Azimut Verve 48 sea trial review: 1,800hp party boat

Is it a party platform? A sportsboat? A weekender? Whatever, this American-style Azimut Verve 48 has plenty to recommend it…

American boats have a couple of traits that tend to set them apart. The first is massive outboard engines – in the case of the Azimut Verve 48 a trio of Mercury’s epic 600hp V12s. The second is a whole load of day boating party space with shelter, refrigeration and music.

Now while those traits can sometimes make American-style sportsboats that bit less popular on this side of the Atlantic, that’s not to say we won’t jump at the chance to sea trial one if the opportunity presents itself.

And so it was that on a gentle morning on the Cote d’Azur at the World Launch of the new Azimut Verve 48, we stepped on board the most American looking Azimut you’re ever likely to see…

ABOVE: With 1,800hp on the transom and carbon fibre in the deck, superstructure and T-top, this 48-knot machine delivers a really agile and well balanced drive

1,800hp of fun

If you haven’t yet helmed a boat propelled by Mercury’s 7.6L V12 600s, it’s actually a much more refined experience than you might imagine. The noise levels, according to Azimut, stop around 10 decibels short of the quadruple 450 rig that graced the transom of the previous Azimut Verve 47 – and that (they say) is equivalent to the difference between a hair-dryer and a helicopter.

That (we say) is highly fanciful, but with sound readings of between 85 and 88 decibels at everything from 15 to 45 knots, the noise is no louder than you would generally expect of a fast open sportsboat.

It’s also thoroughly good fun to drive. While a lot of super-slick Italian day cruisers look a million dollars but deliver more in the way of competence than playfulness, the use of carbon fibre in the construction of the deck, the superstructure and the T-Top keeps the handling here decidedly crisp and agile.

A top end of nearly 48 knots is also a good haul from a boat of this scale and it feels commendably composed in achieving it.

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There’s no sense at all that there’s too much power or weight on the transom and when you get up to pace and charge through the chop, the bow does a surprisingly good job of softening your re-entry and flinging the spray well wide of that all-important aft party zone. And the V12’s party tricks are also very welcome…

While this boat runs at around 12 litres per mile at 15-16 knots, when you push these engines beyond the 3,500rpm threshold, they shift up onto the smaller cogs, taking you right through to a very sustainable 30-knot cruise at 4,000rpm with less than 9 litres per mile disappearing from your fuel tanks.

It achieves that without the slightest discernible hiccup in terms of noise or vibration and when you push on toward the top end, you actually find yourself consuming less fuel per nautical mile at 47.6 knots than at 16 knots.

This boat does a remarkable job of flinging the spray wide and keeping that critical aft party zone dry

The steering delivered by those rotating gear cases also feels spot on. Certainly, it can seem a bit odd when you’re coming alongside, looking over your shoulder to discover that the cowlings remain static and unmoved. But manoeuvrability both at close quarters and at pace is actually nigh on impeccable.

Bow and stern

When you come to a standstill, a boat like this needs to really deliver on its open-air party space and the new Azimut Verve 48 nails it. In that big beamy cockpit, the optional aft table is not a separate fitting but an integrated part of the decking. You simply hit a button to raise it from deck to dining height or to drop it into the space as an infill for a huge sunbed.

Given that it will spend much of its life underfoot, you do need to give it a good wipe down when you lift it into table mode but the low-maintenance artificial teak decking makes that a very simple job.

The drop-down terrace is much longer than that of the outgoing Verve 47

Of course, given that this is the hub of the party, you also need plenty of ice and cold drinks and, in addition to the integrated units at the transverse galley, that is well taken care of with drained lockers beneath the bench and the port side of the deck.

The extended port terrace is useful too, as it helps widen the access point at the port side of the swim platform, enabling you to get into the cockpit, even when the deck is full of freestanding furniture.

But for our money, the T Top is an even more valuable piece of design. With struts that rest on the gunwale tops, it encompasses the full breadth of the boat, enabling the cockpit to span the entire beam in much the same style as the Sealine S390 and the Jeanneau DB37. But this boat goes much further in terms of practicality by exploiting its T-Top to the utmost.

There’s an extendable aft sunshade that pushes beyond the backrest of the stern bench for excellent shelter. There are integrated speakers too, plus a large glazed sunroof above the helm and a neat little button-operated hatch above the screen to funnel air down onto the skipper.

Light is good thanks to a combination of spotlights and recessed LED strips set behind a pretty faceted panel. And in addition to a top-mounted compass that enables you to keep your eyes on the water, it also provides a handy set of grab rails for making your way around in safety at sea.

In short, it’s a really valuable element of the boat and marries beautifully with the 48’s overriding purpose as a day-boating entertainment platform.

