Boat test – HMS tests the very first Mercury 600hp V12 rig in the UK and discovers even more to like than he bargained for in Nordkapp’s all-new flagship.

Every boatbuilder wants to create a model that defines them, that showcases their design and manufacturing skills – and, let’s face it, one that also gives their peers a darn good run for their money! In the case of the Scandinavian company Nordkapp, many will associate the brand with the production of high-quality, family sports craft – some four model ranges in all, plus Nordkapp’s outstanding, performance-orientated Airborne RIB range. These are all very convincing craft, and furthermore, as an ensemble, well aligned to our UK market. But there is another model range that, as I hope this article will reveal, portrays Nordkapp as being a boatbuilder of world-class stature.

The Nordkapp Coupe, which totals three versions in all, includes the Gran Coupe 905 V12, a boat that is not only the premier member of the three-boat range but that is also a model that can rightfully lay claim to being the flagship of Nordkapp’s entire fleet. In addition to this particular 905’s many commendable attributes, a key point of interest is the fact that it represents the very first Mercury V12 installation available in UK waters. This accolade undoubtedly gives testimony to the confidence Mercury place in the Nordkapp brand.

Nordkapp Gran Coupe 905 V12

Step inside the 905 V12 Gran Coupe and you are at once impressed by the spaciousness of the wheelhouse and its abundant use of natural light.

Keeping up appearances

The 905 V12 Gran Coupe’s profile is purposeful, almost aerodynamic in appearance, and though she shares some elements of contemporary design witnessed in other craft of a similar type, she unquestionably possesses an individualism that determinedly sets her apart from her peers – for instance, the fresh take on a traditional bow design that the boat displays. Note too the sweep of her cabin top/coachroof and the windscreen’s dynamic, all-weather-styled, forward rake. These combine to give just that touch of ‘menace’, which I personally love. The angles the cabin employs likewise then complement the curvature of the 950’s gunwale topsides with its associated powder-coated steelwork. These, no doubt, are designed to emphasise the vessel’s aesthetically pleasing, modern lines. See too how the moulded inset, which frames the 950’s contemporary portholes, then continues aft to become an extension of the hull’s spray rails. Clever! It’s not all about making a design statement, though, because this detailing also adds to this Coupe’s outstandingly dry ride, as we shall discuss later.

The volumnous sunroof.

The volumnous sunroof.

Another design asset is the subtle slope of this model’s bow profile, which in turn is proportionately balanced by the integration of ‘side wings’. Commencing at the cabin’s midway point, the latter then serve to provide additional security on the aft deck. Finally, the extra-big bathing platforms accessed via the 950’s open transom constitute the designers’ ‘sign off’, completing the cohesive appearance of the 950’s futuristic side profile.

But if anyone was to question the compatibility of that mighty 600hp V12 outboard unashamedly strapped to this boat’s stern, then in appearances at least, this beauty, the biggest currently available on planet earth, complements this model utterly. In fact, this boat/engine combination gives every indication of being a truly exciting and dynamic amalgam of form, purpose and downright waterborne desirability!

Come inside

Step inside the 905 V12 Gran Coupe and you are at once impressed by the spaciousness of the wheelhouse and its abundant use of natural light. The toughened glass panels that surround you on all four sides provide unhindered visibility, while by means of their tinted nature, a degree of privacy is afforded. The truly vast electric sunroof, when fully retracted, has the ability to transform this already well-lit internal space into one that is completely open to the sky – an absolute joy on a warm summer’s day. Plus, with both the big rearward-sliding door to the aft deck and the skipper’s starboard side door open, airflow is unhindered. Access to, and ‘connection’ with, the boat’s ‘walkabout’-styled companionway and the boat’s fore and aft social areas are likewise excellent.

Supportive helm seat on the Nordkapp Gran Coupe 905 V12

Supportive helm seat.

The wheelhouse cabin interior is a comfortable, well-appointed space, not only well attuned to sunny climes but also ‘out of season’ use as well. Put on the heating, shut the doors behind you and you’re snug and warm, no matter what the weather may be doing outside. Furthermore, with the wheelhouse doors closed, the already quiet-running V12 will not be heard, thanks to the quality of the cabin structure.

Spacious cabin with plenty of storage in the Nordkapp Gran Coupe 905 V12

Spacious cabin with plenty of storage.

Within this civilised interior, there’s adequate seating for family and friends on the port side behind the navigator’s position, and as with each area aboard this 905 Gran Coupe, absolutely loads of storage. A standout feature, though, is the helm and ‘flight deck’/dash with its top-of-the-range Garmin GPS plotter serving as the skipper’s complete ‘information station’. A logically arranged set of push button switches is located to the wheel’s left, leaving the business of throttle arms and the vessel’s SmartCraft joystick control with its Skyhook digital anchor and integrated AutoPilot and VesselView system comfortably to hand just right of the dash. Combined with the supportive and comfortable design of the adjustable helm seat set atop its raised locker unit, it all unites to deliver a helm position that is both commanding and most likeable from an ergonomic standpoint. Full marks, Nordkapp, you’ve got this fundamental aspect right, and as a consequence, this boat is a pleasure to drive – a commendable uniting of great design, common sense and the application of practical technology.

