Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to track down a good Beneteau GT38 on the secondhand market…
In build: 2010 – 2015
Price range: £199,950 (inc. VAT) – £228,311 (ex. VAT)
Beneteau’s roots hark all the way back to 1884 and its reputation for building practical, innovative and good value for money craft has grown in keeping with its ever increasing output.
Despite making its name in sailing yachts, it actually began adding engines to its product line-up in 1909, regardless of what it referred to as the “cost and consequences’’. That brave first step has developed into a successful range of motor boats covering everything from small sportsboats and peche promenades up to its recently launched flagship, the Beneteau Grand Trawler 62.
This 2012 Beneteau GT38 sits between the two extremes but still looks remarkably fresh for a 10-year-old boat. And with an asking price a whisker under £200k, it looks like its resale value is holding up almost as well as its looks.
Launched in 2010, the Beneteau GT38 was one of the first two Beneteau Gran Turismo models, the other being the Beneteau GT44. Today both are gone, having been superseded by the Beneteau GT36, GT41 and GT45.
The hallmarks of the range – as one might expect from the Gran Turismo moniker – are high levels of performance and comfort courtesy of that stylish open-backed hard top.
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The Beneteau Gran Turismo 40 marks a new dawn for the French yard's good value sportscruiser range, as Nick Burnham
Taking performance first: a key element of every GT’s make-up is Beneteau’s patented Air Step hull. Developed by the yard back in 2003, it uses air vents on the foredeck to channel air to a pair of chevron-shaped steps in the hull.
While hull steps themselves are nothing new, they usually have to draw in air from the side and are most effective at speeds over 40 knots so having air fed down to the centre of the step from above should ensure they are more easily ventilated and more effective at all speeds.
The aim of the steps is to improve both the fuel efficiency and the ride quality of its craft by allowing the hull to run flatter on a cushion of air that also helps to reduce drag. Together with stability-enhancing chines at the rear of the hull, this is claimed to increase acceleration and speed while reducing fuel consumption.
It’s hard to prove how effective this is but the Beneteau GT38 does achieve speeds of 32 knots with modest twin 260hp Volvo D4s, rising to the mid-30s with the larger 300hp engine option.
Beneteau claims Air Step has a payoff in terms of ride comfort, too, but the comfort we’re focusing on here is what lies within the GT38’s ample cockpit and lower deck accommodation. From the moment you step aboard, it’s obvious this is a boat intended to be enjoyed as a social platform as well as for its pace and seakeeping abilities.
A single, shallow step and safety gate to starboard gives access from the deep bathing platform to the cockpit. Once in the cockpit, the immediate impression is one of space.
A chaise longue lies ahead, while the substantial horseshoe-shaped seating area to port would, in our estimation, comfortably accommodate up to six adults and a couple of children. Centre stage is a large and impressively sturdy fold-out, wooden table. Beneath the table a large hatch gives access to the engine room.
Accessing the helm from the socialising area involves a bit of a wiggle, either by turning to port and passing the wet bar/BBQ/fridge unit, or by squeezing between the centrally mounted double helm bench and the single buddy seat to starboard.
Whichever way you go, a single step takes you up to the helm area with a second, small, step up to the buddy seat. Both the helm and buddy seats are adjustable, robust and comfortable with bolsters to allow the boat to be driven while standing. The buddy seat also rotates towards the helm and has a grab handle in front of it should the ride become exciting.
The driving position – in common with many other hardtop boats – leaves a bit to be desired in terms of forward visibility. The issue here is the roof moulding, which partially restricts the view from the helm seat by cutting into the field of vision from above.
Unfortunately for me, standing a mere 5ft 7in in my stockinged feet, the outlook was slightly worsened by standing up to look through the roof as the frame was then directly in my line of vision. Taller skippers may fare better in this respect.
The view of the instrumentation from the helm, on the other hand, could not be clearer. Analogue dials are used for key controls such as revs, temperature and battery voltage, and these are laid out in pairs so any mismatched readings between the engines will be easily spotted.
There’s also plenty of storage space at the helm, including several cubby holes and a pair of cup holders. In addition to this, there is a massive expanse of plastic moulding and acrylic glazing ahead of the helm before you reach the heavily raked windscreen, some 2m further forward.
Happily, Beneteau has used non-reflective materials as far as possible here in order to minimise glare from these surfaces.
One other feature worth mentioning, and the star of the show, is the GT38’s huge sunroof. Operated electronically, the entire panel glides back at the press of a switch, transforming the hitherto closed cockpit into a gloriously light, bright and airy space.
On the sunny day of our visit, the effect was dramatic. And when the Great British summer chooses to deliver the inevitable downpour, being able to make the roof watertight in a matter of seconds would certainly make the Beneteau GT38 the envy of any open-topped boat owner.
The foredeck is reached from either side by way of side-decks running the length of the boat. Accessed from the bathing platform rather than the cockpit via three fairly steep steps, they are well protected by tall guardrails providing a safe passage forward to the windlass and sunpads.
