- Somebody once said to me that a Prestige 46 was a thinking man’s Fairline …
- … this boat is a genuinely capable cruiser that rarely fails to impress.
- Price has always been a strong point with Jeanneau.
Jeanneau Prestige 46
Greg Copp reviews in detail one of the most popular craft in the Jeanneau range, first introduced in 2003, the Prestige 46 …
As the Jeanneau flagship for many years, the Prestige 46 was seen by many as the leading French rival to the likes of Fairline and Princess. Though it lacked some of the finesse and behind-the-scenes detailing of the British yards, it was no less of a sea boat. This tough, no-nonsense craft, unlike some of its French counterparts, had a bit more style and comfort to it. It did, however, still follow in the fold of ‘Gallic minimalistic styling’, which gave precedence to practicality and safety over style, sporty handling and performance. That said, this boat is still considered, even by today’s standards, to have a competent hull providing predictable and responsive handling in all weathers. This, along with a relatively modest price tag when new, and a high standard of engineering, has always been a major selling point of the Prestige 46.
Introduced in 2003, the Prestige 46 unofficially came in two versions before it was discontinued in 2009. Up to 2006 it was powered by either twin 430hp Volvo TAMD74s or twin 480hp Volvo TAMD75s, both on shafts. After 2006 the new common-rail-injected 500hp Cummins QSD 8.3L replaced the older-generation mechanically injected Volvos. Externally the boat remained the same, but Volvos were no longer an option. Performance went up to 32 knots with the bigger Cummins engines, while the earlier TAMD75-powered boats hit 30 knots. The first Prestige 46s, only available with 430hp TAMD74s, were pushing 28 knots. Thirty knots was the magic barrier that any self-respecting flybridge boat should have achieved in 2005, so the Prestige really came of age once the Volvo TAMD75 was offered. The 8.3L Cummins QSD, renowned for its punchy torque delivery, made for a more responsive/smoother drive, while returning slightly better fuel economy – and less smoke on start-up. The Cummins engine also proved to be slightly more robust than the previous Volvo engines, which is saying a lot, as Volvo’s TAMD range is far from problematic. Another popular feature of the Cummins was super-slick electronic controls, and an exhaust system that exits below the waterline.
The only slight downside is that the 8.3L Cummins engine is very slightly wider than the previous 7.4L Volvo engines. If you are well built it can be a squeeze when accessing the port engine dipstick as the dipsticks are mounted quite high, and people often choose to lift the floor panels to check the oil. Having been in both Volvo and Cummins engine rooms I did not see any major problems in doing service checks, as access to the other service items is generally good. If you need to do any electrical or plumbing checks, life is made blissfully easy by a forward lazarette/plumbing room. This is a fantastic feature accessed by a saloon floor hatch forward of the engine room. Inside there is loads of room for storing items you may not want to abandon to the cockpit lazarette, like the extra cool box I found mounted in the boat featured in this article. The access it offers to all the electrics, plumbing and the calorifier is superb – all totally separate from a hot engine room.
The level of accommodation throughout the boat is pretty generous, though I will say that unlike its modern-day contemporaries, which focus heavily on turning every inch into living space, the Prestige 46 is far from an overweight marine caravan. The main saloon is long and well lit; however, it does not stretch its beam at the cost of the side decks, as these are a sensible 6 inches in width. The 2008 boat that I looked at was upholstered in the popular cream leather, which works well with the light oak joinery. The main dinette on the starboard side will fit six or seven comfortably with a double sofa opposite. The ‘galley down’ arrangement used in the Prestige 46 is unusual, as although the concept is quite old school, it is normally located further forward in a boat’s design in order to place it on the same deck level as the forward accommodation.
The helm area spreads across a double helm seat so the navigator can earn their crust next to the helmsman. The set-up is superb as there is enough space for a wide range of electronics (inevitably from Raymarine), and there is a proper chart table. Visibility is good apart from over both quarters where small blind spots exist. Next to the helm seat on the port side sits a small table with bench seating either side. This elevated location is perfect for four to sit at breakfast, as well as providing seating for the whole family to sit up front underway if things are too cold for the flybridge.
Below decks the sleeping accommodation consists of three double cabins. The forward master cabin enjoys an en suite heads, a large island berth with storage beneath and hanging lockers on each side. Both mid cabins have full standing headroom, though the starboard cabin, being slightly larger, has a double berth as opposed to two singles. There was also the option of a fourth crew cabin, which would either be fitted with a single bed and a toilet or provide a big void for keeping cruising junk. Discreetly accessed on the starboard quarter, this facility is rarely found on a boat this size.
