Clever design and serious propulsion make for a winning combination on the Sunseeker Manhattan 66.
The policemen are getting younger. So, I find, are the politicians. And boats are getting bigger too. This last is not a subjective judgement caused by the onset of age but a quantifiable fact, and there is no better example than Sunseeker’s Manhattan 66.
Introduced to replace the Manhattan 65, which is still a popular model, and which is only the shorter boat on paper, the Poole shipyard’s latest motor yacht is both taller and wider, and clearly more voluminous.
Indeed, viewing the two boats moored next to each other, stern to the quay, you could easily form the impression that the new boat must be a good ten feet longer than the old. It’s an impression which is heightened as you step aboard.
The extra width translates to a cockpit that seems roomy even with the optional bar fitted, and the glass doors to the interior slide completely out of the way.
With much the same length of saloon to play with as in the 65 – the windscreen is a long way forward – the design team of the Sunseeker Manhattan 66 has opted for an open-plan aft galley, and the effect is to transport you from the open space outside into yet more open space inside.
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Headroom at the galley is an unusually generous 6ft 8in (2.03m) and it doesn’t reduce by a millimetre as you step up into the saloon.
These are the tangible benefits of a tall superstructure and, set alongside the intangible benefits of light and air and the unlimited sightlines offered by those strangely shaped but undeniably gigantic saloon windows, the overall effect is superb.
Once you have stood there and taken in the view, admiring the thoughtful way in which the low-profile furniture allows you to see from the cockpit forward and right through the windscreen, you’ll notice the companionway on the starboard side.
This is one more significant change over the Sunseeker Manhattan 66’s predecessor, and it leads down to the midships master suite.
The other set of steps, up forward between the helm station and the bench seat on the port side, leads down to the VIP and the two guest cabins.
A private companionway for the owner is an undoubted luxury, especially on a yacht of this size.
But while it might at first sight seem a fairly profligate use of valuable hull volume, it is actually a practical solution that creates more space down below, not less.
Fun fact: the 2017 Sunseeker Manhattan 66 can boast some 86ft2 (8m2) more floor area on the lower deck than the 2003 model – a phenomenal increase in this class of yacht.
A glance at the plans of the new 66’s most immediate predecessor, meanwhile, the Manhattan 65 of 2013, shows how the central corridor on the lower deck, that necessarily leads aft to the master suite, steals space from the smaller guest cabins, to the extent that one of them is only big enough to accommodate bunk berths.
Not so on the Sunseeker Manhattan 66, which has two symmetrical twin-berth guest cabins of equal size, one with ensuite access to the day heads.
The single beds, it’s true, are only 27in (68cm) wide (although a full 6ft 4in long, or 1.93m), but unless you’re very young that’s still a whole lot better than being put in the top bunk.
And the extra cabin space comes with additional benefits, notably stowage, while headroom in the guest cabins is a lofty 6ft 6in (1.98m).
As an option, if you prefer your galley to be down and out of sight, it can be installed in the space occupied as standard by the port guest cabin. This frees up space at the after end of the saloon for another L-shaped sofa.
VIP cabins in motor yachts of this size have a tricky job to do, needing to look impressive enough to justify their name while often being squeezed for space if the designers have indulged themselves with a massive owner’s suite.
The Sunseeker Manhattan 66’s has clearly been pushed well forward – the bed, although of proper domestic dimensions, is mounted way higher than you would consider acceptable at home – but it still ought to go down as a reasonable success, with good headroom at the door of 6ft 5in (1.96m), a comfortable heads compartment with a separate shower, two hanging lockers, and of course a pair of big hull windows.
A space-saving sliding door with a slightly fiddly catch leads into the owner’s suite, where a walk-in wardrobe and the shower and head compartment are arranged along the aft bulkhead as added sound insulation from the machinery space.
It’s not massive, but it does feature a sofa on the starboard side and a chest of drawers and vanity unit to port.
These each sit under huge hull windows, providing spectacular views out over the sea, or into the mid cabin of the boat next door, and fill the cabin with light.
Headroom is a comfortable 6ft 5in (1.96m) and the bed is full size at 6ft 6in by 5ft (1.98m x 1.52m).
The interior decor of our test Manhattan 66 was an attractive combination of white lacquers, pale fabrics and contrasting black walnut veneers.
An alternative scheme of silver oak with contrasting dark wenge highlights is also available, while the standard offering is cherry.
Cherry used to be ubiquitous in production motor boats, and people made unkind remarks. Now it has rarity value. I’ve always liked it, personally.
Deck spaces on the Sunseeker Manhattan 66
Out on deck, that comfortable cockpit joins seamlessly to the galley area with the glass doors slid all the way across.
The bar, although an option, completes the layout, adding an essential practical element to the way in which galley and cockpit converse with each other.
Another option which is apparently proving popular in future boats is a central island within the galley’s square footprint, which will augment both worktop area and stowage space.
The foredeck is cleverly thought out, with hinged supports beneath the head of the sunbed that turn it into a comfortable, forward-facing chaise longue, and a walkway between seat and table that calls to mind a Portuguese bridge.
Up on the flybridge the thinking has been even cleverer – so clever, in fact, that you probably wouldn’t notice it if it weren’t pointed out.
