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Let’s cut to the chase: this boat has three engines for crying out loud, isn’t that going to make her a fuel hog! Wouldn't two engines be better? The surprising answer is “no.” A sweet combination of factors has made the triple-engine Cruisers 520 one of the best performers in class. Here are the major factors that contribute to her noteworthy performance: 1) the 520 hull was designed from the keel up for the IPS 600 pod drive system with Duo Props. 2) Pod drives are more efficient than conventional inboard drives. 3) Duo Props are more efficient than single props. 4) The Volvo Penta 435-hp diesel used in the IPS 600 system was specifically designed for marine applications and is not a warmed over truck engine like most diesels in this horsepower range. Here are our test results—
The Test Ride
With triple Volvo Penta IPS 600s, and joystick operation around the docks, this big yacht glides easily and is incredibly versatile. Bow rise was about 15 degrees briefly getting on plane with a running angle of about 3 degrees. She was up on plane in 7.7 seconds and already at 30 mph (48.3 kph) in 9.5 seconds. Top speed measured 41.5 mph (66.8 kph) and her most economical cruising speed was 22.1 mph or 19.5 knots at 2500 rpm. At that speed the three engines – all together – are getting .68 nautical miles per gallon, or burning 2.58 L per nautical mile. At 19.5 knots the boat has a cruising range of 307 nautical miles.
3 Engines Compared to 2
Obviously, any prospective buyer is going to wonder about the fuel burn with an extra engine. The answer is this: of four other boats in class that we compared, the Cruisers Yachts 52 Sport Coupe with triple IPS 600s (at 435-hp each) got better fuel economy than four of the five! The one express cruiser in class that was more economical weighed 3,000 lbs. (1,363 kgs.) less and was 5’ (1.52 m) longer; both of these factors aid fuel economy. Its twin diesels also added to 1280 horsepower, 25-hp less compared to the 520’s 1305 hp total with three engines. The Cruisers 520 got just 7% less fuel economy at best cruise than the most economical vessel in class.
When compared to the other three competitors, the 520 Sports Coupe got anywhere from 7% to 63% better fuel economy at these boats’ “best cruise” speed which was about the same as the 520’s best cruise speed of 22.1 mph. This fact should lay to rest concerns about fuel consumption which is, after all, a result of other factors, not how many engines one has pushing the boat.Not surprisingly, the triple-engine 520 had the highest WOT of all four models at 41.5 mph. She also bested all four competitors tested in cruising range, time to plane, and time from 0 to 30. The Cruisers Yachts 520 with three engines was also quieter than three of the four other boats and tied with one, at 78 dBa.
The 520 carries 500 gallons (1,900 L) of fuel and at its best cruise speed of 19.5 knots can go 307 nautical miles, with a 10% reserve. That means that you can cruise for over 15 hours on one load of fuel, or nearly two full days of daylight running. Many years in the spring and fall we find ourselves delivering boats up and down the U.S. Eastern seaboard, a trip of typically about 1,200 nautical miles. Most people like to run six to eight hours a day. With that kind of operation one can travel two days on a tank of fuel in the Cruiser 520 at best cruise. Even more important, the trip will only cost about $5,300 in diesel at $3 per gallon. Not bad for hauling a 42,000-lb. boat and passengers 1,200 miles! http://www.boattest.com/images-gallery/News/cruisersyachts520sc_underwater.jpg
Cruising on the single center engine at displacement speeds creates some interesting possibilities.
But having three engines presents an opportunity that one might never think of seriously with a typical twin-engine boat. And that is: on long hauls, when time is not of the essence, why not run her on just one engine – the middle one – and use her like a displacement cruiser? Why not slow way down and enjoy the scenery of the ICW? If offshore, why not rig some Kona lures and catch dinner trolling along at 7 to 8 knots? We didn’t test the 520 on just one engine so the answer to what kind of range she will have at displacement speeds will have to wait for our next test. In the meantime, our back-of-an envelope calculations indicates that she would have probably a range over 1,000 nautical miles, which makes for some interesting possibilities. It also, would make ideal for cruising Europe’s rivers and canals, in addition to offshore work.Finally we come to the question of more things to go wrong. And the answer to that is yes, there are. But we think it is odd that when considering a twin-engine boat rather than a single, we don’t think about “twice the things” to go wrong. Rather, we think about the benefit or “redundancy.” I don’t know a boater alive who doesn’t feel more comfortable with two engines rather than one. So wouldn’t three engines offer more security than two? The fact is that with three engines one would have a better chance that two were working at any give time, than if only two were installed. And so it goes. In any case, we are enamored with the idea of having the option to use the 520 like a displacement boat in certain circumstances.
