BOAT REVIEW Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht

October 2016 Launch Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim Photos by R Marine
MODEL Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht
PRICE AS TESTED $2,100,000
LOA 17.46M
BEAM 6.88M
ENGINE 2 x Volvo Penta D11-IPS900 (750hp)
Maximum Speed 35 knots
Cruise Speed 26 knots
  • Sporty looks and performance
  • Volvo Penta IPS
  • Full beam stateroom
  • Humprhree interceptor tabs
  • 35-knot performance
  • Flat fuel burn rate
  • Rides level
  • Trim Assist control roll
  • Demand currently exceeding supply

Riviera’s latest Sport Yacht, the impressive 5400, takes the boating lifestyle very seriously.

Designed around the needs and wants of modern launch owners, the Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht is superbly laid out for social interaction and easy living. Riviera’s Sport Yacht family has been a strong seller for the Australian motoryacht manufacturer and the new 5400SY incorporates many new features and evolutionary improvements over earlier SY models.
The sedan styling not only looks sporty, it appeals on so many other levels. Unlike flybridge designs, the helm station is on the same level as the living spaces, so there’s no danger of the helmsman missing out on the fun. The cockpit and platform enjoy excellent flow from the saloon, nicely integrating areas intended for entertaining family and friends and on-water recreation.


The Riviera takes advantage of Volvo IPS power, which is standard for the 5400SY. This package offers an unparalleled five-year warranty for engines, pods and electronics. The engines and pod drives are located aft under the cockpit sole, which frees up space under the saloon for accommodation. Riviera has made the most of this opportunity with a massive state room amidships, and unlike some sedan designs, the saloon is high off the water. The helmsman’s eyeline is more than three metres above the water – not quite as high as most flybridge launches, but high enough to afford excellent all round vision.
The cockpit is a great place to party. With plenty of comfortable seating, a large table and good access to the swim platform, it’s the entertainment hub of the yacht. The swim platform is raised and lowered electro-hydraulically: getting in and out of the water, launching and retrieving water toys, or deploying the dinghy is easy with the platform down. In the up position, drop-in railings make the platform safe for fishing.
The dinghy garage is large enough for a 3.2m tender with a 15hp outboard. An electric garage door and remote operated electric winch take all the grunt out of launching and retrieving the dinghy; runners slot into the platform to make it easier to slide the dinghy into the water.
An entertainer’s outdoor kitchen along the cockpit’s port side is usable all year round, protected from the elements by the roof, roof canopy and removable gusset side curtains. It’s just the place to grill a steak or cook fresh fish caught off the swim platform.
In keeping with Riviera’s modern practice, the two large grill plates, one suitable for teppanyaki-style cooking, are electric. An extractor is built into the galley unit’s lid, exhausting cooking fumes outside the cockpit; the sink is integrated into the cabinet at one end with a rubbish bin at the other end. An ice maker, refrigerator and two large lockers reside under the bench.
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The outdoor kitchen is complemented by a large galley in the saloon. Solid Manship glass and polished stainless sliding doors open wide and a huge stayed window hinges up out of the way to create wonderful flow between the saloon and cockpit. With the galley aft, it’s a great set-up for entertaining.
The galley features a two-element electric cooktop, Miele electric oven, F&P dishwasher and plenty of refrigerator drawers, including one in the entertainment console next to the drinks drawer. Solid Corian worktops look great, as does the gloss walnut wood panelling and cabinetry used throughout the interior – a satin finish is standard, gloss is an option. Hard-wearing light oak vinyl flooring sets off the walnut nicely and complements the fabric wall coverings, pale leather upholstery and soft-touch ceilings. The overall look is modern, spacious and light.
Like the cockpit, the saloon is optimised for social interaction. Seating along the port side addresses the polished timber saloon table, a pair of bar stools are just the place to enjoy breakfast or a drink up at the counter, and the slightly raised L-shaped settee beside the helm is a great place to sit when the boat’s underway.
Wherever you recline in the air-conditioned saloon you can see the large screen TV, which rotates outwards from the wall to provide the optimum viewing angle. The vessel sports satellite television, a full function media server and onboard Wi-Fi.
Riviera’s designers have paid careful attention to eyelines inside the saloon. No matter where you sit there are unobstructed views outside, though the large windscreen, the sliding side windows, or aft into the cockpit. Window shades pull down at night.
A large glass roof panel lets in a flood of light with the screens retracted, and like the GRP sunroof in the cockpit, the roof can be opened to the sky at the push of a button.
Below decks the Riviera 5400SY sleeps six in comfort. A wide companionway on the starboard side provides access to the accommodation below. Sweeping around in front of the helm, it benefits from natural light flooding in from through the 5400’s raked windscreen overhead.
Guests have a choice of a well-appointed bunk room on the port side or a spacious double cabin in the bows with an island berth, its own TV and semi-ensuite access to the guest bathroom. Guest cabins have air-conditioning, the outlets neatly incorporated into the timber trim, and are well endowed with storage in cedar-lined drawers and hanging lockers (with internal lights). Overhead hatches feature insect and blackout screens and can be opened for fresh air.
