Sunseeker have been building boats for more than half a century so you would expect them to be pretty good at it by now.
As soon as you step on board the Manhattan 63, it feels like all those years of experience have been lovingly poured into the boat’s design.
It just comes together so well, from the flawless GRP work and solid stainless steel to the fact that when you pad around on the teak saloon not a single squeak or rattle announces itself underfoot.
All the doors shut with a satisfying clunk and soft-close drawers packed with fiddles glide silently into place in the galley.
So quality and attention to detail are superb but a Sunseeker is not a true Sunseeker unless you can grab it by the scruff of the neck and give it a good thrashing out on the water with a smile broadening across your face.
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But is that likely with the Manhattan 63?
Driving the Sunseeker Manhattan 63
Despite having a number 63 on its badge this boat is actually 69ft 1in (21.07m) long. So its incredible agility and performance are even more amazing than if it actually were anywhere near 63ft.
Sunseeker have opted for Volvo IPS1200 engines rated at 900hp each rather than shafts. It was a good call; the engines are stonkingly powerful and very smooth, suiting the boat perfectly.
The mountain of torque at low revs ensures the Sunseeker Manhattan 63 gets up onto the plane in one swift and uneventful movement and the numbers on the speedo keep ticking over until 30 knots is passed without the boat even breaking a sweat.
The Sunseeker Manhattan 63 is also impressively fuel efficient. A Princess 64, with larger 1,015hp CAT C32s and shafts, is 5ft shorter and around three tonnes lighter than the Sunseeker Manhattan 63.
Yet at a fast cruising speed of 28 knots it is using 73gph compared to the Sunseeker’s 56gph.
Even at slower cruising speeds the Sunseeker is ahead – at 21 knots the Princess is consuming 51.9gph while the Manhattan manages 39.7gph.
And it’s faster too – we got 33.4 knots on test compared to the Princess’s 31.2 knots. The Sunseeker Manhattan 63 is available with shafts but our skipper said they hadn’t yet sold one with them fitted.
You can see why; we maintained 27 knots all the way from Poole to Southampton Water and the engines felt as if they were barely ticking over.
The only thing disturbing the peace at the flybridge helm was the pounding we were getting from the wind.
The flybridge screen doesn’t seem to be tall enough to deflect the wind over your head – an issue which Sunseeker say they are looking into.
This is soon forgotten when you start to have a bit of fun with the steering wheel – it’s scarcely believable that a boat this big can be such a blast to drive.
There is a slight delay before the pods react and the boat heels into the turn but once you’re used to the slightly dead feeling that electric steering gives you, it’s a sheer joy to drive.
There’s enough heel to make things exciting but at no point does the boat feel out of control or wayward.
Romping over the wake of our 50ft photo boat there were no shudders or groans from the hull.
Just the clanging of the bare bimini frame resting on the flybridge, which will disappear once the bimini fabric is fitted.
At high speeds the turning circle is seriously big but throttling back during turns brings the bow around more quickly.
The flybridge helm was where we did most of the driving from and on the whole it’s good, but some simple ergonomic tweaks would make it even better.
Sunseeker’s new flybridge seats are superb – they have a mesh base and backrest, which are very comfortable and also allow plenty of air to flow around your back and thighs so you don’t get sweaty on long journeys.
They’re not adjustable though and that’s a shame because, if they were, it would mean that you could sit back in your chair and reach the throttles and the wheel.
At the moment you either have to lean forward or drive this 33.9-tonne beast with your fingertips.
Alternatively, Sunseeker could raise and extend the plinth that the throttles are mounted on and bring the steering wheel closer to the driver to have a similar effect.
The chartplotter is perfectly easy to see but is a bit of a reach to use and I imagine that most owners will fit a second chartplotter in front of the navigator so that they don’t have to reach over the skipper.
The lower helm has similar pros and cons – the driving position is better because the skipper is treated to an electrically adjustable Besenzoni chair.
Bbut it’s still a bit of a stretch to reach the throttles and wheel while sat back.
The dash looks superb and is finished in dark, soft-touch materials, while the stainless steel cupholders and leather-bound handrail add yet more class.
There is a Perspex-covered chart area too, and a small tray for pens, mobile phones and whatever else you may need.
The problem with this helm station is the view out – it’s fine directly ahead because even when the boat goes over the hump it trims nice and flat so you can see over the bow.
But the windscreen mullions are thicker than most and there is a particularly large blindspot behind the starboard edge of the windscreen frame.
They are beautifully trimmed and look very solid but surely they could be less intrusive.
You’ll have to ask crew to look astern for you too as the skipper’s view from the helm seat is severely restricted to starboard.
When it comes to berthing, the grunt from the IPS1200s means that to stay under 6 knots you’ll be using one engine.
Of course, when you’re near the berth you’ll want to switch to the joystick.
I managed to get in a bit of a pickle with the tide running hard at Shamrock Quay, but I put that down to my own IPS rustiness (the last IPS boat I drove was over a year ago).
After a bit of reacquainting myself with the feel and power of the IPS system, I soon had the boat sliding around the pontoons like a giant synchronised swimmer.
One thing about Sunseeker’s cheeky attitude to boat naming is that you are constantly surprised by the amount of space on board the Sunseeker Manhattan 63.
The cockpit has a big bench set along the transom and enough room to cope with a large free-standing table and chairs opposite.
The side decks are 8.5in wide at the cockpit then spread out to 12in once you get past the windscreen, which combined with a thick toerail and tall guardrails make crewing and getting up to the bow very safe.
I reckon the decks are screaming out for the optional teak treatment but Sunseeker say that this boat’s owner chose not to have them.
