With more folding sections than a Swiss Army knife, this razor sharp sportscruiser cuts a dash wherever it goes, but do the Evo R6 Open’s talents extend further than its expanding decks?
You have certainly noticed them – maybe at one of the Mediterranean boat shows, or emblazoned across the pages of a glossy magazine; zooming out of your screen in a Youtube video, or simply anchored serenely in some turquoise bay as if it owned the place.
Since emerging into the light of day in 2015, the Evo range has come to epitomise the modern Mediterranean boating lifestyle in a way that is out of all proportion to the company’s size, output or marketing heft. The chances are you haven’t actually seen an Evo in the wild, because there just aren’t enough of them out there.
But as soon as you do, you’ll know what it is. It’s all about the look – the uncompromisingly assertive styling, the sheer confidence expressed in those daring, expanding cockpits. A 43ft model got the ball rolling, now known as the R4, which was followed in 2019 by the Evo R6.
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Now we have the Evo R6 Open. They are conceived on the drawing board of Valerio Rivellini, a Neapolitan industrial designer – you can tell he doesn’t have a traditional yachting design background – whose portfolio includes plenty of boats, but also industrial and automotive projects and even a plywood bicycle. No doubt lateral thinking helps in the design of laterally expanding cockpits.
Blu Emme, the company that builds the Evo range in the suburbs just south of Naples, prides itself on its commitment to customisation, which is perhaps just another way of saying that they don’t build many boats – four Evo R6 Opens and six R4s annually – and a customer is a customer.
This open version of its 58ft model came into existence because a prospective buyer asked if he could have one without the hard top. And the Evo R6 Open model comes with two- and three-cabin layouts, as you might expect, but also, perhaps surprisingly, in a four-cabin version – because another owner asked for more sleeping accommodation.
Ours had three – two doubles amidships, sharing the port-side head compartment, and a master ensuite in the bows, with a good-sized central double bed, stowage in a decent hanging locker and a large drawer in the bed base, and headroom at 6ft 4in. The heads compartment is comfortable enough, although some sort of catch would be useful to stop the door swinging right round into the shower.
There is little to choose between the two guest cabins – one has a slightly wider bed, but slightly less headroom at the after end, one has slightly more stowage space, but neither really has enough for more than an occasional overnight or weekend guest.
But both beds are 6ft 3in long, and the narrower one is still a comfortable 4ft 10in wide. We noted a couple of minor quality issues down below, mainly to do with the bolt-on hardware – door latches that didn’t work, and a magnetic door catch that had simply been pulled off, its self-tapping screws no match for its magnet – which were trivial enough in themselves, but didn’t reflect well on a boat with this sort of price tag.
The lower saloon is a small but comfortable seating area which would be a welcome, air-conditioned haven on a blazing afternoon. The galley is over to port, and a 40-inch LED TV lies concealed within the mirrored bulkhead that faces the sofa – slightly disconcertingly, I have to say, if you’re past the stage of admiring your own reflection. An attractive set of backlit glass steps up to the cockpit offer a welcome distraction.
The cockpit seating is nothing if not versatile. Its sofa backrests can be flipped over to face either way, and the forward backrest can be moved aft when you’re watching the optional flip-up TV, which appears out of what you might have assumed was a chart table.
If you go for the hi-lo table option, the entire long sofa can become one huge sunbed, in case the dedicated sun-worshipping altars fore and aft are not enough. Overhead, a roll-up canopy can be unfurled from the top of the windscreen and stretched across to the radar arch for some shade, although unless the sun is directly overhead you might wish it was bigger. Void spaces in the sides and the seats are put to good use as stowage lockers.
The Evo R6 Open’s show-stopping cockpit
This is all well and good, but the Evo R6 Open’s pièce de resistance is of course its expanding cockpit. The sides slide out to increase the beam by about a metre each, adding some 40 per cent to the aft deck area. It is an immensely pleasing feature on a cleverly conceived craft, and once the Opacmare Transformer is deployed aft, don’t be too surprised if you get a spontaneous round of applause from neighbouring boats.
The mechanics of both are beautifully designed, and whether stowed or deployed, they leave no steps or gaps in the deck. The Transformer can of course be used either as a raised platform with steps for boarding from the quay, as a horizontal extension to the existing aft platform, or as a set of steps down into the water. It’s a terrific piece of design and engineering.
