Greg Copp finds himself in a Mediterranean lap of luxury as he sets out to discover whether the Monte Carlo 5S lives up to its glamorous name …
It may be a new tune played on an old fiddle, but the Monte Carlo 5S is a tune worth playing. Based on the previous MC5 flybridge, the MC5S is much the same boat with the flybridge sliced off. The appearance is remarkably similar, especially as the MC5 sports a compact flydeck up top, and both are offered and inevitably chosen with the striking aqua blue hull. However, there is no air of the MC5S being a cut-down flybridge cruiser either in looks, character or its driving experience.
When I view a boat’s spec I always turn to the engine page first, and two 435hp IPS 600s in a 15-tonne sports cruiser make me wonder about the word ‘sports’. As we powered out into the hazy Mediterranean morning I was expecting a lazy day, but in moments my perception of the boat had changed. The transition from displacement to planing happens pretty quickly as you flick past 15 knots, and then the boat is clearly off the hump. Before I even got round to looking at the trim level readings on my inclinometer I knew things were going well. IPS boats often have a tendency to run bow up, but the MC5S is certainly not one of these boats, as once you hit 20 knots the MC5S develops a really positive attitude, which gets better the faster you go. It was pretty much flat calm, which, though far from ideal for testing the boat’s sea credentials, was perfect for seeing how she performed. At 25 knots the MC5S hits her first sweet spot – I say ‘first’ because at 27 knots she has a second. At 25 knots the boat feels very settled, which, coupled to surprisingly low sound levels and a healthy 0.87mpg, is the sort of speed you can sit at all day. As we hit 27 knots she felt just that little better, probably as a result of dipping her nose down from 3.5 to 3.0 degrees. The skipper told me she was good for 29 knots – he was wrong, as she topped out at 31.2 knots on a two-way average.
Her response to the throttles is good and you certainly do not get an impression of her being underpowered. It certainly is testament to the hull’s efficiency that this level of performance can be had from a 50ft 15-tonne boat from the same 5.5L engine blocks that are used to power many smaller stern-driven sports cruisers. I would have liked some rough weather to test the distinctive sharp hull forefoot, which, with the boat’s good fore and aft trim, should be very effective. I did manage to churn a bit of my own chop, which, when turning into it flat out with the chines as the first point of contact, produced no creaks or bangs. The turning circle was a bit disappointing for an IPS boat and what I would expect from a similar-sized shaft-driven boat. I was told that for safety reasons the IPS had been calibrated at the slowest and least sporty setting.
Visibility looking forward over the port beam is greatly restricted when turning at speed due to the low height of the windscreen. If you are taking advantage of the flip-up seat bolster and choose to stand you will inevitably find yourself ducking down when turning to port. The best option is to stay seated, which with an adjustable steering wheel that is not a mile away and throttles that fall easily to hand is certainly no hardship. The clinically neat dash layout accommodates two 12-inch Simrad plotters. Sadly there is no conventional chart table, but on the port side sit four almanac/chart lockers. There are the options of a cockpit joystick and an aft-facing berthing camera. Though neither are cheap, I would advise it considering the blind spots over both stern quarters and the length of the bathing platform.
Like their Beneteau brethren, Monte Carlo Yachts have not put safety and practicality at the bottom of the design list. Deck access is quick and slick courtesy of substantial teak inlaid steps, wide side decks, deep toe rails and tall guard rails. The deck hardware is suitably hard-core, topped off with an engraved stainless steel stem plate that fits the stylish but practical character of the boat. Fender storage is made all the easier by a hidden compartment behind the flydeck steps. The cockpit has the option of either having the galley/wet bar/griddle set-up or the Williams Jet RIB garage complete with Jet RIB. It is a hard choice as the Jet RIB is a tempting tool, but you can’t help but be impressed by the griddle and drinks cooler sitting over the big hydraulic bathing platform – ideal if you are spending time out on the water. The flydeck is a clever concept, which, though not rated for use when underway, provides either a small dining/socialising area or a double sunbed. The reality is that it will probably balance the equation where some family members want some of the fun of a flybridge while the helmsman wants the driving experience of a sports cruiser.
Possibly having spent more time suffering solitary confinement in an engine bay than behind the wheel of a boat, I had no issues in descending the substantial steps into the Monte Carlo’s cavernous engine bay. Access is through a large, cockpit, gas-assisted hatch. The moment you pop the hatch, the raw-water strainers are staring you in the face, and as soon as you descend the steps into the neatly moulded engine bay, the filters and dipsticks come to hand, and even the generator is within easy reach.
