Azimut and designer Alberto Mancini have been creating a quiet revolution with a new generation of flybridge designs that are bold and elegant in equal measure while delivering some beguiling interior luxury, as spectacularly demonstrated on the new 37m Grande Trideck flagship. Can they pull off the same mix of wonders on a 50-footer?
Azimut Fly 53 Key Facts
- LOA 16.78m
- Model Year 2022
- Cabins 3
- Crew 1
- Max Speed 31 knots
- Status In Production
- Generations 2
- Yacht Type Flybridge
- Use Type Cruising
Test & Review Video
Around the Marina
The 53 Fly is only available with Volvo Penta's IPS950 and that, of course, means joystick control. The boat responds well to inputs from the joystick even if you do feel the boat's height with the hard top fitted as it rolls a touch during sideways manoeuvres. The handling of the boat isn't an issue it's the view from the helms that makes life a little tricky.
You can't see the aft end of the boat from the flybridge and it's hard to communicate with the crew from the lower helm so it would make sense to, at the very least, add some cameras around the boat so you can use the MFDs to check position or tick the optional cockpit docking station for a better view aft. If you moor with the stern to the dock on a regular basis I would say this is a must-have.
Moving around the boat is easy enough and there's a healthy amount of deck storage for fenders and lines but the lack of a side door into the saloon means crewing isn't as easy as it could be.
The challenge with only providing one engine option is that it has to suit the boat perfectly and, thankfully, the D11 725hp motors of the IPS950 installation are a great match to the 53's refined, soft-riding hull shape. We topped out at a comfortable 31 knots (even touching 34 knots at one point with a bit of Solent tide beneath us) and cruised at 26 knots where the range is in the region of 300nm. The fuel burn curve is pretty flat once up to planing speeds, though, so even if you want to get a bit of a lick on the range doesn't drop too sharply.
The handling is light but has a good amount of feel and the boat turns nicely for a weighty flybridge cruiser. The best handling boat I've driven in this category is the shaft-drive Princess F55 and though the Azimut may not be quite as sharp in the turns or feel quite as well balanced it's not far off. It's very quiet, too. IPS helps with this but the well-engineered engine room and its layers of sound insulation improve the sound levels even more.
We didn't have much chop to play with during the test but on a busy day in the Solent, the wash from other craft did little to put the Azimut off its stride. The boat feels solid through the waves with no bangs, squeaks or rattles emanating from the hull or interior. It's an easy boat to drive at all speeds and, from the comfort of the upper helm especially, feels like a boat you could comfortably cover some decent ground on.
Builder Speed & Range Data
568 nm @ 8.8 knotseco
296 nm @ 26.0 knotscruise
261 nm @ 31.0 knotsmax
Azimut Fly 53 version 2022. *Data supplied by the manufacturer.
View Full Test Results
Yes, style is subjective, but can anyone argue against the idea that this Azimut 53 is one of the most beautiful 50ft flys ever made? Mancini’s hand is obvious from the angular bow and clean sharp lines that run aft, metallic topsides and black style lines stretching the yacht out further, delivering an impressive sleekness. Of course, the demands of the market mean that an unsightly hard top is never too far away and even the aesthetically conscious Azimut has had to concede. If it were my boat, I'd be opting for the canvas bimini every day of the week.
Keeping the profile low while delivering good interior volume is incredibly hard to do at this length. And deliver it they have. A quick look at the layout suggests all the right component parts are held within this sleek yacht. Three cabins, including a full-beam owner’s stateroom, are found below decks with an open, spacious saloon above, the galley aft design connecting the interior to the aft deck while also delivering a very practical galley that runs across the beam.
But then, nothing short of excellent would cut it in a market that includes several award-winning yachts from the likes of Absolute, Sunseeker, Princess and Ferretti.
Form and Function
Azimut is, it seems, not only aware of the competition but also how much use yachts of this size get put to by their owner-operators. The interior reflects the serious cruising requirements of a 16m flybridge with masses of stowage and easy-going nature that you just know will be a joy to use.
This being an Azimut, the practicalities of yachting life run alongside plenty of style. The new interiors we saw on the Grande Tri-Deck and 68 find a subtle home here, with dreamy, pastel soft furnishings, not a hard edge to be found and a choice of clean cool finishes or warmer oak cabinetry, detailed with copper inlays.
