Considering that somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the earth's surface is covered by water – and that, if the global warming alarmists are right, that proportion of aqua to terra firma will only increase – it should come as no great surprise that the world's automakers and their designers have been setting sail on the open sea. Recent examples have included 28-foot speedboats and 135-foot catamaran megayachts penned by Porsche Design, sailboats and motor yachts from BMW DesignWorks USA, and speedboats from former Jaguar and Spyker supercar designers. The list goes on and on, and probably will continue to grow until we get the go-ahead to spin off Aquablog.
The latest pair – both rigid inflatables measuring over 40 feet long and packing ludicrous power – come from the collaboration between Italian shipyard SACS Marine and the Fiat Group: a white, outboard-powered open-plan tender for Abarth and a sleek black vessel for Lancia. The latter shares its nautical name with the motor launches that navigate the canals and waterways of Venice in the place of cars on any other city's streets. And that's just the venue the Italian automaker chose to launch – in every sense of the word – its stunning speedboat, during the international film festival it sponsored there this weekend.
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the Lancia di Lancia is a 13-meter rigid inflatable speedboat packing a pair of 560hp 6.7-liter 24-valve common-rail six-cylinder turbodiesels from Fiat Powertrain Technologies. It's capable of carrying 11 passengers on board in unparalleled style and topping out at 55 knots – impressive for an eight-and-a-half ton vessel, and easily the most dramatic vehicle to bear the Lancia name in decades. So much so, in fact, that Lancia and its onetime iconic sponsor Martini Racing rekindled their relationship for this speedboat. And just for kicks, they brought along Romanian supermodel Catrinel Menghia – the face of Giorgio Armani and Lise Charmel lingerie – for a cruise around the picturesque canals. You can enjoy the results in the high-resolution image gallery below and in the quartet of videos embedded (along with a press release) after the jump.
The Lancia Powerboat
Like a car, a boat distinguishes its owner.
Lancia shares common values with performance boating, typified by the pleasure derived from a unique form of travel.
Lancia's association with the sea dates back many years and involves sailing as well as powered boating. From the Flaminia class speed boats of the 1960s to the Monaco Classic Week 2009.
Now, Lancia's first powerboat is making its debut in Venice, a city where roads and cars are replaced by canals and boats - or launches (lance) as the Venetians prefer to call them.
The stage chosen for the event is the Venice International Film Festival, of which Lancia is main sponsor. While Lancia cars accompany celebrities to and from Palazzo del Cinema, the Lancia Powerboat will be carrying others to and from the moorings of the Hotel Excelsior.
The new boat has been developed jointly by four Italian companies, each leader in its own sector: Sacs, who produce luxury RIBs; FPT, a company in the Fiat Group and manufacturer of the "best in class" engines and Martini, regular partner of Lancia in the field of racing.
Boats and glamour
Lancia's involvement with boats dates back to the company's origins. Back in the 1920s, the company's founder, Vincenzo Lancia himself, drew inspiration from the ribbing of boat hulls to design the monocoque body shell of the Lancia Lambda, an innovation that changed car design for ever. Over the next decades the link between Lancia's prestigious cars and the yachting world grew even stronger, resulting in the creation of a special class of speed boats in the 1960s. Flaminia Class boats were three point racers powered by the same V6 engine as the Lancia Flaminia car. In 1980 Lancia sponsored the J24 sailing class, and in 1987 the finals of the One Ton Cup in Naples. Later, Lancia was behind the Azzurra boat in Italy's challenge for the America's Cup, as well as the Destriero, the boat that won the Blue Ribbon Atlantic crossing race with Cesare Fiorio, winner of six world rally championships and racing director of Team Lancia. For demonstration purposes a Class 2 offshore powerboat was even equipped with the 8.32 Ferrari engine used to power a special version of the Lancia Thema. In more recent times, Lancia has become a partner of the Monaco Yacht Club and sponsored the 2008 Viareggio-Montecarlo-Viareggio power yacht race. Lancia sponsored the Monaco Classic Week in 2007 and is doing again this year, the centenary year of the Yacht Club's flagship, the Tuiga.
