A little longer and a few knots faster, this cool sport cruiser may be the answer for boaters moving up or down in size.
It had been a while since I “shopped” Barrett Canfield’s Beneteau supermarket at South Coast Yachts in San Diego, but since it was time to test the remix version of the Gran Turismo 40, I headed south for the day, looking forward to Beneteau Alley. The French builder’s latest model to get a facelift, the GT 40, replaces the previous GT 38, and much has been changed. The boat is packed with fun new features and has an even better ride with an improved AirStep2 hull designed to slay waves with nary a bounce.
As soon as I stepped aboard, I could see the GT 40 is strikingly different from the 38. The sport cruiser has benefited from Nuvolari & Lenard’s stylish rounded lines, and while it is still all about open living, it now looks a little sleeker. The profile gained two stacked rows of glass in the cabin house and angular windows in the hull, and the double sunpad on the foredeck now comes with reclining backrests and cupholders.
A large electric swim platform is new and is an easy way to board from the dock or dinghy. The expanded teak beach submerges below the waterline to form a fun playground and help load and carry the tender. Gone is the opening garage. In its place is the (optional) transom galley module, which Beneteau borrowed from its upscale Monte Carlo line. A sink, a Kenyon grill and a prep surface stand at waist level and within conversation distance of the cockpit. It’s a great use of transom space and keeps the heat and smoke of grilling out of the cockpit.
And speaking of the cockpit, Beneteau completely reconfigured and enhanced it. A small Isotherm refrigerator is to port, while a wet bar is tucked behind the helm seat. A straight settee is to port and the opposite L-shaped lounge wraps around a high/low table, which can also be made into a sunpad. Captain and crew can cook, tend bar, lounge, tan and drive from within a very compact space. Phew, that’s a lot of functionality that all fits together nicely. It’s like a game to discover the surprises and clever features in every corner.
Heck of a Helm
At the helm, the dash inspires confidence. Everything is within reach, including the throttles, joystick, analog gauges, rocker switches and the single (optional) Simrad NSS 12-inch multifunction display with add-ons such as autopilot and 4G radar. There are wide mullions on either side of the windshield but with the seat on the centerline, the driver can see clearly to the bow and beyond. A backup camera is optional but not really necessary, since the driver can stand to starboard and use the great sightlines to the aft corners to back into the slip using the joystick with one hand. Because the double helm seat is in the middle, there is room enough for a companion seat to starboard.
The enormous electric sunroof opens from the windshield back over a part of the seating area, so passengers are outside even when they’re in. People aren’t cooped up but still have protection from the elements, especially with a full enclosure and cockpit air conditioning. The overall effect of all that overhead glass and open air is of riding in a convertible.
The sidedecks are narrow but the handholds along the cabin house are good, so crew can move forward and aft while underway. Amidships cleats on both sides will make it easy to tie up at the dock.
In the revamp, Beneteau upped the luxury factor by again leaning on its luxe Monte Carlo line. Leather-wrapped handholds, designer colors and antiglare paint surfaces give this little yacht a high-end appeal. When I asked the owners (who came along on the test) what they liked best, the husband pointed to the power and the ride. But I couldn’t even count the number of references to styling and finish they both made. It was clear they delighted in how the boat felt and presented itself.
The interior has stayed much the same as it was on the GT 38. Entry to below is on the port side and down four steps. Straight ahead is an L-shaped settee and a truncated table — four could squeeze around it, though I have no idea why anyone would try with all the great space up top. To starboard is the galley with a two-burner ceramic Kenyon stove, a microwave, a single sink and an 80-quart Waeco under-counter refrigerator. Round opening portlights both port and staboard provide light and ventilation.
The GT 40 is a two-cabin, one-head boat with plenty of privacy and separation between the owners and guests. The master is forward with a large center island bed and three soft-close stowage drawers below. Aft is the guest cabin with two singles that can be made into one double berth. To starboard is a wet head, and it’s the only one aboard. It is accessed from the salon and has an electric toilet — a VacuFlush head is optional — and a vessel sink. Flatscreen TV pre-wiring is standard both inside and in the cockpit.
Andreani Design has worked with Beneteau’s Monte Carlo line since 2005, and its motif is all about clean surfaces, hidden functionality and luxury touches that elevate the finish, which was why the owner said she “fell for it.” The standard finish is walnut Alpi wood with brown oak laminated flooring. Indirect lighting gives the interior a soft glow.
On the Water
As usual, San Diego Bay was flat calm on test day, so we made waves by running circles and figure-8s and playing in our own wake. Beneteau’s AirStep hull is now in its second iteration, and the 40 benefits from the continued evolution. AirStep2 introduces air from vents along the hull sides and funnels it beneath the boat. The air cushion that is created reduces friction in the aft third of the hull as the air is channeled back and out the transom, providing a bit of lift. Presumably, this provides not only a better ride but increased fuel efficiency, and it minimizes bowrise when the boat is coming out of the hole.
I must say that our turns were sharp and snappy and the boat never jumped, waddled or got bogged down. From a full stop, we came up on plane in just six seconds, at around 13 to 14 knots and 2400 rpm. We found the top speed of 32.7 knots at 3650 rpm, where we presumably burned almost 30 gph. (The speed numbers are from our actual test but consumption is from factory trials, since our test boat was not configured to provide fuel burn information.) An economical cruise would be around 19 to 20 knots, where the engines are expected to burn 15 gph. At 3000 rpm, the engines were burning 18.5 gph while pushing the GT 40 to 24.5 knots. Down at 2200 rpm, the boat was moving 12.2 knots while the Volvos burned around 10 gph.
The GT 40 comes standard with twin Volvo Penta D4 300 hp diesels with sterndrives, the same as on our test boat. An upgrade to 370 hp D6 engines is availbale but may not be necessary even at the top end, because the boat comes in at around 17,000 pounds dry, so it’s light. A joystick is optional but I’d spec it because it provides maneuvering ease similar to pod drives. It takes a bit of getting used to, because the Quick bow thruster isn’t as powerful as the two sterndrives, so drivers will have to get the hang of crabbing a bit. The engines and the upgraded (optional) 5 kw genset are accessed via the cockpit sole.
The Gran Turismo series includes a complete line of production motoryachts from 35 to 49 feet. The base model for the GT 40 starts at less than $400,000, but a well-equipped boat will run another $150,000. Groupe Beneteau now provides packages in trim levels (Essential and Lounge) and packs, which include electronics, seating options, décor and system upgrades. This is a more simplified approach and easier to understand.
Potential buyers who like compact boats that really get clever with space, come packed with amenities and have a snappy ride may enjoy exploring the new GT 40. Because it hits the sweet spot for boaters on both trajectories — moving up from a small boat or down from a big cruiser — this is a model many buyers may have on their short list.