The Riviera 515 SUV fits right into a very sweet spot in the market, not too big, not too small and with the right amount of accommodation, layout arrangement and performance to suit most people looking for a boat of this style and size.
Launched at the recent annual Riviera Festival of Boating, the Riviera 515 SUV proved an immediate success with one sold at the Festival and a number since. New Zealand will get its first Riviera 515 SUV in time for the Auckland On the Water show in September and potential US buyers will have to wait another month until the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show to view the new boat.
All three SUV models share a similar design and arrangement footprint, but each has its own nuances. Obviously there is a dimensional difference in all three, with the Riviera 445 SUV, 14.46m overall, the Riviera 515 SUV, 17.26m and the Riviera 565 SUV, 18.52m overall. Accordingly the beam ranges from 4.57m for the 445 SUV through to 5.01m for the 515 SUV to 5.13m for the larger 565 SUV.
The Riviera 445 offers a two cabin, two bathroom arrangement where as the larger SUV’s offer a three cabin, two bathroom arrangement, it’s just the size of each that differs and all use the Volvo Penta IPS pod drive system, although the new Riviera 515 SUV is also available with Cummins Zeus as an option.
Riviera saw some synergy between the motoring version of the SUV that is pitched as a crossover between a sedan passenger car and a 4WD. In the case of the Riviera SUV this transposes into a crossover boat that provides the all one level living of a sport yacht, aft galley and lower helm, but with a big open cockpit, spacious saloon and proven sea-keeping ability of a fly bridge.
This is a boat that appeals to owners who’s boating needs have changed and want the convenience of a one level vessel without stairs or ladders and still retain the robustness of a flybridge boat. Based on the same hull as the new Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge, the ‘sedan’ version is around 3000 kg less displacement. While it retains the same accommodation layout, the saloon is very different. This is a 50ft boat with a huge amount of volume. Three cabins, two bathrooms, a massive saloon and galley and large cockpit, yet it doesn’t fell imposing.
It is also effortless to drive, which is a big plus in a boat this size. Joystick controls, low profile windows all around and super comfortable helm seats let you relax and simply enjoy the journey with no stress. My sea trial took place off the waters of the Gold Coast and while the sea state was moderate, with just a long steep swell, there was enough to get a good feel for the hulls handling. In the head or following sea, the Riviera 515 was viceless and as already mentioned, effortless and easy to drive. There was very little bow up attitude as I pushed the throttles to get the boat onto the plane and maximum speed is achieved very quickly. It’s a boat that offers precise response with the Volvo Penta IPS pod drives and is a comfort to drive.
Being very much a production boat, with the Riviera 515 SUV, it’ a case of what you see is what you get when it comes to layout, although there are a couple of options in the accommodation area. Here there is some flexibility to change with a master stateroom forward or aft and also the bathroom/ensuite arrangement.
I was impressed with the light ambience as you walk down to the cabins, caused by the open lightwell above. The entire interior is bright with the American oak timbers offset with darker Teak accents and soft tone fabrics. The port side master in our boat had a central queen size bed with night stands either side, loads of storage lockers and drawers and plenty of head height. You can lay in bed and enjoy the outside scenery through huge side ports or kick back and relax as you view the latest NRL game on your flat screen TV.
If this is the cabin you choose as the master, then you can separate the ensuite for your private use. Riviera has certainly not skimped on the space, with a very large shower stall and full length Corian surface vanity. There is terrific headroom, storage above and below the vanity and a raised ceramic bowl.
The sole is covered with a very high wearing synthetic timber style material and all the timber cabinetry is finished in matt varnish, so it is easy to keep clean. This picks up the ethos of what an SUV is about being a very practical concept.
While often the third cabin in a boat of this size is a bit if a compromise, not so in the 515 SUV. There are two large adult size single berths in a generously proportioned cabin that is going to find favour with both adults and children. Storage is provided in hanging lockers and drawers and like the master cabin opposite there is also an extra large side window with separate opening port.
If you decide to use the forward cabin as the master suite, the starboard side day head, which is shared by the other two cabins, can be separated, so it’s only accessed from the forward cabin. Conversely, the port bathroom then becomes the joint bathroom and day head. This is all very easily done with just a change to the door openings. I think you might be hard pressed to decide on which one you wanted as a master cabin, as they are both so good.
The forward cabin is very traditional with a raised central island berth, storage in all available spaces and generous hull windows letting in natural light. The accommodation areas are fresh on the eye, not busy and not overdone. I was very impressed with the quality of the timberwork, right down to the timber grain matching and the preciseness if the gaps in the timber work. It’s obvious that Riviera place a huge emphasis on quality fit out.