The 53’s interior design is wonderfully relaxing, there are marshmallows less sumptuous than the saloon’s inviting facing sofas. To the main port seating, an electric pedestal allows the dining table to drop into an occasion berth, a useful feature on a cruising yacht.
We are now so used to builders working in massive glass sections that they can almost be overlooked, as opposed to gratefully looked through. Here, the saloon guests will enjoy unbroken views across the water from single-piece side screens, or perhaps watch the pop-up TV to starboard.
That said, the low window line means that taller people won't have a great view out when standing in the saloon. The window line is undeniably sleek but the views out aren't as good as board the likes of the Absolute 52 Fly and Princess F55. There's also an odd lack of ventilation. There's a small window above the galley, aft, but there is no way of getting any natural ventilation into the helm station - not even a manual sliding window - so it gets pretty uncomfortable on hot days.
The 53’s galley design spreads across the aft of the main deck, creating not only a space you can actually cook in, but also lots of practicality, from a proper cabinet refrigerator and dishwasher to designated drawers for glassware and crockery. The beauty of this galley is how everything is so neatly concealed behind the oak panels of the cabinetry, many with satisfying push catches that reveal things like the microwave and storage for the boat's crockery. It's a very clean look. The design doesn’t allow that complete inside-outside flow into the cockpit, that large fridge winning out over an adjoining window and bar, but it does connect up the saloon and deck easily enough.
The three cabins are all excellent, the light, relaxed feel of the saloon continuing with a neat twin guest cabin forward VIP that shares a toilet and shower compartment. The owner’s stateroom is full beam with the ensuite lying forward at the cabin entrance. There is also space for a washing machine across the way.
The layout is interesting. Instead of having the central doorway into the VIP cabin with the day head to port, the day head/VIP ensuite is centrally located, leaving the entrance to the VIP cabin to port. This arrangement creates a more spacious bathroom and provides a separate passageway into the VIP through the head compartment. It also puts the day head closer to the twin cabin, which without its own ensuite will use the day head as its bathroom. Some boats at this size have bunks in the third cabin so it's nice to see side-by-side berths aboard the 53 Fly.
The owner’s cabin is luxurious and clever in equal measure. Two smart strips of glass line the walls, with mirrors positioned to visually extend the window design and create a sense of even more space. The yacht’s sleek profile is perhaps felt a little in this cabin, with slightly less volume than say the Sunseeker Manhattan 55, but there is still full headroom around the double berth and space for a sofa, dressing area and, most impressively, a full-height walk-in wardrobe.
The low brow of the windscreen means the view is a little restricted when standing at the lower helm but the adjustable seat makes it easy to get comfortable with a decent view forward thanks to thin windscreen mullions and the position of the wheel towards the centreline. The dash itself is stylish and attractive, dominated as it is upstairs by the comically large and thick steering wheel.
Our boat had the Gold electronics package which provides 12in Garmin MFDs over the standard 9in ones and this is an investment worth making. It's good to see a remote keypad to control the screens on the dash as well as the touchscreen functionality which can be a bit tricky to use if the boat is bouncing around.
The lack of ventilation is one issue at the lower helm but having no window to be able to communicate with crew limits the scenarios where you would want to moor the boat from here. When some rivals have full side doors it's not really good enough to have no windows around the helm at all.
Upstairs there are few complaints. The seated position is excellent and the layout of the dash works very well indeed. Having the major controls on a long moulding to port means the skipper can sit back in their seat and reach the joystick, throttles and the remote for the twin MFDs really easily. The dash is clearly laid out and nice to look at, though it could do with a bit more storage for loose items.
The flybridge is pretty clear on its focus, it’s not the biggest but it is very welcoming with a circular design that is perfect for loafing, lounging and generally enjoying the good life. A large sun pad forward is joined by a wraparound aft seat and fold-out bar-dining table that will also convert to a massive pad. In between, a useful wet bar will keep guests supplied with cold drinks. The optional electro-hydraulic bimini is the more pleasing option for the eye but many will fall for the versatility and ease of the hardtop, which has built-in lighting and a sliding canvas roof operated by a one-touch control on the upper helm.
