The 2022/2023 generation of Absolute flybridge boats are some of the best the Italian shipyard has ever designed. The 52 Fly may be sub-55ft but it feels huge on board and boasts an interior layout so effective it makes you wonder why other boats in this sector aren't using the same blueprint.
As with every other modern Absolute, it's only available with Volvo Penta IPS but this is what grants the designers so much accommodation space to play with on the lower deck and it should be good for a reliable 22-knot top speed and a cruising range of 250nm. We'll put those claims to test on our upcoming sea trial but, for now, we caught up with the boat at the 2023 Miami Boat Show, where it had its global debut, to see how it stacks up.
Absolute 52 FLY Key Facts
- LOA 54.987ft
- Model Year
- Cabins 3
- Crew 1
- Max Speed 28 knots
- Status In Production
- Generations 3
- Yacht Type Flybridge
- Use Type Cruising
Test & Review Video
This generation of Absolute flybridge has a distinctive look with oversized hull windows and fin-style open haunches that aim to maintain the connection between the cockpit and the water. The boats are not classically handsome but the look is more refined than it was a few years ago and there's no doubt that they have a distinctive look that is all their own.
On board, the use of space is truly outstanding and the volume of the interior is astonishing. By arranging the owner's cabin on a mid-deck forward, you get both a wonderful space for the owner and guests are treated to a fabulous full-beam VIP amidships.
Modular deck furniture is another feature of this generation of Absolute, adding great flexibility to the cockpit and flybridge. As standard, the decks are empty to fill with any furniture the owner desires but to make life easy Absolute provides some on request and it's as stylish as it is flexible.
Absolute builds all of its boats using its Integrated Structural System (ISS). The interiors are cut and assembled separately to the hulls and dropped in once constructed, pre-prepared with wiring and plumbing. It's an efficient build method, which, according to Absolute, improves the accuracy of the build and maintains a more consistent level of quality. You can't be definitive about quality from the safety of a boat show berth but there is certainly a feeling of real cohesion aboard the 52 Fly and reassuring solidity in everything from the flooring to the way the internal doors clunk shut. It feels like a quality machine.
Absolute pays attention to the little things that make life on board easier. It's small things like having a dedicated slot for the boat hook adjacent to the flybridge steps in the cockpit and the smart stainless steel hoop that slots into the bathing platform to give swimmers something to grab onto when they emerge from the sea.
This will be an owner-run boat for the majority so ease of maintenance is key and to that end the machinery space is impressive. With both the generator and optional Seakeeper stabiliser space is a little tight at the entrance to the engine room but access to the engines and IPS pods is excellent and the quality and tidiness of installation are top-notch. The 52 Fly should be an easy boat to live with and look after.
Absolute's range is an IPS-only zone so if you don't like the idea of pod drives the 52 isn't for you. That said, the integration of Volvo's pods is faultless and it's part of the reason why the designers have so much space to play with on the lower deck.
The interior is the 52 Fly's trump card, it's hard to compute quite how Absolute has managed to include three cabins and two bathrooms and endow them with so much space. There isn't a boat in the sector that uses the footprint as cleverly as this.
The main deck salon is familiar Absolute with its aft galley, two-part sliding cockpit door and a window section that drops into the counter to create a small bar area. The galley is split with the counter, sink, hob, cooker and a good amount of storage space to port and a full-height fridge/freezer and pantry to starboard. Detail is excellent. The soft rounding of corners, the subtle integration of a handhold into the edge of the galley counter and the chest forward of the fridge/freezer that contains fiddled storage for all of the Absolute branded crockery and glassware.
The 52 has a new lighting design throughout, with attractive waves of LED in the deck head above the cockpit and aft end of the salon and a new circular motif above the dinette that is cleverly mirrored in the hard top on the flybridge.
The windows on both sides of the salon drop down to allow the natural breeze to run through the boat. We've seen this feature before on Absolutes and it means that on days that aren't too hot, you may be able to use these to ventilate the boat rather than firing up the air-con (and therefore the generator).
The television is neatly hidden on a pop-up mechanism behind the sofa to starboard, opposite a large dinette with a hi-lo table that can easily switch from dining to coffee table height.