It should also be remembered that Lancia's latest model, the Delta, is now the inspiration for a competition announced in Yacht Design magazine, with five of Italy's most prestigious marine design studios invited to re-interpret the car in a marine key. The proposed designs will be presented at the Monaco Yacht Club on the 24th September, during the Monaco Boat Show.
Cinema, fashion, design and marine sport are the stages that Lancia has chosen to consolidate its presence and highlight the class and style of Italian products.
The Venice International Film Festival brings all these elements together and is therefore an ideal opportunity for Lancia to take to the water, in the company of stars of the cinema.
Lancia is continuing its historic partnership with Martini, acting as technical sponsor for the Lancia Café in Venice's Hotel Excelsior.
Sports fans are sure to spot the distinctive red, dark blue and light blue stripes of the Martini Racing Team, enhancing the elegant livery of the Lancia Powerboat and evoking the domination of Lancia and Martini, first in the world rally championships of the 1980s and later in offshore class 1 powerboat racing. The continuing partnership between Lancia and Martini confirms the affinity of these two icons of Italian style for sport and elegance.
Martini, Lancia and Sacs provide the lifestyle and "joie de vivre", while the Fiat Powertrain Technologies provide the exhilarating engines.
The Lancia Powerboat
To get you moving on the water, Lancia has embodied all the aristocratic elegance of a great sports coupe into a boat built by Sacs. Sacs has twenty years of experience in producing all types of RIB, and is world leader in high-tech luxury RIBs. The Lancia Powerboat is the ultimate expression of this type of vessel.
The boat was designed, modelled and built using the advanced tools and equipment that have established Sacs as the sector's technical leader.
The Lancia Powerboat is the creation of Christian Grande, one of today's most talented boat designers, and the genius behind concepts that extend beyond the confines of boat design into the realm of dynamic art.
Each individual boat is unique, manufactured industrially, but finished with all the care and attention of a master boat-builder. The fibreglass hull is made using moulds finished by robot milling machines. Every component is then assembled and installed by hand to permit each boat to be personalised to customer specifications. In this way Sacs combines industrial levels of productivity with all the exclusivity of 'custom' production.
The Lancia Powerboat will be presented to the public at the Genoa Boat Show.
The hull is 13.10 metres in length, with a broad beam of 3.83 metres. These figures give a moderate coefficient of fineness, in search of balance between performance and comfort on board. A limited draft of only 0.80 metres permits navigation even in shallow waters. A weight to power ratio of about 7.5 kg/HP establishes the boat as one of the most powerful available. The two N67-560 engines by Fiat Powertrain Technologies are "best in class". The choice of JMD propulsion, as used in competitive powerboats, typifies the quest for high dynamic efficiency, not only for speed purposes, but to reduce consumption and emissions by ensuring maximum screw efficiency too. The fuel tank has a capacity of 1000 litres, giving sufficient autonomy even for long crossings. Cruising speeds range from 15 to 45 knots, while top speed under ideal loading conditions tops 55 knots. The Lancia Powerboat can carry up to 11 persons, and has a cabin to sleep two.
The modelling and finish of the exterior surfaces faithfully reflects Lancia style. Designed by Christian Grande, the Lancia Powerboat is characterised by an aggressive yet balanced profile, with perfectly proportioned bow, cockpit and stern. The hood blends perfectly with the lines of the boat, thanks to a low profile that accentuates the vessel's sporting character. You can nevertheless stand up in the cockpit even with the hood in place, if you want to drive in maximum comfort and total privacy. The bow deck incorporates two sunbathing mattresses to either side of the central walkway that leads to the bow like a catwalk for passengers to embark and disembark. In the same way, the engine covers at the stern are upholstered to create a second sunbathing area, with another walkway leading to the bathing platform. The windows are design elements of special importance, each with a specific function and style. The side windows accentuate the boat's aggressive character; the windscreen opens to the bow gangway, and the rear window evokes the fascinating style of a classic car. The RIB tubes are largely incorporated into the hull, emerging only where their presence serves to facilitate manoeuvring in tight spaces without the need for fenders. The tubes also ensure unsinkability by providing a number of separate air compartments. Rows of LEDs under the transom and front windscreen simulate the appearance of modern Lancia car lights and emphasise the advanced technology and racing temperament of the FPT engines. The deck expresses the boat's dynamism, with every aspect designed, shaped and finished to convey a sense of movement even when the boat is stationary. No perimeter handrails protrude to compromise the purity of the boat's sensuous lines. Passengers are nevertheless well protected by tall inboard backrests and experience a sensation of greater stability than normal thanks to the low cockpit floor. The sky is yours at the touch of a button too! The hood retracts into a dedicated compartment leaving the full beauty of the cockpit open to the sun. Martini Racing graphics add a final sporting touch. A fold-away LCD television and a galley complete the cockpit equipment.
