Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé on the secondhand market and what features to look out for
Should former England footballer Peter Crouch ever be in the market for a 40ft sportscruiser he could do far worse than check out Bavaria’s Sport 400 Coupé. Why? Because like an upside-down cake, this boat hides one of its principal attributes – a cavernously lofty saloon – below the array of confections up top.
In fact, with 6ft 11in of below-decks headroom (that’s Mr Crouch plus four), we can only imagine there must have been some very tall designers in the Marco Casali design studio when this boat was conceived!
Launched in 2014 and superseded first by the S40 (principally a rebranding exercise) and then the S41 (an extensively revised model), the Bavaria Sport 400 was offered in three guises, Open, Hardtop and the model we focus on here, the Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé, which features a three-part sliding patio door that converts the open-backed hardtop into a fully enclosed wheelhouse – handy for the British climate.
With big performance matching the big space on offer below decks, the Sport 400 range served Bavaria well: “It was one of our best sellers,” comments Ben Nichols of Bavaria’s UK importer, Clipper Marine. “It represented good value for money and is an excellent sea boat, with any windage concerns offset by it being quite a heavy boat.”
Offered with a choice Mercruiser and Volvo Penta engine options spanning 300 to 400hp, the Bavaria Sport 400 is also no slouch; models equipped with twin Volvo Penta D6 370s, for example, nudge the speedo up to 38 knots.
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Our review boat, a 2016 example on offer with Swanwick-based Solent Motor Yachts for £259,950 VAT paid, has the range topping D6 400s, good for a claimed 40 knots. It also has Volvo Penta’s optional Aquamatic joystick, which together with its bow thruster make this a very easy boat to manoeuvre. We caught up with its owner, Adrian Thompson, while he and his wife Abbi were making the most of the boat on a late summer excursion to Cowes.
“There’s no question that this is a very fast boat and as long as you’re prepared to travel at speed she’s very good,” says Adrian. “She doesn’t like slow running in rough seas, she’ll wobble quite a lot. But because she has a deep-vee hull, once you get her onto the first stage of the plane, she settles down nicely. And when you get a day like this, very calm, she’ll do up to 40 knots flat out – it’s an incredible piece of kit.”
Adrian and Abbi’s reason for selling is that after owning a series of boats in the UK and now approaching retirement, they are looking for a new boating adventure: “Most of our boating has been between Poole and Chichester and we know all the Solent ports like the back of our hands,” says Adrian. “So we’re looking at something in the Med now and we’d love a 50ft flybridge, with a Princess at the top of the tree.”
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For all its space below decks, with that colossal saloon, a generous dinette and large L-shaped galley, the Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé is compromised in a few minor respects. One of the natural consequences of all that head space are the four steep steps leading down from the main deck. These need negotiating with care, especially when underway.
As well as the shared living spaces down here, it also has two generously proportioned cabins and a single heads, albeit a big one with a toilet, a large vanity unit and a separate shower stall.
Although a lone washroom might be an issue for some buyers, it’s not been a concern for Adrian and Abbi: “While it’s generally just the two of us, we do have guests, about one weekend out of four,” says Adrian. “We all stay on the boat, normally for one or two nights, but as marinas these days have very nice facilities the fact we’ve only got one loo hasn’t really been a problem.”
The cabins also pose a bit of a conundrum, albeit a good one, for while the cabin in the forepeak lays claim to being the master by virtue of its double bed, the second cabin, located aft, is arguably the more appealing of the two.
For starters, it’s significantly larger, with a layout that accentuates its spaciousness. Then there’s a sizeable settee, which the forward cabin lacks, plus plenty of storage. There’s even a wine rack just inside the door – another reason to reserve this cabin for yourself! Our review boat didn’t appear to have any way of joining the two singles together but if you could find a way this might offer the best of both worlds.
Clambering up those four steps brings you to the upper saloon, which is a busier space than the lower one. While we have only praise for the helm, which benefits from a wide, bolstered seat and an excellent view forward, the pair of seats opposite make for something of an odd couple.
The inner of the two is a flip-over seat, which when in its forward-facing position leaves the pivoting metal supports on show. When reversed to provide another seat at the compact dinette the resulting arrangement of one forward -acing and one rearward facing seat looks a little ungainly.
The outer seat also has a trick up its sleeve, for with the addition of a lengthy cushion, mostly supported by the GRP adjacent to the companionway, it can be converted into a forward-facing lounger.