The lower deck layout works brilliantly because by shifting the owner's cabin to a mid-deck forward, the VIP cabin can occupy the full width of the beam amidships. It's a similar layout to Absolute's own 56 Fly without the ensuite bathroom for the VIP cabin. This arrangement benefits the owner as much as their guests, though, because the space and comfort levels in the owner's suite are excellent. As are the views, thanks to those enormous hull windows. With the bed (2,000mm x 1,600mm) mounted aft on the centreline, the bow is full of bathroom and it works really well, delivering a smartly finished ensuite that uses the geometry of the cabin intelligently. The attention to fine detail is excellent once again, right up there with the best in this sector.
The VIP could be another owner's suite and in fact, if you're sleeping on anchor or are tied to a buoy, it may be the place to sleep as you won't get the slapping of water on the hull that you do up front. There is an intrusion towards the top of the bed that those 6ft or over will need to watch out for but apart from that it's a very easy cabin to move around inside and it's dotted with plenty of useful storage solutions. The lack of an ensuite may put some people off but the day head, shared with the twin cabin, isn't far away.
The twin cabin is well thought out as well. Headroom is good and, as standard, you get electric sliding berths (1,940mm x 670mm) that switch from twins to a double at the touch of a button. Rival boats offer this but most as a cost option. It also has direct access via a small door to the void beneath the owner's cabin, offering excellent access to the bow thruster for those maintaining the boat and some very useful bag storage for those sleeping in this cabin.
The crew accommodation aft is just about spacious enough to work as an occasional cabin but very few of these boats will be run with the crew. The best option is probably to have the space lined out for storage but keep the bathroom so that those who've been for a swim can go to the toilet and have a shower without traipsing water through the interior of the boat.
Absolute's helms were the best in the business before it came up with this all-new design for the 52 and, somehow, it's made them even better. The lower helm is particularly good thanks to its beautifully clean design with a pair of angled pods that direct the MFDs towards the skipper and create a driver-focussed, cockpit-like feel. The twin helm seats are adjustable and have a bolster section so you can stand at the helm and drive; the relationship between the adjustable steering wheel, throttles and IPS joystick is absolutely perfect.
There is the option of a third control station in the cockpit is welcome but with the joystick at the lower helm positioned so closely to the side door, it's a brilliant spot to moor the boat from and the all-around view is excellent. There aren't boarding gates on either side of the cockpit but having them amidships on both sides makes it far easier for the skipper to help out handling lines if they need to.
The upper helm isn't as stylish as the one downstairs but it has all of the same ergonomic touchpoints. A good example is the positioning of the throttles and joystick on the same moulding but the latter is mounted higher so you can reach it more easily when standing up and throttles are set low so they are more comfortable to reach when seated out at sea. Positioning the navigator's seat outside of the skipper's means that they can move in and out of the helm without disturbing the driver, too. It's all very well thought out and near impossible to fault.
The cockpit follows a familiar form with its modular furniture and open haunches though there are some updates that are new for the 52. The lighting design in the overhang is fresh as is the small lip of the smoked glass and stainless steel that adds some protection to the open gunwales while maintaining the views out over the water.
Absolute's supplied furniture is lovely stuff that can be arranged in myriad ways, either as single armchairs or, because the armrests can be removed, sofas and day beds. It's so much more flexible and comfortable than a fixed bench. The open transom also means that those in the cockpit have a great view over the hydraulic bathing platform and can easily keep an eye on people in the water.
The side decks require a sideways shuffle to move along them as they aren't the widest in the class but with tall guardrails and toerails it feels perfectly safe to negotiate them. The 52 Fly has one of the best foredecks in the class. The side decks are linked by a passageway that splits the sofa and sun pad, which makes getting from one side of the boat to the other far easier. The sun pad has a clever hinged backrest which acts either as a headrest for sunbathers or creates a bench that faces aft to join the hi-lo teak table. The entire area can be shaded by a canopy that attaches to carbon fibre poles, which stow in the engine room.
The flybridge feels large in this sector. The overhang extends a long way back and is square in its design so there is lots of space at the aft end for yet more free-standing furniture. A hard top is an option but there is no sunroof available on this model, just the potential to add 1,320W solar panels to top up the domestic energy supply. The lighting motif on the underside of the top is the same as in the salon, which is a nice touch. As is the way the wet bar has been so neatly integrated into the aft end of the dinette sofa. It's a well-designed bar with built-in storage for the liferaft and a useful open shelf to stow towels and other loose items. The sink is standard but you'll need to add the fridge and grill to make the most of it.
