REVIEW: HORIZON E56
The Horizon E56 heralds the company’s first foray into the magical world of Volvo Penta IPS pod-drives.
Although the Horizon E56 does belong to the Horizon Elegance range, of which we have most recently tested the exquisite E88, this boat seems to have a very different attitude.
Yes, like all the boats we have tested from the stable it is beautifully presented, with quality engineering underpinning the package. Yet for some reason, which could be attributed to its smaller size and pleasingly coloured hull, the E56 does appear more playful in nature.
It certainly has more sporty lines than most. The company’s considerable architectural talents coming to the fore with sweptback lines running from the front windscreen, across the flybridge and on well aft, ensuring the boat makes the most of its vertical volume without appearing disproportionately high as we sometimes see on other high-volume vessels in this size bracket.
The E56 is also the only vessel in the Horizon line-up featuring IPS pod drives.
In an attempt to stay out of the photographer’s way I choose to start my tour for’ard in the queen-sized V-berth. We often talk about modern vessel design making the most of the available natural light and in this case Horizon has lifted the bar a bit more. Most notable of the various light sources are large architecturally-designed overhead portlights. These windows to the world are a standout feature of this cabin, along with the inviting tones which include striking red highlights.
As expected the cabin offers all the expected entertainment amenities as well as a private en suite, although I did think the door setup to be slightly finicky.
Moving aft and on the port side, the E56 offers a cleverly laid-out twin-single cabin with bunks arranged at right angles to each other. Horizon has not had much space to play with in this room, so I was impressed at the amount of storage the perpendicular bunk setup allows for. Because the overhead hatch is sealed, adjustable fans are in place to ensure adequate ventilation.
Directly across the corridor is the dayhead. Many features impressed me here, not the least of which was the volume. The shower cubicle is truly oversized, as is the storage space behind the mirrored cupboard.
Yet again, even in this relative baby of the fleet, Horizon treats us with a master cabin so appealing it just feels wrong not to kick your shoes off and stretch out on the king-sized bed that forms the centrepiece.
The warm and contemporary tones are continued with natural light via oversized portlights augmented by subtle artificial backlighting from the overhead pelmet. Abundant storage in various custom-made items look the part and ensure no item of luggage ever finds an excuse to make its way to the floor.
In a slightly different configuration to the usual, the master en suite runs longitudinally up the starboardside wall. I really liked the use of stone tiling above the generous rectangular sinks.
The voluminous shower cubicle at the far end is certainly welcoming enough but it would benefit from an overhead rainforest-style showerhead rather than the smallish single head in place.
A quick trip back up the stairs and you enter a world of white and light. Wide windows and blue-tinted overhead skylights bathe the clean, almost surgically white benchtops of the galley in a fresh and invigorating light. Multiple food preparation surfaces, some of which could double as serveries, provide options for two or three cooks at a time with quality Miele, Westinghouse and Fisher & Paykel appliances on hand to deliver accuracy to the expectations of the crew.
A compact breakfast bar is available to one side of the oven top and while I personally prefer to enjoy my fruit and cereal out the back in the fresh air, I am sure this counter top will prove a good place to ensure the nippers get some fuel down early under the close supervision of mum.
Of all the living spaces on the Horizon E56 my favourite is the saloon. The flooded-light theme continues as does the inclusive use of colours. Both the black glass table and the matching overhead panel give a very modern feel, yet the soft furnishings take the edge off just enough to make it feel homely.
A two/three-seat settee with coffee tables sits opposite a generous L-shaped lounger with room for four. The black glass table in front of the main lounger sits on electrically operating lifters, so if company stays over after an evening entertaining an extra bed can be rustled up with little fuss. It would certainly be a comfy spot to take in the big game on what looks to be a 50in Samsung TV.
No boat "callin’ Australia home" can be without at least a partially serviceable outdoor entertainment centre. The E56 splits its alfresco options between the aft cockpit on the living deck and a full barbecue and dining centre upstairs on the flybridge.
I like the lower deck’s arrangement. It’s clean, simple and very comfortable with its plush, almost full-beam lounger and low-maintenance white table. A joystick controller for the IPS units is handy for single-person docking manoeuvres and a large freezer is in place to enhance what is available inside.
Access from here to the water couldn’t be easier either with twin enclosed stairwells leading to a large hydraulic swimplatform. A good-sized boot for wet toys is also available in the aft platform.
Moving forward to the sunbed on the bow is straightforward and safe thanks to the deep wells and high stainless steel rail-capped gunwales. The essential drinkholders are in place either side of the sunbed and to be honest, the whole space portrays more Horizon elegance with small details like the fully enclosed anchoring system ensuring any of the more utilitarian features are kept out of sight.
IPS POD DRIVES
If there is one thing I have learnt about IPS pod-drive systems from my multiple experiences behind the wheel of boats powered by them, it’s that you should expect to be impressed. Whatever your view of the technology there is no arguing the performance these systems deliver relative to the fuel economy realised. Climbing in behind the sporty wheel – which is somewhat controversially located on the port side of the bridge – and getting comfortable in the custom Horizon-branded helm seat, I was expecting much of the same.
With a slightly confused sea still settling after a preceding low-pressure system, it would have been no surprise to experience a jaw-shaking ride, given we were travelling in excess of 30kts. Instead the ride was as predictable as it was dry, the fine entry at the waterline making short work of any humps and bumps while the high gunwales deflected the spray. At times it was clear that any crosswind would have blown spray across the bow, but any boat will do the same on the wrong day.
Interestingly, it was in the hard turns that the E56 performed its best trick. Many pod-driven vessels have a tendency to lean disconcertedly into the apex of a corner, where instead the little Horizon maintained a mostly upright stance.
Back in the harbour, a quick play with the IPS joystick threw no surprises, just the usual precise fingertip control although I am slightly bemused by the location of the joystick so far to the starboard side.
THE TRADE-A-BOAT VERDICT
With the E56, Horizon Motor Yachts has opened itself up to a whole new segment of the boating market. In the 50 to 60-foot flybridge class, this boat would have to be one of the most practical and beautifully designed boats around. As such it offers a genuine alternative in one of Australia’s most popular styles of vessel.
› Unique blend of white-boat elegance with the functionality of a 56-foot flybridge cruiser
› Excellent use of glass to create a sense of light and space
› Nice use of colour externally and internally with the soft furnishings
› Class-leading engineroom layout
› Surprising performance under IPS power
› Slightly tricky access to the forward en suite
› Showerhead could be larger in the master en suite
› Portside flybridge control
HORIZON E56 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
TYPE Displacement monohull
LENGTH 17.39m (overall); 13.62m (waterline)
WEIGHT 24,000kg (light ship)
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta IPS900
RATED HP 700 (each)
Horizon Motor Yachts Australia,
31 Masthead Way,
Sanctuary Cove, QLD, 4212
Phone: +61 7 5577 9009; freecall 1300 885 056 (Aust. only); after-hours sales, Sean 0400 206 224, Wayne 0418 767 260, Steve 0418 865 163
Adapted from Trade-A-Boat #445, October / November 2013
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