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Small is the new big as we return to a more accessible measure of fun instead of chasing big-boat kudos. DAVID LOCKWOOD reports on the Bavaria 28 Sport

Bavaria 28 Sport

Bavaria Yachtbau is one of many global boating marques hit for six by the new world order. Despite being the biggest boatbuilder in Germany, the debt-laden yard was acquired by a bunch of bankers last year who, full marks to them, quickly set about relaunching its foxy fleet of cruising yachts and performance powerboats.

But whereas the company was previously focused on production efficiencies at all costs - including, in this writer's opinion, that of fit and finish - Bavaria now flaunts an air of designer distinction. Gone are the drab mahogany interiors courtesy of robotic routers and CNC-cutters, no longer is there a choice of just blue or white upholstery, and how those tired mouldings and gelcoat have morphed for the better.

Yet the wow factor isn't all its own doing. The new-look Bavarias are the result of an exciting new partnership with BMW DesignworksUSA. With go-fast lines and a smart deck layout, with lively light oak flooring and light mahogany joinery, and crisp, white leather upholstery down below, the uber chic Bavaria 28 Sport tested hereabouts is virtually unrecognisable from its dour predecessors.

But for all this fresh design and enthusiasm, the 28 Sport adheres to the old maxim that form follows function. The boat's stem isn't too raked so as to maximise volume, the sides are quite high for similar reasons, while the low-profile windscreen and targa point to the performance without sacrificing practicality. Except for the rear view, she doesn't look too chunky.




Realising that today's boaters demand more choices than ever before, Bavaria now offers light oak, walnut or mahogany joinery; six different cockpit upholstery options; and eight designer interior combos. There are various factory-fitted options packages, too, though you needn't concern yourself with them since the local importers bundled the boats with teak decks, cockpit fridge, full camper covers, upgraded stereo systems… pretty much the works.

Among the power options are single 320hp V8 Volvo Penta petrol inboard with Aquamatic sterndrive and Duoprop (as per the test boat) or twin 225hp 4.3L petrol inboard engines for even more get-up and go. In the diesel corner are single Volvo Penta D4 engines in 260hp or 300hp guises, or twin D3 170hp models.

As the single diesel engine option adds a $35,000 premium and, worse, $60,000 for twin diesel donks, petrol power is the way to go. After all, performance won't be as thrilling with diesels and, moreover, you won't pay premium by way of fuel savings in the boat's or your lifetime. As it was, the $175,000 package with single V8 is good buying.

In respect of 240V power, there is a battery charger and connection for tapping into a marina or shore supply but there is no remote 240V onboard power on the 28 Sport we tested. That means the electric grill in the cockpit and two-burner hot plate in the galley can only be used while hooked-up to mains. 

The expensive solution is to fit the optional Westerbeke 3kW petrol generator for $10,000 to $12,000. The smart alternative is to add an extra battery or two and an inverter, plus a microwave oven. This will cost about $3000, we're told. Top it off with a rail-mounted gas or charcoal barbie and you're ready for summer weekends away.

Hot water comes via a heat exchanger on the V8 engine, but with 120lt aboard you will need to be sparing with the handheld in the cockpit and/or the main shower in the boat's separate enclosed head. At least the 520lt fuel supply is generous, giving a big cruising range at 25kts of about 218nm or almost nine hours continuous operation.




The sporty performance and hitherto new levels of interior and deck design will ensure this boat holds sway on metro waterways. But it's entirely possible and probable that you might use this 28 as a coastal cruiser for accessing new ports of call. The inside passages from the Gold Coast to Moreton Bay or Mooloolaba, Pittwater and Port Hacking, Geelong or Sorrento, Kangaroo and Rottnest islands are but a short cruise from the CBD. And with an optional bowthruster, the test boat was a snap to decamp from the marina.

Having said that, in all likelihood the 28 Sport will serve the role of dayboat first and foremost. To this end, the decks have been thoughtfully designed to accommodate a crowd. Everyone will find a seat in the sun - or shade at the lunch table when the bimini top is pulled across - opposite the handy amenities centre with cockpit fridge, griddle and sink all close at hand. The U-shaped lounge and teak table can cater for six, we reckon, and on summer nights there are trick LED lights to set the mood.

The boat offers good access to the water - though we would add an optional extended swimplatform - a huge storage compartment for stowing water toys or a deflated roll-up tender under its aft sunpad, a safe route to the bow around rail-backed sidedecks, and second sunpad on the foredeck. I like the split bowrail, too, if only for offloading passengers to a harbour wharf for last-minute supplies or takeaway dinner to go.

