Settle in for the long haul

Riviera's new 565 SUV has been designed for comfortable cruising, writes David Lockwood.

Riviera's new 565 SUV has been designed for comfortable cruising, writes David Lockwood.

Riviera's latest sports utility vessel is true to its name. A people-mover, an off-roader, an entertainer and an outdoor stage, the 565 SUV has been designed to do a bit of everything you can throw at it.

The Melbourne boater whose vision inspired this new-generation Riviera sought an all-inclusive cruiser to share his boating passion with. So he ordered four high-backed luxury helm chairs where there are normally just two fronting the windscreen. Now his close friends are treated to the same first-class travel.

Below decks is bunk sleeping for four in the bow, whereas the standard boat has an island berth for only a couple. The owners get to luxuriate in the private full-beam stateroom, with enlarged windows framing the ocean views, while a third cabin boosts sleeping to eight. That might come in handy at holiday time.

Onboard life is destined to revolve around the outdoor setting, in particular the custom barbecue concealed in the cockpit table. With an extended awning, the lunch setting is also shaded from the sun.

Crew will also welcome the broad walk-around decks, not only for mooring duties but also the obligatory sundowners.

With extra long-range refrigeration, an upgraded inverter for generator-free power, hydraulic swim platform for snappy tender dispatch and a generous aft galley with awning window, the 565 SUV is ready for some serious trailblazing.

Since Rodney Longhurst bought Riviera just over a year ago, he has focused foremost on quality. Although ours was just a quick whirl around the Gold Coast, it didn't take long to grasp the SUV concept.

Under way, the boat is a chariot designed to stir the adventurous spirit. The deep windscreen and abundant saloon glass give unfettered views, while the big array of cutting-edge electronics fights for attention. There's even a special night-vision camera to help you navigate after dark.

Natural ventilation from side-opening windows and sliding roof hatches add to the comfort, or you can close the doors and dial up the airconditioning. Either way, running noise is noticeable by its absence, thanks in part to the underwater exhausts.

Evidently, more and more owners are opting for single-level boats to cruise with company. Yet don't mistake a lack of flying bridge for a shortfall in seaworthiness. Riviera's SUV range - released at the Sydney International Boat Show last year with the 445 SUV sister ship - has proven form.

The 565 SUV shares the same hull, accommodation and engineering as the 53 Enclosed Flybridge, only it's less imposing to command, with reduced windage.

The twin Volvo Penta IPS 900s (D11 700-horsepower engines) with pod drives include a joystick docking device at the helm. The test boat also had port and starboard cockpit stations so you could berth the boat short-handed.

Weighing in a tonne lighter than the 53, the 565 SUV is snappy out of the blocks. With half fuel, half water and four adults, top speed is officially 32 knots at 2420rpm with a wide-open throttle.

The 2000rpm setting gives a cruising speed of 24.4 knots for an optimum 477 nautical miles range, with 10 per cent of the fuel in reserve. At 1800rpm heavy-weather cruise you're doing 19.7 knots for a safe range of 453 nautical miles. That's Sydney to the Gold Coast on one tank, or a stack of even more inspiring destinations further afield.

A seasoned cruising buff took delivery of his almost-$2 million new boat soon after our Gold Coast trials and headed as far north as time allowed.

The 565 SUV is now back at the Coomera factory on the Gold Coast for its official unveiling during next week's Riviera Festival. See

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