Cigarette Racing recently unveiled a new 52 Thunder luxury performance center console and Matt Trulio from Speed on the Water had the chance to go to Miami to test out the center console. He joined alongside TNT Custom Marine CEO, John Tomlinson, and Cigarette President, Erik Christiansen. Tomlinson describes the 52-footer as a high-performance yacht and it comes fully loaded with six Mercury Racing 500R outboards and the perfect mix of performance and features. Continue reading below for more about Tomlinson’s role and this top-of-the-line addition.
Given the chance to experience Cigarette Racing Team’s 52 Thunder luxury performance center console, you should jump at it—even if that means taking a five-hour red-eye flight from Northern California, spending about an hour on the brand-new 52-footer off Coral Gables, Fla., the following morning and catching the last flight home from Miami that evening. That’s what I did earlier this week and it was beyond worth the effort and sleep deprivation.
To hell with tired, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. That was just plain fun.
Of course, I had added incentive to make the trip. John Tomlinson, my favorite powerboat test-driver and longtime marine industry colleague, joined me on board, as did Cigarette president Erik Christiansen, another longtime friend who I got to know when he was the general manager of Mercury Racing years before he joined the Opa-locka, Fla., go-fast center console and sportboat company. So it’s safe to say I was in great, knowledgeable hands when we departed a private dock in the posh South Florida community headed into the open ocean.
But even without Tomlinson and Christiansen in the mix, I’d have been there. Powered by six Mercury Racing 500R outboard engines, the 52 Thunder center console is the first Cigarette model introduced by the company since the Ruiz family took over the famed sportboat and center console brand in 2021. That alone made the new creation newsworthy.
“This is something we have been working on since we got here,” said Cristina Ruiz, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We are definitely really proud of it.”
As well she should be. From performance to features, the 52 Thunder is a delightful boat. It’s also a successful first new model for the company principals, as according to Christiansen the Cigarette already has 32 orders for it.
Not bad for a “tweener” model with at $3.1 million sticker—as hull No. 1 is equipped—but then the 52-footer isn’t your average tweener.
“The Cigarette fleet needed something to fill the gap between the 42 Auroris and the 59 Tirranna,” Cristina Ruiz explained. “Really what we did was take all the best parts of all the Cigarette boats built over time and perfected that ‘middle ground.’ We have people who want them as yacht tenders. We have people who just want to use them to take out their families. The 52 Thunder can fit into a lot of different niches, and that is something we really needed. So we poured all of our energy into research and development and making sure that it is top of the line, best in class and fits with the Cigarette DNA.”
Feature After Feature
Like its 59-foot sister-ship, the 52 Thunder has a 14-foot beam. The two boats also share a few styling cues, notably around the hardtop and overall profile. But where the Tirranna looks and feels more like a luxury sport yacht, the 52 Thunder is an all-purpose, sporty dayboat. And one that’s loaded with amenities.
The 52 Thunder is ever so slightly more “console-forward” than the 59 Tirranna. That enabled the Cigarette design crew to maximize cockpit space aft of the second row of shock-mitigating, multi-position bolsters. When fully opened by an electric actuator, the boat’s SureShade top covered the entire rear section of the cockpit to the aft gunwale. The boat’s rear and forward-facing lounges aft of the bolsters converted to an expansive sunpad.
Thanks to a table that rose from the sole with a push of a button, those lounges also could be used to accommodate six to eight people for al fresco dining. The fully equipped outdoor kitchen between the aft-most lounge and transom included a grill, a stainless-steel, cleverly hidden wastebaskets and storage drawers in a molded console. Rather than squander precious stowage space in the outdoor kitchen area, the builder mounted sliding-draw-style refrigerator/freezers in the base of the aft-facing lounge.