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Mercury Goes Boldly With 600-HP V-12 Verado Outboard

Almost two decades in the making, wild speculation on when Mercury Marine will release a more-powerful Verado outboard engine beyond its existing 400-hp version officially ended today with the public release of the Verado 600, a V-12 beast-of-an outboard designed to move heavy boats that are more efficiently measured in tons than pounds. Yet the beauty of this 1,260- to 1,334-pound, naturally aspirated creation, which members of the marine media got their first look at earlier this week at Lake X—Mercury’s vaunted/haunted test facility in St. Cloud, Fla.—lies not in its power output but in its technological sophistication.

Designed to move heavy loads such as this Formula Boats 500 Super Sport Crossover, Mercury Marine’s V-12 outboard engine platform is a truly innovative creation. Photos courtesy/copyright Mercury Marine.

The most obvious feature of the engine—the world’s first V-12 outboard—which also comes in a 500-hp version? Unlike that of pretty much every other outboard on the planet, the entire Verado 600 doesn’t turn with steering wheel input—its powerhead never moves. Instead, the engine is equipped with a dual-propeller (contra-rotating), drive-by-wire steerable gear-case. According to Mercury Marine press materials, the contra-rotating props “simplify docking with higher reverse authority.”

The gear-case and fixed-powerhead setup reportedly improves handling, simplifies installation and eliminates boat-mounted components. Those features, plus the V-12 outboard’s remarkably compact footprint with 27-inch centers, enable boatbuilders to mount multiple Verado 600s with less space between them if needed.

Innovations of the 7.6-liter outboard include a two-speed automatic transmission.

The 7.6-liter outboard platform also includes a two-speed, automatic hydraulic transmission. The standard feature reportedly improves time to plane and low-speed maneuverability and eliminates “shift-clunk.” What’s more, it improves fuel efficiency—the engine operates on 87-octane fuel—at cruising speed in second gear.

Mercury brought several models to this week’s product unveiling for the media, most notably, at least for speedonthewater.com readers, a Formula Boats 500 Super Sport Crossover weighing in at a little more than 23 tons—or 47,000 pounds for those who prefer those metrics. According to a performance report from the company, the quad 600 Verado-powered 50-footer reached 69 mph with its engines turning a maximum operating speed of 6,400 rpm. From a standing start, the boat reached 20 mph in 7.87 seconds and 30 mph in 12.8 seconds.

Midrange fuel efficiency was nothing less than phenomenal. At 4,000 rpm, the engines burned 86 gallons per hour, which translated to 0.4 miles per gallon, a speed of 36.3 mph and a range of 274 miles thanks to the boat’s 650-gallon fuel capacity. At 4,500 rpm, the engines burned 96.7 gallons per hour, which translated to 0.5 miles per gallon, a speed of 47.9 mph and a range of 322 miles. At 5,000 rpm, fuel returned to a still-impressive 0.4 miles per gallon (135.7 gallons per hour) and speed jumped to 54.6 mph, though range dipped to 262 miles.

The engine’s dual-propeller contra-rotating lower unit provides significant performance benefits for heavy boats.

Shaft lengths of 20, 25, 30 and 35 inches are offered for the engine. A 2.5:1-gear-reduction ratio is standard and, at least as of now, the only setup offered. Color options include Phantom Black, Cold Fusion White, Warm Fusion White and Pearl Fusion White.

“With boats continuing to grow bigger and performance expectations continuing to rise, boaters have been asking for a better, more-capable high-horsepower solution to meet their needs. The V-12 Verado outboard is Mercury’s answer,” said Chris Drees, the president of Mercury Marine, in the release. “Using our advanced engineering and design capabilities, we completely redefined outboard performance. The V-12 Verado outboard delivers boaters unrivaled freedom, luxury and power to pursue their passions on the water.

“This is a remarkable engine that will change the future of boating,” he added.

Check out the slideshow above for more images of the Verado 600 outboard.

Of course, the new V-12 platform raises questions about applications from Mercury Racing, the high-performance extension of Mercury Marine. And as usual, the folks inside Mercury Racing—per long-established company policy—aren’t talking about future plans. But without questions, the gears in the heads of go-fast boating gearheads around the country are turning.

For now at least, the Verado 600 will have to do.

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