- Few boats offer such a smooth ride and such an easy point and shoot driving experience.
- It is cleverly designed and well thought out, with close attention to detail …
- On the surface, it may appear to be just another high-octane superyacht tender, but it is also a credible cruiser in its own right.
- The ride from the hull is remarkably smooth.
Axopar 37 Sun-Top
The Axopar 37 Sun-Top is technically a new tune on an older fiddle, having been previously launched in different versions back in 2016. However, this does not make this boat any less exciting to drive, as Greg Copp discovered …
If you are familiar with this Finnish yard you will know that the 37 Sun-Top is not really a new boat. Using the same hull as its T-Top, Cabin and Sports Cabin cousins, the 37 Sun-Top is having another bite of the cherry. It makes good sense, as this new take gives it a new dimension, and the fact is that this boat is so much fun to drive it deserves reinvention.
It is a petrolhead’s delight, so if you are hoping for a big diesel-powered version you will be disappointed. It comes with twin supercharged Mercury Verado outboards, ranging from 225hp to 350hp. For those with really deep pockets, there is even a special BRABUS edition fitted with twin 400hp Mercury Verados and loads of other goodies.
However, our test boat was a ‘fairly sensible’ version with twin 300hp Verados. It is not often that I will not plump for the biggest power option as the only or best way forward, but I genuinely felt that these motors worked very well with this boat. The fact is, the Axopar 37 has a great hull. Its twin-step deep-vee design does a very good job of turning horsepower into knots, and with little discomfort to its occupants. Before I got on board, I watched the 37 Sun-Top from the photo boat as it went from displacement to planing. What struck me was the virtual absence of any bow-up attitude – there isn’t really any hump. It just sits a little deeper in the water at displacement speed and then slightly raises its nose as it goes from semi-displacement and then onto planing.
Driving the boat is equally deceptive, as there is not much discernible bow lift, which when standing is just as well. The low deck height in front of the seats means that you do not have a hugely elevated view over the nose when on your feet – which, to be fair, you really don’t need. If you want a better view then you best take a pew in the very comfy helm seat, which if you are fairly tall gives you a slightly better view.
The Axopar 37 Sun-Top is a very quick boat. It will hit 30 knots in 7 seconds, and before you know it you are fine-tuning the outboard trim for those last few knots. With the tide behind me it nudged 50 knots without any problems, and turning around running against the tide I saw the GPS hit 45 knots.
The ride from the hull is remarkably smooth. Axopar’s twin-step hulls are notoriously good, generating more hydrodynamic lift at the stern than a conventional planing hull (read Dave Marsh’s feature on stepped hulls in the last issue). This extra lift at the stern serves to keep the forefoot down, so it can do its job. The forefoot on the 37, like all Axopars, has a sharp vertical stem designed to cut an effective path.
We had a fairly calm day, so most of the sea state we encountered had to be man-made in the form of photo boat wake. This enables you to comfortably pile on the knots before hitting a sharp ridge of water. After that initial 30-knot run, I was pushing the 37 through the wake at over 40 knots without the slightest complaint. This boat has a 3.3m beam, so you would expect the odd groan or creak when driven in this manner, but not so, as the fore section of the hull cuts in a dagger-like manner.
The boat responds well to the wheel – quick to steer but sure-footed in the process. Throwing it into full-power, full-lock turns, the boat just grips and tracks round, without a hint of hull slide. The 300hp Verados are clearly a good match for the 37, providing plenty of power to punch out of the turns. You can opt for twin 350hp Verados, which would be a good idea if you anticipate plenty of guests, or if you crave that extra supercharged low-down grunt that these engines are famed for. However, 600hp on a 4.2-tonne boat is more than enough for a white-knuckle ride.
Another aspect of the stepped hull is that extra margin of efficiency. This boat is capable of returning around 1.5mpg in the mid-30s, moderately loaded, which is pretty good going, all things considered.
The Sun-Top in its various forms – with or without the aft cabin, and with or without the optional aft galley – has a great social dimension. The seating set-up enjoys plenty of protection from the elements from the long roof, especially as the hull provides a dry ride. The Sun-Top has plenty of length to keep the rain and sun at bay, and with a full-length canvas sunroof that opens courtesy of a quick-release bar, you can quickly turn it into an open boat. Our test boat had the optional aft cabin, which many may ditch in favour of more deck space and the optional aft galley. However, you can’t ignore the advantages of the extra storage and the double bed provided by this cabin. The forecabin is bigger than you expect, as it makes full use of every inch of depth. The double bed is perfectly reasonable, complemented by a sink and a hidden sea toilet. You would not want to spend a week in it, but the odd night in the absence of somewhere ashore would not be a hardship. If you do not opt for the aft galley, you are limited to a drawer fridge under the helm seats.
As is to be expected of Axopar, movement on deck is very good. The side decks are encased by tall bulwarks, and handrails are positioned at every vital point. Deep bathing platforms flank the engines, making it easy to step on and off – either astern or onto finger pontoons. There are no less than three watertight lined deck lockers – perfect for warps – and fender lockers sit on each stern quarter.
Our test boat came with an electric windlass neatly hidden within a cavernous anchor locker, and conveniently controlled by a switch panel within the coaming on the starboard bow. The finish of the gelcoat, the clinical neatness of the synthetic teak decking and the skilled stainless work are typical of this company, and what you should expect from a boat with this price tag. This, like many boats, has a long extras list, so I will not even attempt to try and itemise what you could or could not choose. All I will say is that this boat, as tested, is realistically specified, as smaller engines would not do it any justice, and the cost saving would be negligible. The only decision to make is whether you want an aft cabin or an aft galley.
Few boats offer such a smooth ride and such an easy point and shoot driving experience as the Axopar 37 Sun-Top. It is cleverly designed and well thought out, with close attention to detail – even behind the scenes. On top of this, it has the ability to sleep four in two separate cabins. On the surface, it may appear to be just another high-octane superyacht tender, but it is also a credible cruiser in its own right.
What We Thought
- Great handling
- Soft-riding hull
- Rapid performance
- Solid build quality
- Easy movement on deck
- Good weather protection
- Long extras list
Fuel Figures (Mercury fuel flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (nmpg – both engines)
2500 15.0 1.8
3000 19.0 1.7
3500 24.0 1.6
4000 29.3 1.6
4500 34.0 1.5
5000 38.1 1.4
5500 42.2 1.2
6000 47.4 1.0
- LOA: 11.20m (36ft 9in)
- Beam: 3.30m (10ft 10in)
- Hull: Planing twin step
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 4190kg (with twin 300hp Verados – dry)
- Power options: 2 x 225hp to 2 x 350hp, all Mercury Verados
- Fuel capacity: 730 litres (192 gallons)
- RCD category: B for 10
- Test engines: Twin 300hp Mercury Verados
47.4 knots (2-way average), moderate sea conditions, 2 crew, 25% fuel
0–30 knots: 7 seconds
As tested: £183,000 (inc. VAT)
Offshore Powerboats Ltd
Lymington Yacht Haven
King’s Saltern Road
Hampshire SO41 3QD
Photo credits: Greg Copp and Axopar