With its brilliant T-Top, big wet bar, ample refrigeration and expandable deck, the cockpit is tailor-made for large parties

Access all areas

Unlike the outgoing 47, the new Azimut Verve 48 gets open deck space around both sides of the wet bar for much improved access to the starboard side deck. That also creates much better freedom of movement for the passenger at the starboard helm seat, and yet the Azimut Verve 48’s shorter walkaround wet bar seems largely undiminished in terms of what it actually offers.

You get a pair of large electric griddles, a huge sink, a dedicated bin, a decent bit of storage and a generously sized fridge and ice-maker. There’s even space behind the griddles for an optional TV that lifts out of the cabinet to face the guests at the dinette.

Given the wetbar facilities up top, the lower galley comes as a bit of a surprise

But perhaps the greatest surprise here is the asymmetrical foredeck lounge. It occupies a massive footprint thanks both to its length and to the remarkable breadth of that beam-forward bow flare. And that means that, while most boats of this size tend to use convertible mechanisms to crowbar a central island sunbed and a seating area into a single compromised space, the Verve 48 provides excellent standalone examples of both.

Ahead of the screen, there’s a big raised three-to-four-man sun lounger with cup holders, grab rails and adjustable headrests. Ahead of that, integrated into the leading edge of the sunbed moulding, there’s a brilliant U-shaped lounge perched right up in the forepeak and sunk deep, both to maximise security and to provide a lovely sense of intimacy.

It’s big enough to seat seven or eight people in comfort with unimpeded all-round views, so it provides a very real and genuinely tempting alternative to the party zone further aft.

The optional TV faces aft toward the cockpit dinette

Can you really cruise on the Azimut Verve 48?

The short answer to this is yes – but only within certain limits. When you head down below, you’re greeted with a remarkably spacious central lounge, with a starboard galley and a port dinette that can be rigged as an occasional berth.

Those deep external side decks do steal some of the space down here but the mouldings are neatly disguised on the starboard side with mirrors; and on the port side, they’re set back sufficiently that they don’t interfere with the back of your head when seated.

A combination of this generous lower lounge and the dipping deck levels of that upper bow lounge mean that the forward cabin is quite compact, but the fact that it uses a rigid bulkhead rather than an open-plan layout certainly helps with privacy.

here’s lots of space for four or five people to escape the sun

There’s also a starboard day heads with separate shower compartment, plus a twin cabin further aft, beneath the cockpit sole. There’s a good place to change your clothes in here thanks to nearly 8ft of headroom beneath the helm console and there’s also a slightly raised deckhead aft that enables you to sit up in bed.

Natural light is limited but space and storage are pretty good

A big locker on the starboard side provides plenty of storage but it does mean that your light and views are limited to a very small hull window on the portside.

In principle then, you could sleep up to six people below decks on the Verve 48 but in practice, you probably wouldn’t choose to do so. After all, the lower deck pinch points created by the upper deck layout make this feel more like a weekender than a proper cruiser.

A water tank of just 300 litres (well under half of that provided by the new Marex 440 family cruiser) further illustrates the fact that this is a day boat with weekending facilities rather than a true cruising machine. And good though it is to drive, the fact that you need to burn 9 litres of fuel per mile is unlikely to sit that well with ambitious long-distance seafarers.

If (absolutely) necessary, you could sleep up to six people on this boat

Azimut Verve 48 verdict

With its party-centric open deck and its trio of 600hp outboards, this boat is of course tailor made for the American market. As such, we’re willing to bet that we’re unlikely to see one on the waters of the Solent any time soon.

But as a highly glamorous sporting weekender, there’s no reason at all why it shouldn’t make as much sense for party people in the Med as those in the US. After all, it combines its expandable aft deck with outstanding freedom of movement, a brilliant T Top and a fantastic bow lounge, and it supplements all of that with fine looks and a helming experience that would have you heading out purely for the fun of the drive.

In short, if you want something fresh, fast and frivolous – something that nails its niche brief without apology or compromise – this Italian-American plaything is likely to prove dangerously distracting.

Azimut Verve 48 specifications

LOA: 49ft 4in (15.03m)
Beam: 13ft 5in (4.10m)
Draft: 4ft 3in (1.28m)
Displacement: 17,800 kg
Fuel Capacity: 2,340 litres
Engines: Triple 7.6-litre Mercury 600hp V12
RCD: B10/C12
Price: From €1,150,000 ex VAT
Bow thruster: €15,500
Seakeeper 6 stabiliser: €86,700
Electric cockpit table: €22,150
Esthec cockpit decking: €34,000
Hard top sunroof: €17,850

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