Jeanneau has changed direction with its new range of powerboats. Called the NC (New Concept) range, the design brings to market a stylish, one-level sportscruiser that offers all the comforts of home.
The NC 14 is the largest boat in the NC range and Jeanneau says the concept from the start was to produce "an apartment on the water, with a terrace and a sea view." Based on my own time on the boat, I'd say they ticked all the boxes.
The NC 14's distinctive blend of sharp lines and large, flat surfaces is pure European in design and reflects the contemporary, Euro-chic cruiser look. Base price is set at $649,000, although as tested, with numerous options, the price is $790,000.
Among the options on our test boat were larger D6 Volvo pod drives, a genset and air-conditioning, upgraded electronics, a hydraulic swim platform and an extra joystick control in the cockpit.
The NC 14's basic layout includes two cabins and an en suite head, although owners can have an additional head if preferred, as on our test craft.
The NC 14 is a study in versatility, an example being the U-shaped cockpit lounge and table, which can be reconfigured either forward or aft via a set of tracks on which the lounge is mounted.
Another example is the four-piece sliding saloon doors, which can be slid to either side of the door frame. When locked in the port side, the backrest of the saloon lounge can be repositioned to make it an aft-facing seat, which creates a feeling of one large, continuous space between the saloon and cockpit.
The galley has a compact and efficient layout, with plenty of stylish timber surfaces. It includes a fridge and two-burner electric cooktop, plus sink. Beneath is a large convection/microwave oven.
A flat-screen TV is hidden in the cabinet next to the cooktop. The options list on our test craft also included a satellite receiver and Foxtel connection.
Skippers and first mates will really appreciate the helm layout, which includes a large double seat with a flip-up bolster. Access to the forward deck is a breeze courtesy of a door directly to starboard of the helm.
There is a compact portside dinette adjacent to the helm. While it's ideal for dining couples, it can transform into a daybed that can be enhanced by opening up the large overhead sunroof.
Beneath decks the Jeanneau continues to impress. The aft guest cabin is a twin which, with the inclusion of the infill, transforms into a large double. There's hanging space and drawers for belongings and a pair of opening ports for ventilation. Added comfort comes in the form of optional air-conditioning on the test craft.
Access to the starboard side dayhead is off a small companionway leading from the saloon. It offers an electric toilet, shower and vanity.
Located forward, the owner's cabin boasts a large island bed that can transform effortlessly into two singles. It's flanked by a parcel shelf for convenience and also offers his and hers wardrobes and plenty of other storage options. Occupants enjoy access to a large en suite, with natural light provided courtesy of an elongated window.
One thing owners will not find lacking on the NC 14 is storage. With the compact pod drives positioned well aft, there is plenty of space beneath the saloon, which Jeanneau has turned into a utility room accessed via a hatch in the saloon floor. Inside, owners have the option of installing a washer/dryer, along with a second fridge or freezer.
The NC 14 embodies the modern European trend of a plumb bow and shallow draft. The combination of the shallow .75m draft and the NC 14's relatively light weight results in a boat that is easily driven and responsive to helm input. Transition to plane is easy, enhanced, no doubt, by the optional larger engines.
According to Jeanneau, it conducted extensive hydrodynamic testing on the hull to deliver maximum performance, while still producing a comfortable ride. Based on my time aboard, I think they achieved both objectives.
The NC 14 is the first of the New Concept range to get Volvo's IPS pod drive system. Standard it comes with the 300hp IPS 400 D4 arrangement, but our test craft boasted the upgraded 370hp D6 configuration.
While the pod drives allow more space in other areas of the boat, I found the engine room, which is accessed via a hatch in the cockpit, to be a little tight. While checking oil levels is relatively easy, more extensive maintenance could be challenging.
Running headlong into a choppy Port Phillip Bay, we found the best speed to be around 13 knots (24km/h) for the conditions. At this rate it was slurping around 60lt per hour, with the engines spinning at 2300rpm. The ride was comfortable, without too much slamming.
With the sea on our stern we gave it more throttle, resulting in a respectable 24 knots (44.5km/h), with fuel consumption at 100lt/hr. Top speed on the day was around 30 knots (55.5km/h).
Down-sea behaviour was exceptional, staying on track and comfortable under the trying conditions.
The NC 14 comes with Volvo's fly-by-wire control system, which provided instantaneous and smooth throttle input. It worked well with the light and fairly direct steering.
This craft is very user-friendly, easy to drive and manoeuvre, and is a comfortable boat that works well for overnighting and weekends aboard.
It's also a boat for all seasons, able to withstand the rigors of a hot summer with its large sunroof, sliding cockpit door and hydraulic swim platform encouraging the crew to embrace the great outdoors, while winters can be spent inside enjoying the warmth of the reverse-cycle air-conditioning.
Based on my time aboard, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of this chic style of boat tied up outside trendy restaurants or anchored in secluded bays in the future.
SPECIFICATIONS: JEANNEAU NC 14
Overall length: 13.93m
Hull length: 11.96m
Maximum draft: 0.75m
Dry displacement: 10,327kg
Fuel capacity: 900lt
Water capacity: 412lt
Holding tank capacity: 120lt
Berths: 4 plus 2
Engines (as tested): 2 x Volvo IPS 500 D6 370hp, Standard 2 x Volvo IPS 400 D4 300hp
Test craft supplied by: 38 South Boat Sales in Melbourne, tel (03) 9397 3855. Web: 38southboatsales.com.au, or: jeanneauaustralia.com.