Mercury powers up

Chris Beattie | VOLUME 22, ISSUE 4

Two new powerplants and some serious new technology were on show at Mercury Marine’s 2008 product launch.

Mercury Marine used the occasion of this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show to unveil some significant new products on the Australian market. Two new powerplants were launched, along with the company’s Seacore anti-corrosion technology and its upgraded VesselView SmartCraft system.

Mercury MerCruiser says its new compact 100hp Vazer inboard sterndrive is going to revolutionise the small boat market. The Vazer has been designed to replace outboard motors in a range of traditional applications.

What makes Vazer so special, according to Mercury, is its significantly reduced engine height that allows it to fit under the seats, platforms and decks of a variety of boats, including pontoons, fishing boats and runabouts. The bulk of the engine is just 52 centimetres high, and peaks at 66 centimetres at the coolant pressure cap.

The engine’s compactness provides boat builders with greater design flexibility, says MerCruiser, with additional space available for passengers and gear. MerCruiser claims it also provides improved access to the water, compared to traditional sterndrive or outboard engines.

“Vazer will revolutionise the small boat segment in our markets,” said David Meehan, Director of MerCruiser.

“That’s a big statement, but this sterndrive system will enable boatbuilders to design boats in configurations previously unimaginable.”

MerCruiser says Vazer is based on a proven 1.6L GM Vortec SOHC 4-cylinder engine, with an all-new compact sterndrive. The engine also features a compact composite intake manifold that maintains a long intake runner design for excellent torque and horsepower.

A closed-loop cooling system, that includes the engine block, aluminium exhaust header and cylinder head, makes Vazer ideal for both freshwater and saltwater use, says MerCruiser.

In another significant development, MerCruiser has introduced a brand new 315 horsepower ski engine, which is exclusive to the Australian market.

The 5.7-litre V8 boasts a four-barrel Weber carburettor, the combination providing lots of muscle and great performance characteristics, says MerCruiser.

“At 315 hp (235kW), the new engine is a big step forward in power from MerCruiser’s existing 270 hp entry-level engine,” said Meehan.

The new engine is aimed at the ski-boat owner who is looking for plenty of power, security and reliability, says MerCruiser.

“The ski market in Australia is very robust and customers are calling for a higher horsepower engine at this end of the range, so we went out and developed one for them,” Meehan said.

The new engine comes with a full three-year warranty and the Australia-wide support of the Mercury Marine network.

“There is always a temptation for people just getting into skiing to buy a reconditioned secondhand engine, and one that was probably designed to be in a car,” Meehan said. “But now there’s no need to take that risk. This is a fantastic specialist marine engine with stacks of power, an affordable price and a three-year warranty.”

RRP for the new engine is $15,169.

MerCruiser also unveiled its SeaCore anti-corrosion technology, based on the company’s Bravo Series sterndrives. A special heavy duty industrial surface anodising treatment is at the heart of the new offering. Applied to the drive, transom and trim cylinders, MerCruiser says it deeply penetrates the aluminium surface, changing the chemical structure of the metal by creating a diamond-like hardening of the surface of key drive areas, in turn, offering extreme corrosion resistance.

Not only does this new technology repel the harsh effects of saltwater, says MerCruiser, but the SeaCore system has added an additional 35 stainless steel components on the engine and a standard closed cooling system, offering the ultimate in saltwater protection for the engine.

Available initially on all V8 engines, SeaCore is an option MerCruiser buyers can take when purchasing a sterndrive package. The new technology will also soon be available with V6 packages.

It comes with a four-year corrosion warranty. In addition, the standard product warranty on all SeaCore packages has been extended from two to three years.

“Extensive research and development from our engineers in the US has shown dramatic reductions in corrosion with this new technology,” said Meehan. “The SeaCore system is a major advancement for our harsh saltwater environment and we’re willing to support it with an industry-leading warranty.”

Mercury Marine also unveiled its new VesselView upgrade for its SmartCraft user interface, which provides a larger, more advanced screen, colour graphics and easy-to-read displays and greater access to data, according to the company.

SmartCraft is Mercury’s exclusive network-based system that provides boaters with digital information about various functions on their boats. SmartCraft links the propulsion control module on each engine to an advanced computer network so the skipper can access data such as speed, engine rpm, cooling water temperature, water depth and fuel consumption via SmartCraft gauges and displays.

According to MerCruiser, VesselView takes SmartCraft to a new level.

Its advanced 12-and-a-half centimetre colour screen is visible in direct sunlight and the onscreen graphics have been redesigned to make them easier to understand. VesselView also features more buttons than previous interfaces and is very user intuitive, even in rough weather or at higher speeds, says MerCruiser.

VesselView can also monitor SmartCraft-networked peripheral items such as a generator, sounder, HVAC and inverter/charger. It is fully compatible with the do-it-all NorthStar 8000i unit, which serves as fish finder, chart plotter, radar and infotainment source.

And while VesselView is all-new hardware, it fits the same hole and footprint as Mercury’s older System View interface.

For more information, race down to your local Mercury Marine dealer or try: ¿