Dave Marsh travels to Savona to test the new Azimut 50
It’s not often that a boat from one of the big four European boatbuilders takes us by surprise. But that’s exactly what happened late in July, during an MBY test of the Azimut 50.
Like many other mainstream boatbuilders, it seems that Azimut has been unable to sidestep the inexorable drive to produce boats that are ever taller and more voluminous.
So, although Azimut’s design genius Stefano Righini is still the man in charge of styling, the new 50 appeared far bulkier than the sleek Azimut 54 that we had to walk past on our way to test the towering 50.
Out on the water, I’d been expecting the 50’s obvious bulk to produce a boat with less than appealing handling, the aquatic equivalent of an SUV or MPV rather than a finely honed saloon car. Well, the 50 immediately put paid to my preconception, and dished up as fine an all round ride as I’ve experienced on a mid-size cruising boat.
Key to its appeal is the 50’s terrific steering which is (in my subjective opinion) as perfectly weighted as you could wish for on a flybridge cruiser. The boat turns surprisingly quickly and very precisely, heeling just the right amount into the turn. Yet it never feels flighty or lacking in feedback.
It was also noticeable that, as we repeatedly crossed and re-crossed the wake of our 57ft photo boat, the 50 never once performed that little shimmy that boats with less resolute handling often do.
Sadly, that wake was the biggest challenge we encountered, so the 50’s big wave performance remains untested. However, this shaft drive boat felt so impressively solid and firmly planted in the water that I’d be genuinely surprised if the boat doesn’t stand up to heavy weather very well indeed.
As for speed, the 670hp Volvo D11 diesels produced satisfyingly punchy performance all the way up to our recorded top speed of 32.2 knots.
Misconception number two was that the interior would be the principal beneficiary of the 50’s obvious volume. Azimut will doubtless point to the full standing headroom that the 50 provides almost all the way around the perimeter of the bed in the owner’s midships cabin.
Beyond that benefit, though, I could not detect anything outstanding, and potential owners who plan on cooking on board will have to think very carefully about the limitations of the galley. Contrary to the prevailing trend, it’s down below, not up in the saloon. And it has few storage areas and extremely limited countertop space.
On deck is where the 50 really shines. Up front, the walk-through foredeck is a huge bonus on a boat this size, adding a long row of comfy seats to the usual sunbed. Side deck access and transit is the safest I’ve seen on this type of boat.
And although the flybridge’s enormity is what hits you first, in practice it’s the excellent practical detailing and the high levels of safety provided by its exceptional depth that make this area so good.