In the cabin, furnishing is characterised by modern shapes and materials, and the lounge converts quickly to a double bunk. Air conditioning lets you escape from the heat of the sun and cool down. Bathroom facilities are minimalist but impeccably finished. There are even coloured LEDs to provide romantic lighting in the shower.
The driving experience
The Lancia Powerboat is the ideal choice for owners of character, lovers of speed who would never think of giving up the wheel because that would mean losing control over so much power. 1120 horsepower, delivered at 3000 rpm, propel you at up to 55 knots. The Fiat Powertrain Technologies N67-560 engines develop ideal torque and power curves for marine use, with bags of thrust at low engine speeds to get the hull planning effectively. Driving the Lancia Powerboat is a 'not to be missed' experience, and offers you the choice of moderating power as you would in an elegant saloon or using it to the full as you would in a thoroughbred racing boat. The choice is entirely up to the driver. The hull's profile in the water has been carefully designed so that anybody can drive the boat just like a Lancia car, but with the added excitement of travel without limits. If you want a more stimulating experience, all you have to do is adjust the trim of the propulsion. Two buttons on the throttle levers modify the propulsion angle to move the screws higher or lower in the water. This changes the angle of the hull with respect to the surface of the water, increasing speed or stability in rough water. The hull is derived from a Sacs racing prototype, and does not need flaps, making it especially easy to drive. The engines are controlled by electronic levers that operate the throttles and smoothly engage forward and reverse propulsion. The engines respond instantly, giving you complete control over available power, and allowing you to turn and negotiate waves with speed and precision.
FPT - Fiat Powertrain Technologies is the Fiat Group company specialising in the R&D, production and sale of engines and transmissions for automotive, industrial, marine, power generation and railway applications.
The FPT engine range spans 20 to 1020 HP, and displacements from 1,000 to 20,100 cc.
FPT is one of the world's leading power train manufacturers, and boasts over a hundred years of experience through different brands. In 2008, output reached 2.9 million engines and 2.4 million gearboxes and axles. FPT employs a workforce of around 20,000 (including 3,000 highly qualified engineers), in 16 production plants and 11 research centres (two of which are dedicated to advanced research) located in nine different countries.
FPT's N67-560 diesel engines are best in class, as their main specifications clearly show: weight to power ratio is 1.16 kg/HP; power to displacement ratio is 83.58 HP/litre; and volume to power ratio is 1.2 dm3/HP. The N67-560 engine is derived from the N67-450. Various changes have been made, however, making the new engines far more suitable for racing use without losing any of the reliability for which FPT's touring engines are famed. Technical developments include the use of a higher class of turbocharger for better boost and air flow. Injector operating pressure and atomiser flow have also been increased to inject more fuel in less time. Combustion chamber design has been modified to improve efficiency while also reducing combustion pressure in order to extend engine life. A new air/water heat exchanger has been installed to reduce intake pressure drop and lower the temperature of the combustion cycle. The flow rate of the oil pump has also been increased to improve lubrication. Finally, 'ladder frame' reinforcement ribbing has been added to the bottom of the cylinder block to absorb the stress of high speed operation on water. Prior to selection as power unit for the Lancia Power boat, the N67-560 engine was tested in endurance racing at even greater power outputs. Because of the durations and speeds involved, endurance racing provides the toughest dynamic testing to which any marine engine can be subjected. The victory of four N67 engines in the prestigious Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race in 2008 is tangible proof of the excellent performance of the turbo diesels in FPT's N series, which includes 370, 400, 450 and 480 HP engines.
Venice, Lancia Café, 4th September 2009