Newsworthy as it is for the mainstream powerboat market, the recent introduction of a 4.6-liter V-8 platform across Mercury Marine’s outboard engine lines has even greater implications and promise for Mercury Racing, the Fond du Lac, Wis., marine engine and accessories giant’s high-performance arm. And the new Mercury Racing 300R and 250R V-8 outboards are just the beginning.
At present, Mercury Racing offers just one outboard, the six-cylinder supercharged Verado 400R, which is the most powerful offering in the company’s outboard engine portfolio. The four-stroke 300R replaced the once-once popular two-stroke OptiMax 300XS product.
Since the introduction of the Verado 400R a few years ago, go-fast powerboat enthusiasts have been asking not just when Mercury Racing will introduce a more powerful outboard, but what form it will take. With the addition of the new naturally aspirated V-8 300R outboard, the answer of “what” seems clear. When the time comes for Mercury Racing to up its outboard power ante, the raise almost certainly will come in V-8 form.
But when will that happen? Well, at least not until sales of the Verado 400R cool off—and with a 14- to 16-week delivery time for those outboards that won’t happen anytime soon. In no hurry to see that happen, much less cannibalize existing sales by introducing a more-powerful outboard product, the people at Mercury Racing like to keep such things vague.
“We typically don’t discuss our future product plans,” said Stuart Halley, a 25-year Mercury Marine engineer and project leader who became Mercury Racing’s general manager last month. “We always have plans—people always want more power. We keep our eyes on that.”
Asked if the next move to bigger power using the V-8 platform might be supercharging or turbocharging, Halley said that the cooling needs of turbocharging would be too difficult and supercharging—if indeed it happened—would be the way to go.
“But it would have to be an extensive development program,” he said. “The Verado outboard engine was designed to be a supercharged engine. You have to take a holistic approach to engine design.”
Intriguing as that might be, the reality of the new four-stroke 300R, which thanks to advanced design technology such as finite element analysis is lighter than the two-stroke 300XS, is exciting right now for those in the market for new sport catamarans, as well as current owners looking to repower (the company also added a new 250 HP V-8 dubbed the 250R). And the first pair of 300R outboards will be mounted on the transom of a flat-deck 28-foot sport cat currently under construction at Skater Powerboats in Douglas, Mich.
Owned by Todd Fountain of Newport, Mich., the boat should be on the water by fall. “The engines should be at Skater in July, I believe,” said Fountain. “From there my boat and its engines will be sent to Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton (Fla.) for installation and rigging.”
All eyes in the performance-boating world will be on that 28-footer when it hits the water. Of course, everyone is eager to see the cat’s top speed and acceleration numbers with the new 300R outboards—and we’ll provide a follow-up report.