Cruising on the Rhine at 50 knots with the Brabus Shadow 900 XC. Is this the definitive sporty weekender?


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Brabus 900 XC
Brabus Shadow 900 XC on the River Rhine

Walking along the Rhine in Düsseldorf in winter, I would never have imagined how fast you can sail on this river. Maybe it’s because in the cold season the scenery inspires more lethargy than boating. If you pay attention, however, you’ll notice a few marinas with boats worthy of Florida, such as Cigarette or similar, moored there. In my case, I boarded the newest of the Brabus Marine boats. From a quay below the famous Rheinturm in Düsseldorf I set sail on the brand-new Brabus 900 XC. Looking at the 900 horsepower of two Mercury Racing 450Rs, I immediately wondered if there was a speed limit along the river. The answer, of course, is no!

Brabus 900 XC – Brabus X Panerai on test

Before telling you what the Brabus 900 XC looks like from aboard, we need to make a brief introduction. Düsseldorf is not only the home of one of the world’s most important boat shows, it is also very close to Bottrop, home of the historic Brabus brand, which specializes in tuning cars and is present in the world of boats under the Brabus Marine brand. About a month ago, this location was chosen by Brabus and Panerai to unveil to a select group of journalists and influencers the first watch created in partnership by the two brands: the Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition.

Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition - PAM01240
Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition – PAM01240

It is called the “Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition” and is inspired precisely by the Shadow Black Ops line from Brabus Marine. It is precisely because of this close relationship with the sea and navigation, an element common to both brands, that this watch was unveiled as a world premiere at the last Monaco Yacht Show.

Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition"
Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition

Brabus 900 XC

In  light of this link between the watchmaker and the German brand, let’s see what inspired Panerai’s new PAM01240. What better way than to climb aboard Brabus Marine’s latest innovation, the 900 Cross Cabin, making its world debut in 2021. In the morning, at the quayside, I am lucky enough to be greeted by Brabus CEO Constantin Buschmann.

Brabus 900 XC
Brabus 900 XC on River Rhine

What is important for us is the 1-second-wow concept,‘ explains Constantin Buschmann, ‘and our products must be immediately recognisable and at the same time desirable. We want to make something that everyone wants at first glance. Our boats, as well as our cars and now this watch, must be able to impress you in a second and always be recognisable.”

BRABUS Shadow 900 XC Black Ops
BRABUS Shadow 900 XC Black Ops under way

A matter of time, then, combining cutting-edge materials and design on land, in the water and on the wrist.

For our boats we work closely with Axopar, the boatyard that builds the hulls. These synergies will be even stronger in the future.”


A Mercedes, for example, and its Brabus version are very different. What’s extra on Brabus Marine boats?

Every choice is made with a view to total comfort and maximum quality – continues Constantin BuschmannThe cushions have textures that take a long time to prepare. The shapes of some components, in carbon for example, are not the easiest to achieve. This requires time and skill in preparing the components. But in the end the boat is unique”.

BRABUS Shadow 900 XC Black Ops – Seat

In addition to the standard models, the Limited Black Ops `1 of 37´Edition offers an exclusive variant with a special paint and fabric. Only 37 boats will be produced with the unique Gunmetal Grey paint and the red seats with BRABUS fine leather.

On the aft deck you can choose various configurations such as one with a wetbar and fridge or a module as in the photo below. In any case there is plenty of storage space.

stern cockpit
BRABUS Shadow 900 XC Black Ops – stern cockpit

The helm station has a strong automotive inspiration. The family feeling is clear whether you’re in a Brabus car or on a boat. From the colours to the number (and quality) of optional extras, to the truly maniacal care of the finishes. In both cases the sensation is that of being on board a solid, massive, bold as the English would say, very powerful vehicle, but also simple and intuitive to steer.

BRABUS Shadow 900 XC
BRABUS Shadow 900 XC – helm station

From the carbon fibre to the pedal-like footrest and the handle in front of the co-driver’s seat, everything points to the front of the cockpit of a Brabus car, as do the dashboard and steering wheel. The peculiarity of the dashboard of this model, apparently all closed, is that, thanks to the roof and the side doors that can be opened, it manages to give the sensation of great openness.

Brabus 900 XC – Interiors

This new 11-meter model is a high-end, very sophisticated yet functional boat. Brabus’ DNA focuses on both versatility and quality materials. In line with this is the new multi-storage package for on-board storage and the aft cabin with “queen size” beds. The forward cabin, on the other hand, has gull-wing doors. This increases the liveable area on board by creating a link between exterior and interior in a space that is usually little used. Similarly, when this area is closed it becomes a safe haven, for example when you have children on board.

So while there is plenty of open space outside, despite the enclosed cabin/saloon, with wide walkways and the flexibility of a walkaround, below deck an enclosed and sheltered cabin allows you to sail even in bad weather conditions.

Brabus 900 XC – Performance at sea

Featuring a 37-foot hull developed by Axopar, the Brabus 900 Shadow XC is powered by two Mercury Racing 8-cylinder 450HP outboards.

Partendo da uno scafo di 37 piedi costruito da Axopar, il Brabus 900 Shadow XC è motorizzato con due fuoribordo Mercury Racing 8 cilindri da 450 cavalli. No classic Axopar can be powered with this kind of power. The result on the water is impressive: a boat that looks and functions like a weekender turns into a very fast boat with peaks of over 50 knots. The double-stepped hull makes navigation comfortable and safe. If, at over 35 knots, you decide to turn 180° in a “handkerchief”, the boat will follow you as if it were the most classic manoeuvre in the world.

Brabus 900 XC turning in the River Rhine
Brabus 900 XC turning on the River Rhine

This boat is therefore one of the best 11-metre sports weeekers of the market.

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