Can De Antonio’s first coupé model make an award-winning formula even more attractive? Alex Smith heads to Malaga to drive the De Antonio D50 Coupe...
From the moment it entered the fray about 20 years ago, Barcelona-based De Antonio Yachts has displayed an independence of thought that has, at times, seemed fearless.
It has treated relatively compact sportsboats to a degree of ingenuity that has felt fresh, distinctive and, in parts, even a little bit eye-opening. But it has never indulged in innovation for its own sake.
What design segues it has adopted have always been conceived with an eye on how they might improve your day out or your weekend away. That’s how its mid-range De Antonio D36 Open managed to scoop a Motor Boat Award in January, and that’s why we headed to Malaga full of optimism that its newly crowned De Antonio D50 Coupe flagship might carry on the good work.
With any De Antonio, it pays to start at the back end because the unique stern arrangement lies at the heart of how its boats work. Like the rest of the fleet, the De Antonio D50 Coupe uses outboard engines – in this case, a pair of Mercury’s mighty V12 600s.
But you can’t see those because they are topped by a large sun bed and backed up by a full-beam inboard-style swim platform. At a stroke, that extends the day space enormously, while also hiding the outboards from sight.
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To make the set-up more practical, the engines are framed by a pair of integrated cat-style hull extensions, providing the buoyancy required to counterbalance the weight of all that extended stern furniture.
There’s also a neat upper level integrated into the swim platform so you can trim the props right out of the water without having to expose them. And ahead of those engines, neatly concealed beneath the sunbed headrests, lies De Antonio’s trademark transverse tender garage.
It’s a very cool feature, providing plenty of space for an inflatable boat and an electric outboard with dedicated charging point. But the fact that you have to manually pull the tender out of its space means your choice is dictated more by what you’re able to lift than what the locker is able to swallow.
Instead, if you want to get the most out of this space, it’s best used for a compact tender plus a few bulky extras like canvases and cushions. And if you really want a large tender, then simply reserve the tender slot for storage and pop your tender on the optional hi-lo platform.
If you look at this design concept from a cynical perspective, you could of course argue that its purpose is to enable De Antonio to sell a small boat as though it’s a big one. But there’s nothing fraudulent about how brilliantly it complements the rest of the day-boating spaces.
Ahead of the aft sun loungers, slap bang in the centre of the boat, sits a huge sociable dinette with lots of wraparound seating, twin tables and additional slide-out seat boxes with reversible cushions so you can seat the entire ship’s company in one spot. Ahead of that, the transverse galley is big, well specced and perfectly positioned to service your guests.
And if you head beyond the helm, the bow also delivers some serious day boating facilities. Though the test boat is rigged with the standard sunbed island, you can spec this space with wraparound glass, enabling you to remove the cushions, hit the pump button and create a forward seawater pool for up to four people.
You still get a couple of aft-facing seats up in the forepeak, and while it may seem odd to have a permanent glass frame around your sunbeds, the guys at De Antonio point out that it’s actually a great means of sheltering the forward sunbathers from chilly winds.
Back in the cockpit, it’s interesting to see that, while the coupé structure cuts off direct access between the helm and the side decks, De Antonio has done really well to mitigate the impact of that. The transverse galley has been split in two, creating a central companionway that links the helm station with the big open dinette.
From here, there is easy access along the side decks, both to the bow and to the stern platform – and access to the pontoon is also impressive, thanks to some broad midships boarding points with removable carbon fibre guardrails.
Better still, it appears that the new Coupe model manages to retain all the critical day boating features that make the Open variant so easy to enjoy. You still get four helm seats, two fridges, two hob tops and two work surfaces.
And while it does of course take longer for a single-handed skipper to reach the fenders and cleats, the fact that you have a joystick with Skyhook function, plus vertical hull sides all round, means that the De Antonio D50 Coupe is by no means a difficult boat to park.
Sleeping for six
What tends to astonish people about a De Antonio is the fact that, once you’ve revelled in its delightful day spaces, you can head down below and enjoy accommodation that is way better than the average weekender.
Those vertical hull sides deliver a space far bigger and brighter than you would tend to expect of a Med-style 50-footer, and the way it’s configured does a great job of getting maximum value from that.
The lower lounge and forward cabin, for instance, can be left wide open as a single integrated space or divided off with a folding wooden bulkhead for private overnight use.
