The Beneteau Gran Turismo 50 is a showcase of new-model development for the French boatbuilder. She’s an all-new boat with innovations throughout, including the Airstep 2 hull system, the builder’s proprietary Ship Control digital-switching and control system, and a continued evolution of the use of onboard space. She also uses the Volvo Penta IPS600 system, which has evolved in its own right over the years.
- Two- or three-stateroom, two-head layout
- Beneteau Ship Control integrated digital-switching system
- Volvo Penta IPS600 with digital throttle and shift and joystick
- Full-beam master stateroom amidships
- 11 kW generator
|Length Overall||51' 9" / 15.78 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||7.2 sec.|
|0 to 30||9.3 sec. (0to20)|
|Load||3 persons, 7/10 fuel load, 1/3 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||76 deg., 60 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: 2|
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
Contents of Report
The Beneteau Gran Turismo 50, known as the GT 50, is an express cruiser with an open layout that makes the most of headroom, large windows, and natural light. The boat has indoor and outdoor separate gathering areas for family and friends, yet maintains a sporty profile. She’s offered in either a two- or three-stateroom layout and is powered exclusively with twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 drives that provide positive control offshore and simplified maneuvering in close quarters.
• Layout Options: Two staterooms and two heads or three staterooms and two heads. On an elegant build like the Gran Turismo 50, of course the heads have separate showers. The third stateroom adds twin accommodations but the boat loses the lower seating area. With indoor and outdoor dinettes on the main deck, that’s little concern.
• Beneteau Ship Control. The builder has integrated the Scheiber touchscreen to control many of the ship’s functions. Basically it works as the main electrical panel, and on the Gran Turismo 50, it’s located next to the helm behind a glass door. But the system is also integrated into the Simrad NSS Evo3 helm display to manage all of the switching for the entire boat with an intuitive graphical interface.
• Volvo Penta IPS600 power with digital throttle and shift control and joystick control for close-quarters maneuvering. Essentially the Volvo Penta IPS system has been evolving right along, tweaking features, and improving the function through software updates.
• Optional Hydraulic Swim Platform: The idea of having a Williams Minijet 270 on board and having the ability to use the swim platform to launch and retrieve it makes a mooring or remote anchorage a more interesting option.
We’ll start at the swim platform that comes out 3’10” (1.17 m) from the transom. There are pull-up cradles for securing a tender or more likely a PWC (Personal WaterCraft). A reboarding ladder and grab handle are over to the starboard side. And, since we have those cradles as well as a garage designed to house a Williams mini-jet tender behind this elevating transom hatch, the platform is hydraulically actuated to lower into the water. In this manner, it not only launches the watercraft from two locations, but it also serves as a private beach. With the garage closed, there’s also a cover over the electric grill and the grab handle is appreciated since we’re close to water level here.
Stairs to the port side lead to the port side decks. To the starboard side they lead to the cockpit and also the starboard sidedecks.
At the top of the steps from the swim platform, there’s an inward opening gate. One of the first of many improvements to this latest model is the L-shaped seating that replaces the aft bench seating used on other Gran Turismo models. The teak pedestal table had grabrails and beverage holders that both serve to support the flip portion of the table. It’s on an electrically actuated pedestal, allowing it to raise and lower. Lowered fully it can accept filler cushions to convert the area into a full sun pad. Forward and to starboard is a teak cabinet housing a covered sink and below is an icemaker, with a wrapped grabrail just behind.
A door in the bulkhead conceals switches for the platform, the main power for the rockers that control the tender garage, the cockpit-table actuator, and the cord reels... none of which are labeled. An optional docking joystick can also be placed here. A teak option is available for the decking, and this non-skid fiberglass deck is standard. An overhead, extendable awning provides additional protection.
Entering the salon, we found the space inviting with a 6’7" (2.01 m) overhead height at the entry point. The salon has an atmosphere of openness that blends the inside with the outside. Huge side windows bring in plenty of natural light. They reach high up to the overhead, as well as low down, to allow excellent lines of sight from all seating inside.
The salon seating consists of an L-shaped settee on the port side, around a folding pedestal table that is height-adjustable. A moveable armrest has two drink holders and is designed to mimic the contours of the seats. Opposite to starboard is a loveseat. A console abaft the loveseat houses an air conditioning unit and a drawer-style refrigerator, and has a leather inlay on top.
