Everything but the “Yacht”
The Monte Carlo 6 may not be a Monte Carlo Yacht, but she sure looks and runs like one.
We’ve all heard the term “brand extension.” It’s what companies do when they have a hit product and want to build other similar products that can profit from that success. That brand extension as a strategy works has been demonstrated time and again, but it’s also one that’s had some spectacular failures. Does anyone remember the Cadillac Cimarron or the Lincoln Blackwood? No? I rest my case.
Brand extension is the raison d’etre for the Monte Carlo 6. Groupe Beneteau hit a home run with the Italian built Monte Carlo Yachts (MCY), which encompasses five vessels ranging from 65 to 105 feet (the latter of which is a new model). Could it parlay that success into a line of smaller vessels that were more affordable yet didn’t compromise MCY’s level of luxury? In other words, could the builder go smaller without tarnishing MCY?
It not only could, it did, and the way it did provides an object lesson in how to do brand extension right. First Beneteau came up with a different name, and thereby a separate identity, but one only slightly different so there is still an obvious family connection. Hence we have Monte Carlo minus the “Yachts.” There’s the Monte Carlo 4, 5, and 6; the 4 and 5 are available either with a flying-bridge helm or without it, in which case they get the S designation, yielding a total of five models.
Next, it retained the same design team, Nuvolari Lenard, that created the MCYs, so despite the altered appellation, you’ll be hard-pressed to discern major external differences between the 59-foot Monte Carlo 6 and the 65-foot Monte Carlo Yachts 65. Likewise, both interiors are the work of Andreani Design, which gave the 6 a stylish, modern look by again employing light fabrics, countertops, and bulkheads to accent not the dark walnut of the 65 but lighter washed oak. Combined with expansive windows, the 6 feels like a floating sunroom.
MCY won praise for thoughtful details, and you’ll find many of them on the 6. Leather and chrome drawer and cabinet pulls, an etched-glass stairway panel, textured upholstery fabrics, and stylish plumbing and bath fixtures put to rest any impression that you’re on a cheapened MCY. Stroll up to the foredeck, and you’ll find two optional deck panels that electrically rise to create chaises. In the forepeak you’ll see a pair of the very same pop-up LED lights, also optional, that were such a hit on the MCYs. No it’s not the fabulous walk-through foredeck of the MCY 65 but it’s undeniably elegant in its own right.
But the 6 is very much her own self, and nowhere is that more evident than at the lower helm station. Offset slightly to port and elevated two steps for excellent sightlines, it is dominated by a single helm seat, with room for two copilots to starboard. My test boat was equipped with the optional leather chair, which has “wings,” the left one holding the trackball for the single 24-inch Simrad MFD and the right one the joystick that controls the Cummins Zeus pods.
If ever there were a setup that gave you the feeling of operating a video game this is it—and I mean that in a good way. You can navigate with the wheel, or like Capt. Kirk, using the joystick or the autopilot dodge function. But because the Zeus pods have an autotrim function, you really just need to pick your speed and point the boat where you want to go with the joystick. It’s a great setup, although being right-handed, I found it awkward to use the throttles and the autopilot controls, something one would no doubt become acclimated to in time.
Then there’s the SmartCraft display, on the instrument panel to the right of the wheel and below the Simrad MFD. Virtually all engine-related functions are available here, which means the instrument panel itself is wonderfully uncluttered. But with a display that’s only about 5 inches by 3 inches, type and graphics are small and packed together. The fact that it’s on a horizontal surface makes this display all the more difficult to read unless you lean out of that chair, and then there goes the Kirk illusion. What’s needed, in my opinion, is either a larger SmartCraft display, a display for each engine, or programming that would make some of the data available on the MFD.
But these are minor gripes compared to the pleasure of running the 6. There is only one power package, twin 600-horsepower Cummins Zeus, which Beneteau says allows it to optimize the boat-propulsion package. That sounded like rationalization until I got behind the wheel, for the 6 is rewarding to run. Her top speed of 28 knots is a small part of the story. She’s on plane at 2,175 rpm (14.5 knots), and thanks to autotrim, virtually any cruising speed from there to WOT is available to you—fuel efficiency basically flatlines from 2000 rpm on up.
In short, it really does feel like the 6 and her propulsion package were made for each other. She’s uncommonly nimble, and her turning radius is remarkable for a boat of her size. Plus an aft engine placement and careful attention to sound attenuation make for a very quiet, very pleasurable ride.
The 6 is brand extension done right: She has enough MCY features to retain that line’s panache but she’s smaller and more affordable. No, she’s not cheap, especially after you add all the necessary options, and there are a lot of them. But being from Beneteau, which is famous for maximizing value, she’ll reward your spending handsomely. And best of all, it’s only a small step from the 6 to an MCY. How tempting.
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Warranty: 5 years on hull, 1 year on workmanship
Conditions During Boat Test
air temperature: 69°F; humidity: 50%; seas: 2'; wind 10 knots
Load During Boat Test
411 gal. fuel, 191 gal. water, 6 persons, 500 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/600-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesels w/ Zeus pods
- Transmission/Ratio: Zeus/1.75:1 gear ratio
- Price as Tested: $1,700,000
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.