Comforts and amenities

While our test boat didn’t have the optional galley, she did nonetheless possess all the comforts and facilities one would look for in a well-equipped weekender/short-term cruiser. With the wheelhouse sofa seating duly adapted, this boat will sleep up to five people, and the huge double bed in the forward cabin is designed to accommodate an additional family member thanks to its port-side extension. Across the cabin sole’s small companionway, a full shower and heads compartment provides a nicely fitted and roomy amenity. Couple this to the forward cabin’s deep-set floor, generous under storage, side and ceiling natural light panels, and its head height entrance area and the result is a very worthwhile overnighting living area.

Rear lazerette for three on the Nordkapp Gran Coupe 905 V12

Rear lazerette for three.

Despite the cabin structure being of generous size, there still remains room for easy, safe, walk-around access on both sides. This is a commendable achievement on a sub-10m craft. The foredeck sunlounging area is a beautiful zone in which to relax on a balmy summer’s day. So too is the aft deck – with its near full-width lazarette seat, bulkhead lockers and full access to the big swim platforms – which provides both a good-sized working area and a semi-protected social zone, the latter being afforded by the extended rearward overhang of the wheelhouse roof.

Comfortable sun lounger complete with drinks holders.

Comfortable sun lounger complete with drinks holders.

The battery management panel on the Nordkapp Gran Coupe 905 V12

The battery management panel.

Cabin

 Spacious and beamy, the double cabin with a port side extension to sleep an additional family member, this coupled to the converted sofa provides sleeping for 5.

Spacious and beamy, the double cabin with a port side extension to sleep an additional family member, this coupled to the converted sofa provides sleeping for 5.

Driving experience

Among all the craft I have driven of this size and type, I would say that the 905 V12’s driving experience, thanks to her sure-footedness and overall seakeeping, is not only up there with the best of them, but that it exceeds most of them. You can tell from the ‘get-go’ that the stunning power pack she sports is truly made for her and she for it. How so? Because the 905’s power-to-weight ratio is absolutely spot on, as is her COG. Indeed, her overall lateral balance and natural attitude underway mean not only that this boat runs super-efficiently and level, but that its enhancements, such as the auto-trim system, really do ‘enhance’ the boat’s performance as opposed to having to ‘correct’ fundamental inadequacies. Furthermore, the 905’s fuller bow (as opposed to the ‘dreadnought’ variety so common on others in this category) delivers a reassuring degree of forward lift – something that’s particularly relevant in following seas. 

Holding through the turns.

Holding through the turns.

Commanding helm position.

Commanding helm position.

The hull’s underside is of the deep-vee, non-step variety. Its hydrodynamic qualities are evident at all speeds and are assisted by the use of a very efficient combination of chines and spray rails. In this regard, the boat is helped to run level, true and noticeably dry. If, however, you were to take some spray, the wipers would have no difficulty clearing it. After all, the 905’s forward-raked windscreen is the preferred choice for all craft intended for all-weather use.

Counter-rotating props.

Counter-rotating props.

The 905’s underside also ensures that she can turn on a sixpence, if so required, without any misbehaving involved whatsoever. Possessing just the right amount of grip coupled to that little bit of freeness a good hull needs to ‘breathe’, she excels underway both at her economical cruising speed of around 24 knots and her all-out speed just shy of 50. But the way in which all 12-cylinders kick in when that mid RPM threshold is breached is nothing short of breathtaking! Within a split second, this 7.6L maxi outboard can cast its contrite and convivial character aside to instantaneously engage ‘overdrive’ – and with a commitment and determination that is as striking as it is compelling. 

Mercury 600hp V12.

Mercury 600hp V12.

However, if you fear this 600hp outboard could be drinking a bowser’s worth of fuel at every opportunity given it, don’t panic. Remember, the Mercury 600 V12’s key design objective was to offer an alternative to the diesel inboard and thereby deliver, to the best extent possible, an engine of similar torque while operating within the constraints of a petrol outboard. Mercury’s V12 achieves this to an impressive degree, as was evidenced by the fact that while subjecting the 905’s rig to five hours’ worth of ‘everyday’ use, along with all the throttle setting variations such would include, our test boat used a total of just 60 litres’ worth of fuel! Of course, with the added benefit of real-time smart gauges, fuel monitoring can be fine-tuned continually while driving. 

The 905’s overall lateral balance and natural attitude underway mean this boat runs super-efficiently and level.

The 905’s overall lateral balance and natural attitude underway mean this boat runs super-efficiently and level.

In conclusion, I can only speak well of the Nordkapp 905 V12 Gran Coupe. It certainly lives up to its flagship status and I have no criticism to make of it. It’s one of the best boat/engine combinations we’ve trialled in recent times.

Specifications

  • LOA: 29.9ft
  • BOA: 9.8ft
  • Fuel capacity: 82 gallons
  • Max. HP: 600hp
  • Max. persons: 9
  • Extras fitted to test boat include:
    • 2 x Garmin GPSMAP 1223xsv plotters/sounders
    • Fusion RA210 marine stereo with 4 x Signature Series speakers
    • Electric flush toilet & sink with 45L septic tank
    • Freshwater installation with 48L tank
    • Hot shower on transom
    • Bow & stern sun deck kits
    • Electric sliding pano roof
    • Electric trim tabs
    • Electric windlass
    • Webasto cabin heating & hot water system (multi-fuel electric or diesel)
    • Quadruple battery set-up
    • Shore power
    • Bow thruster
    • Stern thruster
    • Fridge
    • Cockpit cover/canopy
    • Cockpit table

Price

  • Boat as tested with 600hp Mercury V12 outboard: £319,950 (inc. VAT)

Contact

www.willsmarine.co.uk

www.nordkapp-boats.com

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