Creature comfort is no less a facet of the MC5S. The first thing that hits you when you go inside is the aft-facing galley. The patio doors open fully, enabling the cockpit to become an extension of the galley, which in the evening can be lit by the overhead mood lighting in the underside of the flydeck. On the starboard side is located a large pull-out fridge and an even larger freezer next to it. Opposite sits the hob with oven below and a double-drainer sink unit separating the galley from the saloon. My only criticism is that the catches on the abundance of galley storage units could be stronger. The saloon reaps the benefits of the aft galley design, enabling plenty of seating down both sides and a large dinette to port. The light upholstery and joinery combined with an abundance of window space and sunroof give the interior an enhanced feeling of space.
Below, the large, full-beam owner’s cabin is nothing short of impressive. The benefit of IPS is the space it releases below decks. Any designer worth his salt will capitalise on this with a mid-cabin of tempting proportions, which is what Monte Carlo Yachts have done. There is plenty of standing headroom at the foot of the bed and down the port side, combined with masses of locker space beneath the portholes on each beam. Naturally it boasts a suitably luxurious en suite heads to match. The forward en suite guest cabin enjoys the benefits of no less than four portholes and a long rectangular deck hatch, all of which negate that dark and pokey feel that forward cabins often have. The third cabin houses two bunks, which though a more generous affair than most bunked cabins, and in the absence of children, is likely to get used as ad hoc storage.
Though owned by the Beneteau group, the Italian-built Monte Carlo range is distinctly Italian. The MC5S, with its striking aqua blue hull, mirror windows and sleek lines, is a perfect example of this. However, I am pleased to say that it still retains that practical and uncompromising Gallic touch for which Beneteau are renowned.
The Monte Carlo 5S, unlike some comparable 50-footers, is a sports cruiser deserving of the title. The hull is efficient and enjoys impressive trim readings for an IPS boat and relatively frugal fuel figures. The IPS was set to its mildest setting, which limited its rate of turn, but this can be set from the outset for a sportier ride if desired. Internally the boat has a light and spacious feel to it and is typically Italian in its stylish design. The below-decks accommodation is impressive, and in particular the full-beam mid-cabin and the unique flydeck give the MC5S a dimension normally reserved for flybridge boats.
Options and upgrades
This boat has a long list of options, some of which are different upholstery choices/upgrades. The aqua blue hull is an upgrade at £3,600 that is certainly worth having over a basic white hull. There are some more practical and exciting upgrades such as a Raymarine night vision thermal camera at £12,000 and an aft-facing berthing camera at the same price. You can also opt for an IPS joystick in the cockpit at £3,600, which true to Volvo form is pretty costly but something you would probably want to consider when berthing stern to. The boat we tested had the cockpit wet bar/galley option at £3,600, but alternatively you could have the Williams Jet RIB and garage in its place at £22,800, otherwise you will need to keep a conventional tender on the hydraulic bathing platform, which is part of the £72,000 ‘Trim level exclusive’ upgrade (as tested).
What we thought
- 31-knot performance
- Sure-footed ride, though the IPS was calibrated at the lowest steering setting and could be recalibrated for a more exciting ride
- Efficient hull resulting in good fore and aft trim and good fuel consumption figures
- Solid build
- Spacious accommodation
- Safe deck access
- Large hydraulic bathing platform
- Low sound levels
- Novel flydeck concept
- Engine access
- Aft-facing galley
- Poor forward visibility when standing due to height of windscreen
- Large blind spots over both stern quarters
- Weak catches on galley storage
- Some of the joinery lacked the finesse otherwise displayed by the rest of the boat
Speed, Noise and Trim
RPM Speed (knots) Trim (degrees) Fuel (Lph both engines) Sound at helm (dBA)
1000 8.2 2.0 6.0 58
1500 8.5 2.0 19.5 62
2000 10.8 2.5 42.5 66
2200 12.5 4.5 58.0 69
2400 14.8 4.5 67.0 69
2600 16.9 4.5 84.8 69
2800 20.0 4.0 97.0 69
3000 22.5 4.0 118.0 70
3200 24.9 3.5 131.0 73
3400 29.0 3.0 149.0 74
3500 31.2 3.0 167.0 76
Maximum top speed: 31.2 knots (2-way average with 5 crew, 50% fuel and 50% water) with F2 wind conditions.
- LOA: 15.10m
- Beam: 4.27m
- Displacement: 15.1 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 2 x 650 litres
- Water capacity: 2 x 330 litres
- RCD category: B for 14
- Engine options: Twin 435hp Volvo IPS 600 as tested
- Price as tested: £600,000 (inc. VAT) (£148,000 extras) subject to exchange rate