Despite initially judging the boat by its lines, Kevin Smith is now an avid fan of this European centre console
There are boats that blow you away. Then there’s the latest Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution. That’s all I could say, thinking back to the childlike smirk I had after testing this adrenaline-packed beast of a centre console from Europe.
Now, there are also many boats that spin a quick head and earn the nod of approval based on aesthetics. However, a first glance at this boat creates a mind-spinning brain debate about its design and dress code.
Rewinding a few years to when I first saw an Axopar, I had a moment where I went “what the hell is that?” Futuristic is an understatement. The Axopar’s eye-opening design had me in awe, as the styling and lines seem to flow from all continents. It’s like a hybrid design of nautical, crossed with military and aeronautical — even robotic — bundled together with high performance and a classy entertainers’ layout packed with surprises in every corner and curve.
Before getting into what’s no doubt one of my favourite tests of all time — which is pretty strange when you consider these boats are not the standard dedicated sports fishing weapons I frequent and favour — I’ll sum it up to entice you to read on. Sporty, sexy and innovative, this ideal entertainer with ice-cutting handling and 700hp of grunt is a boat I would be keen to somehow trick up to suit offshore sport fishing.
Starting with adventure, you most certainly need a layout to suit and the Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution is not lacking in that department. You get on board via the port or starboard extended boarding platforms, then through the open transom — an interesting design that eliminates the need for a transom door. I can see the benefits of an open transom — easy access when boarding, swimming, and diving — but I would personally prefer a closed false transom of sorts. The gunwales, slightly lower than standard for a boat of this size, are also noticeable; however, they are a comfortable height and finished with a full black-trimmed grab rail.
The clean, non-slip, self-draining deck, plethora of storage hatches spread throughout the boat, and abundance of stylish seating stood out. At this stage, my mind was spinning already, and I wasn’t sure what to look at first. Touching on the storage, the port and starboard side gunwale/stern side hatches caught my attention, as my fishing brain envisaged them as live wells with built-in tuna tubes. That’s not the case on here, but they’re still great storage for fenders and other gear and apparently can be optioned to live-wells.
Dual colossal sized flush-mount hatches run forward beneath the wet bar to the mid-ships. These hatches transform into the aft cabin module below deck if optioned. As you move forward storage hatches are built into every nook and cranny, all serving a dedicated purpose. In fact there’s too many to list, but be assured, there’s a spot for all your gear and more onboard.
The stern-facing wet bar was optioned on this one and as a day boat entertainer/cruiser or even semi-fishing boat, it’s a definite must for me. Having a plumbed sink and built-in fridge cooler and cooker allows you to take the master chef to the water. Just visualise fresh fish, seafood or even a fat steak being cooked up while sinking a few cold bevvies with family or mates.
The stylish seating is also worth a mention. This 37 was optioned with the triple seat option up against the stern, as well as four seats positioned at the mid-ship dining table under the protection of the sunroof. Another three seats at the helm provide 10 dedicated seats for the 10-person capacity. The material quality stands out and I liked that the helm seats swivel 180 degrees, creating a perfect full dining area when the table is opened out.
HELM AND CABIN
The helm caters for three as mentioned. Noticing the slide-out drawers below the seats I had a quick look, only to find dedicated port and starboard fridges built in. Looking forward, the dash layout is as sexy as they come, and optioned with the Simrad GPS/Sonar glass panel and matte black trimming, it’s as classy as a superyacht dash.
The screen is at half height to the hard-top and full clear options are available — an option I would opt for to enable all-season use and for more protection when the weather turns foul.
The aerodynamically angled hard-top protecting the helm extends back to the wet bar, and rather than an electronically actuated fibreglass sunroof, Axopar provide a canvas version, which I quite like as it opened further for extra ventilation and reduces a fair amount of unnecessary weight.
Opening up the port-side helm door drops you into the separate head with vanity. This area can also be optioned with a shower and although it’s not superyacht size, it’s ample and a great feature to have onboard. You then step into the V-berth consisting of a fair-sized double berth with dual side seats, a bit of storage space, and an interesting glass top with gull-wing side openings. Again, the innovation is something on these boats, and this keeps the cabin nice and light and would allow for open ventilation. For Queensland overnighters I would look at a custom mozzie screen of sorts. Alternatively you could fit up an air conditioner as there’s plenty of storage space onboard to house a generator.
There’s also the extra cabin berth option available. For a small family this would be a good option, or you could look at the full cabin version arriving soon.
Moving to the bow via the cab walkaround, there’s another small entertaining area that includes a bow lounger/seat with a drop-in table, an anchor hatch with a windlass, extra storage space for gear, and a raised bow rail.
With a few accessories to suit, any boat is fishable in my opinion. Primarily designed as an adventure and cruising centre console, the 37 might not come across as the ideal offshore sport fishing weapon. However, I reckon you could have the best of all worlds by adding live-well options to the stern and converting the rear seating to some form of tackle station — it would be really nice if Axopar came up with a moulded closed transom option suited to angling.
