A decade has passed since Sunseeker last built a flybridge cruiser of this size, and the priorities of its customers have shifted somewhat in that time. Buyers, of course, expect a boat of real quality and style but they also want a craft that boasts a plush, voluminous interior, incredible deck spaces and standards of comfort and luxury previously unthinkable on a boat of these dimensions. It must be a home away from home, a waterside apartment as well as a machine that can whisk you from anchorage to anchorage quickly and safely. It’s a tough brief, but Sunseeker has poured all its boat-building intelligence into the mould and created an incredibly attractive overall package.
My encounter with the Manhattan 52 begins at the yard’s impressive facility in Poole, where every single model in the vast range is designed, built and tested. The Manhattan 52 instantly attracts attention on the dockside. The twisted ribbon of glass in the topsides, the enormous saloon windows with deft flicks of white glass fibre jutting into them and the low sweep of the radar arch all add visual punch.
Look a little closer and the intelligent detailing takes centre stage. There’s the fabulous seating area on the foredeck, which still manages to incorporate deck-level glazing to allow heaps of natural light into the forward VIP cabin. The pair of bar stools in the cockpit sit neatly beside the window pane, which glides down into the counter below at the touch of a button to create a wonderfully sociable inside/outside bar area.
The ‘beach club’ on the bathing platform is the real masterstroke, though. This includes a proper overhead shower, beautifully engineered from mirror-smooth glass fibre and sparkling stainless steel, a neat flip-down bench in the transom so that you can gaze out over the water with the hydraulic bathing platform lowered and your toes in the water and, just above this couple’s seat, a barbeque grill pops out from nowhere to complete this perfect waterside entertaining spot.
The most impressive effect within the 52’s interior is the sheer feeling of interior space. The aft galley layout is an ever-popular arrangement and it works brilliantly in this instance. Having the galley adjacent to the cockpit leaves room up a couple of shallow steps amidships for a spacious and convivial main seating area. Sunseeker’s smart thinking comes to the fore once more here, with a mechanism that sees the two helm seats flip forward electronically to reveal an aft-facing bench seat that affords space for two extra people to sit. It’s smart because, unless the boat is under way, the seats at the lower helm are redundant; this feature makes the very most of the available space.
In fact, a space-first ethos runs through the veins of the 52. The design team has maximised the use of space in every single corner of the boat and no more is this evident than in the full-beam master cabin which, 10 years ago would have been found only on boats big enough to need full-time crew. A full-beam master is a must-have on modern 50ft flybridge boats, but it’s the fact there are no intrusions or obstructions in the floor or deckhead that sets the Manhattan apart. Not to mention the magnificent hull windows that supply stunning water-level views from the double bed, a cosy breakfast dinette nestled beneath the portside glazing and a fabulous ensuite decked out in top-class materials.
Surely, though, this attention on volume and on-board comfort will compromise the driving experience? Think again. Though Sunseeker’s focus has shifted to please the modern boat owner it still has the reputation to uphold of building powerful sea boats that are a joy to drive. The Manhattan 52 doesn’t disappoint.
The 52 is available with shaftdrives or Volvo Penta’s IPS950 pods, both drivetrains using the D11 725hp motor. The particular boat on test was a shaftdrive version and topped out at 32 knots with a decent load of gear and full fuel on board. The improved hydrodynamics of the IPS pods may see a knot or two more at the top end if you opt for this setup and, at slower speeds, joystick manoeuvrability takes much of the stress out of berthing.
In a fine balancing act, Sunseeker has managed to deliver the dynamics that made its name synonymous with power and performance while also appealing to a new breed of customer with the Manhattan 52. A decade has passed since a Sunseeker was in this part of the market but it’s like it’s never been gone.
Length overall: 16m
Fuel capacity: 2,200 litres
Water capacity: 600 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D11 725hp/IPS950
Top speed: 32 knots