The lofty starboard day heads also comes with a separate shower compartment, and when you look aft, the guest cabin is even more surprising. It comprises a huge, bright, full-beam space with ample seating (and ample headroom) for the whole ship’s company to gather in comfort and enjoy a climate-controlled party when the weather forces you below. Thanks to a central lounge pod with a reversible drinks tray in the centre, it can also be rigged as a guest double.
Simply slide the unit aft so it butts up against the bench and hey presto! In a matter of three seconds, you have a massive guest berth, complete with reading lamps and side tables, that might easily find favour as the master cabin. And such is its scale that you could easily sleep another couple of kids on the fore-and-aft bench seats that line the sides.
That said, it’s not entirely perfect. The central lounge table, for instance, is topped with bed-ready cushions, which limits its appeal as a place to pop your drinks. And when you rotate that drinks tray, it has a tendency to get stuck. But given the fact that this is only boat number 1, minor anomalies like this are very easy to forgive.
De Antonio drive
As you would expect, the new De Antonio D50 Coupe drives very much like the smaller boats in the fleet. With those aft hull extensions keeping the stern up, there’s little to no bow lift as you shift onto the plane; and when you trim the legs up in a bid to free up the hull or lift the nose, there’s still no discernible alteration in running attitude.
That probably doesn’t bode well if you find yourself in a lumpy following sea – particularly given this boat’s vertical hull sides and flare-free bow. But on moderate days like today, the fast, flat, rigorously level helming dynamic is very accessible for new boaters.
With the hull steps adding their input to the trimming story, the cruising efficiency looks fairly reasonable too. At between 24 and 34 knots, we’re seeing a fuel flow comfortably below 7 litres per mile and a range from that 1,500-litre fuel tank of around 180Nm. And when we throw on some extra revs and get it right up to speed, it’s interesting to see how refined it all feels.
In fact, thanks to the sheer scale of the boat and its relative separation from the water, the top end of 45 knots feel more like 25. The sound, meanwhile, remains steadfastly below 80Db and while the coupé structure adds an extra 500kg to the mix, that has no discernible impact, either on straight-line speed or on the vigour of the handling.
While there’s some decent heel in the turn, those props never threaten to aerate and there’s also plenty of reassuring grip from the hull. And if you enjoy shallow cruising grounds, the D50’s combination of a generous beam and a moderate deadrise creates a very user-friendly draft of just 2ft 3in – so again, the De Antonio D50 Coupe is a very easy boat to get on with.
As regards the downsides, well it’s true that the supports at the aft end of the superstructure look a little thicker than they need to be. It’s equally true that the unguarded anchor button sits a little too close to the throttle than we would like.
But in reality, the driving experience here is more about the overall sensation than the finer details and the question that arises from that is very simple.
Are you happy to abdicate your authority over the running attitude and accept that this boat will drive ‘the De Antonio way’ whether you like it or not? If so, then have no concerns. This is a very pleasant way to go boating.
Price as reviewed:
£706,496.00 e. VAT
At around €730,000 ex VAT (or around 10% more than the Open model), the D50 Coupe is a very articulate mouthpiece for the broader De Antonio ethos. Spacious, sociable and full of neat little design features, it certainly fulfils its role as a versatile, feel-good party platform and cruise-ready plaything. But of course, that is exactly why this boat will split opinion between those who are excited by it and those who are happy to dismiss it. If you want a great driver’s boat, a great sea boat or a great looking boat, the flat, angular, rather lofty-looking D50 Coupe is probably not the solution for you. But if you admire De Antonio’s trademark combination of big open day spaces, cruise-friendly cabins and rapid, stubbornly flat driving dynamics, then this new flagship D50 is all the boat you’re ever likely to need.
LOA: 48ft 8in (14.90m)
Beam: 14ft 4in (4.40m)
Draft: 2ft 3in (0.7m)
Displacement (dry): 12.14 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,500 litres
Engines: Twin 600hp or 4 x 450hp outboards
Test engines: Twin Mercury 7.6-litre V12 600hp outboards
Top speed on test: 44.9 knots
Fuel consumption: 164lph @ 20 knots
Cruising range: 146nm @ 20 knots
Noise: 76.7 d(B)A @ 20 knots
RCD category: B for 12 people
Price as tested: £706,496 (ex. VAT)