Top deck sings
On the plus side, opening up the three-stage patio door brings the aft cockpit into play, with its large table surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe-shaped seating unit. Both the table and the central backrest of the seat can be dropped down to form a sunpad area if required.
Together, the upper saloon and aft cockpit provide all the room and amenities a boat like this deserves. Add to that a massive electrically-operated sunshine roof, and the top deck really begins to sing. Bavaria has also managed to pack a unit containing a wet bar, grill and refrigerator into the upper saloon, an important addition which largely mitigates the need for the cook to venture to the galley below while underway.
Out on deck, the expansive feel of the Sport 400 Coupé continues. There’s a whopping bathing platform, more than big enough to store a toy or two, and the foredeck offers another generously proportioned double sunpad. Linking the outside areas together are well protected side decks. Accessible from either side of the aft cockpit these continue beyond the sunpads all the way to the bow.
Bavaria is well regarded for the solid construction of its boats and the Sport 400 Coupé is no exception. Most of the equipment aboard our review boat, seven years old with approximately 395 hours on the clock, was in as-new condition, the only exception being the wooden worktop of the wet bar, which would benefit from a rub down and refinishing.
Go for extras
Offering his advice to would-be owners, Adrian Thompson says, “What I would say to anyone interested in a Sport 400 Coupé is to ensure it is optioned up. We liked the fact ours has air con and a generator – with all that glass it gets pretty warm on sunny days so the air con has been a godsend. We were the second owners of our boat and we decided to make a number of improvements, including replacing the toilet with a freshwater loo and renewing the carpets. In that way, we made it our own.”
There is a lot to commend the Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé – performance, space, modern styling, an enclosed main deck for year-round use: this boat has the lot. If you can live with a few minor compromises, and we suspect most can, it won’t be long before Adrian and Abbi say a fond farewell to their boat and move on to a new chapter of Mediterranean boating bliss.
Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé surveyor’s report
The Bavaria Sport range of sportscruisers has steadily built itself a reputation for offering customers a tempting mix of voluminous, fun to drive, good value for money craft. I have surveyed several of these over the years and have found few areas of recurring build issues.
Bavaria’s ‘Vacutec’ vacuum-infusion build method provides consistent quality of lay-up but also reduces weight compared to monolithic construction by a claimed 20%. Isophthalic resins are used, in line with most quality builders, to provide superior resistance to moisture ingress over the years.
The hull form on these craft is a relatively deep variable vee and the outdrive powertrain provides strong acceleration, efficient cruising and sporty steering.
Points to note when considering buying:
- Inspect the roof assembly. This is an important selling point on this boat so ensure all guides are clear and that the unit slides smoothly over several operations.
- Beware of all the sharp edges and radii around the furniture modules, especially below deck in a seaway.
- Look out for stress cracking and/or staining from strained rail mounts along the deck moulding upstands.
- The large swim platform may be prone to impact damage around the quarters. Check for signs of damage or hasty repairs.
- Carefully check the large sliding door seals out to the cockpit. Ensure all are free to open smoothly and lock into their respective open positions.
- Hull cleanliness makes a significant impact to performance and fuel efficiency especially on fast sportscruisers so consider a mid-season lift out for a pressure wash and anode check.
- Check the machinery service history and insist on a thorough sea trial with your surveyor. A good long run at wide open throttle should reveal any issues with heat exchangers and related components.
- Outdrive sterngear has its advantages but also requires regular servicing and careful inspection. Have these thoroughly checked prior to purchase by a competent engineer.
A sound example should provide a fast, fun, spacious cruising experience and, if well maintained, should also be an easy sale when it’s time to move on.
Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Bavaria Sport 400 Coupé specifications
Designer: Marco Casali
Hull type: Variable vee planing
RCD: Category B for 12 people
LOA: 43ft 6in (13.25m)
Beam: 13ft 0in (3.96m)
Draft: 4ft 7in (1.4m)
Dry weight: 9.1 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 950 litres
Water capacity: 250 litres
Top speed: 40 knots with twin 400hp Volvo D6s
Fuel consumption: 3.4 litres per nm @ 27 knots (D6 370s)
Range: 223nm @ 27 knots with 20% reserve
Annual fuel burn: 2,850 litres (based on 25 hours at 27 knots and 25 hours at 6 knots)
Marina berthing: £9,400 (based on £710 per m for a Hamble River marina downstream of Bursledon bridge