BOAT REVIEW Prestige 520

April 2022 Launch Reviews
Words by Andrew Howard. Photography and video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Prestige 520
BUILDER Prestige Yachts
PRICE AS TESTED $2,400,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 16.11M
LENGTH (Waterline) 14.80M
BEAM 4.49M
DISPLACEMENT 15579kg
ENGINE 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 600 440/480hp
FUEL CAPACITY 1300L
WATER CAPACITY 636L
Maximum Speed 30 knots
Cruise Speed 18-24 knots
ACCOMMODATION 6 in three cabins
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cost-effective long range cruising
  • Separate entrance to master cabin
OBSERVATIONS
  • Abundance of useable spaces

This is a special review – two vessels at the same time. The Prestige 520 Fly model comes with a large flybridge, whilst the Sport model comes with a sunroof.


Coming from one of the world’s largest marine production facilities, near the west coast of France, Prestige is part of the well-known Jeanneau family. In New Zealand, we know this group as designers and builders of sailing yachts, but they were also one of the pioneers of fibreglass powerboats. Prestige has now celebrated 30 years of designing and building luxury motor yachts, and these two Prestige 520s certainly created an impression, one which had us asking whether this could be the ultimate luxury cruiser able to fit into a 16m berth.

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With hull dimensions of 16.11m (52’10”) LOA and a beam of 4.49m (14’8”), the Prestige 520 models hide their true volume, achieved through their height.  Maximising height dimensions with full stand-up room in every part of the vessel creates a lot of internal space.  One of the lasting impressions of both versions is the abundance of different liveable ‘spaces’ on board. ‘Spaces’ are like rooms or areas that you might spend time in. With three large cabins, two seating areas in the saloon, significant lounging spaces on the bow, the stern and flybridge, and the large transom, the Prestige 520F and 520S offer plenty of usable options.

For its size and features, it is a relatively light boat at 15.5 tonnes (flybridge model – the sedan is 100kg lighter, according to the manufacturer), but with 1300 litres of fuel in twin fuel tanks, and 636 litres of water, the 520 has a useful, cost-effective range.  With today’s raging fuel price increases dominating conversations around the ‘water-cooler’, this is an important consideration. With an optional, locally fitted water-maker, travelling further afield or spending a week or a month onboard is quite feasible.

Of the two boats we tested, one had a pair of common-rail, fuel-injected Volvo IPS 600 – D6  440hp engines, while the other had a pair of Volvo IPS 650 – D6 480hp engines. The weather on test day was excellent with a gentle 10-12-knot breeze, which didn’t really show up any differences in engine performance.  Testing in a more coastal sea state with 20-25-knots of breeze might have revealed more.  Given the lightness of the vessels, either engine option works well, but I would probably opt for the additional sprint performance the Volvo 480hps.

Both variants have well-proven powertrains – strong, quiet, and very reliable. Servicing and parts are readily available across New Zealand, which provides peace of mind when taking any boat around our coastal waters. Volvo Penta’s IPS drive system makes managing a boat – any boat – much easier and safer at low speeds, or in tricky situations.  It has routinely made a skipper or first mate of any grade look like an expert, especially when it’s supplemented by bow and stern thrusters, as here.

During the tests, we spent a lot of time using the autohelm at 8-9knots, which is a typical speed for conserving fuel when undertaking a passage, or when you have guests aboard with limited boating experience.  Both versions of the 520 were semi-planing at 12-13knots and fully planing at 18-19knots. At full throttle (WOT), we had both versions running at 28 knots and 3500rpm against the tide.  Prestige expect 30 knots at engine maximum of 3700rpm. No matter the speed, the hull always felt like it had good grip, with responsive handling and great visibility from either helm station. We always felt safe and in control.

The cockpit helm stations, and the additional helm in the flybridge model, provided very comfortable seating for two people, with excellent visibility ahead, including towards the anchor on the bow and over the port and starboard sides of the hull. The helm stations had the appropriate Raymarine digital electronics package, but of real note was how easy it was to access switches and controls and view all the instruments and gauges without having to move or shuffle in the seat.

To the left of the internal helm station is the saloon area, divided into two parts. The first and larger portion has a large L-shaped sofa seating area, with a beautifully finished varnished and leather-clad table on a stainless-steel base. The table can be unfolded to accommodate up to eight people and the stainless base can be optioned with an electronically controlled hydraulic lift that will lower the table, allowing it to be turned into a double bed.  A TV screen hidden away here too, also raised and lowered electrically.

