A Lexus for the Waves

This new flagship is just that—a multimillion-dollar yacht—and we’re taking it for a spin

When you hear the words, “Honey, I’m thinking of getting a new Lexus,” you could be forgiven for presuming your better half is contemplating the purchase of a shiny Lexus LS 500 sedan or a gorgeous LC sports coupe. Certainly not a 65-foot Lexus LY 650 sports yacht. The price for such an extravagance? That would be $3.7 million, or $4.7 very nicely loaded.

Wait a second—a Lexus yacht? You heard right. Lexus is on a mission to evolve from an automaker into a luxury lifestyle brand. They reckon building a range of ultra-high-end yachts is one way of achieving that and have partnered with Wisconsin-based Marquis Yachts to birth a spectacular flagship. This isn’t simply an existing Marquis boat with a couple of Lexus badges glued to its superstructure. It’s a true joint venture, designed

from the keel up with serious input from the Lexus design and production teams in Japan.

To demonstrate the connection between car and yacht, Lexus invited Palm Beach Illustrated for an exclusive first drive of the new LY 650 prior to its world debut at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Tied up outside the historic Boca Raton Resort & Club, this beauty wows with its vast windshield, voluptuous hind quarters, and rich copper and steely gray color palette.

Climb aboard and the spectacular interior oozes Lexus-style craftsmanship, quality, and elegance. Step down into the sunshine-filled central atrium and doors lead to three spacious cabins. The full-beam owner’s stateroom is breathtaking, with its large hull windows, sexy lighting, and curvy cabinetry. The mirror-finished eucalyptus woodwork could have come straight out of a Lexus LS flagship sedan.

Our plan is to head from Boca into the Atlantic and cruise down to Fort Lauderdale. But the day’s forecast is enough to send The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore into a frenzy, with winds steady at 22 mph and gusting to a feisty 28.

“I’m game if you are,” says Randy Peterson, Marquis Yachts’ chief propulsion engineer and our captain for the day. At the press of a button, he fires up the twin 12.8-liter Volvo turbocharged inline-six diesels. Each delivers 1,350 hp to Volvo IPS drives with their twin, forward-facing props. On flat water they’ll thrust the LY 650 to a top speed of 33.5 knots—that’s 38.5 mph. From standstill, they can power this 73,000-pound speedster up onto the plane in just 12.5 seconds.

As we ease out of the Boca Raton Inlet, helming from the protected flybridge, we brace for the gnarly Atlantic rollers lunging toward us. The first one, a breaking six-footer, hits us bang on the quarter, sending spray cascading over the fancy sun loungers on the bow.
Time to power up. We push forward the throttles and the LY’s flared bow lifts gently and scythes through the heavy swell. Despite the big Volvos spinning at 2,450 rpm on wide-open throttle, there’s only the faintest hum from the heavily insulated engine room. In the big seas, the carbon-reinforced hull does a stellar job of parting the waves, tracking straight, and riding smooth through the washing machine–like water.

After an hour or so running at an easy 28 knots, I steer hard to starboard to enter Fort Lauderdale’s deep-water ship channel. Despite the confused sea, the big Lexus carves easily into the turn, shrugging off the whitecaps, feeling stable and confident.
“Quite a ride,” Peterson remarks as we tie up at the Pier Sixty-Six Marina. “I was really happy with the way it took the waves. That was pretty rough out there.”

Marquis is building its fourth LY 650, with three already sold, including our well-equipped $4.7-million launch version. Next year there’ll be a non-flybridge coupe LY 650, with plans already in place for a 48-footer. It won’t be long before you too could be uttering the words, “I just bought a new Lexus and it handles great in the waves.” «

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