The main attraction of the Prestige 46, not that surprisingly, is the flybridge. It offers seating for three at the helm – though it is something of a squeeze – and the obligatory flybridge dining area behind. For those that crave it, a double sun pad sits on the aft section of the flybridge. It is reassuring to see that the surrounding coamings and guard rails have sacrificed little to style, unlike the many stylish, modern, low-profile flybridge designs that make you wonder about going topside on a cheeky day.
Price has always been a strong point with Jeanneau. Even today, with sterling’s weak relationship with the euro, buying French can make good sense. However, when the Prestige 46 was made, you got a lot more euro for your pound, and these boats in real terms then were 65% of the cost of a new British-built equivalent. Today that factor is still felt in the second-hand price, making these boats hugely attractive if you want a big family boat without a big family price.
Somebody once said to me that a Prestige 46 was a thinking man’s Fairline, which of course depends on how you view things. However, what is evident is that this boat is a genuinely capable cruiser that rarely fails to impress.
- Build period: 2003 to 2009
- Designer: Jeanneau
- Berths: 6
- Cabins: 3
- Hull type: Medium-vee planing
- RCD category: B for 14
- Length overall: RS: 47ft 5in (14.46m)
- Beam: 14ft 1in (4.3m)
- Draught: 3ft 11in (1.2m)
- Displacement: 12.5 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 337 gal (1530 litres)
- Water capacity: 125 gal (570 litres)
- Cruising range: Approx. 270 miles with a 20% reserve
- Current values: From £140,000 to £230,000
Points to consider
The year 2006 saw the end of these boats being powered by mechanically injected Volvo engines and the beginning of the common-rail-injected Cummins-powered boats. The quieter, smoother and more powerful Cummins-powered boats fetch higher prices, especially as they return better economy and have a good reputation for robustness. Bear this in mind if you are considering a boat built around this time and are not constrained too much by budget.
Crew cabin or not?
When new, this was an optional extra. All boats will have the hatch and steps leading into a space where there may or may not be a crew cabin. Check whether this is just a storage space filled with kit or whether it actually has the large single berth and heads that are part of the crew cabin fit-out.
Domestic 240V sockets
Surprisingly, many of these boats came into the UK with two-pin continental sockets in the accommodation and galley. Even today some still have two-to-three-pin adaptors sticking out of the sockets.
The older boats with mechanically injected Volvo TAMD75s will have slightly cheaper spare-part costs than the later Cummins-powered boats. The common-rail-injected Cummins 8.3L QSD500 engine that was fitted from 2006, by the nature of being a newer-generation engine, will cost slightly more to maintain. Both engines are very reliable, but the Cummins has proven itself particularly well. Servicing for both engines will work out at around £1,000 an engine at a main franchised agent.
Boats with common-rail-injected Cummins engines will be cheaper to run due to not being mechanically injected. However, the nature of driving a 12.5-tonne boat at a planing cruising speed in the low 20s means you are going to get around 0.7 to 0.8 mpg from either engine option. Of course, this will depend very much on sea conditions and hull bottom, but overall the Cummins engine will certainly be more economical to run.
2008 price: £224,995 (inc. VAT)
Powered by twin 500hp Cummins QSD engines, this 2008 boat, being commissioned in 2009, is one of the last Prestige 46s. Having 500 hours logged, she has not spent her time sitting idle on the pontoon, which is no bad thing. The condition reflects a boat that has been well cared for, and certainly not neglected as a result of lack of use and interest. Anodes and antifouling were done last year along with a full engine service. Stern glands and cutlass bearings were replaced in 2014, along with new trim tabs and stainless portholes. Before this it had new engine and domestic batteries as well as bow/stern thruster batteries, so no stone has been left unturned. This boat is also fitted with remotely controlled bow and stern thrusters, teak decking throughout, full Raymarine electronics, AIS, Webasto heating and an uprated Onan generator.
The Prestige 46 is difficult to fault from the surveyor’s point of view. The GRP structure and submouldings are excellently made by one of the world’s most experienced factories, and the propulsion machinery, whether Volvo or Cummins, is reliable and installed faultlessly. Other equipment is also of good quality and well installed, and the furniture is machine made and does the job. The end product is a good-quality, reliable product, whereby the production engineering enables her to be marketed at a low price when compared with many other similar-sized motor yachts. However, this product philosophy does seem to deny the Prestige 46 the feel of a high-end quality yacht, lavished with trade craft and sumptuous materials.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS