One thing Prestige Yachts knows how to do is combine luxury with affordability. A perfect example of that is this 500S. Here is a boat with a luxurious layout, boat garage, and three private staterooms including a full beam owner's suite. As for the price, we think this is one of the more positive stories about getting value for your hard-earned money.
|Length Overall||49' 10'' / 15.2 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||5.8 sec.|
|0 to 30||15.3 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, fuel: 3/5, no water, gear: minimal|
|Climate||Temp: 87 deg., humid: 78%, wind: 10-15 mph, seas: calm|
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 D6
The Prestige line of boats has a distinct mission in the Jeanneau family of yachts: to provide superior performance in a coastal cruising powerboat that has an enduring nautical style, maximum living spaces, and incorporating virtually all of the amenities available in class that a real cruising couple or family could want.
Prestige Yachts’ mission is to do all of the above, and much more, at a price point significantly below its primary competition. The result is that the Prestige 500S is a boat that can be appreciated by veteran yachtsmen who know a price-worthy boat when they see one.
Our test boat was powered by twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 propulsion systems. The 500S's maximum speed on test day was 34.3 mph (29.8 knots). At this speed she was burning 42.5 gph (161.5 lph) and has a range of 217 nautical miles.
Best cruise was found at 2250 rpm where the boat was just over the hump on plane going 16.8 mph (14.6 knots), burning 14.5 gph (54.9 lph), getting exactly 1.0 nmpg for a range of 311 nautical miles. I suspect most boaters will want to cruise her a bit faster, say, at 2750 where we found her going 20.0 knots and getting .89 nmpg.
For a complete report on the performance of the Prestige 500S click on the "Test Report" tab at the top of this page…
Sound Readings -- No Shouting Please
As if simply being on and in the 500S wasn't pleasing enough, wait till you get her away from the dock. Not only was this one of the easiest handling boats I've been on, but she was also one of the quietest. At full throttle, the sound level maxed out at only 79 dBa. As a comparison, normal conversation is 75 dBa.
That means as you power along at 29.8 kts max speed, you'll be able continue a conversation with the occupants of the salon at the same time.
Stability has to be the key word as any wakes or chop we encountered didn't even cause me to spill my soda while still taking a sip at any time. Visibility was great with just a 10 degree bow rise during acceleration, and a 5-degree bow high attitude during cruise.
Turning performance was consistent with IPS drives that limit their travel at cruise speeds. There are no power turns when cruising, nor should there be. If you want to turn hard, slow down and let the drives increase their throw, and your guests will also be more appreciative.
Perhaps the biggest difference in handling is the fact that with IPS you have no rudder, which is an ancient piece of technology if there ever was one. Instead you have four props on two drives that articulate to take you where you want to go with the authority never before experienced with conventional steering.
Starting at the swim platform, we find ample room for sitting, sunning, or even adding deck chairs. It measures 14' 6" (4.42 m) by 3' (.91 m) with teak decking as standard both on the platform and the cockpit. To starboard is a four-step reboarding ladder, and a grab handle is provided for hauling yourself over that last step aboard. There's even a lower handle, and a handle over to port, for additional persons in the water to hang onto while the first comes aboard.
At the starboard aft bulkhead is a small hatch housing a quick-connect fresh water washdown, and a shelf for storage and controls for a Glendenning cable reel. A convenient safety item is a stainless steel grab rail running across the back of the cockpit seat. Big 14" (35.6 cm) cleats are mounted up high out of the trip zone. Our test boat was even equipped with an aft-facing camera so the captain is able to see the platform as well as how close the dock is when backing into a slip or perhaps up against a seawall.
Boarding the boat:
You can access the cockpit from either the port or starboard side of the platform. A retractable passerelle is tucked into the riser of the second step on the port side. The auxiliary controls are on the port bulkhead in the cockpit. A retractable handrail is included as well. We like the passerelle being retractable as they simply take up far too much room laying across the stern. High marks to Prestige for that feature.
