Review: Axopar 37 Cabin and Sardtop Cruisers
I always go out on a limb when I suggest that a boat is the best I have ever reviewed; after all, such a claim doesn’t leave a lot of room to move. After reviewing the Axopar 37 I may just have to reconsider my attitude. This could be the most fun you can have on a day boat.
When the Trade-a-Boat team previously drove the Axopar 28, everyone came away aching from the grins on their faces. This 37ft model is even more remarkable, turning everyone on board into manic jokers as the vessel ploughed through the waves at speeds in excess of 48 knots.
Having experienced the fun, it’s no wonder that the boat is the toast of the coast across Europe, winning award after award and creating a new class of vessel all by itself.
Axopar 37 style
The Axopar 37 is long, lean and so sharp in shape and style that it defies accepted design philosophies. The two thumping 350hp Mercury Verados propel it through the water, ensuring that performance matches its wicked visual impression.
Its unique looks are dominated by a long, narrow bow with a yacht-shaped plumb entry and a low, slightly curved sheerline. Underneath is a hull that steps up from the deep entry and incorporates beefy chines and strakes that are visible at rest.
Using a smart modular design, Axopar has striven to configure three distinct layouts into the 37. We were able to experience both the enclosed Cabin and open Suntop varieties but there is also a T-Top available, plus an aft cabin is optional in all varieties.
Our test boats came equipped with different colour and equipment selections from the wallet-slimming list of factory and locally sourced options; the Suntop was clad in a striking $5000 wrap.
The boats were also decked out with well-finished upholstery in a vibrant Mandarin on the Suntop, and a more understated slate-grey Meteor finish on the Cabin version. Both were treated to Flexiteek second-generation flooring that looks the part and feels soft and secure underfoot.
The layouts of the test boats were similar, and they share the same extended roof and accommodation below. Naturally, the enclosed Cabin option brings added security and perfect weather protection, while the Suntop variant puts you more at one with your surroundings.
The Cabin option is fitted with wide doors and a retractable canvas roof, enabling you to open up the space to the air. Even with everything closed up against a cold and blustery autumn day on Sydney Harbour the wraparound windows ensured that the spectacular views weren’t missed.
Deck and layout
Under the hardtop is a versatile saloon, differing only slightly across the model range. The cabin version has twin helm seats, while the others are fitted with a row of three. Either way, this front row spins 180 degrees to create a dining and entertaining space for seven or eight around a folding timber table.
A step down through a lockable door to port of the helm leads to the forward cabin with modest kitchen facilities, a double bed, lounge and a hide-away toilet. Long windows and a large cargo hatch in the roof permit a pleasant amount of light and air throughout
While it may be a little crowded for long-term voyages, the cabin does allow weekend getaways for a couple. For those who might need more sleeping spaces, there’s always the optional rear cabin.
Walkways along the sides offer convenient access to a sun lounge in the bow and a wide deck and swim platform down the back. Freeboard is quite low, and there are grab rails conveniently located for safe movement around the boat.
This vessel is all about having fun and being seen. You create the fun yourself but being the centre of attention comes naturally as part of the Axopar experience.
The Suntop model included an optional wet bar with sink and additional 50L refrigerator in a neatly moulded console behind the rear seats.
With a cavernous hold that easily stores half a dozen deck chairs, this vessel is perfectly equipped for social events with padded storage lockers on either side of the rear deck.
Lots of boats have engine pods, but I’ve yet to see one with the innovative treatment of the Axopar. The designers have turned what is usually an unattractive and underused engine well into an inviting full-width swim platform that only steps up 150mm from the rear deck.
The innovative design continues up front where the comfortable bow lounge lifts on struts, opening as a hatch to the cabin below for easy loading of supplies and an unimpeded flow of air and light.
Helm positions varied somewhat in the boats on show, with three chairs and a central driving position in the open version and a pair in the Cabin model, with the captain’s chair located on the starboard side. The central wheel provided a commanding view all around, whereas turning sharply to port resulted in the roof on the Cabin version slightly impeding the view.
The helm is fitted with a stylish and modern array of screens and switches and has a leather and chrome wheel straight out of an exotic sports car. Mercury 7in VesselView displays relay engine performance and 12in Garmins show the way while the Side-Power thrusters safely guide you to where you want to be in tighter spaces.
Forget everything you know about driving a 37-footer – this boat rewrites all the manuals. It leapt forward from rest like a boating journalist at an open bar and pushed rapidly to WOT, just shy of 50kt in the quiet waters of upper Middle Harbour.
Handling characteristics were sublime; the boat dutifully followed wherever it was pointed and confidently gripped the water as the hull leant in and bit hard without pitching or slipping.
It completely blew through a short one-metre chop on the harbour, and as we pointed the nose offshore into a rolling two to three-metre swell, I backed off to just over 20kt and let the boat find its own path. In fact, I found myself repeatedly checking the GPS for speed because it was deceptively quick across the rough stuff.
You’d be forgiven thinking that such a relatively narrow hull with apparently little buoyancy in the bow might be tricky in a following sea. Wrong. The Axopar 37 was safe and predictable across all quarters, rapidly inspiring confidence in its ability to quickly and safely cover the hops between inner-city ports.
The Trade-a-Boat verdict
I’m not here to tell you this boat is perfect, but it’s the most fun I’ve had driving a boat in a while. If you can get over the polarising Scandinavian looks, the open transom and a less-than-private bathroom, it might just be
the perfect day boat.
As tested, the Axopar 37 price is in the high $300,000 range; it’s not a toy for everyone. You could save $37,000 by losing a motor but that would take the fun out of the ride – and that’s half the experience, isn’t it?
• Handling and ride are in a class of their own
• Individual looks will please some
• Quality finishes and futuristic design
• Open transom
• Being the centre of attention – for some
Axopar 37 specs
Axopar 37 Cabin price: $279,800
Priced from, with single Mercury 350 Verado outboard motor
Brisa upholstery, Flexiteek decks, bow thruster, folding anchor windlass, freshwater, saloon fridge, 350 Verados, Fusion sound, Garmin, more
PRICE AS TESTED
Axopar 37 Suntop price: $275,900
Priced from, with single Mercury 350 Verado outboard motor
Flexiteek decks, wet bar, bow thruster, anchor winch, Garmin, Fusion sound, 350 Verados
PRICE AS TESTED
TYPE Monohull dayboat
LENGTH 11.2m (excluding engines)
WEIGHT 2950kg (excluding engines)
PEOPLE 2 (night); 10 (day)
WATER 100L (optional)
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Mercury Verado 350 outboard motors
TYPE Four-stroke supercharged inline six-cylinder outboard motors
RATED HP 350
GEAR RATIO 1.75:1
PROPELLERs Enertia 16x19in
Axopar Boats Finland
Quays Marina, 1856 Pittwater Rd Church Point NSW 2105
Phone +02 9979 6612