This article originally appeared in May 2017 on Boats.com.
Does the Prestige 680S do enough to stand out from the 70-foot flybridge market? Alex Smith heads for the French Riviera to find out.
ON THE OUTSIDE
For a start, the appearance of the 680 S is extremely distinctive. As the Sport variant of the 680, it uses a fly deck set further aft, enabling it to adopt quite a deep-set stance without compromising headroom on the main deck. That also generates space for a big sunroof above the lower helm, but it’s the external impact that’s particularly impressive. Despite its three decks, you get a distinctly modest profile, with a bridge clearance almost four feet lower than that of the conventional 680. Factor in the slightly silvered mirrored windows, which further mitigate the vertical scale with pleasing reflections of the sky, and the Prestige is as streamlined as any 70-foot flybridge could be.
ON THE INSIDE
Despite those raked external lines, the sense of space throughout the 680S is remarkable. The open-plan layout no doubt helps with that, but even in areas that are traditionally quite tight, like stairwells and shower stalls, the generosity of dimension is striking both in terms of footprint and headroom.
The main deck comes with a two-tier arrangement, featuring an aft galley and dining area in the lower saloon, and an expansive lounge area on the upper tier behind the two-man helm station. Virtually the entire upper area can be bathed in natural light courtesy of that overhead sunroof–and yet the fly is still a fully-featured deck, with a wetbar, a dining area and a wraparound screen that (unlike the majority of its type) affords both you and the sunbathers some useful protection underway.
However, it’s on the lower deck that the 680 S really excels. So often on boats of this type the forward space is used for a sprawling concoction of guest cabins, while the master suite is jammed beneath the saloon floor and butted up against the engine room’s forward bulkhead. But here, that’s reversed. By positioning the master suite in the bow, both the headroom and natural lighting are radically improved. And since the three guest suites are accessed via their own staircase on the starboard side of the lower saloon, the privacy is also first class.
ON THE WATER
Put the hammers down and the Prestige lifts flat onto the plane in around seven seconds, before pushing on to a top end approaching 30 knots in around 30 seconds. That’s not incredibly rapid either in terms of outright pace or throttle response, but the integrity of the boat’s balance enables very secure turns, with good maintenance of pace, very light steering adjustments, and remarkable refinement. Set the throttles at 2,000 RPM and you’ll enjoy one of the easiest and most civilized 23-knot cruises imaginable. Talking in hushed tones is possible and even with the sunroof fully open, noise and vibrations are minimal.
She handles too–and not with the inelegant lurches and ponderous wallows of a top-heavy tri-deck cruiser, but with the composed and proactive heels and recoveries of a thoroughly well-designed cruiser. The lower center of gravity and reduced windage of the deep-set flybridge certainly play their part in that, but so does the fact that there are no engine options to spoil the dynamics. The 680 S has been designed around a pair of Volvo Penta’s IPS 1200 pod drives. While you might crowbar another knot or two into the envelope if you started messing around with different engines or drives, any speed gains might well be overshadowed by extra weight, reduced range, compromised refinement, less composed handling, and an inflated price tag. It’s popular to give the customer a choice, but in this case it makes more sense to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the design team.
There are few areas of irritation and foible on board the 680 S, but they do exist. There’s a speaker above the windscreen on the main deck that is perfectly positioned to smack you in the head as you stroll past. The fact that it’s a Bose certainly helps take the edge off the pain but it’s not ideal. Similarly, the Skipper’s door is positioned too far aft of the helm to be of any practical use to the captain. More irksome, that same door features quite an elevated frame which caused me to stumble out into the starboard walkway, and there are several deck-level variations elsewhere on the boat.
For those of us who want to see designers explore better ways of doing things, the 680 S from Prestige represents one of the most refreshing platforms around. The refinement and composure are very good indeed and the space management is also exemplary. It looks like a sporting coupe but it comes with a flybridge, a sunroof and proper headroom throughout the main deck. And yet my fondness for it is not down to measurements and specs sheets; it’s down to the way it feels. With its aft fly deck, its forward master suite, its commitment to dynamic balance and its raked mirror-glass finish, it is one of the most charming three-deck cruisers sensible money can buy.