The journey below decks begins with sliding back the sizeable glazed cover over the companionway. With just the merest hint of schadenfreude, the broker Derek informed us this is known in the trade as the guillotine and once you have slid it back for yourself, you can see why – check out the video below for a more visual explanation.
Four steps down and past the boat’s main electrical control panel lies the saloon, which in common with the cockpit, is spacious and comfortable for a 38ft boat. To port, there’s an L-shaped settee with a table that drops down to support an infill and create an extra double bed.
Opposite, and sharing the space, is the galley, which is fully loaded with hob, sink and drainer, plus a microwave/grill above and a fridge below. There’s even a small TV mounted above the sink. An abundance of storage is provided, both in the galley and the lockers above the settee.
Contrasting nicely with the cream upholstery and worktop, the interior woodwork sports a rich cherry wood finish. The cream and cherry wood theme continues throughout the master and guest cabins, both of which are accessed directly from the saloon.
With its combination of glazing shaped to echo the profile of the boat and traditional portholes, the forward master is especially appealing, with plenty of light reaching all areas.
Generous storage space lies beneath the centre-mounted double bed, and wardrobes are located on either side at the aft end of the cabin. A strip of LED lights between the base of the raised bed and the top of the cabinets below it add a premium feel to an already classy cabin.
The mid cabin is situated two steps down from the saloon. These lead into a recess to allow easy access onto the floor-level beds which can be converted into a single bed or transverse double with the aid of another infill. Bags of useful storage space completes the picture in the aft cabin.
Lastly, the heads. Once again directly off the saloon, the washroom is generous in size with a toilet, washbasin, shower and attractive cherry wood storage lockers, all housed in a single space, with plenty of room to move about in.
Beneteau GT38: Our verdict
In summary, the Beneteau GT38 is well suited to the British boating scene. It’s 11.3m length and 3.73m beam makes it more than big enough for accommodating daytime parties of up to ten while being a relatively compact vessel – handy for finding a visitor’s berth in our increasingly crowded marinas.
For anyone untroubled by the compromises caused by the hard top roofline, this nimble sportscruiser will deliver many hours of pleasure, fun and satisfaction.
Beneteau GT38 surveyor’s report
The stand out features of this boat are the space and ease of movement around the vessel, storage space, plus the benefits of the Air Step hull.
In my experience, this really does work; the ease with which it gets on the plane is impressive and the feeling of riding on a cushion of air is discernible.
I have achieved speeds of more than 34 knots on sea trial with a D4 300 engined craft and 28.7 knots at 3,000 rpm, making this a fun and fast cruiser.
Points to note when considering buying:
- I have found that occasionally the GRP air tubes begin delaminate at the outlet end under the hull – probably due to forces exerted when in use. Not a big problem if found early, and easily solved when lifted.
- Coloured gelcoats on these boats tend to fade badly though UV effect. Ideally, buy a white boat, otherwise considerable time will be spent compounding and polishing. A paint or vinyl wrap may be required.
- Sliding roof’s gulleys, rollers and slides need to be kept clean and lubricated with a dry Teflon spray.
- The swim platform is prone to minor impacts and the teak can lift and de-bond due to localised crushing. Light hammer testing will show if all is OK.
- When using the joystick command be aware that the drive engagement can be harsh. If the clunking is excessive, ask for a Volvo engineer to check the system.
- Some boats aren’t used regularly enough. Often, I find surface pitting on door handles, porthole trims, locker catches, and spores on soft linings, all due to insufficient ventilation when left unused for long periods.
-Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Beneteau GT38 specifications
LOA: 11.73 m
Beam: 3.73 m
Draught: 1.07 m
Air draught: 4.15m
Displacement: 10,220 kg
Fuel capacity: 650L
Water capacity: 200L
Top speed: 33 knots @ 104lph
Cruising speed: 23 knots @ 51 lph
Cruising range: 240nm
Design: Beneteau Power (architect) / Pierangelo Andreani (interior design)
RCD category: B for 10 people
Annual fuel burn: Approx 2,500 litres (based on 25 hours cruising @ 21 knots and 25 hours @ 6 knots)
Mooring: £7,624.50 (based on £650/metre annual marina mooring on the Hamble River (UK) downstream of Bursledon bridge)
What’s on the market?
Engines: Twin 300hp Volvo Penta D4s
Price: £199,950 (inc. VAT)
Contact: Solent Motor Yachts
Engines: Twin 300hp Volvo Pen0ta D4s
Price: £228,311 (ex. VAT)
Contact: Karina Marine Group
First published in the July 2022 issue of MBY.
In association with SETAG Yachts. Design and refit specialists SETAG Yachts bring luxury to the pre-owned market – by creating the bespoke yacht of your dreams, with no compromise. To fall in love with your boat all over again visit www.setagyachts.com or call +44 (0)1752 648618 for more details.
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