Forward, there is a big dinette with a handsome teak table on a fixed pedestal and a good spread of sunbathing space adjacent to the two-person helm station.
The base price of the 52 Fly at the time of writing is €1.34 million ex VAT but as with most of its competitors, there are a few options that need to be added to get it to a turn-key specification.
The hydraulic bathing platform would be worth adding for functionality as would the hard top, with or without the solar panels. Unless the extra berth is going to be of use then speccing the crew cabin to be lined out with the addition of the bathroom would be an effective use of this space and endow the boat with a vast amount of dry, easily accessed gear storage.
If you moor stern-to then the third control station in the cockpit is definitely worth thinking about, even with the view from both the lower and upper helms being so good. The Seakeeper is an expensive option but it does make a big difference to comfort levels when the boat is at anchor, so if you spend a lot of time doing that it's worth considering.
Ultimately the 52 Fly is at the more expensive end of the market but it feels like a quality product through and through.
It's impossible to come to a concrete conclusion about a boat without experiencing how it feels out at sea but the initial signs are very positive for the 52 Fly. Being a scaled-down version of the larger flybridge boats in the range is no bad thing because Absolute is on a roll at the moment and the three-cabin arrangement suffers very few compromises and sets the standard for space and comfort at this size of boat. The custom furniture arrangement on the deck allows for an impressive amount of customisation for a boat in this sector but you won't be disappointed with what Absolute offers, either. The attention to detail is excellent throughout and there are so many small touches that will make the boat a real joy to live with. We're yet to drive it but in every other area, the 52 Fly is as good as it gets.
Reasons to Buy
- Voluminous interior
- Versatile deck spaces
- Quality and attention to detail
- Spacious flybridge
Things to Consider
- IPS only
- VIP cabin isn't ensuite
Rivals to Consider
Naturally, the 52 Fly has a raft of rivals from competitor brands but look inside the Absolute stable first, shall we? The 56 Fly is the next rung on the Absolute flybridge ladder and the jump in price is around €200,000 so what are you getting for your money? Well, it's longer and wider so there is more space throughout, most noticeably on the flybridge and lower deck where you can get two crew berths instead of one and an extra bathroom for guests. Performance is likely to be pretty much identical, though the 52 could well be a bit punchier given it's lighter than the 56 but uses the same Volvo Penta IPS800 engines with 600hp. The question is, is the 56's biggest rival now the 52?
Outside of the Absolute stable, there is plenty to challenge the 52. Galeon's 500 Fly has been around a little while now but even the brilliantly versatile 52 Fly can get close the Galeon's outstanding beach club mode arrangement with drop-down terraces and a rotating transom seating arrangement that is a stroke of genius. It can, unlike the Absolute, also be had with a tender garage big enough for a Williams Minijet. Below deck, there are three cabins, including a full beam owner's suite amidships, a double VIP and a third cabin with a pair of bunks. It's available with a variety of Volvo Penta shaft drive engine options (D11 725s the pick) or IPS, though it's an expensive option. For sheer deck space, it's untouchable.
Azimut's 53 isn't as functional as the Absolute but with exterior design by Alberto Mancini and an eye-popping Achille Salvagni interior, it's a cracking-looking boat. It's all sharp lines and subtle curves in comparison to the bombastic Absolute, which is a more acquired taste. Like the 53 Fly, the Azimut has a three-cabin, two-bathroom layout with space for a single crew member aft but the interior design really is like nothing else in the market. The 53 also runs on IPS but the larger D11 725hp blocks of IPS950 so its top speed is more in the region of 32 knots and it will cruise a bit more quickly, too.
The Sunseeker Manhattan 55 (and its predecessor, the Manhattan 52) is one of the most popular boats that the Poole shipyard has ever produced. It's easy to see why given the mix of performance, style and interior space. Attention to detail and finish also took a marked turn for the better with the 55, too. Like the Galeon 500, it's available with IPS or shafts and will top out at around 32 knots. It's one of the more engaging boats in the sector to drive, too, as you expect of something wearing the Sunseeker crest. The layout is quite similar to the Absolute's, though there is more fixed furniture on the flybridge. It's a great all-rounder.