When I first stepped into the saloon, I felt I could spend all day there. It’s very inviting and like the rest of the Riviera 515 SUV is light and bright. The Webasto overhead sliding sunroof hatches and the low profile large windows, play a central role in complementing the overall mood as well as uninterrupted water views. From the twin Navigator helm chairs, you see right from the bow to the transom and everything else between. Very social and very peaceful. Riviera has created a layout solution that incorporates the classic with the contemporary, with each area given its own individual taste. Interior woodwork is all American Oak, accompanied by lightly toned fabric and leather paneling and upholstery.
On the starboard side forward is a pop up TV and entertainment centre and very ingenious three-seater lounge with centre table, that is discreetly hidden within the lounge and can be set by simply moving the centre lounge base out which then becomes an ottoman (complete with inner storage) to create additional seating at the dining or coffee table. Opposite is a large L shape settee with convertible table to suit the coffee or dining experience.
The generous U shape galley offers everything a chef would require, from the convection microwave oven and double burner hot plate with pop up fiddles, to the bank of drawer refrigeration and freezers. There is ample storage provided in drawers and lockers both above and below the solid surface Corian benchtop. Under the starboard side bench is a handy set of drawers with dedicated slots for glasses and wine or spirit bottles.
The large gas assisted awning window at the rear of the galley really enhances the connection between the galley and the cockpit and when the glass sliding door is also opened, the entire rear bulkhead of the 515 SUV is unrestricted. Riviera has made use of the space above the galley by way of a neat lockable rod storage locker that will handle up to five rods. The sporty helm is finished in gunmetal fusion with space for all your navigation and control systems. The dashboard is simple and all controls, visible at a glance and are within easy reach.
Knowing that the Riviera 515 SUV cockpit will unquestionably be a very used social area, Riviera have put more emphasis on the necessities for good entertaining rather than fishing. Not that fisherman have been forgotten as the boat comes with four side deck rod holders, deep coaming toe kicks and the full width aft boarding deck as the perfect fishing platform. A deep bin in the central island console can be selected as an optional catch bin or a live bait tank with a filter and glass front. However if entertaining friends is more you, then the 515 SUV has it all. The cockpit’s centre walk-around transom console offers plenty of space for a twin barbeque and a large moulded bin that can be used for storage. A module on the starboard side of the mezzanine houses a sink, icemaker and a Corian bench top to match the galley. Good sun and weather protection is provided by the cabin top overhang and the optional cockpit awning with side clears.
The cockpit seating features a large port side lounge with a fridge and insulated bin located just behind. You have the option of an interchangeable table and loose chairs to provide an alfresco dining area. There are storage lockers under the wide side coamings and in a very spacious self draining moulded lazarette that has been integrated into the cockpit floor.
The cockpit floor area is plentiful and transom doors either side provide easy access to the 900mm long boarding platform. Boat #1 had the optional locally manufactured ADC rise and fall platform that extends the boarding platform to 1350mm long. The ADC Rotary Lift uses a unique stainless steel hydraulic rotary drive system, with the whole unit weighing only 350kgs (incl the reinforcement of the transom) and with a lift capacity of 1 tonne is the perfect place to stow the tender or jet ski.
The Riviera 515 SUV has three engine package options; twin Cummins Zeus Pod drive @ 600hp each engine, Volvo Penta IPS800 rated at 626hp or the Volvo Penta IPS950 @ 725hp per engine. Boat #1 was running a pair of Volvo Penta IPS800s that gave a top speed of 32 knots and I would expect the IPS950s would run the boat around the 35 knot mark. The overall philosophy of the SUV is carried right through to the engine room, with the ease of access to the engines and componentry supported by a well conceived layout. The space has full headroom, with everything easily at hand for servicing and maintenance. The full gel coat finish makes the engine room easy to clean and retain the impeccable finish.
Due to all the extra systems on board, which are very power sensitive, Riviera run two alternators on the IPS engines to ensure there is always constant power for the engines and the house supply.
When Riviera launched the first of the SUV series at SIBS 2012 they knew they had a winner, and with the 22nd 445 SUV sold at the recent Riviera Festival of Boating, they admit that sales have broken all expectations.
“The success of the SUV has been remarkable in less than two years and now with the 565 and the 515 in the SUV range I am more confident than ever that we are going to continue to improve on that early success of the SUV range,” says Stephen Milne, director of marketing for Riviera. “Potentially the SUV range could go both bigger and smaller and while that is something we may consider in the future, right now we are more focused on getting these new models established and realise their full potential internationally”, he added.
Very European in appeal with nothing compromised for space the new 515 SUV is destined for success. If you are looking for a great family cruiser or a boat for two couples, that’s easily handled, offers great outdoor living as well as huge interior and accommodation areas, then the 515 SUV must be on your shopping list. I know it’s on mine!