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The 5400SY’s star turn is its massive full beam master cabin located in the middle of the boat under the saloon sole. As well as generous proportions, it offers plenty of headroom. This private oasis has its own large screen TV, which can also display the vessel’s vital statistics, a luxurious king-sized fore-and aft island berth and a plush ensuite bathroom. As in the guest bathroom, the shower box is more than big enough to express yourself and there is plenty of room to use the electric toilet.
The chaise longue beside the window and porthole on the starboard side of the cabin would be a pleasant spot to read a book or watch the miles slip by; on the other side a full length dresser offers a range of storage options.
A Miele washer-dryer is tucked away in a locker in the companionway just outside the cabin door. All the appliances are 240 volt, run off the inverter, shore power or the generator. Everywhere I looked I saw power outlets, which included USB receptacles to charge the devices that are so ubiquitous today.
The Volvo IPS II system fitted to the Riviera 5400SY is integral to its success. It has allowed Riviera to offer the massive master cabin, which occupies a space amidships normally occupied by machinery in shaft drive vessels. In this model, Riviera have also located the fuel tanks under the master cabin, right on the centre of buoyancy, so vessel trim is largely unaffected by fuel load.
This vessel is fitted with a pair of D11-IPS950, each producing 725hp. The engines are housed under the cockpit sole. Access is via a hatch and a ladder either side of the cockpit; the dinghy garage extends forward under the cockpit, bisecting the space. The engines are linked to the swiveling pod drives by a short jack-shaft and the drives have their own separate access further aft through another pair of cockpit hatches. I haven’t seen this type of IPS installation before – the engines are usually bolted straight onto the drive units – but by engineering it this way Riviera can achieve better weight distribution.
Once inside the machinery space there’s plenty of room – almost full headroom – and good access to the engines, Cummins Onan genset, air-conditioning pumps and the many other systems fitted to a motor launch of this calibre – the Riv 5400SY lacks for very little. Indeed, Riviera’s option list is relatively short since most of the features offered by other manufacturers as options are factory standard.
“Other manufacturers might appear to offer comparable vessels for less money, but once you start ticking the options list to bring it in line with a base Riviera they are not cheaper at all. Riviera’s offer a high spec level and are extremely good value,” explained R Marine’s Liam Power.
Seated in the stylish and comfortable black leather Recaro helm seat, you quickly appreciate the helm station’s central position. Steering the boat from the middle, it feels somehow smaller and all round vision is excellent, especially ahead.
The all-electric seat is not only supportive, it’s perfectly positioned to reach all the controls. The helm console is large, with ample space for a pair of Garmin 15-inch and an 8-inch multifunction display, myriad switches, as well as various other digital displays, including a C-Zone monitor; the main C-Zone control is just inside the saloon door.
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All the controls fall easily to hand, the wheel is adjustable for rake and the Garmin MFDs’ functions can be controlled from a panel beside the electronic throttles. As with all Volvo Penta IPS systems, there is a joystick for unrivalled control and manoeuvrability at low speeds. Liam demonstrated the joystick’s virtues piloting the Riviera in and out of a tight berth, which was achieved with absolute precision, even though the fairway is not much wider than the boat is long. Using the joystick quickly becomes intuitive, with new owners becoming confident in no time.
Boating’s run onboard the Riviera 5400SY was relatively short, but did include a full throttle gallop, as well as some sustained running at 25-26 knots. We saw a top speed of 34 knots on the GPS pushing a little tide, though this vessel has achieved 35 knots in testing; 24-26 knots seemed like a natural cruising speed.
One of the advantages Volvo claim for IPS is superior fuel economy and specifically a very flat fuel burn rate: the engines burn pretty much the same amount of fuel regardless of speed. This was borne out by our observations. The instruments showed that the average fuel burn was 8 litres per nautical mile, whether we were doing 20 knots or 30 knots. Instantaneous fuel consumption at 25 knots settled at 7.7 litres per nautical mile, which is pretty reasonable.
Another observation is that the 5400SY runs nicely level. Even under hard acceleration the bow stays down and there’s no burying the stern. The vessel benefits from Humphree automatic trim tabs, a system Volvo Penta call Trim Assist. This works very well and pretty much does away with the need to adjust the trim tabs manually. The system even works fast enough to reduce roll.

Driving the boat is stress free – not too much different to driving a car, with just about as many ‘driver aids’ as modern vehicles too. That makes it easier for the skipper to engage with the crew – remembering, of course, always to keep a vigilant lookout. With this boat’s social layout, and quiet cabin that’s no hardship.
Riviera has really raised the bar with the 5400SY, not only in terms of its fresh, modern design and cutting edge technology, but also the world class standard of fit and finish. Riviera can offer stunning colours – this boat’s almost iridescent blue-green hull looks particularly good in bright sunlight.
The 5400SY is offered with a couple of IPS II engine options, depending on the customer’s preference. Both provide 30-knot plus performance. As reviewed the 25-tonne boat has a range of 360nm at 26 knots from its 3200-litre fuel tank, allowing for a 10% safety margin.
Unsurprisingly, Riviera is struggling to build enough 5400 Sport Yachts to meet demand around the world. In New Zealand R Marine has sold this boat, has orders for more and is experiencing strong enquiry around the model. The Auckland On Water Boat Show this month, where the 5400SY is one of the stars, is bound to lift enquiry levels further.