, but masses of space once you get there.

PERFORMANCE
Engineering is reassuringly classic – simple shafts linked to large-capacity diesel engines. Princess fitted Volvo Penta or Caterpillar, the latter being the big V8 3208TA 435hp motors, the green (at least in colour) option fitted to this boat being the straight six TAMD 72 430hp motors.

Princess 500

Both options should give a mid-20-knot maximum with a 20-knot cruise.

SEAKEEPING
Shaftdrive and Olesinski hull means steady predictable handling and seakeeping, combining a soft ride with excellent directional stability.

DATA
Length 52ft 5in (16.0m)
Beam 14ft 7in (4.5m)
Draught 4ft 0in (1.1m)
Displacement 17 tonnes
Fuel capacity 385 gallons (1,750 litres)
Engines Volvo Penta TAMD 72 430hp diesel

OUR CHOICE
The Beneteau MC5 is the coolest boat here, a designer delight inside and out. With its huge circular hull windows and neat internal detailing, it’s a real head turner.

The Prestige is a bona fide reach into the upper echelons of the motor boat world and shows a few of the old guard some great new ideas in the process – a clever vessel.

The Princess is old school but there’s merit in that – it’s a very simple, very solid way of accessing the 50ft market for comparatively little money.

But the boat that’s won my heart this month is the Squadron 52. I love the fact Fairline went their own way with this boat, creating a mini superyacht instead of another three-cabin motor cruiser. It was a fabulous boat on launch and it’s still a fabulous boat almost 20 years on.