Down the flybridge stairs, the aft cockpit keeps things simple with an L-shaped bench and dining area, fender and warp storage below the seats. Even though there is no through window to the galley, it’s great that Azimut has chosen to still deliver a neat bar area, sat beneath the flybridge overhang, making the aft deck feel more sociable and sophisticated. The entire area can be enclosed with canopy covers to extend the living space in poor weather, too.
At this length, a forward lounge is far from guaranteed and so it should be fully appreciated. This one has a separate seating area, the sunpad running down to the bow. The backrest mechanism is particularly smart and uses hinges and gas rams so you can quickly switch between the two positions. There is also the option for a shade sitting on carbon poles, a useful addition when in port or at anchor.
At the stern, the hydraulic bathing platform will easily launch the tender (up to 500kg) or serve as a fun swim platform when the boat's at anchor. The transom also gives access to the crew cabin with a single bed and toilet, it could easily make up another occasional guest berth but is probably destined to be a high-end storage area.
The Azimut 53 must rank as one of the smartest and most cohesive 50ft yachts on the market. In the 10m-15m market, we are seeing a move away from luxurious detail and craft, with builders employing clever if often blandly homogeneous production finishes. Here, the level of thought, design and finish on offer gets the luxury balance right and separates this yacht from what is a crowded market. So while there might be larger yachts in this sector, and some that can match the Azimut on the finish, few mix style, speed and space so effortlessly.
It feels like a quality product, too, not only in the obvious stuff like brightwork and interior finish but the engine room is one of the best in the sector with plenty of space to work on the engines, a very neat installation and some useful extras like a freshwater hose and a pair of wandering lights that attach to the ceiling for easy illumination of the darker corners.
The base price for a 53 is €1.1 million ex VAT (at the time of writing) but our test boat had around €500,000 of extras including the hard top, Seakeeper, Gold navigation package, crew cabin fit-out, uprated generator and air-conditioning meaning the price as tested was €1.72 million ex VAT (at the time of writing).
To use a boxing analogy, a 50ft flybridge might well be the best pound-for-pound cruiser out there. Big and heavy enough to be comfortable in most seas, it is still agile and rewarding to drive, offers three good cabins over a 40-footer’s two but is just as easy to self-pilot. The Azimut 53 does all of this and adds some breathtaking design that will look good forever, but, importantly, never forgets that while it is a luxury yacht it is also one that is destined to be used, and you will definitely enjoy using this boat. It's a shame about the lack of ventilation in the saloon and the view aft from the flybridge but there's still a lot to like about this fabulously stylish flybridge cruiser.
Reasons to Buy
- Handsome design
- Handling and performance
- Well proportioned cabins
- Excellent engine room
Things to Consider
- Lack of ventilation in the saloon
- Poor view aft from upper helm
Rivals to Consider
There is no lack of fast, spacious 50ft flybridge yachts, with all the big players involved, which is why any new boat coming to market needs to go hard or go home. You can demand and win 30knots, three cabins, bright glass-clad salons and spacious decks from any number of builders and with a good deal of variation on price. What you won't always enjoy is the style and beauty on offer here, but we shall leave that subjective point to the beholder.
The award-winning Sunseeker Manhattan 55 is an obvious rival, big on space and luxury it is arguably the class leader. Azimut’s old adversity, Ferretti, has the clean and serene 550, a larger yacht with crisp Italian style and inside and a very similar layout to the 53.
The Princess F55 is another close rival, and notably longer yacht, with the same layout on and below decks and a similarly light and welcoming style. The British boat has a big flybridge with masses of seating.
The Absolute 52 Fly and Galeon 530 Fly offer clever deck and interior spaces and more bombastic styling but they are unlikely to be as dynamically sweet as the Azimut.
It is to the Azimut 53’s credit that all of its main three-cabin rivals are longer boats. Half a meter might not sound much but it counts for a lot on interior volume, so Azimut and its design team are to be congratulated for delivering this amount of easy-living yacht under 17m (55ft).
Specifications & Performance
Azimut Fly 53 version 2022. *Data supplied by the manufacturer.
Test Engines Twin Volvo Penta D11-IPS950
- Liters Per Hour
- Liters Per Mile
- Range (nm)