Garage Door For Dinghy
A touch of a button at the side of the cockpit actuates the garage door lift. No changes to the cockpit seating are necessary to open the garage, short of asking your guests to get up for a moment.
Inside is room for a 10' (3.05 m) tender with an outboard attached. Rollers flip down to allow for launching and retrieval without marring the tender or the 500S. Fully forward is an electric winch that is remotely operated. I was also pleased to see that there is a deck drain in the garage, so not only will the wet boat not cause puddles, but you can feel free to wash down your tender once it is aboard.
With the Mediterranean flair that the 500S exudes, I was surprised, and pleased (fair skinned Irish, remember), to see that there was no sun pad in the cockpit, but a large settee and table. But of course the sun worshippers will be able to lower a table to accommodate a filler cushion allowing a sun pad conversion in a jiff. If you still need shade, there's an option for a retractable awning that will serve well.
To the starboard side of the cockpit in the pylon is a recessed optional control station with an IPS joystick and a bow thruster control.
There are three hatches in the cockpit deck. The outboard hatches give you access to the engine room, the center hatch gives you access to the tender, so you can go ahead and load supplies before you launch it.
The portside has a warping winch as standard, an option for a starboard side winch is available. In addition to the beefy cleats, there are stainless steel chocks with integrated rollers at the bow and stern.
Stepping down from the cockpit will place you on either side of the twin Volvo Penta IPS600 diesels. It's cramped to be sure, but you'll have no problem accessing for daily engine checks. Part of the allure of IPS, aside from the joystick handling, is the amount of space that is allowed in the boat, and Prestige takes full advantage of that feature, not only with the tender garage, but with added accommodations.
On the forward bulkhead are the dual fuel tanks. Both have the fuel filters mounted directly to the tanks. The port tank also has the battery charger attached; the starboard had the automatic fire suppression system attached.
I'm always happy to see side decks integrated into a design. It makes the task of line handling so much easier. On the 500S there is 15.5" (39.4 cm) of walk space between the rails and the cabin sides. That's enough to maneuver without having to turn sideways. I was also pleased to see that Prestige more than exceeds minimum standards with 28" (71.1 cm) of rail height. An additional rail runs along the top of the cabin, and yes, there is another grab handle for remaining safe while stepping into the cockpit.
There is a large sun pad in the bow that will lie flat, or if desired, with the head elevated in chaise lounge style. If you are enjoying the view but desire shade, a fold-away cabana will pop up and provide you with just what you need.
Luxury Meets Affordability
All through our tour of the 500S we see signs of how Prestige managed a nice balance of luxury mixed with affordability. The teak cockpit table looks nice but isn't finished. The aft settee isn't leather but a vinyl that stands up better to the elements. These balances continue as we move into the main salon.
Prestige went with a theme of days above deck and the nights below. To that end, they've included an aft galley in their main salon layout. This does an extraordinary job of keeping the chef as an integral part of the gathering, even while preparing light snacks or a full meal.
The affordability comes into play mainly in the counters which are not granite or Corian, but resin. Not only does this save a lot of money for the buyer, but these counters won't crack under pressure, nor stain as easily. The three-burner electric stove is recessed into the counter, eliminating the need for sea rails, but I'd like to see a micro cutoff switch installed so that power is cut when the covers are in place. The wood is all grain matched and made from a remanufactured material called Alpi that looks elegant while, again, keeping the price down.
Opening a wood door also opened the refrigerator door. The freezer is just above.
Opposing seating in the salon keeps everyone in the conversational zone. A table with flip-out leaves will turn the area into an impromptu dining area. All the windows are low enough to be able to see the horizon from the seated position, which does a surprisingly good job of keeping your more land-based guests comfortable. Affordability comes into play again with the leather seats that are durable, but not as butter soft to the touch as Ultraleather... another fair compromise. A flat screen TV is in a retractable lift on the forward dash. The salon features 6' 6" (1.98 m) of headroom.
