Our test of Dolceriva, cruising in class with a touch of performance

A Riva is not “just” a boat: it is also a status, which goes beyond the possession, because the name is enough to reach deeper emotional chords than just the pleasure of cruiing. Which anyway Dolceriva doesn’t miss.

There’s plenty of prestigious brands in the nautical world, but nobody can deny that Riva is perceived as a top-end one also among the “ordinary people”, meaning those that are not passionate boaters but still get seduced by Riva yachts: not only for the design, but also because the brand itself recalls noble and exclusive atmospheres.

Dolceriva starts with the name and brings back to the present day the fabulous times of the sweet life (the Italian Dolce Vita) of the sixties, with its stars, VIPs’ parties and famous smiling jet-set protagonists, portraited in the most exclusive yachting contexts, where Riva boats were the co-stars.

This is why when an open Riva is introduced, the yard launches it with some option that recalls those atmospheres. The first unit of Dolceriva is then equipped with polished mahogany flooring and decking. Beautiful to look at, but slippery and too hot under the sun. Anywway the standard boat comes with teak.

Sweet in the name, but also in handling and consumption

I tested the new 15-meter Riva at the Cannes Yachting Festival, on a warm September day, with calm sea. Ideal conditions for testing top speed, not much to stress the hull, but luckily during the boat show there’s plenty of other boats out for sea trials, which means a lot of waves and wakes.

Dolceriva is sweet not only in the name but also in navigation. At over 38 knots the hull always returns a reassuring softness while crossing the waves.

  Performace highlights a perfect balance between sport-cruiser speed and motoryacht comfort.

The turn-by radius is quite wide, either for the transmission shafts (V-Drive), or for a specific choice of the builder in order to keep top comfort on board. In any case, this boat is definitely not born for thrilling experiences like on a racer.

If anything, a little care is needed while getting to planing, because Dolceriva has an attitude at lifting the nose: it’s the right moment to use the standard interceptors (the automatic trim adjusters).

Before us, the windshield is very stylish and modern lookwise, the only issue is to find the perfect position for a full visibility: sometimes the pillar above the glass is in the way.

Anyway, this kind of windshield will be a distinguishing feature for all open Rivas, and it is a beautiful design element, harmoniously merged with the profile of the boat, and beautifully wrapping the cockpit almost to the stern. And functional as well, being installed on a mount which raises it and diverts the air flow even before it touches the glass.

  The engines are two 800 hp Volvo Penta D13s. On request, two 1,000 hp D13s can be mounted, for an estimated cruising speed of 35 knots and a maximum of 40.

On calm sea I stressed the engines up to the red line, which is 2,450 rpm (although Volvo Penta says 2300): with eight passengers and half load in the tanks we reached 38.5 knots. Or, three and a half knots more than the figure estimated by the designers.

Don’t forget that the dry boat weighs in at 21.400 Kg, so probably 22.500 was our value: for every extra ton, up to the full load displacement (24.5 t), the loss in top speed is around one knot.

If the navigation is always sweet, so can be also the stopover at the gas station.

By checking the speed at 200 rpm intervals, two cruising paces can be reckoned: a fast one at 26 knots, with the engines burning 213 liters every hour, and an economic one at 21, which saves 50 liters per hour of diesel with a little reduction in the speed.

The design of the side glazing denotes a stylistic research not only to maintain an aesthetic balance between dimensions and lines, but also to connect the elements, as can be seen in the rising section of the aft glass window in correspondence with the descending part of the windshield. Another design feature is the aft air intake, made of carbon fiber with a steel edge.

A modern boat with so much history behind

Liker every Riva in the last 25 years, even Dolceriva is designed by Officina Italiana Design, in collaboration with the engineering and strategic division of the Ferretti Group, and is built in the Sarnico premises on Lake Iseo.

Her size (15-meter long) completes Riva’s range of express cruisers, while the project is inspired by Rivarama (discontinued two years ago): not as an evolution of a classic, but a total redesign that still intends to identify with that design.

  Every detail of Dolceriva, design- and colorwise, recall the historical Riva heritage.

From above the Dolceriva outline recalls the shapes of the 1960s runabouts (as all open Rivas do), but there’s plenty of further details which refer to that iconography: for instance the mahogany foredeck with glossy paint (twenty layers!), or the mahogany and steel handrails, or again the side sponsons also in mahogany which join the central profiling and create a wooden crowning of the entire aft area.

Let’s stop a little more in the aft area, and discover something truly amazing for a 15 meter boat: the transom can be tilted down to create a small but extremely effective “beach club”, as we would call it on a superyacht.

