Bavaria Sport 43 Hardtop Boat News, Review & Advice

28 Апр 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Bavaria 34 Hard Top

Bavaria Sport 43 Hardtop

The German giant rolls out a new flagship sportscruiser with ‘hardtop’ and keen price. But does it beat our local efforts?


— Nominated for European Powerboat of the Year

— High volume hull with accommodating one-level decks

— Very good sportscruiser performance

— Euro styling that catches the eye


— Saltwater-only heads and wipers (latter now amended)

— GRP lid too close to cockpit hot plate

— Fiddly sunpad on bow, says owner

— Some minor attention to detail issues with the finish

— Resale value isn’t quantifiable at this point


— China-proofed German sportscruiser

Giant German yacht and powerboat builder Bavaria — which builds up to 1600 boats in a good year — released its flagship 43 Hardtop (HT) in 2011. Previously available as a Sport model with soft-top, the HT variant is superior due to the fact you get weather protection and, thus, a sportscruiser with year-round appeal. Not a true hardtop, it uses a section of concertinaed canvas instead.

Such has been the warm reception, ‘hardtops’ are now available on Bavaria’s Sport 34, 39 and this 43. As with all its yachts and powerboats, Bavaria focuses on value for money (foremost), terrific volume, sporty handling courtesy of Spanish design house Insenaval, and an interior designed by BMW Group Designworks USA for wow.

You can now get optional de rigueur light-oak joinery down below for a contemporary feel that’s autobahns ahead of the old sombre dark mahogany-only choice. That said, the light mahogany on the test boat looked smart. All the timber is milled on site, but you can still get creative with three choices of wood, six upholstery leather upgrades and optional colour of silk grey.

Meantime, the yard achieves production efficiencies largely through robotics and automation. Sure, the boats are handbuilt, but 3D design software, CNC machines and assembly lines facilitate speedy production and, thus, cut costs.

The basic Bavaria modus operandi is said to be modelled on that used by BMW. The parts arrive 48 hours before build — we’re told, the yard is making more onsite parts including stainless steel fabrication — and just 14 days elapse between hull lay-up and curing and final trucking or shipping.

All told, there’s a five-month delivery time as each boat is bespoke or built to order these days. But buyers seem to think it’s worth the wait and the boats have never been as cheap as they are now, we’re told.

Thanks to low labour costs and input, the Bavarias are said to be ‘China proof’ in respect of pricing but with genuine German performance.


— More boat for less money

You can get a Sport 43 HT from $580,000 with twin big-block 380hp 8.2-litre MAG HO petrol inboard engines with Bravo III sterndrives. That’s a very basic boat, mind you. Our test boat had Volvo Penta D6-370 EVC diesel inboards with sterndrives, a Joystick docking controller with autopilot, and plenty of options for a $750,000 retail price as tested.

This is appealing for such a high volume sportscruiser, with an overall length of 13.83 metres and a beam-forward design hitting 4.41 metres at its widest point. Empty, the boat weighs 11,950kg, while the 1500 litres of fuel and 410 litres of water ensure autonomy for at least a long weekend with the family aboard.

I mention this because Australian boat builder Bill Barry-Cotter was adamant he could produce a 43 sportscruiser locally and undercut the imports. His impressive Mustang 43 tested HERE compares favourably.

The Mustang 43 with the 330hp Volvo Penta D6 engines was selling for $722,780 with optional cockpit fridge, barbecue, cockpit lights, Simrad electronics, bow thruster in place of Joystick, Dave Stewart soft furnishing upgrade, roller blinds, Clarion indoor/outdoor sound system, saloon TV, and antifouling ex-Gold Coast.

But in respect of volume, the Mustang is a bit smaller at 13.45m LOA, with a 4.09m beam, though it weighs the same at 12,000kg for the base model lightly laden. And the boat has similar capacities of 400 litres of water and 1400 litres of fuel. It also has three cabins as standard for sleeping up to six.

If not genuine European sportscruiser styling, enhanced by the chic cockpit lounge upholstery, this sportscruiser stands out for its class-leading volume. This leads to the boat’s huge entertaining decks, a point the owners say held sway, and a very liveable interior.

In respect of options, the owners ticked just about every box on their Sport 43 HT including the one that reads hydraulic swim platform. This will facilitate easy tender launch. We’d add a gas barbecue and a cutting board on some stainless struts out here, too.

This $750,000 43 HT also had the factory fitted Sun and Fun comfort package with teak decks, foredeck sunpad, 19,000 BTUs of air conditioning, cockpit fridge and griddle, and microwave oven. There was an anchoring package and a Garmin navigation package with 4008 chartplotter.


— Entertainer and family boat

You can get the Bavaria 43 HT in two-cabin — as tested — or three-cabin layouts. Either way, the cockpit and deck combine abundant seating and sun lounges with amenities and concealed storage space. And all on the one level.

The aft circular sunpad for four sits atop a signature Bavaria aft storage well big enough for stashing watersports gear, a portable outboard, covers, fenders and more. Walkround decks traced by moulded toe rails lead forward to the sunpad that, the owner’s lament, was rather fiddly to attach.

We noted handy hardtop handrails, a decent split bow rail with pulpit seat, recessed windlass, fillers for water and fuel, big cleats and wipers on the windscreen. The test boat didn’t have a freshwater windscreen wash function which, we’re told, has since become available.

