There’s been a happy marriage since 2017 of instantly recognizable Finnish boat builder Axopar and Brabus, the renowned upgrader of high-performance luxury cars, to produce boats that give a shot of adrenaline to the sports-weekender market. And the relationship shows no signs of slowing down. We’ve got our shot at putting this boat through its paces scheduled for after the Miami show, and to be honest, it’s a test we can’t wait for. Based on our previous experience with this winning combination, this is going to be one test drive we won’t want to end.
- Powered by twin Mercury Pro XS 250
- Available in Platinum Grey, White Grey, and Glacier Blue
- Available seat fabric/sun pad cushion colors: BRABUS Red or BRABUS Cappuccino
- Twin stepped 20-degree V "Sharp entry hull"
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||3.1 sec.|
|0 to 30||5.7 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||67 deg., 25 humid; wind: 15-20; seas: 0|
2 x 250-hp Mercury Pro XS
2 x 250-hp Mercury Pro XS
By Capt. Steve Larivee
When two powerhouse companies combined to make an exclusive range of high-performance boats, industry insiders knew this was a marriage for the ages. Axopar builds the boats that are not only instantly recognizable but thrilling to drive. Brabus fine tunes luxury performance cars that raise the bar on excellence and style. These two premium level companies are the foundation of Brabus Marine, and the results are extraordinary.
“Every boat is hand-crafted to the highest standards using the finest materials, technology and engineering” according to Brabus. Now clearly these boats aren’t for everyone. There’s a significant up-charge to a Brabus upgrade. But for those longing for quality and performance combined… welcome to Brabus.
First things first… This Brabus 500 Shadow is built on the foundation of the Axopar 28 hull. This was among the first Axopar models we tested and it blew our most senior test captain away with its outstanding handling characteristics. Its twin stepped 20-degree deadrise hull and sharp entry allowed it to handle offshore conditions on test day in an unbelievable manner. Now while we haven’t tested this new Shadow 500, there’s no reason to believe that things will be any different. These boats are a different breed and their handling and maneuvering abilities are second to none.
Starting at the bow, the seating is a bit uncharacteristic from the usual V-Seating that we usually see. On the Shadow 500, and for that matter, the rest of the Axopar models, there is seating that runs along the port side and across the bow. The starboard side is left for transiting the space to the bow anchor locker and forward cleats making a fair and clever compromise between utility and space. A pedestal table that stores under the seating, adjacent to point of use, can be added to increase functionality, also allow for a conversion to a forward sun pad. Padded bolsters measuring 9” (22.86 cm) in height wrap around the entire area. Under a deck hatch there’s access to the power steering pump, the bow thruster and the boat’s 42.28 gallon (40L) capacity blackwater tank.
A bowrail is raised 5” (12.70 cm) from the caprail and elevated further to 9” (22.86 cm) where it flanks the anchor locker. Forward, a hatch opens with a turn and lock latch and is held open with a gas assist strut. Inside is an optional Side Power windlass ($6,003). The polished stainless 16.53 lb. (7.5 kg) anchor rides in a recessed stainless-steel roller that flips out to extend beyond the stem and allows the hatch to be closed when deployed. Controls for the windlass are right alongside the hatch and to starboard. Two 8” (20.32 cm) cleats are to the sides and under the elevated rails. One unusual design feature is the location of the shore power connection fully forward, and under the bow seating. As part of the Brabus upgrade, the square stitched upholstery with multiple densities of foam support is ever-present.
At the front of the deck house, a hatch opens on a lift and lock latch and is held open with a magnetic catch. An aluminum trimmed step at the top is branded with the Brabus logo. The head compartment is accessed via two 14” (35.56 cm) steps. To starboard, there’s a solid surface counter with a sink recessed into it with contemporary fixtures. Plumbing access is underneath. The porcelain toilet is electric flush.
The helm of the Shadow 500 is uncluttered thanks to the integration of the two 12” (30.48 cm) Garmin MFDs (Multi-Function Displays) gracing the main panel. An extended Navigation Package ($6,440) is available. The console is offset to starboard with the engine controls mounted nearly vertically. The 7” (17.78 cm) VesselView display is to the left of the wheel. And this wheel deserves some mention as it is clearly an upgrade in the Brabus fashion. Much like a high-end steering wheel in luxury cars, this one is fitted with controls to both sides of the hub for controlling things such as engine trim, trim tabs, stereo controls, and most notably, the bow thruster.
To the far left of the helm is a stainless and leather grab rail below a triple set of beverage holders and a recessed area for putting “stuff”. Observer and operator seats are on elevated platforms with storage underneath. Both seats include flip armrests trimmed in carbon fiber, molded storage pockets behind as well as the upgraded upholstery ala Brabus.
The windshield wraps around from behind the operator’s shoulder, and across to the other side. Curves in the windshield offer zero distortion, and the entire assembly is framed in black powder-coated tube stock.
Behind the helm and observer’s seats are four-across seats that can be configured in either individual seats or with a single two-across center seat. The Brabus upgrades are still present with the all-weather square-stitched upholstery.
Overhead choose from a Targa Arch ($1,462), or a full T-top ($6,003) to cover the entire helm and aft seating areas.
The stern of the Shadow 500 can be configured in one of three ways. The area can be left open for a roomier layout. An aft cabin ($13,317) creates a sleeping area under a large sun pad. Owners can also opt for a wet bar ($6,003) if a more entertainment themed platform is desired. Decking is all rubberized matting, trimmed in black pinstriping and includes the Shadow 500 logo. A hatch in the center allows for roomy storage, and lest one think that this is too small for skis and boards, fear not. A center section continues for over 6’ (1.83m) forward under the deck.
The aft cabin is under the sun pad and has been completely designed and outfitted by Brabus. It includes illuminated plates on the entrance threshold, ambient LED lighting, reading lights, floor lights, and leather carpeting. The aft bulkhead includes a large mirror. The bed is made up of Alcantara pocket-spring construction. Black leather treatments with contrast thread make up the side bolsters and bulkhead panels. Optional heating is also available ($3,711).
All versions of the stern layout will have storage compartments to the stern quarters with top hatches that open with lift and lock latches. A pair of staple rails are ahead of the engines that have curves to the uprisers. This allows them to be reversible providing more cockpit space one way, and room to tilt the engines out of the water for the other.
A watersports towbar runs from one platform, over the engines, and down to the other platform. To the sides is modest room to transition from the aft deck and onto the two platforms. Power for the Shadow 500 is a pair of Merc 250 Verado FourStrokes.
Options and Pricing
The Brabus Shadow 500 has a base price of $183,276. It can be customized in one of three colors, Platinum Gray, White Gray, and Glacier Blue. It’s also offered in one of two interior colors, Brabus Red or Brabus Cappuccino. Interior layouts include an aft cabin or wet bar. The stern can also be left open. The four-across aft seating can consist of four individual seats or a double-wide center seat. Fully loaded she’ll run upwards of $221,264.
The Shadow 500 is next-level and it takes a boat with premier operating and maneuvering characteristics and pairs it with an upscale level of fit-and-finish. It really is the best of both worlds.
However, for those that aren’t satisfied with the upgrades that are included in this Brabus addition, well… Brabus can raise the bar even higher. There’s a black Ops Limited Edition, meaning only 28 models, that adds an in-depth focus on precision and finish nearly unheard of. Here, Brabus adds fairing, painting, and polishing in a labor-intensive level that utilizes no automation. Therefore, it takes six-weeks to reach the required level of finish. Oh, and you can get it in any color you want…. As long as it’s Gunmetal Grey. Base price… $249,000, $278,026 all in.