Light, fast and perfect when you take the waves on the bow. It is a seafaring boat and, thanks to Brabus, looks, design and comfort haven’t been forgotten
by Niccolò Volpati
The boat was designed in Finland, and it was built in Poland, while Brabus is a German brand that is well known in the car world, and the London branch handles sales. It could hardly be more European than that… And for the test, we had the French waters of the Côte d’Azur. Villefranche, to be exact.
The conditions were fairly tough. They would have been perfect for kite-surfing, but you can’t say the same for an open boat of around nine and a half metres, with two 250 hp outboards on the transom. Actually, it was better that way – with a flat sea and no wind, nearly everything works well. The waves were around 30 cm high and rose to 50 as soon as we moved away from the coast. That isn’t excessive, but they were steep. Enough to give trouble to a boat that isn’t that large, or that heavy. And then there was the wind that was blowing at between 15 and 20 knots. Upon leaving the harbour we took the waves head on. The feeling was very positive.
The V-shaped bow did its work quite exceptionally. It cuts through the waves and doesn’t jump. There was no bouncing, or falling into “holes”. Shadow 500 is very light and there was as much as 500 hp on the transom. The acceleration is notable, and so too was the speed. Without too much effort we did more than 50 knots and we did that with the waves head on. That is really exceptional. Not many boats of this size could have managed it. Or at least they would have done, but at the cost of a loss in steadiness. I was impressed by this boat’s safety and stability.
Despite its limited weight, the bow cuts through the waves as if it were an ice-breaker. But taking the waves side on, it was a different feeling. I felt a lot less safe when I was in the hollow of the wave and tried to go full speed. That will be because of the boat’s very limited beam, but I didn’t feel especially glued to the water. The boat felt as if it were a little bit at the mercy of the waves. And I got the same feeling when I was in neutral to take the waves side on. The boat is actually less than three metres wide, and its seakeeping qualities are not in doubt. As far as ease of handling is concerned, I had nothing to object.
Brabus Shadow 500 is very agile, and turns easily both at low speeds and with the throttle opened right up.
It turns well without tilting too much. There is also the trim assistance to help you concentrate on the wheel and the throttle because the Mercury system automatically deals with the trim. But something that I felt hadn’t been done so well was the way it was protected from the spray. It was a tough day for that too because the wind was unforgiving. The rippling waves and stiff wind don’t let you get away with anything if you don’t take the right approach. The waves never got into the cockpit, but the spray did. Perhaps they could have done a bit more with the rubbing strake to protect passengers in the stern. I actually noted that the bow wave started a long way forward. The boat is very flat to the water, not at all stern heavy and consequently, the spray starts from the bow.
As well as the way the boat behaved taking waves on the bow, there are figures to confirm how good the hull is. Fuel consumption, as well as speed figures, mean a lot. The Shadow 500 is quick, there is no doubt about it. But essentially if you take a light boat and fit it with five hundred horsepower, it is distinctly likely that it will be quick. But what is surprising is how limited fuel consumption is. A flash reading, so litres per hour, depends on how good the engine is. In our case, we had two Mercury ProXS engines, which are especially good for bass boats and fishing boats in general and so also for a hull like the one used on this boat.
But the litres per mile used is a very significant figure and one in which as well as what the engine does, the water lines also play a large role. From minimum planing speed, which we reached at 2600 rpm and less than 13 knots, up to the top speed of 53.7 (which we reached at 6000 rpm), less than three litres or not much more than that were required to cover a mile. To be exact, 2.9 litres were needed for minimum planing speed, and at limited cruising speed that consumption figure fell as far as 2.2 litres, before then rising to 2.6 and 3.2 litres per mile at top speed. That is unquestionably a figure that shows we are talking about a very efficient hull, and you just have to consider that the flow meter showed the same reading, of 2.9 litres per mile, both at the minimum planing speed of 13 knots and also at 5500 rpm and just under 50 knots. Below decks there are two berths for anybody who wants a room during the day, or for anyone who wants to use the boat for short-range cruises.
The deck set-up is all about comfort. There are six seats, all of them well-padded and comfortable even when the sea is rough and you are doing fifty knots, and there is no lack of handrails. In any area of the cockpit you can always find something to hang on to. That is also because of the structure that holds up the sun top, and because of the rollbar in the stern, which is perfect for the tow bar for water skiing and for fitting navigation lights and antennas. But the deck isn’t all about speed. There is a lot of room for stowing equipment and anything else you want to bring on board. There are also a number of fridges that slide out from under the seats. It is an Axopar with Brabus Marine customisation.
Two Mercury ProXS 250 outboards each producing 250 horsepower provide the most power you can fit on the boat, and indeed we reached a top speed of nearly 54 knots. But, with such a light boat, we are certain that the Shadow 500 could do very well even with less power on the transom.
Brabus Marine London Group
Porto Turistico 52
I-16033 Lavagna (GE)
PROJECT: Axopar technical department
HULL: LOA 9.53m • Maximum beam 2.95m • Draft 0.80m • Light mass displacement 1,840 kg • Fuel tank volume 280 l
MAIN PROPULSION: 2xMercury ProXS 250 • Outlet mechanical power 186kW (250 hp) • 8 cylinders V-shaped • Swept volume 4,6 l • Bore&Stroke 92mm x 86mm • Compression ratio 1.75:1 • Maximal rotational speed 5600/min-6200/min • Dry weight 229 kg
EC CERTIFICATION: CAT B 6 people • CAT C 9 people
PRICE: 159,500 €, Excl. VAT • 209,500 €, Excl. VAT for the Black-Ops version
(Brabus Shadow 500, supercustom – Barchemagazine.com – March 2020)