The flybridge is accessed via a wide run of teak-capped stairs with a chunky, stainless steel banister and the first thing to greet you is the wet-bar.
It’s a good spot for it because it makes passing food and drinks between the two decks that much easier. Forward is the helm station which nestles behind a decent portion of sunpad.
There are two main seating areas, a smaller one forward, adjacent to the helm, which is a great place for everybody to convene on passage, and then a larger dinette aft for dining.
Again, everything is very solid; the wet-bar lid is double skinned and smooth as you like and there’s a good handrail on it too.
But the dinette table is just a slab of GRP, a nicely finished one it must be said, but a piece of teak would look far classier.
All of the seating around the dinette is hollow so it’s a good place to stow lifejackets and other bits of cruising kit but at this juncture we come to a slight issue on the Sunseeker Manhattan 63 – deck storage.
Aside from the aforementioned under-seat lockers, plus the small ‘boot’ above the crew cabin (which will be full of fenders) and the lockers set into the foredeck (which will be full of lines), there isn’t really anywhere to put bulky cruising items like bicycles or free-standing furniture.
Sure you could put kit in the crew cabin but it’s so good it seems a shame to use it as a glorified cubby hole.
With the engines and IPS pods taking up the space where a lazarette might be this is the only real practical shortcoming.
Inside, the saloon revels in space and can afford to be split into relaxed seating aft, where the television is, and a more formal dining area forward with an L-shaped bench and free-standing chairs.
Opposite the dining table is the galley, which has a load of open worktop space for preparing food, a deep sink and plenty of storage including eye-level lockers.
There’s also a domestic fridge and freezer, always a bonus when you have a serious cruise planned.
A cutlery draw, dedicated space for crockery and even a specific slot for a tea pot are welcome touches.
Crew can easily escape without disturbing guests thanks to the side door on the starboard side.
The only omission is handholds – there isn’t a lot to grab on to in the saloon or up near the galley.
And so to bed…
The sleeping accommodation is at the bottom of a curved staircase, which is open to the windscreen above, making the whole area feel very open and spacious.
The master cabin is located amidships and is wonderfully spacious with bags of room around the bed as well as above it.
You tend to get blasé about hull windows these days but these really are monstrous bits of glass, and they are so close to the waterline you’ll never need to snorkel again!
On the starboard side there is a small sofa while the opposite side is dedicated to storage.
The ensuite bathroom is behind the bed, so it has a deadening effect on noise from the engineroom, and is decked out with a big shower compartment.
The VIP, in contrast, feels a bit dark but then it does only have two regular ports either side and quite a meagre hatch to let light in.
Considering how much glass they’ve packed into the owner’s suite it seems a shame they didn’t squeeze in elongated ports here too.
The space itself is very good, as there’s loads of storage including two hanging lockers and deep drawers under the bed.
Room to get changed at the foot of the bed is generous and the ensuite gets a big shower cubicle and plenty of extra storage.
There are two guest cabins – a twin and bunk bed cabin, which both share a heads, the twin being ensuite.
Clever guests, though, will opt for the privacy of the crew cabin.
It doesn’t sound glamorous but thanks to the glazing in the transom it’s amazingly light and has a double bed, a neat single berth running athwarthships and a compact heads.
You’ll also have about 35ft between you and the other guests at night!
A closer look at the Sunseeker Manhattan 63
They don’t look very substantial but these seats are excellent.
The mesh cushion and backrest are very comfortable and do a great job of keeping you cool.
If they had some sliding adjustment though, they would be even better.
Part coffee table and part tray this is a really clever idea.
The base can be moved around or used as another seat while the wooden tray can be lifted off and used to carry drinks and nibbles to and from the galley.
Never has a crew cabin garnered so much attention but this one rightfully deserves it.
Light-filled and with generous berths and a comfortable ensuite, it’s easily good enough to be used for guests, not just the staff!
What makes the Manhattan 63’s engineroom really good is the thoroughness of the installation.
Everything is clean and clear and all plumbing and electrical cables are tidily clipped or run through conduits.
Daily checks can be performed easily but there’s no space at either end of the blocks to get to the other side of them.
If you need to access them urgently, you have to climb over the hot lumps.
Sunseeker Manhattan 63 verdict
The Manhattan 63 is a very well sorted boat and emits a sense of quality and dependability that owners will find immensely reassuring.
Its real talent though, is feeling enormous when you’re living on it or in it, but then shrinking around you like a 40ft sportscruiser when you nail the throttles and throw it into a turn.
I know people don’t do that very often with 70ft flybridge boats, in the same way that you don’t do 160mph in a Bentley Mulsanne every day of the week.
But you can still enjoy the thrill of acceleration and grip as you carve your way around a corner – or in this case a wave.
It’s also good to see that despite the recent management changes at Sunseeker there are no signs of corner-cutting or scrimping on quality when it comes to building the boats.
The flybridge windscreen could do with being taller, the helm ergonomics aren’t as good as they could be and there isn’t a whole lot of storage on deck.
But creaming through a flat-calm Solent, with the engines purring beneath and flashes of white spray licking at the hull, I found a smile creeping across my face. Now that’s the sign of a true Sunseeker.
First published in the October 2011 issue of MBY.
Price from: £1.72 million (twin 1,000hp MAN)
Price as tested: £2.13 million (twin IPS1200
Length overall: 69ft 1in (21.07m)
Beam: 16ft 10in (5.13m)
Fuel capacity: 638gal (2,900 litres)
Water capacity: 92gal (420 litres)
Draught: 5ft 3in (1.60m)
RCD category: B (for 17 people)
Displacement: 33.9 tonnes (half load)
Designers: Sunseeker International