Beneteau’s upgraded level of fit-and-finish shows through with materials that feel good to the hand – suede bulkheads, suede in the overhead. Even the table is made of solid walnut with a silky matte finish, and it’s inlaid with leather edged with stainless steel. Traditional teak decking brings the entire space together and gives it a classic feel.
Power windows to port and starboard open fully to allow fresh air, plus there’s a large sunroof overhead that bathes the room in natural light. We can open the sliding doors wide, turn the floating armrest into a filler cushion and create continuous seating across the stern, along the port side and across the front. The ottoman can be positioned anywhere it’s needed. The upholstery is the same both inside and outside – weather-resistant Sunbrella.
The Scheiber touchscreen digital-switching system has display control units mounted next to the helm behind a glass door. The helm is well equipped to handle all of the switching and controls for the entire boat. The design embraces the glass helm concept all based around a Simrad NSS evo3 touchscreen display. Charting, depth sounding, and radar are all controlled through the display, but also Ship Control which gives touchscreen control of the lights, air conditioning, the stereo.
The Volvo Penta digital engine controls, joystick, and bow thruster control are all located on the left side of the helm. The steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base. To the right-hand side are Lenco trim tab controls with LED indicators and the Volvo Penta EVC displays. Rocker switches are located for easy access and a pair of air-conditioning registers will be useful since the helm is surrounded by glass. An opening side window will help with ventilation as well as hearing a dock attendant. There are even more good features, including a compass positioned in line with the steering wheel, and mounted in a soft-touch glare-free visor atop the dash, a storage bin to keep phones close at hand, and defogging vents for that large windshield consisting of two-panel 4’2” by 4’ (1.27 m by 1.22 m) panes.
The helm seat adjusts fore and aft, has a single bolster and diamond-pattern stitching as well as three flip-down armrests. The fabric choices and branded “GT 50” embroidery on the seatbacks are elegant touches. A flip-down footrest helps ensure comfort on longer runs.
Belowdecks, the galley is to port and exhibits the same quality of materials we’ve come to expect from the Gran Turismo lineup. The overhead is 6’5” (1.96 m). There’s a refrigerator and freezer combo, and our test boat had a cabinet drawer beneath the cooktop and sink that could be spec’d for an additional drawer-style freezer or a dishwasher, respectively. There’s a convection microwave oven and a two-burner Kenyon electric cooktop.
An opening portlight lets in light and ventilation and there’s good working space on the Corian counter. Two stainless sinks have matching Corian covers. Beneath the cabinets are smart storage solutions, including “the magic corner”, a sliding shelving system that ensures very little space is wasted in the galley.
Our test boat had the two-stateroom layout so there was a seating area with an L-shaped lounge opposite the galley. Down a couple of steps is the door to the master, but outside the master to port is a locker concealing a washer-dryer unit for the convenience of onboard laundry. Our test captain wanted the open locker doors to slide in alongside the washer-dryer to allow a little more room to work.
The Master Stateroom
The full-beam master is located amidships and features 6’3” (1.91 m) of headroom all around the berth. To both sides are cushioned window benches with storage beneath along the large hullside windows with opening ports. The overhead above the berth is lower than the rest of the room because the salon is directly above, but it doesn’t feel low by any means, and, in fact, it has an appealing wood finish with a “starry-night” LED lighting treatment. There’s even more storage in hanging lockers and also underneath the berth with its lifted-on gas-assist rams. The master head has its own separate head and shower compartments with the sink outside between them.
In the bow stateroom, an island queen berth can be divided and separated to twin berths. Large hullside windows admit natural light and each has an opening port built into it, if ventilation is needed. The stateroom had plenty of storage space with hanging lockers and shelves.
The forepeak cabin has its own entrance to the head through the shower compartment. A vessel sink on the counter is accompanied by a large mirror and ample shelf space. The head has a portlight that opens for ventilation and there’s also an air-conditioning register. The guest head is also the day head and so it has a door from the common lower deck space, encompassing the galley and seating area.
There are two access points to the engine room. One is a hatch in the tender garage, the other is here in the cockpit. Just lift the seatback out of the way, raise the seat base, and open this hatch. The engine room is well laid out with the focal point being the twin 435-hp IPS600 main engines. The pods are directly connected just behind.
