‘Handles like a boat’ is not a fulsome compliment in the automotive world – it’s usually a dig at large, unwieldy and dynamically challenged vehicles from the dark ages of automotive design. But for a boat to handle like a car is quite another matter. The new AM37 from Quintessence Yachts is a day boat with sporting pretensions. Designed by the Dutch-based ship builder in close collaboration with Aston Martin‘s design studio, this twin-engined machine is intended to be a gran turismo for the waves, a swift cruiser for the open ocean, all put together with the same care and attention to detail as Aston Martin’s acclaimed four wheeled portfolio.
The AM37 began life as a conversation, a ‘what if’ speculation intended to explore credible ways of taking the car company’s design language and rock solid brand image into different sectors. Reasoning that high-end boat owners and supercar drivers were quite often cut from the same cloth, frequenting the same places and wanting the same mix of craft, design, luxury and performance, the idea was set. Aston Martin’s design team drew up the ultimate speedboat, a day cruiser designed to deliver the same level of visual detail, aural excitement and material seduction as an Aston Martin sports car.
Quintessence were the perfect partners, a Dutch company with the skills and experience in building high performance boats with cutting edge technology and hull design. Working with its long-time partners, naval architects Mulder Design, Quintessence offered up a hull design that was sleek, speedy and refined. The AM37 is built around this solid core, using twin 520 Mo Cruiser engines to deliver a socking great punch when needed but also the ability to gently cruise from place to place with excellent refinement.
Aston and Quintessence cite a 50-knot top speed for the AM37S variant, putting this two-berth day cruiser in the upper echelon of performance boats. Not all owners will use every last drop of power, of course, but it’s good to know the boat will outrun all but the most dedicated performance machines. This high-speed ability is the Aston DNA at work. From the outset, Quintessence has striven to capture the essence of the ‘gran turismo’, that fabled automotive unicorn that’s as much about romance and intention as it is about real world ability. The boat builder describes its ideal customer as someone with a superyacht moored nearby (it would take a bit of alteration to turn the AM37 into a tender, but it’s no impossible) who’s seeking a bit of quiet time without the close attention of the crew. Designed to be easy to operate, delightful to drive and practical to own, the idea is that the AM37 can whisk a select group away to some secluded spot, with no need to enlist an entourage.
As a result, the boat is extremely practical. That performance and ride quality is backed up by lashings of craftsmanship and material quality, using the same suppliers and a similar attention to detail as one would find in a road-going Aston Martin. The cabin has a compact galley and washroom, and a table that converts to a double-bed, while the cockpit itself is kitted out with a digital dash, leather covered seat and enough chrome and carbon fibre to give even the most vivacious four-wheeled AM a run for its money. Quintessence has pulled out the stops to make the AM37 a technical showcase, with a dedicated app that operates covers, roofs and steps remotely, and nice touches like a champagne cooler that glides out and opens up to offer you a glass or two of something cool.
Aston Martin is not the first car company collaboration to set sail in recent years. Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz have both unveiled ocean-going iterations of their most upscale design ideas. The AM37 feels like the most resolved, perhaps because it brings together a delight in material and surface as well as the crucial performance aspects. This powerboat feels like more than a mere brand extension, but a genuinely successful attempt to take a century-old marque into another realm.