A coupe that flies
Initially known for its sailboats, Bavaria has been working diligently to stake its place in the power yacht market for the past 15 years. Now, the builder has reached the West Coast with its Virtess 420 Coupe, a versatile boat that combines German engineering with a palatable price point and then spices up the mix with a few wow factors.
Like its flybridge sister, the Virtess 420 Coupe has two fixed rectangular ports and four round ones in the hull. The freeboard is high, but the cabin top helps provide a more streamlined profile. The sidedecks aren’t wide but do have good handholds, so you can move easily to the bow where there is a sunpad and an anchor locker with a standard 1,000-watt windlass.
I test a lot of boats, and each one has something that wows me. On the Virtess, there are actually two features: First is the cockpit furniture, which is configurable, so that each day you can reinvent the boat into whatever suits you — from the “lift and flip” footstools that morph into seats with full backrests to the modular furniture in the aft cockpit that is mounted on rails so it can be moved around to create completely different environments. The aft seats are convertible to a sunpad or forward- and aft-facing seats, which slide on integrated rails and then lock into position. You can move the seating to the sides, so there is virtually unrestricted access from the glass cabin doors to the teak beach on the hydraulic swim platform, or create cozy conversation areas that are great for entertaining.
The second notable feature is the sunpad up top. That’s right — up top. Although this is not a flybridge vessel, the Virtess 420 Coupe has a small gathering area up top that includes a large sunpad aft of the electric sunroof, including jacks for your smartphone. Lounging up there is like getting away without ever leaving the boat.
The Virtess 420 Coupe has three cabins and two heads, just like the flybridge version. The salon is compact, because more space has been dedicated to outdoor living in the cockpit, but the boat has everything for a weekend of coastal cruising. An L-shaped settee is to starboard and cabinetry is to port that includes an ice-maker drawer, standard. The joinery is tight, as you might expect from a precision builder.
The helm has an ergonomically laid-out dash with Garmin electronics available in two levels of upgrades. The Navigation II pack has just about everything a captain needs, including a Garmin 7012 display, autopilot, radar, AIS and VHF. There are also options for a dynamic positioning system and an onboard camera. The helm seat is a double, though two will be cozy there, and the visibility from the helm is good all around.
The L-shaped galley occupies the port corner. An electric cooktop and microwave oven combine with a sink and refrigeration to provide everything needed to create great meals. Because people boat differently in Europe — they rely a bit less on generators — there is an option to replace the ceramic cooktop with a three-burner gas stove and the microwave with a gas oven. The 12 kw genset comes standard, but cooking with gas will save hours on the engine and keep things quiet in an anchorage.
A large sunroof floods the galley and helm area with light. There is an option to make it retract electrically, and when it is open, ventilation is excellent. Because the galley is across from the helm, there is no additional forward-facing companion seating. When I wasn’t driving during our test, I perched on the counter of the galley to speak with Dirk Boehmer, Bavaria’s U.S. national sales director, who was at the wheel. Boehmer describes his target market as anyone who drives a German car or just appreciates German engineering and quality.
Another noteworthy feature of this design is that, somehow, the Germans fit three cabins into 42 feet — and made them livable. The master is forward with a centerline berth, plenty of lockers and a split head, with the sink and toilet to starboard and the shower compartment to port. The second head is to port just as you come down the stairs from the galley. It will be the day head and be shared with the two double cabins aft.
Headroom in the salon is 6 feet, 5 inches, and that will make tall boaters happy. Finishes include a choice of teak or light oak cabinetry and a variety of fabrics including leather seating. Neat standard features include Venetian blinds, reverse-cycle air conditioning/heating, AGM batteries and a bow thruster.
We headed out of Newport Harbor for a run on the Pacific. A two-foot chop and a 10- to 12-knot breeze met us. The Virtess 420 Coupe comes with a few engine options, including 370 to 435 hp diesels with Z-drive or IPS pods. Our test boat had the upgraded engines with a joystick, and as with all pod-driven boats, it was a fun to maneuver. Our cruise out of the harbor was quiet, since the engines sit much farther back in the hull than on straight-shaft boats, and that keeps noise and vibration away from the living areas.
Once outside, it was time to play. From a dead stop, we popped up on plane in 12 seconds without ever losing sight of the horizon as the boat first dug in and then pushed its nose down to meet the water. Turns were tight and the steering was responsive, much like what you might expect from a German car.
Heading north into the wind, we did pound quite a bit, with the noise of the hull audible in the salon. After a bit of fiddling, we found our most economical cruise speed right around 20 knots. We topped out at 33.5 knots at wide-open throttle, at which point the gauges showed a consumption of 22 gph. With 317 gallons of fuel, the Virtess 420 Coupe has a range of more than 400 miles depending on conditions and load. That’s plenty for coastal cruising, even with the long distances we run here on the left coast.
Bavaria Yachts, which is located in southern Germany, has claimed the title of the largest boat builder in Europe that is housed in a single facility. Its 2-million-square-foot shipyard boasts five assembly lines that would run three and a half miles if placed end-to-end. With more than 550 employees, the company has turned out more than 6,200 powerboats since 2000; it has been building sailboats since its founding in 1978. High-precision robots and CAD/CAM programs work together with skilled craftsmen to produce the mix of 40 percent motoryachts and 60 percent sailboats that are built each year. All this adds up to economies of scale that translate to value.
Boehmer feels that Bavaria appeals to customers who enjoy all things German-made. Our test boat came in around $760,000 and was fully equipped with just about everything West Coast boaters may want.