Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Volvo Penta is synonymous with quality and they have an excellent global reputation for building products that deliver exceptional reliability. On a beautiful July day recently, the opportunity was granted for us to test a pair of Volvo Penta’s IPS 10 D6 650’s. Don’t worry, I promise to break down the acronym in a moment.
I was very pleased to have one of Volvo Penta’s Sales Professionals with me, as my advance research brought me to this test day armed with a multitude of questions. My first lesson of the day was regarding some of the innovations from the brand over the years – I was shocked to learn that Volvo Penta were first to market with sterndrive, joystick, duo prop, and forward-facing drives (admittedly I knew they were first with forward facing drives but the rest, well that was news for me). The top benefits of forward-facing drives are improved handling, performance, and fuel efficiency. Every boat owner can appreciate these. I smiled when I learned that Volvo Penta’s mantra was ‘easy boating from bow to stern.’ I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Our test boat was the 2022 Tiara C44 Coupe, a beautifully engineered vessel with a 14’ 11” (4.54 m) beam, an overall length of 45’ 6” (13.87 m), and a dry weight of 28,700 lbs (13,018 kg). Without overstating the obvious, that’s a lot of boat, and this was surely going to put the Volvos to the test.
Let’s define the first set of acronyms - IPS 10 D6 650’s.
The real excitement on this day was that our test boat was equipped with Assisted Docking – Volvo Penta’s innovation targeted at reducing stress while docking by improving low-speed maneuvering.
For me, it all starts at the helm where state of the art technology and ease of use work harmoniously together. The ‘Glass Cockpit’ brings information on all systems to one place. Our test boat featured a pair of 16” Garmin touch screens and the amount of operational detail at my fingertips was a little daunting. At the same time, it was also incredibly simple to access. The answer is simply to spend time at the helm familiarizing yourself with the system.
The ergonomics of the joystick are awesome, and the functionality is exceptional. Move your boat sideways, diagonally, forward, reverse, or on a rotation – it’s all at your fingertips with precision control. Buttons on the joystick activate the Assisted Docking/Dynamic Positioning System (DPS), another activates or deactivates the joystick, and the lower right button is for ‘High Mode’ providing access to a little more RPM when you need it to overcome winds and strong currents.
The DPS technology is ahead of the curve as multiple satellites track and maintain the boat’s heading or hold you safely in position. We tried this in multiple wind and wake scenarios and quickly learned how effective this works and how much this benefits approaching slow speed maneuvers – things like docking, entering a fuel dock, heading into an anchorage, et cetera. The built-in micro repositioning feature allows the operator to tap the joystick and slowly move the boat about 1 foot (30 cm). Rest assured, I tried this repeatedly on our 28,000 lb test boat and it works flawlessly.
Side Push is a standard feature of Assisted Docking, and after only a couple of attempts we quickly found how this beauty works, too. This is all about bringing your watercraft into the dock sideways. The operator’s role is to gently move the joystick in the desired direction and then activate the Side Push button on the Garmin and watch as the boat moves in increments as small as 3”.
With all these drive system engagements, it is warranted to expect to hear a certain amount of engine and drive train noise. There are two diesels back there and both are equipped with forward facing drives and duo props, so of course we expected to hear shift noise. Wrong. The drives are mounted in the hull with monster ‘O rings’ that are designed to absorb the noise before it hits the stringer system and ultimately enters the helm and interior. After spending several hours on the water, I can also say that the sounds of the diesels are also virtually silent. At no point in our testing of multiple hole shots, cruising speeds and wide-open throttle (38.2 MPH @ 3,820 RPM) were the engine sounds anything other than subtle.
Volvo Penta has sent a clear shot across the proverbial bow that they intend to continue enhancing their position as industry innovators. Assisted Docking is a huge step in the right direction of making boating easier and that’s great news for years to come.