You can describe the Prestige 500S with four words: Very elegant. Very reasonable.
The luxurious Prestige yachts are built by Groupe Beneteau — the huge French boatbuilding conglomerate whose Beneteau and Jeanneau sailing yachts populate charter fleets worldwide and whose Lagoon catamarans have dominated the cruising catamaran market. Although this cool and stylish yacht is as different from other Groupe Beneteau products as a Rolls-Royce is from a Chevy, the Prestige series still takes advantage of all the industrialization, buying power and building technology of the Groupe Beneteau empire, which keeps the price reasonable and the standards high.
See the complete photo gallery here.
Really more of a coupe than an express cruiser, the 500S shares the same sweet Michael Peters-designed hull as the 500 Flybridge that was crafted specifically for Volvo Penta IPS pod-drives. The three-strake, hard-chine hull flattens out quickly aft, giving the pods good water flow as well as increasing the stability at rest. The result is a yacht that is comfortable and dry in a chop, fast (at 30 knots) and economical.
My first impression was that the 500S has more big windows than Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, but I was also impressed that the windows in the topsides are subtly recessed so that you won’t be rubbing glass against pilings. The cockpit isn’t particularly large for a 50-footer, but it isn’t wasting space either, and there’s room for a wraparound settee with table. I liked the optional cockpit controls for the engines, which fold out of the starboard house and make handling a cinch for couples. Our test 500 had the optional passerelle (which is mostly useless for Americans). The cockpit and swim platform are planked in teak.