It looks like everyone’s feeling the environmental squeeze these days. Even outboard motor super-maven Mercury Marine is looking for more fuel-efficient methods of blowing your hat off when you pin the hand-throttle out on your local lake. So, in the pursuit of sipping fuel at a rate less like cheap light beer and more like fine whiskey, the 82-year-old manufacturer just launched its first-ever V-12 outboard motor.
Wait … what?
Alright, while we’re joshing around a bit, Mercury Marine does claim that strapping two of these 600-hp V-12s to the back of your craft will provide the same 1,200 combined horsepower but cut down on fuel consumption by an impressive 20-percent when compared to a triple-stack of Yamaha V-8s. So, not exactly a waterbound Toyota Prius Hybrid Synergy Drive, but the dividends should become more apparent the larger the craft.
Whereas automotive V-12s have enjoyed a long lifespan at the hands of manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Mercedes-Benz, the new so-called Verado V-12 is the first outboard motor of its kind; previously, sunburned and salt-stained power junkies were limited to a row of naturally aspirated or supercharged marine V-8s for their power fix, and with the relatively recent shuttering of powersport purveyors Marine Seven, a niche hole has opened up in the marine outboard market.
Until now. As mentioned above, this 7.6-liter is good for a whopping 600 hp, meaning two outboards can now do the job of three, though why stop there? Arrange ’em in a trio for a total of 36 hard-charging cylinders. As you might expect, packaging a V-12 lump is a bit of a nightmare, and required some clever engineering from Mercury Marine to get it right. That V-12 block is mounted vertically—or straight up and down—with the power-end of the engine pointed straight down.
Traditionally, watercraft with outboard motors steer by pivoting the entire engine and drive unit together, but considering the size limitations of this new unit, Mercury developed a proprietary system wherein the boat steers with just the lower part of its outdrive. So, keen boat spotters hoping to see this new V-12 in the wild should keep an eye out for crafts that appear to turn regardless of their outboards. Kinda spooky.
Even the most modern automotive V-12s are somewhat logistical nightmares, requiring aggressive service intervals and with more “stuff” happening under the front hood, there’s more stuff to go wrong. Mercury Marine anticipated this, and worked hard to keep complexity and service costs as low as possible. Oil changes are on a 200-hour schedule, and do not necessitate removing cowling or dry-docking. Cowling is removed for the major service, but that’s only on a 1,000-hour or five-year schedule, so that’s reasonable. For those hoping for a commercial-grade mill, the new SeaPro V-12 is detuned to 500 hp each with the potential for high operational hours between servicing.
Sure, 600 hp isn’t exactly headline-stealing in the marine world, but the water-soaked Rat Finks should stay tuned for the inevitable Mercury Racing V-12 variant that is presumably good for over 700 hp apiece. That should prove a significant leap over most powerful outboard currently offered by Mercury Racing; the 4.6-liter supercharged V-8 450R wilts at the idea of future supercharged 7.6-liter V-12s.
All this power and trick engineering doesn’t come cheap. If you’re angling to fit your trawler with a set of Verados, expect to pay just under $80,000 per motor for the privilege.
The post Wet Hot American Outboard: Mercury Marine’s New 600-HP V-12 appeared first on MotorTrend.