Those long sections of seating running along the port side are different widths – wider forward, under the hardtop, where people will want to slouch around and relax, and narrower aft, where your guests will be eating, and seat width is less important than access around the table. I didn’t notice either.
We tested the Sunseeker Manhattan 66 out of Port Adriano, a swanky marina just outside Palma.
The marina was designed by Philippe Starck, so it has street lights like standard lamps, trees in giant flower pots and mooring bollards that look like they would chafe through your warps in the course of a single season.
Our test boat, the second off the line – you might have been aboard her at the Düsseldorf show – was fitted with the larger of the MAN shaftdrive options, 1,200hp per side, which gave her a top speed of more than 30 knots at 2,200rpm and comfortable cruising in the mid-20s.
This far from sluggardly showing nevertheless made Sunseeker’s people a little nonplussed, because apparently this very boat had exceeded that speed quite comfortably during winter testing in Poole Harbour, with the engines pulling their full 2,300rpm.
It was too early in the season, even in the Med, for the bottom to be fouled to that extent, although air temperature might have been a contributing factor.
MAN’s UK engineers have documented cases of air temperature affecting performance – in one case, recounted through gritted teeth, a disbelieving boatbuilder who shall remain nameless insisted on having the innocent engines removed and dyno tested – and the conditions in Poole in December were a good deal chillier than the balmy 20°C or thereabouts that we enjoyed on our test day off Mallorca.
However, it was felt that the main culprits were more likely to be weight and drag.
For not only had the Williams tender (325kg) and the passerelle (300kg) both been added since Sunseeker’s sea trials – and added right aft, where the effect of their weight is quite disproportionate – but also the Sleipner fin stabilisers had been retro-fitted, sticking out into the water flow and adding significant drag, notwithstanding their slippery appearance and their ability, when properly adjusted, to contribute a modicum of lift.
Sunseeker’s design team will be looking at the Manhattan 66’s propellers with a view to fitting a pair of finer pitch, which should quickly reinstate the missing revs and speed.
Even so, the Manhattan provided us with an enjoyable and pretty lively ride, with sensitive, precise handling and good acceleration.
No doubt things would sparkle a little less brightly with the 1,000hp MANs, and it would also be interesting to test this boat with the third machinery option, Volvo Penta IPS 1200s.
In spite of the name this installation uses 12.8-litre 6-cylinder units of 900hp apiece, and in spite of the smaller engines, an IPS-powered Sunseeker Manhattan 66 tips the scales more than a tonne heavier than its MAN equivalent.
But it might prove to be more fuel-efficient than its shaftdrive siblings.
A closer look at the Sunseeker Manhattan 66
Beach club package
First spotted on the Manhattan 52, the drop-down stern seat, the folding BBQ and the fixed, full-height shower that unfolds neatly from the transom add greatly to the versatility of the bathing platform.
Sliding helm seats
Simple but effective, each of the twin helm seats is mounted on a fore-and-aft slider, as you would expect, and on another turned through 90º.
This allows them to move from side to side, and out of the way when you want to use the side door.
With a main deck galley sited aft, it’s important that it communicates directly with the cockpit. The cockpit doors are in three sections, each of which slides neatly out of the way to starboard behind the flybridge steps, opening up the main deck.
A hatch in the cockpit sole reveals a tightly-packed but tidy machinery space. As with the Manhattan 52, the Sunseeker Manhattan 66 comes with either shafts on V-drive transmissions – which are deeply buried for servicing – or IPS drives.
The engines stay where they are in either case, with long jackshafts fitted to connect the IPS drives.
Filters are fairly accessible on the forward bulkhead, while the fuel tanks are also mounted forward, with the genset on the port side.
Sunseeker Manhattan 66 verdict
At the time of our test Sunseeker claimed to have orders for 36 Manhattan 66s, which is not bad going for a boat launched last January. But it is really not hard to see why.
With spacious and airy accommodation on the main deck, eight decent berths in four cabins, and excellent layouts on all three levels, Sunseeker’s latest flybridge yacht is a luxury living platform which sits up there with the best in its class.
It is also very, very keenly priced, at least until you start ticking the boxes on the options list, which is long and comprehensive.
With a real choice of propulsion packages and an attractive variety of interior schemes on offer, this is a yacht which ought to be able to find favour in any market.
Once the engineers have got those props sorted out, as they surely will, the Sunseeker Manhattan 66 could prove to be the boat to beat.
First published in the August 2017 issue of MBY.
Length overall: 68ft 3in (20.81m)
Beam: 17ft 3in (5.26m)
Fuel capacity: 880 imp gal (4,000 litres)
Water capacity: 198 imp gal (900 litres)
Draught: 5ft 3in (1.59m)
RCD category: B for 18 people
Displacement: 37.4 tonnes half-load
Price from: £1,479,000 (Twin MAN V8-1000 1,000hp)
Price as tested: £2,346,548
Hardtop (Option on test boat): £95,218
Platinum Med package (Option on test boat): £98,434
Xenta joystick system (Option on test boat): £29,821
Cockpit bar (Option on test boat): £10,368
Beach club package (Option on test boat): £6,150
Nav suite upgrade (Option on test boat): £7,464
Sleipner stabilisers (Option on test boat): £83,736