Last week, Mercury Marine unveiled a groundbreaking new outboard motor, the 600-hp 7.6-liter V12 Verado. Yes, you read that right: this engine has twelve cylinders and puts out 600 horsepower (500 in the heavy-duty SeaPro commercial series). It’s huge (weighing 1,260 lbs. and expensive (around $77,000 each), but Mercury expects boatbuilders will team two, three, or even four of the engines together on the transoms of boats up to 60 feet.
However, there’s a lot more to this groundbreaking engine that may change the game for outboards.
The V12 Verado rides on a rigid mount that does not allow the powerhead to pivot like a conventional outboard. Instead, only the gearcase turns in response to the boat’s helm. This cuts down weight, allows multiple engines to be mounted closer, and the wide pivot arc improves maneuverability.
It’s smooth, thanks to the engineers in Mercury Marine’s new Noise/Vibration/Harshness (NVH) research laboratory. A Bay Bulletin source, who has tested twin, triple, and quad configurations at a Mercury test center, reports they are very quiet. (Published performance tests from the test center also show excellent efficiency for such big engines.)
The V12 Verado has a first-of-its-kind, two speed automatic transmission in its gearcase, giving the engine extra thrust to lift a heavy boat onto plane before shifting to a higher gear for cruising. Our source says the shift is imperceptible.
In another first for a Mercury outboard, the gearcase turns large, dual, contra-rotating Mercury propellers, providing a strong “grip” on the water. (Suzuki has offered it on their 350- and 300-hp engines for the past two years.)
Mercury’s third-generation SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift control system offers a wide range of operational functions, including Active Trim, Joystick Piloting, Autopilot, and Skyhook Digital Anchor.
Yes, these new V12 Mercurys are huge, but they showcase more than their undeniable raw power. Watch for an upcoming review of a boat powered by a pair of them, and look for features like the rotating gearcase, two-speed transmission, and dual propellers to work their way into other Mercury models. The marine power industry is deeply competitive, and we boaters are the long-term beneficiaries.
-John Page Williams