Boat test: Bavaria Sport 31

By: James Nicholls, Photography by: Barry Ashenhurst

Bavaria Sport 31 Bavaria Sport 31
Bavaria Sport 31 Bavaria Sport 31
Bavaria Sport 31 Bavaria Sport 31
Bavaria Sport 31 Bavaria Sport 31

The name Bavaria is synonymous with building outstanding motoryachts, and it has the trophy cabinet to prove it.

Boat test: Bavaria Sport 31
Is the Bavaria Sport 31 really "all things to all men" as our tester put it?

The Bavaria Sport 31 certainly comes with big wraps. Words like excitement, comfort, space, speed, safety, manoeuvrability, handling and practicality are liberally spread across the reviews by highly regarded critics around the world. Could this boat really be all things to all men?

Prospective buyers of the Sport 31 come in all shapes and sizes, metaphorically speaking. The vessel's big sister, Sport 34, would be an ideal craft for two couples or as a family boat, whereas the 31 is perhaps best suited to a single couple or smaller family.

Light and adaptable

The internal layout is open plan, with forepeak cabin separated from the rest of the living space by means of a fabric pull-across curtain. Yet this is no bad thing - the very openness of this living area is light-filled, well ventilated, and very adaptable. The suite of seats in the forward cabin can quickly be transformed into a comfortable double bed, while the two single beds in the owner's cabin convert easily into another double. The adaptability of this space provides a dynamic interior that, like its bigger sisters, gives the feeling of a larger vessel. So well-used and thought-out is the design that being on a 31-foot Bavaria is equivalent to being on some other manufacturers' 34-footers.

The Sport 31 is instantly recognisable as the smaller sibling of the Sport 34 and 43. The layout and materials are similar, which means Bavaria is able to keep its pricing competitive - they're not reinventing the wheel with each different model. Indeed, many of the fixtures and fittings are common across the entire Bavaria range, but with differences and concessions due to space.

There is less privacy in the 31's interior, although it looks basically the same as the bigger 34 - with the exception of the lack of a bulkhead and the single rather than twin-sink galley layout. But there's plenty of good storage space over the whole boat and the owner's bed is an impressive full size.

Stylish living

Our test boat benefits from a popular light oak finish rather than the darker mahogany option. In conjunction with the optional dark colour of the mattresses and cushion fabrics, it was a like being in a very sophisticated, upmarket lifestyle magazine. This is what the Bavaria Sport 31 is all about: living stylishly on the water. Of course, it's not a luxury live-aboard superyacht, yet for weekend fun in comfort or holidaying on the water, I cannot think of many vessels of its type better suited to the task. The quality feel continues in the cockpit, with lashings of teak on the extended swim platform and champagne-coloured upholstery - a fitting colour that perfectly suits the Sport 31's genre.

Realising the full value of your Bavaria is as much about selecting the right options package as it is about selecting the model itself. While these packages are comprehensive, they are relatively simple to get your head around. For instance, the accessories and navigation parcels selected for our test boat presented considerable financial savings over more basic options. The navigation kit had bowthruster, VHF cabling (including antenna), and a Garmin chartplotter, all for the cost of the bowthruster alone. The Relax package comes with some excellent goodies, including an engine bay ladder, extra refrigerator in the cockpit, a stainless steel cupholder for the helmsperson, along with the complete Fusion marine multimedia pack - every desirable entertainment option delivered with one tick of a box.

A real flyer

Any time we see the word 'sport' in a performance vehicle's moniker we expect to walk away from a test with a stupid grin on our face - and the 31 was no exception. This boat is fast, athletic, and easy to drive. Larger vessels from the range have been described as having ski-boat-like ability in the water, a characteristic further enhanced in the Sport 31 which is amazingly agile and responsive by virtue of its Z-Drive with the power-assisted hydraulic steering.

As a concession to its size, the 31 is available with single or twin-engine setups. If it comes within your budget, I would recommend going for the twin-engine option in either Volvo Penta diesels or MerCruiser petrol engines. Our test boat was fitted with the latter and it was a blast, but the choice, which is nice to be given, is yours. This is another great example of what is so good about the Bavarias - the options and choices that are available to the owner be it of a visual, cosmetic, or technical nature, allow each vessel to have its own identity and to satisfy the requirements of its owners.

The test boat is a real flyer and a hoot to drive. Unlike some of its rivals, this Bavaria, although manufactured many miles from the sea, allows its pilot to maintain a feeling for the water and the condition of the waves beneath its hull.

I was looking at an old USA motorboat publication from 1944 when I came across this paragraph that could have easily been written about the Sport 31: "It is a smart boat, which should make an excellent vessel for the younger generation to take up their boating in, and a number of young fellows could spend many pleasant hours aboard a dandy little craft such as this." To this quotation I would add the caveat that one could spend many pleasant hours aboard whether young or old, and this boat will appeal to the gals as well as the fellows.

As good as it gets

It has to be said that the Sport 31 is easy to play with, work on, get to, and maintain. The engines, concealed and quiet-running, rest in a tidy engine room, the cover doubling as a sunbed. The experience Bavaria has gained from listening to its customers for the past 36 years, along with the implementation of innovative production methods and state-of-the-art technology, means it has built a boat that is pretty much as good as it gets in this bracket.

The Sport 31 has been delivered at a price relevant to the market. Those who enjoy day boating, entertaining, weekending and holidaying aboard, either as a couple with friends or a family unit, should certainly assess the very considerable merits of this special craft.

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