Worth a mention is also the central companionway between the two sundecks and the padded descending part of the transom, so as to act as a backrest and create two chaise longues which complements the two sundecks in the cockpit and create an enjoyable living area.

Once the beach club is closed, the aesthetic touch of the rounded stern is an evident (and wanted) reference to the back of the 60s luxury cars.

When the tilting platform is closed on the transom, this area takes on a shape inspired by vintage sports cars.

An eclectic cockpit and different interior layouts

The cockpit has the right features to navigate even in large groups. The sofa and dinette can accommodate up to eight people and the walking area is adequate to move around easily. There’s an awning which can cover the entire cockpit, but when it is not needed it disappears via an electro-hydraulic system.

  Crew cabin, yes or no? Dolceriva has the solution.

We are on a 15 meter open, so borderline between the need for a crew or not.

The Dolceriva solves the question by providing a 4-meter compartment at the stern, accessible from the center of the cockpit, which can be set up as a crew cabin or used as a lazarette. Or, why not, as an additional guest cabin.

About the cabin: let’s get below to see what the Dolceriva features beyond the glass hatch.

Even inside the first unit sports mahogany joinery, as seen in the photos. The standard though is light oak.

There’s the choice between two cabins or one, and another choice as mentioned regards the aft compartment which can be empty or get set up as a cabin for the crew or an extra guest. The bathroom is one, but the crew cabin features an extra heads.

Choosing the two cabins hinders the dinette space in the salon, because the second one stretches longitudinally from stern on the port side and provides two separate beds.

All the spaces inside are very chic. The linear aspect of the furnishing and the chromatic play between light and dark hues, as well as the opacity of leather and the gloss of the steel, lacquered woods and mirrors, create a very elegant and refined atmosphere.

Hi-tech dashboard

Let’s go back to the dashboard and check the last two elements (actually both are options): the electronic monitoring system and the most recent maneuvering joystick.

The latter is the famous Volvo Penta device which adds the latest generation features to all the ones we know for mooring. We’re talking in particular of Driving Mode, which allows to pilot the boat with the joystick instead of the wheel, moving the lever in the desired direction: in addition, it incredibly facilitates even the smallest adjustments to the route angle by simply turning the joystick tap by tap.

Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit: control, at the touch of a finger

A real eye-catcher is the electronic monitoring system by Garmin Empirbus, proudly displayed in the control console together with the Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit.

Volvo Penta reaches one thousand

This system aggregates all the functions related to the boat and the navigation, and allows to manage them through a touch screen 12 or 16 inches large.

It gathers, among other info, the generator parameters, the engine diagnostics, but also alarms, control of the gangway, Seakeeper stabilizer (a Seakeeper NG6 is another option), and much more.

In the end, the new Dolceriva is full of heritage, but does’t lack anything of the latest technology.

Tech specs

  • Length overall …………… 14.92 m (48ft 9in)
  • Length LH …………… 14.76 m (48ft 5in)
  • Length at waterline (full load) …………… 12.80 m (42 ft)
  • Beam …………… 4.26 m (14 ft)
  • Full load draft …………… 1.48 m (4ft 11in)
  • Dry displacement …………… 21.400 kg
  • Full load displacement …………… 24.500 kg
  • Standard engines …………… Volvo Penta D13 2×880 hp
  • Optional engines …………… Volvo Penta D13 2×1000 hp
  • Fuel reserve …………… 1.800 l (475 US gal)
  • Fresh water reserve …………… 310 l (81 US gal)
  • CE design category A


  • rpm – knots – mph – lph – nm/l – mpg – km/l – range (20% reserve)
  • 1000 – 10,0 – 11,5 – 54 – 0,19 – 0,81 – 0,34 – 267
  • 1200 – 11,5 – 13,2 – 89 – 0,13 – 0,56 – 0,24 – 186
  • 1400 – 16,1 – 18,5 – 122 – 0,13 – 0,58 – 0,24 – 190
  • 1600 – 20,9 – 24,1 – 163 – 0,13 – 0,56 – 0,24 – 185
  • 1800 – 25,8 – 29,7 – 213 – 0,12 – 0,53 – 0,22 – 174
  • 2000 – 31,2 – 35,9 – 272 – 0,11 – 0,50 – 0,21 – 165
  • 2200 – 34,6 – 39,8 – 314 – 0,11 – 0,48 – 0,20 – 159
  • 2450 – 38,5 – 44,3 – 385 – 0,10 – 0,44 – 0,19 – 144

Test conditions

Calm sea, clean hull, 8 passengers, fuel 80%, water 50%.

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