There aren't many "yachts" that make me take notice when I advance the throttles. After all, performance is not what 50'-plus boats are about. They're about pampering you with living space and luxurious appointments, about being your waterfront condo. Marquis Yachts' new 50 Sport Coupe delivers all those comforts in a slickly styled package, but it also has triple Volvo Penta IPS 600s that push it to a speed of 42.8 mph, which made me sit up and smile when I slammed the levers forward.
Although most boats this size come only with twin IPS packages (Regal's new 5260 is $749,000 with twin IPS 600s), Marquis went with triples. The added thrust of the third engine eliminated the IPS "hump" I've experienced while testing many other boats. Twin-engine boats in the 40' to 45' range often show a bowrise of 6 degrees or more through three or more rpm settings, but the 50 Sport Coupe hit only 6 and 5 degrees at 2100 and 2300 rpm, respectively. For the balance of the on-plane rpm range, the boat was comfortable at 4 degrees of inclination.
As if it weren't fun enough to drive, the 50 Sport Coupe comes with Volvo's QL programmable automatic/manual trim system. Instead of conventional trim tabs, the boat has four 1½" by 15" (approximate) aluminum plates spaced equidistantly across the transom. When the trim is in the down position, the four plates are lowered below the running surface. Push the Up button and they retract into the hull. Or drop one side to balance the boat as needed.
When I put the 50 Sport Coupe through turns, the extra oomph of the third engine pushed the boat through the move quickly and cleanly and helped hold up the bow. And when you slow down and engage the IPS joystick, you can make this boat dance.
During my sea trial, I disengaged the center engine and ran the boat with the other two. The 50 Sport Coupe ran 28.2 mph and burned 40 gph on two engines. When I ran the identical speed at 2700 rpm with three engines, the boat burned less -- 36.3 gph.
Competitors? The list is slim. Well, actually, it's closer to none. If your heart is set on triples, Tiara's 38.6-mph 5800 Sovran has three IPS 600s and a similar layout, but it's 8' longer and a lot more expensive at $1,715,000. Closer to the 50 Sport Coupe in size, specs, and amenities is Formula's 45 Yacht, which retails for $949,830 with twin IPS 600s. It hits 38 mph. (There's talk of a boat with triple MerCruiser Zeus packages on the horizon.) If you put a premium on performance, Pershing's 50 has a top speed of 51 mph with its twin 900-hp MANs and Arneson surface drives ($1.9 million).
Piece and Quiet
Another attribute of the 50 Sport Coupe that makes it downright pleasant to drive is the lack of noise in the salon, a mere 79 decibels at wide open throttle. The boat's bottom is solid fiberglass, and the hullsides are cored with closed-cell urethane foam below the waterline and end-grain balsa above it. For added noise and vibration dampening, Marquis tops each bulkhead with 1" of foam before the deck is set in place. The hull-to-deck joint is bonded and secured with screws driven through it into a plywood backing strip.
For engine access, a large hatch in the cockpit opens on gas struts. Yes, three engines make the area more crowded than two, but the access is still decent. Fuel/water separators are forward alongside the centrally installed genset; the batteries are outboard on each side in fiberglass boxes. Forward to port are the primary circuit breakers and battery switches. Reducing the number of through-hulls in the boat, Marquis routes all the onboard drain hoses into collection boxes on each side of the 50 Sport Coupe.
This Boat Cooks
Now let's take a closer look at the amenities. You enter the cockpit on either side, which is rare for a 50' boat. As you head forward, the side walkways are a foot wide so you can move easily, and rails on the pilothouse are perfectly positioned. Out front, the starboard hatch needs a gas strut or cable to keep it from flopping against the windlass.
Back in the cockpit, you can relax on the bench seat. The locker in the base is ideal for stashing fenders. In the salon, the wraparound lounge to port is an excellent place to sit and relax while watching the flat-screen TV that rises out of the starboard cabinet.
Marquis put the galley on the salon level, directly across from the portside helm. It's compact but efficient, with a stainless-steel sink in the entry, a microwave oven, refrigerator and freezer drawers, and a two-burner stove. However, the Corian countertop needs a fiddle rail.
Glare reduction is outstanding -- the entire forward area of the 50 Sport Coupe is finished in a flat black vinyl. The power-adjustable helm seat moves fore and aft, up and down, and even tilts. The footrest, however, should fold up so that you don't scrape your shins when you want to hop down and drive standing. The only analog gauges are for fuel level, but the Volvo Penta screens provide all the engine information you need. Electronics are options.
Belowdecks you'll find sleeping capacity for six (queen berths in the VIP and master staterooms and two singles aft to starboard) and two heads. Half of the berth in the portside VIP stateroom raises on a gas strut for cavernous stowage. You enter the day head from the portside VIP cabin. The master head is forward; it has a slightly larger shower stall, but otherwise each is equally equipped. I liked the use of opaque hatches that let in plenty of natural light to illuminate the belowdecks area. Take a ride in the Marquis 50 Sport Coupe and you, too, will see the light.
EXTRA POINT: The engine hatch opening is 1" longer and wider than the Volvo Penta 435-hp motors in case one has to be removed.