Standing-out as the middle sibling in a glamorous range that includes four other SUV models takes something special, and the 505 SUV has this, writes Kevin Green.
Mezzanine is a word not often associated with motorboats, yet it’s a clever design idea that Riviera has deployed in the creation of this 17m sports motor cruiser. Utilising outdoor space for multiple purposes further enhances the versatility of these sports utilities, that attempt to be all things to all people.
For the 505 SUV Riviera knew they had to differentiate this model sufficiently, both to contrast it against it smaller 395 and 445 siblings and the larger 545 and 575 models, so they started from scratch by creating an entirely new hull. Fuller forward sections was another significant change, so instead of a bowsprit, the entire rode is neatly integrated into the bow. Yet another difference from its siblings is the neatly vented exhausts, hidden by elongated exits at the stern quarters.
The aft cockpit is stepped and separated by a bulkhead to create a mezzanine layout below the fibreglass overhang. This is an all-weather area and this first hull – destined for the Great Lakes in America – was fitted with clear plastics to seal this inner cockpit. Alternatively, sun worshippers can step beyond it to the outer cockpit where there are a barbecue and wet bar; or relax on the hydraulic swim platform. Back in the mezzanine, diners have a folding teak table with Sunbrella fabric bench seating and that fold-out double bench.
Opening the sturdy chromed sliding door reveals the saloon with U-shaped galley portside. Another step takes you to the lounge, so clearly demarcated from the galley. Here, the U-shaped leather-clad dinette with another wide bench on starboard creates a convivial entertaining area. The saloon is airy thanks to opening side windows (with blinds) and a large sunroof.
Given that SUVs must also be drivers boats, the 505 again comes up trumps with its stylish steering console. Twin leather Recaro bucket seats house skipper and co-skipper, sensibly shaded by Riviera’s signature stylish visor which ensures the Garmin Glass Bridge instrumentation is daylight viewable. 505.
The higher topsides of this model ensure ample volume throughout the three-cabin and two bathrooms, with the owner enjoying the full beam midships berth. The high sheer at the bow also gives the VIP cabin an airiness, so there’s plenty to like on the 505. A wide central corridor beside the helm leads below to the three cabins. Other features down here included separate washer and dryer machines housed in ventilated cabinetry.
Yet another requirement for a successful SUV is usable deck space, so wide walkways on each side of the 505 are welcome. Here, again the changes have been wrung, with an elevated bulkhead (to ensure headroom below) with shallow lockers around the double sunbed.
Hull construction continues in the well-proven hand-laid laminated technique with solid GRP around the keel and other key underwater areas. Engine access is via the aft cockpit with another hatch behind it for the optional Seakeeper 12 stabiliser fitted to our review boat. Climbing down the steps reveals a spacious engine room with pride of place given to the twin Volvo D11 725HPs. Standard is the 600HP models, and Riviera assured me that both could break the 30-knot speed barrier.
Sitting at the wheel, I gazed out among the myriad of craft on the Gold Coast Broadwater as the 505 SUV propelled me towards the misty skyline at Surfers Paradise, so it wasn’t until some cardinal marks flew past the window that I realised we were doing 29 knots; such was the quiet and smooth ride afforded. My only input had been to push the throttles, as the vertical tabs automatically trimmed our bow down until retracting to minimise drag.
Predictable handling such as gently healing into turns, is a Riviera trait, as is the solid feel of the hull as it slammed into the wakes of other vessels. Finally, slowing side-on to the stiff breeze I manoeuvred us towards a mooring at South Stradbroke island with a few turns of the joystick, just to remind me how this technology is intuitive and so impressive, as was the entire Riviera 505 SUV package.
TO READ KEN GREEN’S FULL REVIEW CHECK OUT THE MAR-APR 2020 EDITION OF PACIFIC POWERBOAT- Available online and in print at the end of February