One of the perks of this job is getting to run boats with speedonthewater.com test team driver John Tomlinson, of TNT Custom Marine in North Miami, from time to time. Getting to sit shotgun with the world champion as he took control of the MTI 340X sport catamaran that served as Mercury Racing’s test bed and its Miami International Boat Show demo boat for its new 300R V-8 outboard engines, reinforced that, especially since the outing on Miami’s Biscayne Bay was the first time Tomlinson had driven a boat powered by the new naturally aspirated V-8s.
A pair of Mercury Racing MTI 340X sport catamarans—one with 400-hp six-cylinder outboards and another with 300-hp V-8 outboards—put on a show in Miami this year. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Tomlinson, who was impressed with the overall performance of the boat, which had previously reached a respectable top speed of 113 mph according to its GPS, was as close to giddy as he gets—he’s rather nonchalant most of the time.
“This 300 boat romps—it’s very impressive,” Tomlinson said. “The throttle response is great and I like the throaty sound of the engines. This is a fun boat to drive. I feel like you can run it hard all day long. It eats up the chop and powers through turns with ease. In fact, I think it feels better balanced than a 400R boat does. The new engines are lighter so that definitely helps. To me it doesn’t feel like you’re running a boat with 300s. I think Mercury has a winner with this engine.”