2015, December: Sydney Middle Harbour: The Monte Carlo marque may be a comparatively new name to the Australian market, but its heritage and siblings are widely regarded as amongst the best on the planet. Part of the Groupe Beneteau organisation, it is the ‘smaller stable mate’ of Monte Carlo Yachts. Both fleets of motor boats are designed by the highly regarded design team of Nuvolari Lenard which also designed Steven Spielberg’s ‘Seven Seas’ and which creates super-yachts for world-famous brands such as CRN and Palmer Johnson.
The Monte Carlo MC4S sedan blends eye-appeal with practicality; it has a quite plumb stem and near-vertical topsides that carry the full beam down to the chines; both those elements maximise interior space whilst variable deadrise undersides give a smooth, dry ride and good stability at rest.
Its larger stable-mate, the MC5 flybridge, won the European Power Boat of the Year Award (Over 45 feet) in 2014 which is not surprising as the boats are Italian-designed and French-built to world standards.
The MC4S is priced from $935,000 and our review model with a range of options came up to $1,130,915 - although at the time it was available at a ‘display’ special price of $1,025,000 (all pricing at time of writing).
The interior is very contemporary with light brushed oak trim and superior quality leathers and fabrics. Huge windows and a massive sunroof give a very bright and open feel with a layout that is most comfortable and conducive to relaxed entertaining. Two double staterooms provide sleeping accommodation for four and there’s all the space and facilities you’d want for weekend or longer stays - a design goal being to match the appeal and charm of luxury holiday apartments.
To reassure owners with limited boating experience, the MC4S comes with joystick controls for the dual Volvo IPS 500 engine/pod systems. An optional additional control panel in the starboard side of the cockpit has a second joystick as well as bow thruster and engine start/stop controls. This adds further to the ease of backing into a marina pen. Intuitional movements of the stick translate into the required manoeuvering through the computer-controlled IPS (Inboard Performance System) pods.
The latter are powered by aft-mounted 5.5-litre six-cylinder diesel engines and project below the hull with very efficient counter-rotating forward-facing props that pull rather than push the boat through the water. Steering and manoeuvering is achieved by turning the pods to vector the thrust of the props; with the drive housing of the pods behind them, the props operate in a much cleaner flow of water than shaft- or stern-drive props for significant benefits in efficiency, performance and economy.
The aft-mounted engines allow a more efficient hull design too with the weight further back, and give much lower levels of noise and vibration in the saloon and staterooms. Without mid-mounted engines, the master stateroom can be positioned amidships for full-beam spaciousness and optimum stability. Machinery access is helped as well with large hatches in the cockpit sole lifting easily on gas struts to reveal the clean and beautifully engineered Volvo and other equipment installations.
Boarding the MC4S is a snap across a large teak-lined platform that can be hydraulically lowered to knee deep in the water. That not only makes access/egress for water sports a delight, but also offers a relaxing wading/bathing stage and an aid to the boat’s stability when moored. A further bonus is that it makes use of a dinghy much easier than having the hassle of retrieving one from a lazarette or similar.
Steps to starboard lead up into the spacious cockpit with an aft lounge that can be shaded on sunny days by an awning that electrically-extends out from the hardtop. Forward to either side are steps to the side decks with good guard and grab rails for safe movement to the foredeck even in open waters. To starboard in the cockpit, a stepped-ladder leads up to the sundeck that provides a rather unique vantage area to relax. This is a real highlight of the MC4S as I’ve not before seen a sundeck like this.
The saloon flows seamlessly forward from the cockpit through large stainless-framed glass doors to form a wide-open entertaining space. A full-facility galley is immediately to port across from L-shaped lounges around an extendable table with a slide-out ottoman for another seat. The helm is ahead of these lounges, at a higher level for better visibility.
A curved set of stairs forward portside in the saloon leads down to the accommodations with a generously capacious full-beam owner’s stateroom amidships – an unexpected delight in a 45-foot cruiser. It has an island queen bed, optional TV, plenty of headroom and stowage and also lots of natural light through monster portholes each side. The roomy ensuite bathroom is forward to starboard whilst further toward the stem is a guest stateroom with an island double berth and its own ensuite to port.
Throughout the accommodations, and indeed throughout the entire MC4S, there is an abundance of storage (including provision for a washer/dryer) and everywhere is beautifully finished using Alpi brushed oak and carefully selected fabrics and carpets. There are any number of thoughtful attention-to-detail features such as fold-away faucets, a TV in the saloon that slides out from behind a cabinet, powered helm seat and side windows, good navigation electronics, strong deck hardware and more. The luxury though is not overstated and the ambience is one of welcome and relaxation.
Back at the helm position, a double seat enables a mate (in either sense of the word) to keep the skipper company. Both are well served by a top-class layout with controls and displays ideally located for easy and efficient use. Visibility is quite good, especially with a one-piece screen devoid of any view-interrupting central supports, although the steeply slanted A-pillars are a bit obstructive at times looking out to the forward quarters.
Driving the MC4S was a delight with smoothly responsive steering and throttles/shifts. I could comfortably sit with my back supported by the seat and with an easy reach to the tilt-adjustable wheel. The throttles were linear and the Volvo IPS systems gave pleasing performance with 8 knots at 1,500 rpm leading to mid-range cruising of 12.1 knots at 2,500 rpm and on to a full throttle speed touching 26 knots at 3,600 rpm.
Just a light touch was needed on the wheel for turns which the hull and props executed admirably with moderate banking. Further adding to the controllability of the MC4S is a set of well-sized trim tabs that give the skipper immediate control of trim angles both fore-aft and laterally. There’s a reversing camera too, and the joystick at berthing speeds made it all so easy and relaxing.
For comfort, fun and opulence afloat, the MC4S is right on the ball with a special cachet that’s hard to equal.
Length (overall): 13.90 metres
Beam: 4.06 metres
Draft: 1.12 metres
Displacement: 11,398 kgs
Fuel: 1,070 litres
Water: 400 litres
Power (as tested): Twin Volvo IPS500 Diesels 276 kW (370 hp) each
Top Speed: 26 knots