The Mercury will be rising this summer

James Hill | VOLUME 30, ISSUE 6

There was a buzz of excitement around Mercury’s local launch of its massive 350hp and 400hp Verado outboards and new sterndrives …

Mercury has always been a major force in the marine engine market, but this year the brand has really had tongues talking with the 2015 launch of its new super-size Verado 350hp and 400hp four-stroke outboards, which were unveiled at the 2015 Miami Boat Show in the USA at the start of the year.

Australasian boaties can now see and buy these amazing motors at their local Mercury dealerships.

These new supercharged four-strokes are truly awesome. They are powerful, fast and, best of all, can be adapted over a wide range of craft commonly used in Australia and NZ.

However, as exciting as these new super outboards are, they’re only part of what Mercury has in store for local boaties this coming summer. September saw the official launch, in Sydney, of a host of new motors, both in outboard and sterndrive configurations, plus quite a bit of cutting-edge technology such as the allnew Mercury Active Trim system. The latter automatically delivers instant, effortless trimming. As the name implies, Active Trim simplifies boat operation, while improving engine performance and decreasing fuel costs.

This new technology will make trimming and driving a fast trailerboat vastly easier, and even the experienced skipper will enjoy not having to constantly monitor and adjust trim while underway. Mercury likens this new technology to moving from a manual to an auto transmission car – and on first impressions, I’d have to agree.

Active Trim also has the advantage of improving fuel mileage anywhere from 14 to 54 per cent, depending on the application, says Mercury.

NEW PERFORMER

However, the engine that’s likely to have the broadest appeal is the new 135hp four-stroke. This compact, but powerful, new outboard not only fills the gap in the Mercury four-stroke range, but is ideally suited to a large part of the popular boat market in Australia and New Zealand. That’s because the 135hp suits the most popular contemporary trailerboat segment of about 5.2m to 5.6m. Mercury now has arguably one of the best-ever motors in this power-group. Indeed, this new four-in-line motor, with its massive 3lt block, is going to out-perform a lot of other motors in this category.

Thanks to fewer moving parts and being a totally new engine, the 135hp Mercury comes in at a trim 206kg body weight. And it delivers brilliant hole-shot performance, thanks to a sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection (EFI).

At the official launch, held at Sydney’s St George Motorboat Club, Mercury also released an exciting new 75-150hp SeaPro four-stroke range.

Ostensibly developed for the commercial user, the range might also have strong appeal to the keen recreational fishing boater. The sheer robustness and simple easy-to-service design makes the SeaPro a perfect choice for sea salts who do way more hours on the water than the average punter.

And while performance might not be at the top of the list for commercial engines, the 75hp SeaPro-powered Brig RIB Navigator 570 that I rode in during the launch could fly when the throttle was opened up.

The SeaPros are built at Mercury’s hi-tech manufacturing plant in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and feature a robust high-displacement and low-weight design.

What’s also great about the SeaPro is the gear-case design that lets you drain the oil without needing to remove the craft from the water. This not only reduces service cost, but makes DIY boat servicing so much easier.

Other features include a bigger torpedo footprint in the water that ultimately allows heavier boats to get on the plane more easily and with greater control.

At the St George launch was a fleet of 12 different craft to highlight the breadth and depth of the new Mercury range. This included a Haines Hunter 565R running a Mercury 150 four-stroke, a Anglapro Predator (centre console) running a Mercury 100, a BarCrusher 670HT with a Mercury Verado 175 and an Evolution 600 running twin 115hp Mercury four-strokes.

FORCE-FUL

But the star attraction for media and dealers was the Aussie-built Force 26X cross-over sports dayboat running a Verado 400R ‘race’ motor. This speedster easily tops 100km/h and is definitely one of the most exciting production sports boats to emanate from local Australian production in years.

With a low console helm position and plenty of comfortable lounge seating, the Force/Verado combo is sure to be a winner with tow-sport lovers and those with a need for speed.

However, after the fast ride in the Force, I had to say it was a nice change of pace to hop aboard the Arvor 855 Weekender fibreglass cabin cruiser, sporting a single 350hp Verado on the transom. This sophisticated European cruiser is the last word in on-water comfort, with its enclosed wheelhouse, luxury bathroom and galley features.

And it really flew along, running at 37 knots (69km/h). To my mind it confirms that there is huge potential to fit these new high-output Verados to many of the smaller cruisers that might normally be expected to run sterndrives.

It’s actually more practical for in-water mooring because the motor leg sits well clear of the water, with less parts exposed to corrosion.

Arvor importer, Peter Collins, says the big Verado is not only more fuel-efficient than a sterndrive, but better suited in terms of space saving and overall use.

Collins says that after local testing, they’ve decided they can get almost as good performance with the smaller 300hp Verado and save a few dollars. This will mean the Arvor 855’s Australian price will be a very tempting $190,000 ex-Sydney.

Both Verado motors feature SmartCraft Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS), which provides a much more precise, smooth throttle response than conventional systems.

They can also be combined in twin (or triple) rigs, with Mercury’s Joystick Piloting system, so docking becomes incredibly easy and less stressful.

And here’s another strong selling point – the new Verados can run on regular unleaded fuel when the ‘good stuff’ is not available.

INBOARD INTEREST

Concurrently released were the all-new Mercury 6.2lt V8 inboard engines. Showing their incredible versatility was a 370hp unit on a centre-mount, shaft-drive Aussie Skicraft XAir, while an imported US Cobalt family bowrider ran the 350hp model. In both cases, the performance put a smile on my dial due to the smooth and pleasantly quiet ride.

A great feature of these new MerCruisers is Adaptive Speed Control (ASC), which automatically holds the craft at a set speed regardless of load or changing water conditions. This means you can maintain a steady turn speed when towing waterskiers or wakeboarders.

A Bayliner 185 Flight also showed off the smaller 200hp MerCruiser 4.5lt power package with superb holeshot speed and great top end.

These new motors help expand the Mercury range and give the brand the ability to offer choices for just about every recreational hull size and type.

The Mercury group also builds its own world-class range of propellers – and this enables Mercury dealers to fine-tune a new motor to suit various applications. This was proven on the Anglapro Predator, which was originally lacking a bit of spark out of its 100hp four-stroke until the dealer, Goodtimes Marine, found – by playing with a few prop combinations – that the answer was a particular three-blade prop rather than the original four-blader.

For further information, go to: mercurymarine.com.au.


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