It was six years ago that Azimut first startled us all by unveiling the triple-engine-powered 55S, with its aggressive, angular styling and exhilarating performance and handling. The surprise of opening the hatch and finding three 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600s was such that marine journalists immediately took to calculators and spec sheets and started working out just why on earth such an experienced builder would choose such an expensive and complicated installation—surely two motors of equivalent horsepower would do the job just as well?
In fact, the numbers, once crunched, revealed sound method behind this apparent madness. Three turned out to be considerably lighter than two, and no thirstier for diesel. And of course much smaller—leaving all-important space in the hull for the opulent accommodation which, when all is said and done, is what we turn to Italian motoryachts for.
With the new S6, however, the numbers tell a less compelling story. Based on a modified and slightly lengthened version of the same hull, even with its high-tech construction—the superstructure, swim platform, tender garage hatch and sunroof are made entirely of carbon fiber, along with parts of the deck—it’s heavier as well as bigger than the old 55S. So it needs more horsepower, in the shape of Volvo Penta’s 7.7-liter D8 blocks. Three 550-hp IPS700s are only slightly lighter than their counterpart pair of 800-hp IPS1050s, and offer no significant advantage in combined fuel consumption either. But they’re still a lot smaller—so, once again, a triple engine installation was a no-brainer for designers anxious to incorporate as much lower-deck luxury as possible.
Styled by Francesco Guida, the S6’s interior design takes its cues from the bigger S7 introduced last year, with its rational forms and cool color palette. Contrasting tones of oak veneers help delineate the spaces, and isolated details in leather and steel provide little visual nuggets to catch the eye. But overall the dominance of pale fabrics and linings does its job in not upstaging the star of the show, which is light. Big windows abound on both decks. Every guest space on board can have his or her moment in the sun.
With a strong strand of 55S DNA running through it, the S6 has plenty to live up to when it comes to performance and handling. And it does not disappoint. Looking even more packed than its predecessor, the engine room positively bulges with power and potential, the three six-cylinder powerplants leaving little room down there for anything else.
The automatic trim operated flawlessly in the admittedly benign conditions of our South of France sea trial, with a lightly laden boat and a barely noticeable chop on the water. On autopilot the joystick control was remarkably intuitive, allowing the helmsman to dodge obstacles by simply tapping the stick to one side or the other.
All of which is very sensible and convenient, but not actually as much fun as driving the S6 for yourself. As you might expect with 1,650 hp on tap, acceleration was immediate as the boat hauled itself up onto plane in something like seven seconds. It then just kept going, reaching 35 knots in as many seconds. And acceleration is not just about the stopwatch: The reality of an instant and willing response to the throttle even at moderate speeds has a valuable practical application—not the least of which is to make driving fun. —Alan Harper
Displ.: (light) 52,469 lbs.
Fuel: 687 gal.
Water: 155 gal.
Power: 3/550-hp Volvo Penta D8 IPS700
Price: $1.9 million
Cruise Speed: 25 knots
Top Speed: 35 knots