by Dom Wiseman

There’s no doubt the Riviera 5400 Sports Yacht is a spectacular craft. It’s big, bold, stunning looking and it delivers that single level living Aussies have come to love. The Riviera 5400 made its world debut at the Miami Boat Show earlier this year and was a star attraction at the Sydney Boat show in July.

From bow to stern it exudes the confidence and class leading design skills that have returned Riviera to a world-class manufacturer. While many may consider the European builders the true connoisseurs of design, this boat certainly takes it to them and competes on every level.

The exterior is all class with a sweeping deck line that gives way to a beautiful hard top. Even the inset port windows along the hull mimic the lines of the deck. There is a sunroof to allow the wind in your hair feeling while every separate area confidently blends into the next delivering a truly spacious feeling throughout.

The entertaining capabilities of Riviera 5400 is evident as soon as you step onto the rear hydraulic swim platform that is large enough to use as a sun deck. It is even big enough to mount a personal water craft or tender for quick and easy deployment. It can also be lowered into the water, revealing a tender garage situated underneath the rear cockpit floor.riviera 5400-1

riviera-5400-3Stunning teak-topped steps run either side of the hull providing access from the swim platform to the cockpit. There is a stainless steel gate at the top of the steps on either side. They not only look great but also add a degree of safety to the cockpit, especially for those times you have young children aboard.

The cockpit is a truly versatile area with an aft bench style lounge that runs between the gates at the transom. There is a C-Shaped lounge and table in the starboard corner. When not being used as dining area the table can be lowered turning it into a full-sized sun bed. Cleverly, storage is hidden in the armrests of the lounge keeping this area free and uncluttered with ropes and fenders. Along the port side of the cockpit, butting up to the rear sliding door, is a wet bar that removes the need to be traipsing in and out of the saloon each time you need some refreshments.

A hidden docking station, which you can order on the port or starboard side completes the cockpit features. I learnt just how useful it was during a series of tight manoeuvres required to leave the marina on the morning of the test.

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Access to the front of Riviera 5400 is via nice wide gunnels with a sturdy stainless rail that runs the full length of the hull making the trip forward easy and safe. On the bow you will find a sun bed, with shade, that makes a comfort, and protected, space for some quiet reading or relaxation.

The galley is located in the rear quarter of the saloon and allows owners to serve from the wet bar outside or the internal galley via the large sliding door or through the rear window on the starboard side which opens up to create a stylish servery. It’s design elements like this that make this boat one of the best entertainers I’ve seen.

Inside the spacious layout continues with lounges running along the port side all the way up to the uniquely placed central helm station. By locating the helm station in the centre of the boat, a stairwell, leading into a light and airy lobby, could be built to access the living area.

The master suite is located amidships, directly in front of the bulkhead that separates the tender garage but it’s still very quiet here with the generator located away from the nearest wall. The master uses the full beam of the boat with ample light provided by the portholes that run laterally. It has storage in the form of full-length lockers with a day bed to the starboard side and a vanity with drawers to port. It also has an en suite with toilet and separate shower.

The VIP cabin sits right at the bow with an island bed plus storage either side. The third cabin, with bunks, could be used as a lounge area if you prefer. There is a second bathroom that services these two cabins.

The boat is wired with CZone control that manages functions like climate control, entertainment. It is also used to monitor the engines. With WiFi connectivity all this can be done from a table anywhere on the boat or from the 10-inch CZone touch pad mounted on the dash.

Taking up the rear two thirds of the space below decks of the Riviera 5400 are twin Volvo Penta IPS2-800 D11 engines. Each produce 626hp and are coupled to pod drives. With this configuration the 5400 delivers a top speed 30 knots (56km/h). For a boat of this size that is more than quick enough.riviera 5400-13

riviera-5400-8The engines are controlled via Volvo Penta’s Glass Cockpit system that integrates with the IPS controls. It also comes with Dynamic Positioning that has the ability to hold the yacht in one place via GPS positioning. This is a very useful tool when docking as it keeps the boat alongside the marina, without hitting, giving you plenty of time to secure lines.

It has a supremely comfortable helm seat that has plenty of adjustment (electrically controlled). Finding the right driving position is an easy task. Given I wasn’t used to driving the boat I moved the seat closer to the steering wheel than I normally would. I did this to make it a little easier to see the bow. When more familiar to its habits, and size, this wouldn’t be necessary. The steering wheel, throttle and IPS joystick are well positioned and the digital screens are located directly ahead.

The Riviera 5400 is very manoeuvrable with the IPS joystick and performance is excellent. The only issue was at slow speeds there is a slight delay between movement and action. The steering is car like in that it is precise and doesn’t lag or oversteer turning the boat too far.
riviera 5400-16It doesn’t exactly jump up onto the plane when you push down accelerator. It tends to build up speed steadily lifting out of the water as it goes. Even as it is building up speed it cuts through chop and rises confidently over the swell. At cruising speed it produces a comfortable and confident ride. In the saloon engine noise is barely audible. It is so quiet at the helm it’s difficult to get an accurate impression of the speed you’re doing. There is a slight vibration as the engines spin but it’s minimal and hardly unnerving.

When you throw the boat into a turn you appreciate the work Riviera has put into its design and engineering. Even when turning hard it beds into the turn in a sweet fashion and the ride remains comfortable. Vision is excellent although I would prefer a double glass window instead of the three-pane one used.

The Riviera 5400 is not as sporty as the Riviera 4800SY we also tested. But it is much bigger and combines single level living with an exceptional layout that oozes class. It is also a very functional boat that has been designed with entertaining in mind. If you’re in the market, you’ll appreciate the openness of the design and three-berth layout. Upstairs is where it really flows with the saloon and rear cockpit seemingly one. In fact you’ll rarely be downstairs.

Stunning appearance
Solid performer

I can’t afford it

Price: $1,629, 000 (as tested)
Construction: GRP Fiberglass
Length Overall: 17.29m
Beam: 4.88m
Draft: 1.28m
Dry Weight: 21,700kgs
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta IPS 800s with IPS12 drives
Fuel Capacity: 3000 litres
Water: 800 litres