They call Montana “big sky country,” but after enjoying the view from Beneteau’s Gran Turismo 45, I feel that this 48-foot-6-inch express cruiser challenges that 147,040-square-mile state for the moniker. That’s because the retractable hardtop over the Beneteau’s helm deck opens to unveil 48 square feet of sunshine and open atmosphere. Add in the fact that Montana is disconcertingly landlocked—and has not one single leaping dolphin or soaring seabird to gaze upon—and we can call the title officially usurped.
While the sheer size of the Beneteau’s top is one thing, how it opens is noteworthy as well. It slides back nearly silently at the press of a button, then locks into position without so much as an audible click. The same goes for the cabin’s after bulkhead window, which swings up with another button press and then also inaudibly locks itself in place.
Silence matters, especially on a yacht that strives to deliver luxury, and Beneteau went beyond eliminating loudly humming motors and clacking latches. Creaking, groaning and squeaking are also things of the past. The door frames and hatches belowdecks have rubberized gaskets that eliminate rattling. Beneteau opted to core forward sections of the hull, to eliminate the hollow drumming sound so many vessels make as they cruise through a chop.
Net result? I measured sound levels in the forward stateroom, where guests would normally be subjected to the most water noise while running. On smooth water, my meter showed 72 decibels (65 decibels is the level of normal conversation). When the boat was hitting waves, sound levels rose by just 2 decibels. Problem solved.
As much as I enjoyed riding belowdecks, the helm deck is where owners will spend the bulk of their cruising time. And after opening the sunroof and bulkhead window, they can slide back the side windows, prop open the door and bring the outside inside. No one should have any worries about salty breezes interacting with the interior, either. Hardware includes polished stainless-steel pedestals at the dinette, as well as beefy stainless-steel hatch hinges on the wet bar. All the pieces and parts can withstand the elements should one fail to button up when weather dictates. This particular GT 45 also had a solid-teak deck, which offers longevity, easy cleanup and a grippy feel underfoot.
As far as accommodations go, the GT 45 has a two-head, two-stateroom layout with the galley down. Rather than shoehorn in a third stateroom, Beneteau included a lower settee and dinette (across from the galley) in addition to the one abaft the helm up on the bridge deck. This design choice maintains a feeling of excess elbow room throughout the yacht. There are no confining companionways, and the heads—each with a separate stall shower—feel spacious. Hullside windows with opening ports allow gobs of sunlight and, if one so chooses, a natural breeze. Should an owner want more berths on board, the lower salon can be replaced with an optional third stateroom with bunk beds.
The forward stateroom has a scissors-style berth, which provides a pair of singles when separated or a queen berth when closed. The full-beam master stateroom is amidships, with a queen-size pedestal berth and stowage in counters to each side. There’s also a pop-up TV.
As nice as the staterooms may be, when the throttles are at rest, the bow is another area owners will hear calling their names. Like many cruising yachts, the GT 45 has a lounge up there. Ratcheting backrests allow guests to recline however they desire, as opposed to flip-flop backrests that offer just one or two positions. And when the sun is beating down, a mini Bimini top folds out. Grab the bar and pull it up, clip on the support straps, and everyone has it made in the shade.
What about after the sun sets? Fold up that Bimini top and gaze at the Milky Way. Big Sky Country, indeed.
Double the Fun
Some yachts in this class have either a small transom garage or a swim platform capable of carrying a tender, but the GT 45 has both. The garage—equipped with an electric winch—can house tenders or toys up to 7.5 feet in length. The hydraulic swim platform can raise and lower with a tender or PWC on it. Atop the garage is a sun pad with a flip-open electric grill built into the after end.
Go with the Flow
The GT 45 rides on Beneteau’s Air Step hull, which ducts air under the hull and introduces it at the hull’s lowest point to reduce drag without impeding handling. This latest version of the system utilizes three times the volume of the air compared to the original Air Step. To ensure that there were no issues with air affecting the Volvo Penta IPS drives, Beneteau built a prototype, and Volvo Penta validated its performance before the GT 45 went into production. Powered with twin 440 hp Volvo Penta IPS diesels, the yacht made a top-end speed of 26.3 knots at 3,390 rpm. At 3,000 rpm, the GT 45 made 21.5 knots—and that was on a hull that had been in the water for two weeks without bottom paint. Beneteau’s representative said top-end speed commonly exceeds 30 knots.
Beneteau strove to take fit-and-finish to true yacht level on the GT 45. In the engine room, for example, hoses are double-clamped with rubber caps protecting the sharp edges. Owner-operators will be safe running a finger over the zip ties that secure hoses and wires; not only have the ends been clipped off, but they’ve also been smoothed out to prevent snags or scratches.
Take the next step: beneteau.com