The 520 Sports Coupe is the largest of Cruisers Yachts’ coupe designs. Her lines flow nicely up to the coupe coach roof and conceal the height of both the bridge deck and here freeboard as well. To have such a large amount of interior height, many yachts often look more like beached whales. That is not the case here! The 520 Sports Coupe is only offered with Volvo Penta power. There is one twin V-drive diesel option and two Volvo Penta IPS diesel options. IPS options are triples only, either 500’s or 600’s! Cruisers designed the hull to slice through the waves ejecting the spray off the wide chine flats and bow flare.
Get Ready to Rumble
Getting onboard the 520 Sports Coupe couldn’t be much easier. Regardless of what side of the boat you board from, you have a transom door to come through. This dual entry adds visual symmetry and convenience. A nice option to include is the care-free synthetic teak decking which is far superior to natural teak when it comes to maintenance. Another nice option, for distance cruisers especially, is the optional Nautical Structures hydraulic platform. You can keep your tender in a cradle on the platform and have a much easier time launching and recovering it. Of course it also serves as a huge swim platform or “teak beach.” Children, handicapped people, and scuba divers will enjoy using the hydraulic lift on the platform to enter and get out of the water.The standard rumble seat on the stern will likely be a busy spot. It’s a wonderful place to gear up for a dive, or get ready for some watersports. It also serves as a great spot to relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset, or a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the sunrise. You’re sure to host some parties if you own this boat, and the swim platform will be another place to meet and greet, and provide a good overflow space for people to chat.
Wide side decks lead you easily to the bow without needing to swing from grab rail to grab rail. From the helm deck, you can get up to the bow through the port side windshield walkthrough with a handy stainless steel rail to keep your balance as you go up the molded-in steps. Our test model had the optional Chaise lounge on the foredeck. Fully forward, the 520 Sports Coupe has a standard Maxwell VWCLP 1200 windlass, plow anchor and 180’ (54.9 m) of 3/8” chain.
You will be able to host gatherings that range from elegant evenings of wine and champagne to rocking the docks in the large cockpit and helm deck. Seating is tremendous. The aft bench rotates to lock in either next to the port bench or securely between the dual entry transom gates. To move it, you flip a switch on the stern bulkhead and slide it using one hand. The action is very smooth! The high gloss cherry electric hi-low table is an attractive piece of furniture. The table can be folded over like we’ve seen on other yachts, but Cruisers added drink holders built into the support for the top make this one even more useful when folded. Now that was clever! Show off your culinary skill or flip some burgers without going down to the galley. The cockpit galley has it all. Mystera solid surface counter tops, Force 10 electric grill, Vitrifrigo refrigerator and ice maker. The appliances are all stainless steel so you can count on their good looks for quite some time.
Forward seating includes a companion lounge and custom double wide helm seat with bolsters. With all the other luxuries aboard, you should also opt for the electric helm seat that goes up and down, as well as forward and back. The Coupe’s top has an electric sunroof that opens up enough to let lots of sun shine through. Visibility at the helm was pretty good, although the aft overhead support and mullions do block some of your vision as do the mullions forward. The LED lighting under the hardtop switches from white to cool blue that will certainly be a hit at party time. The helm itself is well laid out with the instruments all angled for clear view from the helm seat. Standard instrumentation includes a 6.4” Murphy Helm View color display with GPS. The premium electronics package adds two E120 displays, radar, autopilot, depth and temperature monitor and VHF radio.
