Value for money might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the world of Italian sports cruisers. On the contrary, the rich exclusivity of marques like Pershing (see our recent Pershing 62 video), Ferretti (see our Ferretti Yachts 870 review from 2014) and Riva (see our Riva 88 Miami review from 2014) have conditioned us to expect big price tags for a slice of Italy’s A-list experience. But here, in the form of the new Atlantis 43, Azimut is aiming to muddy the waters (take a look for yourself with our Azimut Atlantis 43 First Look Video.
With a standard price of 360,000 Euros (£265,000 excluding VAT), it claims to undercut some of its premium British rivals by as much as a third. That gives it a useful advantage over yards like Princess and boats like the Sunseeker Portofino 40 – and while it inevitably remains more expensive than the Flyer GT 44 from industrial giants, Beneteau, the accessibility of the price tag is, on the face of it, a very sound basis for a successful sports cruiser.
Sunbathing for eight
With an uncommonly large 4.25-metre beam allied to head height of 2.1 metres on the main deck and 1.92 metres down below, the Atlantis 43 is not just designed to be affordable; it’s also designed to bully its way to the very top of the class for interior volume. That’s certainly evident on the main deck where, despite the provision of very decent external walkways, the saloon enjoys enough space for a proper external galley with sink, barbecue and fridge, plus a large wraparound dining area to starboard and a sun lounger at the co-pilot position.
It also features a very attractive combination of light and visibility, courtesy of large, obstacle-free window panels and a big roof section with electrically retractable soft-top. This roof structure is actually very large in terms of its surface area, extending all the way to the aft bench at the furthest extremity of the saloon, and yet with an impressively low profile allied to a soft top section that is able to retract for at least half of its length, the aesthetic remains very sporty and the headroom remains very generous. In the fully retracted position, it enables the big saloon to offer a very convincing flavour of the open boating experience.
Up at the helm, the visibility is as good as you would expect, but the proportions of the helm seat on this debut model look a bit off to me. It has plainly been conceived as a two-man bench, but the relative positions of the wheel and throttle place the helmsman right in the centre, making it difficult for a second person to perch alongside without getting in the way. A simple shift to starboard would be a useful improvement in this regard, freeing up some proper seating space for a second man and minimising any interference with the controls.
Elsewhere, generous sun lounging facilities reaffirm this boat’s credentials for a sunny Mediterranean lifestyle. In addition to the co-pilot lounger beneath that retracting roof, you also get a very large three-man sunpad on the platform above the engine hatch, plus another substantial three-man space up on the foredeck. That generates sunbathing space for eight people at three separate stations, one forward, one amidships and one aft – and with flat, expansive walkways orbiting the cushioned recliners, you are able to move freely between them without hindrance or difficulty.
Sleeping for seven
The use of that port sunpad at the co-pilot position rather than a conventional seat means that when you head down below, the dressing area on the port side of the full-beam guest cabin enjoys nearly six-foot four inches of headroom. That’s a great asset for getting dressed without grazing your knuckles on the deckhead – but for my money, most family users will enjoy the prospect of filling this area of the guest cabin with an optional third berth. That increases the Azimut’s sleeping capacity to seven – with a double in the bow, a triple in this guest space and a convertible dinette on the port side of the central lounge.
In addition to the tempting price and the big space, that would put this boat at the top of its class for sleeping capacity too, alongside Cranchi’s cavernous 44. And if you really wanted to, it wouldn’t take much imagination to expand the sleeping capacity of the Azimut even further by conjuring another double berth out of that main deck dinette. Whichever way you choose to go, there’s no doubt that the beamy guest cabin, the unusual co-pilot sunpad and the sliding bed units all dial some useful extra versatility into the below decks spaces.
Elsewhere, the two cabins are supplemented by two heads compartments, both with separate showers. You also get decent brightness courtesy of skylights and long unbroken windows on the hull sides, plus the luxury of full standing headroom in all of the key traffic areas. Certainly, as an affordable cruiser, some of the fabrics feel less than high-end and so too does some of the finer detailing in the finish. But in terms of both the scale and arrangement of its living areas, few cruisers in this price bracket can match it.
Azimut’s voluminous new 45-footer pulls off three key tricks that will be particularly welcome to the family cruiser. Firstly, with a guest cabin that has the ability to operate as a twin, a large double or even a triple, plus a large communal lounge, it offers the kind of versatility that committed cruisers tend to value. Secondly, with a retractable roof, a large galley, a big diner and sunbathing space for eight, it offers plenty of open-air entertainment on the main deck. And thirdly, despite its scale, it is a relatively good-looking package at a very competitive price. Of course, we don’t yet know how this beamy sports cruiser will feel on the water - but for those in search of generous space from an Italian sports cruiser on a sensible budget, the battle might already be won.
Azimut Atlantis 43: specifications
Fuel: 900 litres
Water: 350 + 60 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6 400s
Top speed: 35 knots
Price: from 432,000 Euros