The lunch setting partially shaded by the hardtop — we’d add a Euro awning as well — centres around a typical U-shaped dinette for six/eight, with contemporary hard-edged lines, enlivened by the upgraded mocha Sunbrella upholstery and teal striped cushions.

Together, the soft furnishings (courtesy of Ship’s Ahoy) help reduce the impact of lots of white moulded fibreglass.

The upgraded amenities behind the helm seat has sink with hot/cold tap, beer and wine fridge/icebox and electric griddle. But the GRP lid showed signs of damage and greater clearance from the hot griddle is needed.

You continue on the same deck level — a detail the owners liked a lot — to the portside L-shaped guests cruising lounge for three. With aft-facing backrest, it doubles as a chaise. Hardtop closed, the big mirrored side windows offer views while reducing glare.

The two-person helm seat fronts a rather white dash that will probably benefit from the addition of an aftermarket cut-to-fit mat to reduce glare. This is something other importers of Euro sportscruisers have the foresight to offer.

While the helm doesn’t break new ground, the Bavaria 12V multifunction switch panel gets the nod, as does the opening window, adjustable wheel, and fold-down footstep.

Below decks, via the sliding companionway door, the 43 HT has plenty of fresh air thanks to 11 hatches and opening portlights. The landing area, the saloon, is dominated by an edgy lounge finished in cream Leatherette that, with two pullout stools, can easily seat six for dinner.

Among the details were trendy lampshades, a pull-out fridge drawer, numerous lighting combos from mood to task, and handy overhead cupboards. Stainless steel handrails that double as fiddles trace the galley, in its usual sportscruiser locale to starboard.

Bavaria 37 Hard Top

Solid counters and high-gloss white cupboards create the air of an apartment, while amenities range from two-burner hot plate to microwave oven. As touched on, cross-flow ventilation is a highlight.

Dinner down, it’s time to retreat to the cabins. The aft one features transverse single berths with an infill to make a double, an armchair before a portlight, and a hanging locker and storage space that housed the owner’s stash of board games.

But the optional three-cabin layout looks squeezy with two separate aft cabins each with twin single berths facing fore and aft.

There are two en suites, but both have saltwater-only heads, which is unsatisfactory on a $750,000 sportscruiser. Bavaria needs to break away from its yacht-building mentality and provide freshwater loos instead. As it is, you’ll need to flush a bucket of freshwater and leave half a bucket in the heads before putting the boat to bed.

Last but not least, the stateroom forward boasts an island berth and quasi desk/vanity nook. Storage exists in drawers and hanging lockers and, thankfully, natural ventilation is a strong point, as is the 2.1 metres of headroom throughout the Sport 43 HT.


— Proven construction meets European standards

If anything, Bavaria could be accused of overbuilding its boats. It typically uses lashings of resins and rovings to create a solid GRP hull. Foam features in the hull sides and decks for insulation and weight reduction.

Built to CE requirements from a factory in Giebelstadt that meets Germanischer Lloyd standards, the Bavaria Sport 43 HT has a sound foundation. I’ve seen better built and finished boats, and worse ones, too. This is on par with other competing European mass-produced marques.

Just as importantly, local backing from the Bavaria Australia importers and supporting nationwide dealerships is very strong. Buyers have a safety net and direct line via their dealer to the factory to fall back on.

Parts are just an email away, while preferred local shipwrights take care of pre- and post-delivery issues, as well as adding their own take on better ways to tweak things and Australianise these German-made boats.


— The German sportscruiser experience

While the 43 HT has a high-volume hull above the waterline, it didn’t seem compromised when driven outside Sydney Heads on a mild and meek day. In other words, it carries its volume well on a relatively sporty hull, without displacing water vertically and creating spray.

We banked this way and that, put the throttles to the dash, then pulled on the reins to find the cruising groove. But to be perfectly honest, we didn’t record hard data with the happy owners aboard their operational holiday boat. Suffice to say, acceleration wasn’t doughy and any number of boltholes where jut moments away.

Keeping within the confines of Sydney Harbour, at this point, the Sport 43 HT returned a 34 knots top speed, a 28 knot fast cruise, and a family friendly cruising groove of 24 knots. But the weekender and floating holiday home is just as capable of exploring nearby ports of call.


— Happy family plays together

The owners of this, their first-ever boat, looked at the second-hand market. But this was a better value buy for their family-boating purposes. An up-sell from the 38 sister ship, which they liked for much the same reason — all the outdoor entertaining areas are on the same level — the 43 was something of an impulse buy.

Following lots of online research, and then a little prod from Mum, they bought the 43 sight unseen. The boat arrived in December and they spent every day aboard for two weeks straight, including Christmas and New Years Eve on Sydney Harbour. If you can survive that, well, you can survive just about anything.

Bavaria’s Sport 43 HT is a lot of Euro-styled entertainer and family boat for the money. The Mustang 43 is an interesting rival. But ultimately it might come down to volume if not personal tastes and style.


Price as tested: $750,000 with upgraded Volvo Penta D6-370 EVC and optional Joystick and autopilot, hydraulic swim platform, factory fitted Sun Sun comfort package with teak decks, foredeck sunpad, 19,000 BTUs of air conditioning, cockpit fridge and griddle, microwave oven, anchoring package and a Gamin navigation package with 4008 chartplotter, plus more.

Priced from: $580,000 with twin 8.2 MAG HO DTS sterndrives with Bravo III drives; about $600,000 with the twin Volvo Penta D6-370 EVC.

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