Riviera 395 SUV Boat Review

Mark Rothfield tests the new Riviera 395 SUV on the Gold Coast. It’s a very roomy one level boat for the family and also a surprisingly good sea boat. Mark also talks to Riviera Marketing Manager Stephen Milne on how the 395 came about.

Mark Rothfield: Hello. I'm Mark Rothfield, a Club Marine boat tester hard at work here on the Gold Coast. Today's office is the new Riviera 395 SUV. It's a very interesting little boat, and we've just been offshore in it. Surprisingly good as a sea boat, and it's also a very roomy boat as well for the family., great couple boat as well.

ith me today is Steven Milne, who's the Riviera marketing manager and Steven, if you could, tell us a little bit about the history of the boat. How did this one evolve? When in recent times we've been seeing bigger and better from Riviera.

Steven Milne: First of all, thanks Mark. Let me tell you a little bit about the story of what an SUV is. And basically, it's a flybridge design hull and it's a flybridge open cockpit, as you can see, without any moulded furniture and so on. But it's also this great one-level living. So it's a flybridge boat with all the benefits offshore and big cockpit without a flybridge.

So an SUV, we call it, it's a crossover, basically, of two different styles of boats, between a flybridge boat and a sport yacht. And our clients that are drawn to SUVs are people that are perhaps coming out of flybridge boats, they've had bigger boats all their life, family's grown up, kids have moved away, so they're looking for something a little bit smaller. And perhaps also with the knees and hips and all those things, they're easier boats to get around, but also too, at this size level, and we're very excited, 'cause this is the first under 40 foot boat we've launched in almost a decade. There's a whole new generation of Riviera owners coming up to the Riviera family. So this is a wonderful boat that's an entrée into our family.

Mark Rothfield: To me it's a sporty ... It's almost like one of those really pimped up, nicely pimped up double cabin utes, lots of fun out the back for your toys, and you can fish. You can put tables up and party. But you've also got the bit of luxury up front.

Steven Milne: You've got two cabins, one fantastic bathroom. So for two cruising couples, it's ideal. Or for a family with three kids, it's perfect. So it's a very, very versatile boat from that point of view. So it's kind of the best of indoor outdoor living, which is what we do so well in Australia with.

Mark Rothfield: Yeah, how come you did look ... You have been going bigger. And some of the boats we've seen have had quite high price tags. This is the first Riv I've seen in quite while that it's affordable for the new generation of Riv buyer coming through.

Steven Milne: Now it's time to put some real energy into that sub 40 foot part of the market and bring people into our family and welcome them into Riviera and this is a perfect boat.

The SUV has the latest of technology. So it's not only a state of the art design, but we've got joystick steering. We've got digital control switching. We've got glass cockpit navigation at the helm. We've got Volvo Penta IPS fuel economy, whisper-quiet performance. So a lot of people are coming here wanting this style of boat, this size of boat, and with the confidence of having a five-year warranty, which is what we offer standard on all of these boats that are Volvo powered. So it's absolutely set and forget.

Mark Rothfield: You never know what you're going to get when you hop on a boat such as this. A 40 foot is not a big boat sometimes in a seaway, but this handled extremely well, has a lot of V upfront to cut through the waves, it has a really nice stability about it, great through curves. I was really impressed too with that mid-range acceleration. It has a lot of punch thanks to those IPS. We were running 28 knots offshore in a decent swell and if you're in Sydney Harbour or in Melbourne, you got to get somewhere in a hurry, you can do it in this boat. It'll stay dry, it'll be seaworthy, and it also, importantly, doesn't use a whole lot of fuel. Really nice boat on the helm, so from a point ... a couple could manage it no problems whatsoever as well. But even birthing, IPS will make this so much easier to come in and out of marinas.

I was really impressed with it as a sea boat, it's got that blue water heritage and people in this category would be time poor, they need to get away on a Saturday after cricket or netball and it's the sort of boat you can escape down the coast, drop anchor, and start immediately relaxing.

Steven Milne: That's right. I mean, the wonderful thing about Riverias is that they will give you the confidence to take yourselves anywhere on one of our boats. And these owner trips that we run up and down the coast, often we've got owners that come on those for the first time and they might have a smaller boat and they think, "Oh, I've never been out to sea before," and they cruise in company, and they all of a sudden realize the potential of what their boat is capable of doing. This boat could easily take you to Hamilton Island or down to Sydney for summer, whatever you wanted to do. An immensely capable boat.

So it just means you'd need to spend a bit of time, get confidence, understand your boat, and then the world is your oyster.