It’s hard not to feel like a Bond villain when you’re at the helm of the Predator 75, Sunseeker’s latest go-fast sports yacht. It was, in fact, a Sunseeker Predator that was the boat of choice for Bond’s arch-villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. That was a triple-engine Predator 108 with surface drives, capable of outrunning 007 at over 42 knots.
The new Predator 75, with its shadow-gray hull and black accents, resembles a scaled-down stealth version of the Predator 108. It has the same needle-nosed bow, the same raked-back windshield, and the same swept-up superstructure design as the anti-Bond boat. I did a walkthrough of the 75 at its global premiere in October at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
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Last week, I had the chance to do a sea trial on the new Predator flagship. The other models in the series include 55- and 65-foot models. The 75, which replaces the 74 XPS, shares the same hull as the Sunseeker 75 Sport Yacht, but without its flybridge. The long foredeck and swept-back hardtop of the new Predator makes it look fast, even at the dock in Fort Lauderdale.
The 75’s theoretical top end of 40 knots comes courtesy of the upgraded 1,900 hp MAN V12 turbo diesels. A whopping 3,800 horses. Smaller, standard 1,550 hp versions are available. But as Loran Stavrou of OneWater Yacht Group, the U.S. distributor, puts it during the test: “It’s a Predator. Why would you want smaller engines?”
The Predator concept has been a staple in the British yacht builder’s line since 1996, when the first 80 was launched. The idea was to create a yacht that was fast and beautiful, but with a sizable interior. The lack of a flybridge means that you’re steering inside from the helm on the main deck, rather than up top in the open air.
That’s not necessarily a negative. My favorite feature was the carbon-framed glass sunroof above the helm station that measures more than 7 feet by 15 feet. In the open position, it offers the nautical experience of driving an open-top sports car. That means you can enjoy fresh air during good weather and button the hatches during bad. The 75 also has an opening side door beside the helm that increases visibility for docking, by allowing the helm person to step into the side passage to see over the sides.
It was a feisty day out in the Atlantic as we exited Fort Lauderdale via the cruise ship channel, with a strong northerly throwing up four- to five-foot waves. We closed the sunroof to fend off the inevitable spray, pushed forward the throttles, and to the accompaniment of a lovely, throaty turbo whistle, the 52-ton Predator climbed up on plane.
With the wind behind us, we got close to the Sunseeker’s claimed 40-knot top speed, but the water was too rough to see what the boat could really do at speed in flat conditions. That day was more about running through, avoiding and occasionally slamming into the ocean swells. Throttling back to the yacht’s 30-knot sweet spot put the Predator right in its element, turning the slamfest into a fun ride.
We spent close to an hour offshore. Hard-over turns on the 75’s deep-V hull delivered the kind of super-tight response one might expect from a 30-foot sport boat. The turns became even more dramatic when the Predator’s Side-Power Vector fin stabilizers temporarily acted up, creating even sharper leans as we did tight circles.
After playing in the surf, we returned to the dock, noting how well the 75 maneuvers in tight quarters with the bow thruster.
During a walkthrough, the Predator’s softer side became apparent, especially the way the salon flowed into the rear cockpit, courtesy of big, power-sliding glass doors that drop out of sight. The ability to open the boat to the elements, or close down instantly with the push of a button, is key to understanding the Predator ethos.
Sun-worshipping is a big part of life on a Predator 75. A short step from the cockpit was a large aft sunpad, sitting over a garage designed to accommodate a Williams 395 tender. At the bow was a U-shaped sofa, table, and sunpad with tilt-up backrest.
Back inside the boat, the galley-down arrangement may not be too thrilling to those who would rather cook on the main deck with everyone else. But the glass sunroof, windshield, and lower-deck side windows delivered plenty of natural light. The galley was equipped with Miele appliances, including a full-sized fridge, freezer, and 33-bottle wine cooler.
The Predator shares the same three-bedroom layout as its 75 Sport Yacht sibling. The full-beam master amidships, large VIP cabin in the bow, and a guest cabin with twins were all ensuite, boasting seven feet of headroom. There was also a stateroom for two crew, though a surprising number of 75s are owner-operated. Sunseeker also used quality materials throughout, with high-end finishes like carbon fiber, Calacatta quartz, bleached oak and stainless steel. Fit and finish was universally strong.
Pricing for this new Predator 75 starts at around $4.6 million, with our heavily optioned test boat stickering for $5.72 million. After our lively sea trial, I also realized that, as part of its DNA, each Predator comes with a license to thrill.
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