As a walkaround centre console you would have 360 degrees of fishability, and whether it be bottom fishing, popping for GTs, or trolling the shelf for marlin and tuna, you could do it all comfortably. Add the 30–40 knot offshore cruise speed to the mix and you’ll get to your favourite offshore grounds in no time.
EFFICIENT HULL DESIGN
So, the Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution is scoring pretty high with its innovative layout, but does it have the equivalent ride and handling? To match the unique topside design, the hull is just as interesting. To start, the 37’s bow has a razor edge cutting straight down, rather than having a gentle curve into the water. It then flares with standard strakes and a sort of double stacked and reversed outer chine. Around the mid-ships there’s a twin step to the hull bottom, which flattens out to 20 degrees deadrise at the transom.
I’ve seen similar hull designs on smaller boats but have never before been sold on the concept that it makes a significant difference by providing less drag, being quicker to get on the plane, and offering better economy. This time, though, I think I’ve been converted. Adding to the mix, the Axopar’s sleek, narrow and innovative design also allows for quite a significant weight reduction throughout the hull without compromising build quality. Compared to other similar sized centre consoles, the 37 sports a 3.35m beam versus 4m or more on others, as well as weighing in at 5 tonnes loaded, with other brands weighing 6.5–7 tonnes.
FORMULA ONE PERFORMANCE
On the water, the stability was first on the list to have a look at considering the narrow beam. Surprisingly, the 37 is far from tender at rest.
Swanking a healthy maximum 700hp on the transom (twin 350hp in-line six-cylinder Mercury supercharged Verados), I expected decent performance, but nothing to blow your hair back. While getting myself acquainted at the helm I fired up the 350s, only to realise the motors were already running – these Verados are a quiet motor at idle as they literally hiss, rather than gurgle. Before knocking the throttles down, the helm and dash set up really appealed as it’s comfortable in both seated and standing positions. If anything, the small lip on the deck preventing water entry to the helm area did niggle; however, that’s a tiny negative compared to all the positives.
That it’s fitted with a bow thruster simplifies manoeuvrability in tight spaces and dealing with wind back at the pontoon or dock. In gear, a slow troll or cruise speed of 6–7kt sips a gentle 8–9L/h, so cruising or slow trolling will cost you nothing. Cranking the revs up to around 2000 gets you 10.4kt; another 500rpm gets you onto the plane at 14.6kt, with a fuel burn of 40L/h combined. This shows just how efficient the hull is planing at low revs and 15kt speed.
I accelerated to what felt like a mellow and relaxed cruise speed in the flat water, only to find I was humming along at 33kt, with revs sitting at a low 3800rpm and fuel burn around 80L/h. Again, I was quite astounded and impressed. From there on it was go big or go home and smacking the throttles down to WOT this weapon pumps out an exhilarating 53kt (98km/h)!
Offshore was the same story, with the 37’s blade cutting bow and fancy hull design eating up the chop and swell in all directions. I only had 1.5m swell with up to 17kt westerly wind further out to sea; however, the ride was relaxing and well above average at 30kt speed. At one stage I wound it up to over 40kt — it just ate the ocean up and wanted more.
The only time I copped some spray over the bow was coming back through the short messy chop in the seaway and only because I was trying to force the hull to do something wrong. So, throw into turns at speed, drive it like you’ve stolen it, do whatever you want, this thing is quite amazing on the water.
To sum it up, don’t judge this book by its cover. There’s a lot going on in this boat and, once again, the Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution has most certainly been one of my favourites of all time. The innovation, the performance and ride, the versatility, and overall finishes throughout are quite something. Yes, the modern design and style is ‘unique’ and you’re either in or out with this one, but it definitely grows on you, and fast at that.
Family adventure day trips, mellow cruising, fishing, diving and even overnighters can be done in comfort and style on the Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution. As for value for money, it’s another big tick in my opinion as similar sized centre consoles dedicated to offshore sport fishing can set you back an extra $150–200k. Yes, it’s not a dedicated sport-fisher, but with a bit of tricking up, you could turn this into a fishing and dive weapon, whilst still having the creature comforts suited to leisure boating.
Watch this space as the new 37 full cabin version arrives soon and I’m definitely not missing out on that one.
FACTS & FIGURES
Axopar 37 Suntop Revolution
PRICE AS TESTED
2 x 350hp Verado in Cold Fusion White, wet bar, BRABUS trim line package, 2 x 12in Simrad glass helm
$398,000 with standard specs and 2 x XL Verado 200hp
Type Recreational cruising/fishing
Length 11.5m (37ft 9in)
Beam 3.35m (9ft 8in)
Weight 3590kg hull only; 5000kg with engines and full tanks
Deadrise 20 degrees
Rec. HP 2 x 300hp/2 x 350hp
Max. HP 2 x 350hp
FRESH Water 100L
Make/model 1350V231C Mercury 350HP Verado
Type Inline 6
Gear ratio 1.75:1
Propeller Eco Enertia 19in
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