There are electric winch for hands-free anchoring, nice big recessed cleats that make other production sportscruisers look sissy, and trick silver-highlighted engine vents in keeping with the racy black, silver and white external styling. Indeed, the integrated deck design gives the impression the Bavaria 28 has been designed from the keel up rather than cobbled together, in much the same way you might pick an architect-designed house from one done by a builder. Everything is built-in yet the thoroughfare through and around the boat remains unfettered.




Below decks, headroom is 1.85m but it quickly tapers towards the bow, where the dinette and V-shaped lounge convert to an impromptu double bed. With a separate and private aft cabin with transverse double, and a two-person lounge, you can sleep a family of four aboard. That's relevant, as entry-level sportscruisers like this have traditionally been the currency of aspirational family boaters who, given a good experience, often work back up the range.

The amidships saloon, meanwhile has a portside galley with fridge, two-burner electric hob, sink and plenty of cupboard space. But we would add an inverter, more battery power, and a microwave oven to our Bavaria 28 Sport. The nearby head is surprisingly roomy and, we're told, an electric loo will be standard in future. The manual shower sump pump is a little different, but plenty of opening portlights (and the forward escape hatch), all with shade and insect screens, ensure the interior is well ventilated and illuminated.

Back up top, the highlight of the sporty carbon-fibre-look dash is the smart multifunction press-button control pad that operates everything from stereo to windscreen wiper to navigation lights. The helm seat has a flip-up bolster for extra legroom when driving on your feet, which is where this writer preferred to be while dashing around Sydney Heads on a brisk winter's day. With the covers down, we looked pretty cool in the literal sense, too. Incidentally, the boat was presold to a Melbourne owner.

Additional electronics were to be fitted, headed by a Raymarine C70 plotter, but with the EVC electronic engine monitoring giving fuel consumption, trip and range on the analogue engine gauges, Volvo Penta's QL trim tabs and an electronic gear shift at the ready, the boat was rearing to go. A quick check of the engineroom under the cockpit sole, home to a single instead of twins, revealed servicing room to burn.








The 28 Sport was responsive with just a single 320hp V8 in the tail. At 2750rpm the boat planes at 12kts, at 3000rpm you can hold a heavy-weather cruise of 14kts, and you will clock a comfortable family clip of 21kts at 3500rpm for 51lt/h fuel burn. The sweet spot was 3750rpm for 25.2kts and 54lt/h up to 4000rpm for 27.6kts and 62lt/h. All the while noise levels were nice and low and vision, despite the low windscreen, was pretty clear when seated.

Top speed was 36.4kts and it was then that the boy racer was fully unleashed within. Go sportscruising, or cruise with the clan, take a look at a new port of call, or fang around your favourite waterway. While modest, this German-made 28 punches above its weight and ushers in a new class of sportscruiser. And we hope she's a portent to renewed confidence in the rank and file of pleasureboaters.




$175,000 w/ single 320hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GXIE-EVC and Comfort II Package, plus options




Bowthruster, canopies, covers, and a special factory incentive Comfort II Package including teak cockpit floor, cockpit fridge, trim tabs, battery charger, hot water, stereo upgrade and more




$175,000 w/ single 320hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GXIE-EVC and above package bonuses




MATERIAL: Solid GRP below waterline, foam-filled top sides and deck
TYPE: Deep-vee monohull
BEAM: 2.99m
DRAFT: 0.5m (leg up)
WEIGHT: 4000kg (dry)




FUEL: 520lt
WATER: 120lt




MAKE/MODEL: Volvo Penta 5.7 GXIE-EVC
TYPE: Fuel-injected V8
DRIVE: Aquamatic sterndrive with Duoprop




Ensign Ship Brokers,
Suite 2, Smiths Marina, The Spit,
Mosman, NSW, 2088
Phone: (02) 9960 2799.




We're pleased to report that the best feature of the old Bavarias - their sports performance - remains unchanged. The 28 Sport is foremost a fun machine in keeping with the first half of its sportscruiser tag (if not the reputation of most German conveyances). The great handling defies the boat's high volume. Even though the 28 Sport offers a lot of boat for your buck, bundled into a modest footprint, it doesn't wallow. All told, a great package and the 28 Sport was nominated for European Boat of the Year 2010, an honour eventually won by its BMW-designed 46ft sister ship.


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