The Pardo GT52 demonstrates its power and versatility at a storied Mediterranean destination.
Few automotive designs are as distinct as the classic gran turismo that emerged in Europe in the mid-twentieth century, pioneered by brands such as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati. Featuring high-performance engines, elegant design and luxurious interiors, GT vehicles revolutionized the automotive industry, giving drivers the ability “to cross a continent at speed and in comfort yet provide driving thrills when demanded,” according to Sam Dawson, news editor of Classic Cars magazine. That same description applies perfectly to the new model from Pardo Yachts, the GT52, a luxury performance cruiser that packages power and comfort with a proven hull.
Pardo Yachts is one of three brands owned by Italian-based Cantiere del Pardo. In operation since 1973, when Grand Soleil Yachts was established, the company has built more than 4,000 sailboats up to 80 feet used for long-distance cruising and offshore racing. The builder expanded into the powerboat market in 2017 with the Pardo 43, a walkaround dayboat of which 270 have been sold. Pardo followed the 43 with the P50 in 2018 and P38 in 2019. In 2020, the company further solidified its presence in the powerboat sector by acquiring VanDutch Yachts.
“Pardo has a heritage of sailing boats,” says Rok Babarovic, business development manager for Pardo. “Building sailing boats is far more complex than building powerboats. The know-how that we have gained over these years allowed us to enter into the powerboat sector in a much stronger way. It’s the attention to detail and making sure all projects are developed with the most generous volumes inside.”
In 2021, Pardo ventured into new territory with the release of the Endurance 60, a long-distance cruising yacht designed for enhanced livability with more economical fuel consumption. Now, the builder is diverging from its portfolio of dayboats once again with the GT52, the first model in a new range that combines Pardo’s signature performance hull with cruising amenities for boaters traveling further afield.
“The walkaround range grew very quickly, but we understood that the Pardo brand has to grow in other segments,” says Babarovic. “So, we established the GT range and the Endurance range for spending more time on the water, cruising longer, and enjoying the boat in a much wider range compared to an open boat.”
I met up with the GT52 during its world premiere on a sunny April day in Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. The Côte d’Azur is one of Pardo’s main strategic growth areas outside of Italy, in addition to the Balearic Islands in Spain as well as Florida, California and the Great Lakes (the United States represents 50 percent of overall sales).
Internationally renowned for its beautiful beaches and famous night clubs, Saint-Tropez actually has a storied history steeped in boatbuilding and commercial fishing. During the 18th and 19th centuries, merchant ships frequented the Saint-Tropez port. Shipyards around the town built tartanes for fishing and three-masted ships that could carry up to 12,000 barrels of cargo, including the flagship of the merchant navy, named The Queen of Angels, which was built here in 1860. Saint-Tropez’ role as a commercial port and fishing village declined after World War II, when movie stars and musicians began to utilize the village as a seaside resort. They were soon followed by jet set European and American tourists, who helped Saint-Tropez develop a tourism-driven economy, but the area has not lost touch with its maritime history. Most of the commercial vessels have been replaced by modern yachts, but the village’s maritime culture is still very much alive yet reimagined to thrive in this new era of glitz and glam. Today, the port is one of the most coveted yachting destinations in the Mediterranean and the perfect location to lay eyes on the latest Pardo.
Pardo’s new model is built on the same performance hull as the P50, a V-shaped, vacuum-infused design with a variable deadrise of 16 degrees at the stern and more than 50 degrees in the forward section for improved seakeeping and maneuverability. Despite the two models sharing the same hull design, they are vastly different once you step aboard, which is exceedingly apparent as I stepped from one boat right onto the next.
While the P50 has two staterooms below, it is a dayboat by design, complete with a massive sunpad and a dinette with wraparound seating in the cockpit, another large sunpad in the bow and a hardtop shading the helm station and outdoor galley. The GT52 has incorporated more voluminous interior accommodations than the P50, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had not sacrificed much open-air space, due in part to an additional two feet of length for the aft deck. The cockpit on this new model is spacious and practical, with a dinette and wraparound seating that lowers into a sunpad (rather than the separate sunpad and dinette on the P50). The cockpit also has two aft-facing seats shaded by the pilothouse roof. Like on Pardo’s performance models, walkaround access makes the move to the bow easy, where another large sunpad is located. The only tradeoff is that the high bulwarks that provide security on the P50 have been sacrificed on the forward section of GT52 to create more interior space below.
The standout feature on the GT52 is unmistakably its climate-controlled pilothouse, which blends almost seamlessly with the outdoor areas thanks to large windows, a stern door and a sunroof. Inside the pilothouse guests can enjoy the ride with wraparound seating around a dinette to port. Our test model had another lounge seat to starboard and a galley-down layout accessed through the stairs adjacent to the helm. The boat can also be configured with a galley-up layout, wherein the galley would replace the starboard lounge to make room for a third berth or salon below.
Access to the master in the bow is through the galley. The stateroom is spacious for a boat of this size, complete with a lounge seat and a private head with enclosed shower. From the galley is also access to the main head with separate shower and the second stateroom with twin berths. My only complaint about the second stateroom is that headroom is limited, so you need to crouch to get into the berth. There is also a crew cabin hidden beneath the port seating in the pilothouse, though this space would also function well as an additional kid’s cabin or storage.
The Golfe de Saint-Tropez was flat calm on our test day, but the boat felt remarkably stable running over its own wake at speed. True to its GT moniker, the helm takes inspiration from the automotive world, the wheel reminiscent of one found on a luxury sports car. Dual Garmin displays and joystick piloting makes for easy navigating, and there is quick access to the boat’s digital switches from the helm. With approximately 10 people on board, the boat got onto plane easily and cruised at 22 to 25 knots with a top end of 30 knots, powered by twin Volvo IPS 650s, the standard power package for this model. (Twin 700s and 800s are optional.) It felt grippy and responsive in turns with an overall smooth ride, though there wasn’t much to contend with in terms of sea conditions.
We approached Saint Maxime on the other side of the gulf before returning to port, where the cobblestone Saint-Elme Tower, which was built in 1637 and now serves as the Harbor Master’s office, welcomed us back to Saint-Tropez. This small village may have evolved from its humble beginnings as a fishing town to welcome a new wave of mariners, but touches of history are everywhere, from the old lighthouses to the cobblestone alleyways and the signature pink and ocher facades lining the streets. With its new GT range, Pardo is embracing change as well, while staying true to its 50-year heritage.
The GT52 will make its official debut at the 2022 Ft. Lauderdale boat show. Next, Pardo aims to expand its powerboat lineup with a GT75 planned for 2023 and an Endurance 70 for 2024. The company is also building a new 43,000-square-foot facility that will manufacture boats from 60 to 80 feet, allowing them to increase annual production from 200 to 250 boats.
Comfort, power, luxury and versatility: The signature characteristics of GT automobiles are fully embodied by the GT52. Sure, if you want a true dayboat, the P50 may be more suitable, while the interior volume and range on the E60 will better suit boaters looking to make a longer crossing. But for boaters who want the ability to enjoy a long day on the water with the accommodations to stretch the trip a bit and enough power to travel from one destination to the next in reasonable time, the GT52 offers everything you need in spades. You might just feel like you are behind the wheel of a 20th century sports car as you enjoy panoramic views of the picturesque Côte d’Azur from the helm.
Pardo GT52 Layout Diagrams
Pardo GT52 Specifications:
Displ.: 50,000 lbs.
Fuel: 529 gal.
Water: 158 gal.
Power: 2/480-hp Volvo Penta IPS 650