With its topsides slid out, and the aft deck suddenly a wide open space, some might feel it needs extra security. Although low gates swing out from the tender garage to close across the walkway, they are not long enough to span the gap when the deck is opened up.
A matching gate on the other side would solve the problem, while the gaps at the forward end of the sliding sections could benefit from similar treatment.Together they would make relaxing with small children, or indeed drunk uncles, far more, well, relaxing. Perhaps Evo R6 Open owners are not the type to go boating en famille.
If your tender is in the garage, the only way into the engineroom is via a hatch in the sole and through a service area, but it’s a tidy space with crawling room between the engines, and access to the generator and drives.
The Evo R6 Open comes with a choice of two propulsion installations, both IPS and both based on Volvo’s 10.8 litre diesel – either twin 625hp IPS 800s, or twin 725hp IPS 950s. Ours had the pokier pair, making it a 35-knot boat, at least on paper.
A razor-sharp entry and assertive chines give the Evo R6 Open’s hull a businesslike aspect. Deadrise aft is a fairly deep 18 degrees.
In the absence of the Covid-cancelled Cannes boat show, several Italian boatyards opted to show off their 2021 models at La Spezia, which offers far more varied and spectacular backdrops than the French Riviera, from the ancient Lerici waterfront and the elevated villages of the Cinque Terra further down the coast, to improbably pretty Porto Venere across the bay, looking like a film set even on our grey and gloomy test day.
Everything looks better in the sunshine, and that probably includes the view through the Evo R6 Open’s windscreen, which we felt was rather too heavily tinted.
Price as reviewed:
£1,420,000.00 ex. VAT
Under way on a disappointingly calm Gulf of La Spezia we sought out wakes to charge through and as promised the bow sliced through them with barely a bump. It was possible to turn the bump into a thump by taking the waves at less perpendicular angles, but overall the Evo R6 Open showed itself to be a confident performer at sea, and comfortable for longish passages. It certainly has a capable, competent hull. Flat out we managed 30.7 knots, which was obviously a little deflating on a flat sea, with a half-load of fuel and water and only six people on board – the Evo R6 Open is advertised, after all, as quite a lot quicker than that. The port engine was significantly down on revs, only achieving 2,350rpm at WOT, against a rated maximum of 2,500, and the shipyard staff had warned us earlier that they had been having problems with the fuel filters. There was also 465lb (211kg) of Williams Minijet in the garage, and, it transpired, a summer’s worth of growth below the waterline. Which was a shame. The Evo R6 Open is all about design. Valerio Rivellini has a way with a line and an angle – with a curve, not so much – and the Evo R6 Open makes a dramatic and confident styling statement. Add in the extraordinary unfolding effect as the cockpit expands in all directions, and you have a boat that will be noticed wherever it goes. And the design is more than skin deep. Details such as the sculpted handrails and superyacht-style automatic anchoring system, pretty cabin steps and hidden TVs, all add a real sense of aesthetic quality and heighten the pleasure of being aboard. With Blu Emme’s commitment to customisation, if you feel as strongly as we do about tinted windscreens it will simply be a matter of asking for one that’s easier to see through. No doubt the shipyard could also add some extra security in the cockpit to help keep family and friends aboard. The quality issues we encountered were minor, but we mention them because we were genuinely surprised. This is not a cheap boat. Thankfully, minor issues are easy to fix. In performance terms our particular Evo R6 Open was unlucky on the day to have a dirty bottom and to be suffering from fuel starvation problems, without which it would undoubtedly have been able to get closer to the speeds claimed for it and match those dazzling looks with similar performance.
LOA: 58ft 1in (17.71m)
Beam: 17ft 5in (5.31m)
Draught: 4ft 3in (1.30m)
Displacement (dry): 21 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,100 litres
Water capacity: 511 litres
Test engines: Twin 725hp Volvo Penta IPS 950
Top speed: 30.7 knots
Fast cruising speed: 27.2 knots
Fuel consumption: 246lph
Fast cruising range: 186nm
Slow cruising range: 509nm at 9.7 knots
RCD category: B for 16 people
Designer: Valerio Rivellini