The helm is just a step up from the salon deck. A modern layout features twin Raymarine E120 widescreen displays with an autopilot in between. Analog tachs above lie to either side of my favorite gauge, a rudder angle indicator, which I find useful even with IPS.
A selectable EVC display to the right of the helm gives you readouts of the operating parameters, and you can customize this screen to show exactly what you'd like to see to maximize your operational economy and range.
To the right is the Volvo Penta digital engine control that adds features such as engine sync and cruise control. The trim tabs’ control unit is just ahead, and I found them necessary only to correct the boat's tendency to lean into the 15 mph crosswind. Next to the tabs control is a bow thruster joystick.
At first I questioned the logic of having a bow thruster in a pod driven boat, but as it turns out, being able to move just the bow made a surprising difference when the maneuvering area begins to close in to extremes, as is the case with a Med-moor. And since this is a direct response to customer requests, we give high marks to Prestige for adding this feature as standard.
Forward of the bow thruster is the IPS joystick. As usual it features dual settings giving you both high and low power settings. I found high to be necessary when we were maneuvering with a 15 mph crosswind running with a strong current. Low power was only enough to hold position, high allowed me to move against it. Once I was approaching the dock, I switched to low power to lay up against the dock.
A surprising feature was the rubberized paint that Prestige uses on the dash panel that does an outstanding job of keeping glare off the panel. Four rows of rocker switches allow you to control everything easily, including the opening side windows which were a godsend when docking.
And of course I have to complain about something, so here it's the position of the climate controls, and the bow spotlight remote control. They are both to the right of the helm below the engine controls. More than once, I managed to hit the climate control and move it from cool to heat. Having the spotlight remote moved over to the port side of the helm allows the observer to have a hand in the night navigation.
With the sunroof open you're looking at 36 sq ft. (3.34 sq m) of wide open space bringing the outdoors in. Combine this with the wide, dual opening aft sliding doors, as well as the electrically actuated side windows and you are enjoying a lot of fresh air indeed.
A center mounted companionway will allow access to the forward accommodations. The steps feature courtesy lighting, and they lift to access a combination washer/dryer. To port is a guest stateroom with twin berths, with 6' 6" (1.98 m) of head room at the foot of the berths dropping down to 5' 3" (1.6 m). A large hullside window allows natural light in and an opening portlight is embedded in it for ventilation. A separate climate control is offered for each stateroom.
Another nice tradeoff between luxury and affordability is the overhead that is a combination of upholstery and textured fiberglass.
This stateroom features 5' 9" (1.75 m) of headroom and twin berths again. Of course this will be fine for siblings, but for married couples, not so much. That's why the two twin berths pivot at the head to form a single queen sized berth. Natural light comes from dual portlights in addition to an overhead hatch.
The forward VIP has private access to the shared head. Another entrance is in the companionway for the guest stateroom access and for use from the salon. The head features ample storage in overhead cabinets with mirrored doors. Prestige added significant space by eliminating a separate shower stall, but added fold-away shower doors instead. An opening portlight adds ventilation. The sink is a basin on top of the counter with modular fixtures.
The Master Stateroom
The Prestige 500S was designed specifically around the Volvo Penta IPS600 engines and as such they were able to not only design in two private staterooms forward, but alos a huge, full beam master suite aft. The companionway to the master is directly across from the aft galley. A privacy door is at the bottom of the stairs.
A queen sized island berth is not only in the center of the stateroom, but it is situated at the boat's center of gravity, which will provide maximum comfort when sleeping at anchor. There is 3' 6" (1.07 m) of headroom over the berth, dropping down to 2' 10" (.6 m) over the pillows. Large hullside windows have opening portlights integrally mounted. To port is booth style seating with a vanity concealed in the desktop. A flat screen is mounted on the forward bulkhead and it's connected to a Bose Premier sound system.
Overall this boat was a joy to test. I've been a longtime fan of Prestige Yachts, and my time spent onboard the 500S just reminded me why. If I had to come up with a single theme of the boat, if not the whole line in general, it would have to be a balance of luxury and affordability.