The Power of IPS
You would think that triple Volvo Penta IPS 600 engines in 15’6” (4.72m) of beam would stuff the engine compartment, but there is room to get around and take good care of the power plant, generator, filters, sea strainers and batteries. Everything is well labeled and the wiring is orderly. We found enough room to do a complete overhaul on any of the engines with this installation. Frankly, the space between the engines is astonishing. Please see the video.
The Other Party Deck
Heading below, you will be amazed at the headroom with such a sleek looking yacht exterior. There is around 6’10" (2.1 meters) of headroom in the salon and galley. Six vertical portlights bathe the interior with light. Under your feet is 44 oz. carpeting. The interior is cherry veneer. The crescent shaped Flexsteel dinette sofa is standard with double incliner and Buckskin Ultraleather. You can expand your sleeping arrangements with an optional sleeper sofa instead. You can watch your favorite shows on the standard 20” LCD TV with Dolby Digital Surround Sound and 5-disc DVD player.
The galley is to port. The sole is Amtico synthetic cherry and maple which you can add to the salon sole as well. The counters are solid surface Mystera and the cabinetry is cherry veneer. Cruisers Yachts did a great job in keeping the grains aligned and matching colors. Appliances in the galley are coffee maker, microwave (with convection oven for 220 v), Nova Kool refrigerator/freezer and two burner electric cooktop. A couple of options include a dish washer or a wine captain for chilling up to 17 bottles of wine. The stemware cabinet is lighted with a clear door to show off your best crystal.
The forward stateroom, or VIP stateroom if you prefer, has a queen sized island bed with therapeutic foam mattress. There is about 74” (1.9 meters) of headroom. The door swings out to the salon so you can use all the space at the foot of the bed to change, as well as exit the stateroom without having to twist around the door. The day head has a separate door into the stateroom so your guests can utilize it as their private head at night without going out through the salon. The head cabinetry has the same treatment as the galley with solid surface counter and cherry veneer cabinets. Cruisers Yachts uses tile on the sole in the heads and the shower has a door to enclose it so two people can simultaneously prepare for the day. An optional layout for the forward stateroom features two single berths instead of the queen berth. Treat your guests to their own private 20” LCD TV with DVD for entertainment onboard.
The master stateroom is full beam and also has a walk around queen sized island bed with therapeutic foam mattress. Headroom measured 6’2” (1.9 meters). To port is a cozy settee to relax and read the paper, enjoy your private television, or utilize it as a dressing bench. The optional TV in this stateroom is a 26” LCD TV with DVD. The private head has an enclosed shower and premium fixtures like the vessel bowl sink. Counters are solid surface Mystera with decorative tile backsplash and the cabinetry is cherry veneer.
The 520 Sports Coupe measures 54’ 3” (16.2 m) LOA and has a beam of 15’6” (4.6 m) She draws 44” (1.1 m) and has a fuel capacity of 500 gallons (1900 L). The 520 Sports Coupe has a fresh water capacity of 150 gallons (567.6 L). This model weighs approximately 42,000 lbs. (19,051 kg) with diesel engines. She has a solid fiberglass hull below the waterline and balsa cored hull sides and deck. Around the thru-hulls the balsa core is relieved and all fittings through the deck have aluminum backing plates laminated in.
By now you can see that the Cruisers Yachts 520 Sport Coupe is no ordinary yacht. In terms of performance, styling, living space, and operating economies she is virtually in a class by herself. If you are in the market for 50-something express yacht that is well-built yet competitively-priced on the world market, the Cruisers Yachts 520 should be on your very short list, in our opinion.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Cruisers Yachts 520 Sports Coupe with Volvo IPS (2009-2010) is 41.5 mph (66.8 kph), burning 63.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 238.46 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Cruisers Yachts 520 Sports Coupe with Volvo IPS (2009-2010) is 22.5 mph (36.2 kph), and the boat gets 0.78 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.33 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 353 miles (568.1 kilometers).
- Tested power is 3 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600- Diesel.
Standard and Optional Features
|Dripless Shaft Seals||Standard|
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|Oil Change System||Optional|
||Engine warranties vary by manufacturer|
|1-Year other parts and components Yes|
|ISO Certification NMMA Certification||Yes|
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