The devil is in the detail in Bavaria’s super-stylish new offering as Nick Burnham explains…
An owner of the outgoing 35 Sport, upgrading to this brand new Bavaria 360 Sport Coupe replacing it in the range, could spend a year gazing around the interior knowing that something very subtle yet extremely obvious has changed, yet unable to put his (or her) finger on precisely what it is. In case that’s you, I’ll put you out of your misery, and you won’t have to extend your finger very far. It’s the woodwork, specifically the grain. In the 35 it ran vertically, in the Bavaria 360 Sport it runs horizontally. Practical sailing yachts tend to have vertically grained woods, on luxury powerboats it always runs horizontally. And that one simple change exemplifies the sheer depth of detail Bavaria has invested in this exciting new model.
The 35 Sport was a perfect example of wholesome mid-range family sportscruiser goodness. Spacious, decently (but not too expensively) put together, good looking and sensibly priced. In replacing it, Bavaria didn’t need to change the recipe, so instead it has tweaked it and added a little spice. What it has done, in fact, is gone right through the boat and answered all of the little criticisms that owners invariably have.
Overlay a cabin diagram of the old boat with the new and you’ll find bulkheads and cabins in the same places, but move from brochure to three dimensional reality and nips, tucks and refinements are everywhere. The forward cabin has a proper island bed now instead of vee berths, complete with an extending section that allows the owner to choose between more floor space or more bed length, while hull windows replace portholes.
The galley has smarter worktops, available in three colours to match your choice of ash (light), teak (medium) or mahogany (dark) wood. Meanwhile the electrical panel has moved behind a cupboard door, as has the microwave, giving a smoother more cohesive look.
The mid cabin retains the strong attributes of the previous model, good headroom in the lobby area for changing, and a surprising amount of space over and around the beds. But the settee has been extended, meaning that this cabin now works as a cosy corner where a child could retreat and read a book (or rather plug in an iPad). And here’s the clever bit – the backrest cushions are the perfect size to infill the beds, creating a double berth without recourse to in-fills cluttering up the place when not in play.
Move up to the cockpit and the changes shift up a gear, the biggest being over head. The 35 was available as an open cockpit boat or an open-backed hard top with a fabric sliding roof. The 360 is the same, but Bavaria have added a couple more choices. Firstly that fabric sliding roof section can be swapped for a more weatherproof solid sliding section – at the cost of a reduced aperture due to it needing a ‘garage’ to house it in the open position. The second change is more fundamental. You can now specify triple-fold sliding doors to completely enclose this area, a feature normally only available in larger boats.
It allows far better (and more convenient) climate control, extending the season for those of us in Northern Europe and allowing more efficient air conditioning for those that boat further south. The deck saloon that this creates is basically the forward section of the cockpit including the dinette, which helpfully has a flip backrest at its front end to create a forward-facing seat next to the helm, and stools that slide out from under the table. In conjunction with the chaise longue, which grants that fantastic headroom in the mid cabin lobby, the flip backrest means that two people can sit up front and converse with the skipper underway.
The helm merits mention also, with its ergonomic footrest and flip bolster allowing a comfortably supportive semi-standing position and a drop-down false floor allows the more vertically challenged to gain height through the opening roof for extra visibility if required. Further useful details include trim tab controls moved ahead of the throttles, more accessible when the latter are open, and a lower profile instrument binnacle.
For balmy summer evenings the sunpad out aft has been swapped for a further dinette; table unfolding and dropping to restore sunbathing duties when required. What hasn’t changed is terrific access to wide side decks protected by high rails and sporting grippy non-slip.
Twin Volvo Penta D3-220 sterndrive diesels provide motive power best described as adequate rather than ample, big Mercruiser petrols offering an alternative you probably won’t want – a single Volvo D6-370 an intriguing option that you just might. In the heavy rolling swell of our test day and with six people on board (but no dinghy, generator or hull growth) we just failed to crack the believable 30 knots promised in calm water, peaking at 29.5. The Bavaria 360 is a big voluminous boat for these engines to push. They’re quite strident at high speed, too, although the sound meter shows this to be more about perception than decibels, as does the ability to converse without shouting. Ultimately, however, they provide what most owners require, the ability to cruise in the low to mid 20 knots range. There is talk (unconfirmed at this stage) of twin Volvo D4-260 or D4-300 engines making it onto the options list for those that crave a little more pep.
With the same well proven hull as the 35, sea keeping is solid and capable, the odd thump being heard more than felt (exaggerated by the sounding board and amplification of the open accommodation and hard top enclosure). Running flat out into the big swell off Barcelona results in the bluff bow throwing up sizable dousings, against which the electrically operated roof is much appreciated (the poor Bavaria rep in the cockpit rather less fortunate!). Or you could simply not drive it like a crazed boat journo in such conditions…
By listening to its customers, Bavaria has done a great job with its latest model. It retains all that made the previous model so very good while addressing its (admittedly minor) shortcomings and offers a fully enclosed deck saloon – something rare at this size.