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Sunseeker Manhattan 55 review: How do you improve a £1m winning formula?

How do you go about improving the most successful model you have ever made? That was the task facing Sunseeker in updating the Manhattan 52 – has it succeeded? Deputy Editor Jack Haines finds out with a test drive of the new Sunseeker Manhattan 55...

The day of our test happened to be one of those rare gems where the wind decides never to get out of bed. A chilly day of such breathlessness the breeze couldn’t even find the energy to banish a dusting of mist brought about by some warmer days prior.

Not exactly ideal for testing the mettle of the Sunseeker Manhattan 55’s hull but a day to savour for its eerie stillness and for an opportunity to plough great white furrows in the inky blue around Studland Bay.

Doing the carving are a pair of propellers linked to shafts driven by a pair of 800hp Volvo Penta D13s. IPS1050, which uses the same blocks with pod drives, is also an option but only 30% of this boat’s predecessor, the Manhattan 52, were fitted with the pods.

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It seems that a combination of cost and the familiarity of shafts is the reason behind these numbers, especially as the demographic of a Manhattan 52/55 owner suggests that they are experienced boaters looking to upgrade who generally run the boats themselves and often as a couple.

I’m not complaining from my perch on the upper helm where the Sunseeker Manhattan 55 belies its near 30-tonne weight and sweeps through the turns with an easy grace.

It’s a pleasure to run the chunky wheel from lock-to-lock and watch from this elevated position as the wash peels off the hull and dashes across the surface of the water.

Why does a voluminous flybridge cruiser with a beach club, three cabins and two bathrooms need to handle like this you may ask.

Partly it’s because an engaging driving experience is in Sunseeker’s DNA but also because even aboard a boat of this size the ability to steer through a following swell or an upwind chop to find the cleanest path is a lot more satisfying if the boat responds positively to the wheel.

The Sunseeker Manhattan 55 certainly does and is alert to inputs from the throttles, too. Those torquey 12.6-litre Volvos provide ample mid-range shove and wind out to a useful top speed just shy of 33 knots.

This means, if you are time pressured, you can cruise at 30 knots if you need to, whereas rivals from Prestige and Absolute, for example, are probably hitting their rev limiters as they approach that speed.

Read our full review of the Sunseeker Manhattan 55, pick up the July issue of MBY, out June 3.

Sunseeker Manhattan 55 specifications

LOA: 56ft 6in (17.2m)
Beam: 16ft 0in (4.87m)
Draught: 4ft 2in (1.26m)
Displacement: 27 tonnes
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D13 800
Top speed on test: 32.5 knots
Fast cruising range: 196nm at 20 knots
Slow cruising range: 572nm at 7.8 knots
Fuel capacity: 2,200 litres
Water capacity: 600 litres
RCD: B for 12 people
Price from: £1.28m (inc. VAT)

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