Now because we have a tender garage, there’s a low overhang, but it’s cleverly used to advantage. We can see the gasket that outlines the hatch, which is positioned directly above the daily engine checkpoints. So we can do quick inspections from the tender garage without actually entering the engine room, though it’s a good idea to peruse the engine space in person regularly to spot leaks and other potential problems.
The fuel tanks are located to either side of the 11 kW generator. When exiting the engine room, we lowered the seat, and noticed the elegant way the seatback sets back into position: There’s no extra work to align it, no hook-and-loop fasteners.
As we made our way to the bow, a grab handle as we leave the cockpit would be welcome. We measured 18” (45.7 cm) wide sidedecks, and 26” (66 cm) high rails, including the 2” (5.08 cm) toe rail. Amidships, there’s a 10” (25.4 cm) cleat. Fully forward the rail height increases to 33” (84 cm). The two cleats include chafing strips to the outside of the toerail. On the bow are two large side-by-side sun pads with flip-up backrests for flexible lounging.
A hatch in the foredeck is opened with the preferred lift-and-lock latch so it won’t be popping open when underway. Inside is a 2,000-watt electric windlass, and to the starboard side is open to access the rode. A removable control is mounted right alongside. A stainless anchor roller is mounted atop the deck.
Now when it’s time to get underway, we first head to the helm for some prep work. Our test was on a hot South Florida day and we want to keep the air conditioner running, so we go to the Ship Control screen on the Simrad helm display, navigate to the electrical control, start the generator, and then shut off the shore power, and transfer power to the genset. Then we can fire up the mains and get underway. As usual it was tight maneuvering, but the combination of the IPS joystick and bow thruster made it a non-event and soon we were underway.
The Gran Turismo 50 has an LOA of 51’9” (15.78 m), a beam of 14’5” (4.38 m), and a draft of 2’11” (0.90 m). With an empty weight of 30,063 lbs. (13,636 kg), 70-percent fuel, and three people on board, we had an estimated test weight of 32,187 lbs. (14,600 kg).
With the twin 435-hp IPS600 engines spooled up to 3630 rpm, we reached our top speed of 31.3 mph. Best cruise was 3200 rpm and 24.7 mph. It was at that speed that the 33 gph combined fuel burn translated into 0.7 mpg and a range of 231 statute miles. All while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 344-gallon (1,302 L) total fuel capacity. We reached planing speed in 7.2 seconds and 20 mph came and went in 9.3.
The Gran Turismo 50 was built with Beneteau’s proprietary Airstep technology that uses vents in the side of the hull to draw air beneath the hull to reduce friction. This provides the performance and handling that are characteristic of the GT lineup.
As for her handling, she rolls a gentle 10-degrees into the turns and there’s a large turning radius typical of IPS powered boats. With half tabs and at 21 knots we came around 180-degrees in 35 seconds. With the trim tabs full up we did get a little hull slap, so we found that she seems to be most comfortable at that half-tabs setting both from a running attitude standpoint as well as allowing the Airstep 2 hull to work to its full potential. Now, with its cushioning effect working fully, the Airstep produced a relatively dry ride with no pounding and nothing inside creaking or rattling. The Gran Turismo 50 had the solid feel and sound of a well-built boat.
Back at the marina we got another chance to see how she handles around the dock and again, there were no surprises. The IPS system was properly dialed in and provided exacting maneuverability backing into the slip. The positioning of the joystick on the port side of the helm allows for the helmsman to stand beside the helm and face aft, with a full view of the action at the stern.
The Gran Turismo 50 is a worthy heir to the previous generation of the Gran Turismo line. She maintains the ease of use and docile handling characteristics we’ve come to appreciate. She’s also got some well-thought-out interior features, including the opening side windows and sunroof in the salon, continuous indoor-outdoor seating, and a galley and seating area belowdecks that offer privacy in a marina setting. The finish level and materials throughout the boat are high-grade. Beneteau obviously paid close attention to headroom on board and used that dimension in conjunction with natural light to create an airy feel throughout the boat.
Beneteau made the Gran Turismo 50 a versatile cruiser that’s ready for weekends aboard, with a tender garage and swim platform ready for service in remote anchorages. This company is no stranger to the Volvo Penta IPS system, and it shows in this installation, and the positioning of the controls. All in all, the Beneteau Gran Turismo 50 shows the evolution of a company that has had numerous successes, and it doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.