Riviera’s 6000 Sport Yacht is a case study in how a good boat can evolve into an even better One.
A famous naval architect once told me that the secret to his success was his ability to nail the design of the hull and the deck, because once he had them right, it was relatively easy to update things later on, like the layout and interior features. He explained, “People’s tastes in things like interior proportions, fabrics, and the number and size of the staterooms change almost by the day, but a boat that runs well and has the right proportions can be updated to suit those tastes. As a designer, you feel incredibly liberated when you don’t have to sweat the big stuff.”
Over the years I’ve been aboard any number of boats that proved that dictum, most recently the Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht. It has essentially the same hull and deck as the 5800 Sport Yacht, which was introduced five years ago and of which 35 have been sold. Designed to be powered by triple Volvo Penta IPS drives, the 58 had the sexy look of an express cruiser, complete with tender garage. She ran well and had pleasing proportions, and thanks to the aft-mounted pods, lots of interior space. But five years is an eon in the world of boat design, and tastes had changed. So pretty much everything but the 58’s hull and deck had to change too.
Two phenomena guided the redesign. One, the people who buy big express cruisers have begun demanding much brighter, airier interiors, so a modern express must have lots of glass and an interior that doesn’t always require artificial lighting. Two, they want to be able to spend as much time outside as they do inside, even in intense sunlight or inclement weather.
To make the cockpit more livable Riviera designers started by reconfiguring the seating, replacing the old mezzanine-style layout with two lounges, an L-shaped settee and table to port facing a two-person settee. This not only made the space more amenable to dining and lounging but also added about 9 inches of floor-space length. The island barbecue/wetbar, which used to be forward, has migrated to the aft end of the cockpit. Because the hardtop has been extended 18 inches and an optional awning can add to that figure, both the seating area and the guy doing the grilling are sheltered, while any smoke from the grill can drift freely away. Clear plastic panels to either side replace what used to be solid FRP, offering further protection from wind and spray while enhancing the views to either side. But the icing on the cake is the electric moonroof in that hardtop, so you don’t have to have the overhead shelter if you’d rather get a tan or look at the stars.
To really brighten the main-deck area Riviera had to make some bold moves. The galley is still fully aft, separated from the cockpit by the trademark Riviera flip-up glass, but it is now to port, where there used to be stowage. (Riviera tells us that galley stowage has, if anything, been expanded.) With the galley now directly in front of the cockpit dinette, outside dining is much easier. Should you prefer to dine inside, the 58’s large portside interior dinette remains.
One other change came in response to the request of many 58 owners: a saloon couch. Riviera has given them a standard one directly across from the dinette, but if you order the optional version the center section pulls out to create an ottoman, and when you remove the aft seat cushion, you can flip a table up into the space between the two remaining sections. Just like that. instead of dining for six, there’s room for eight. The flat-screen TV is aft, on the same side as the couch, but a remote control allows you to swing it out electrically for optimal viewing.
The 6000’s saloon is a lot brighter. The windows to either side are larger, but the big difference comes from the four fixed-glass panels over the galley, which can be covered by a shade. And if that’s not enough light for you, there’s another moonroof that occupies basically the entire forward half of the main deck overhead, including the helm. And the helm itself has been reconfigured to handle two 17-inch MFDs as part of the elegant Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit developed in conjunction with Garmin, and which graced our test boat.
I’d estimate that 85 percent of the side and overhead surfaces on the 6000’s main deck are glass, and you can imagine what that does for the ambience of this space. Along with a new light-wood sole and off-white upholstery, it creates a space that’s unusually bright and open in the daytime and doesn’t require a lot of lighting to be that way at night. It also shows off the walnut trim—a first for Riviera—to fine effect.
Down below the layout is basically the same as the 58 but different where it counts. The forward VIP, starboard guest cabin with twins, and two heads each with stall showers are unchanged except for larger ports. But the aft master has been smartly tweaked. Gone is the 58’s starboard walk-in closet; it’s now fully aft and leads to the small crew’s quarters/stowage room, which has direct access to the cockpit via a hatch and to the engine room via a watertight door. (Another cockpit hatch farther aft provides a second access to the ER.) The starboard vacancy is filled with a larger settee and vanity, and the head, still along the port side, is now 20 percent longer, which means an even bigger walk-in shower. A clear glass partition that can become opaque electrically provides privacy from the stateroom.
Our test boat’s configuration—forward VIP, starboard guest stateroom, port seating area, and aft master stateroom—is one of three available. In one of the other two the seating area becomes a bunkroom, while the third, the “Presidential Option,” eliminates the port settee/stateroom altogether to give the master and head even more space.
It’s not strictly true that the 6000 has the same hull as the 58, for Riviera has added a keel that comes out of the stem and terminates roughly 6 feet forward of the pods, the idea being to improve both tracking underway and stability at anchor. Riviera once had keels on most of its boats but got away from them when it adopted pod drives. Expect to see them eventually reappear across the board.
I wasn’t able to notice any effect from the keel but what did grab my attention was how quiet my 6000 was. Our sound numbers don’t tell the whole story; it’s the quality of the sound that’s impressive. The boat was so quiet it never felt like the IPS 950s were turning 2650 rpm and the boat was nudging 32 knots.
In fact it’s the quality of the whole package that makes the 6000 impressive. Every modification Riviera has made to the 58 has paid big dividends. But that’s what happens when you don’t have to focus on the big stuff and can sweat the details.
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Engine Special: Five Times the Fun
Volvo Penta certainly knows how to maximize the return on its engineering investments. The IPS950s in our test boat utilize the same 10.8-liter (661-cubic-inch) in-line six-cylinder engine block as the IPS800s. In fact, the engines are identical, with the variation in horsepower output being derived from modifications to the fully electronic fuel-delivery system. This same block is also put to work powering no fewer than three D11 straight-inboard models: the 607-horsepower D11-625, 650-horsepower D11-670, and the 703-horsepower D11-725. That’s five models out of one basic engine!
In its IPS900 configuration this engine features a combination supercharger/turbocharger air-induction system similar to the one found on the Caterpillar C8.7 that was announced last year. The mechanically driven supercharger is engaged at startup and so provides immediate boost to assist in planing. It automatically disengages when the exhaust-powered turbocharger is spinning fast enough to generate positive boost. www.volvopenta.com
Warranty: 12 months workmanship/materials, 5 years hull structure
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 65°F; humidity: 65%; seas: 2' chop
Load During Boat Test
280 gal. fuel, 106 gal. water, 3 persons, 250 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/725-hp Volvo Penta IPS950s
- Transmission/Ratio: Volvo Penta, 1.70:1 gear ratio
- Props: Volvo Penta P4 propset
- Price as Tested: $2,269,428
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.