Behind the internal helm station is a sliding side-door for quick, easy access to the starboard side of the boat, which is helpful if using the boat on your own. Another lounge/chaise type seating area creates yet another ‘space’, all of which are light, bright and feel very spacious because of the windows being 30-40cm taller than would be usual.  It is a smart design feature that makes a difference in how it feels to spend time inside the saloon.

Then we come to two unique features of the Prestige 520. Firstly, the galley, which has a gorgeous Corian benchtop with all the expected features such as a stainless-steel sink with a pull-out mixing tap, three-zone induction cooktop, combination microwave/grill and a stand-up fridge with 178l of fridge and 42l of freezer space. What sets the galley apart is the island storage unit, which I fully expected to be in the way, but wasn’t. It works very well, providing more storage and serving capacity. But the pièce de resistance is a typical French thing: a special sink for champagne on ice! It is simple, self-draining and super-cool. It is sure to be a talking point every time a new guest comes aboard.

The second unique feature of the Prestige 520 models is the private stairway to the master stateroom, with has a large double bed, sofa, flat-screen TV and an ensuite bathroom. This full-beam master bedroom is totally private with large panoramic windows just above water level. This cabin will doubtless become a favourite place with its owners.

The master ensuite has a separate, well-sized shower compartment, freshwater electric toilet and ample storage space.  This, combined with the Corian benchtop and sink, make for a well set-up bathroom.

The separation of the master bedroom from the rest of the vessel is a feature that sets Prestige apart from many others in the market in this size range.  We love it – it will make long-range cruising with other families and friends that little bit easier.

Forward of the helm station, down the companionway steps that hide the washing machine/dryer, is the VIP stateroom, guest bedroom and semi-ensuite main bathroom. The stateroom’s double bed converts into two singles, while the guest cabin has two singles that convert into a double.

Both rooms have plenty of natural light, LED overhead and reading lamps, AC and USB plugs galore, cleverly hidden blinds for every window and a good amount of storage. Comfort and privacy are ensured. And with the entire vessel enjoying a powerful air-conditioning system, with separate room controls for those with differences of opinion, it should make for a very comfortable living.

Towards the back of the boat in the stern, owners should consider which boxes to tick when purchasing a Prestige 520. The 520S had a skipper/crew cabin with its own entrance, a single berth, separate bathroom with toilet, wash basin and shower. There’s even a bed-length window above the transom. The 520F had the alternate option, a tender garage, which will probably be the favourite with Kiwis. The tender garage opens to reveal a tender of your choice, a winch and rollers. Our test boat had a Williams Jet Tender, surfboards, and fishing gear tucked away inside, safe and dry.

The teak-laid bathing platform is a clever piece of engineering that optimises space and maximises use.  Raising and lowering the platform means it can be used for many different functions – like launching a tender, as a pseudo beach, a swim platform or submerged nearly a metre underwater to accommodate scuba divers. No need for a boarding ladder.  All of this, and a fresh hot/cold water transom shower too.

With one of the test boats the 520F flybridge model, it was a great opportunity to explore how the flybridge functioned, and why this type of boat is becoming such a hit with New Zealanders. The flybridge helm station comes with a full complement of instruments, gauges and engine controls, including manoeuvring joystick. The helm seat is comfortable and provides excellent visibility in every direction.  The sun pad and seating areas are enormous – you could readily host a lot of guests for an afternoon.  There’s also a well-proportioned wet bar with a BBQ hotplate, drinks fridge and a basin. Our test boat also had a canvas bimini, which provided excellent shade at anchor.

Overall, the Prestige 520’s design is clever – very clever, with just enough of the difference we have come to expect from a French-designed craft.  There is plenty of luxury and the hulls are built in an ISO 9001 certified factory using the latest high-tech composites.  When new, the Prestige boats come with a seven-year structural warranty – in New Zealand they are sold and supported by the team at Orakei Marine, in Auckland.

Some would suggest being aboard either of these vessels is like being on your own private island. So, is the Prestige 520 the ultimate luxury cruiser? Well, we found plenty to like about both versions, and for readers wanting such a boat that also fits a 16m berth, we reckon it ‘s up there.

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