Mercury recently launched three new engines and the two new platforms are about as far apart from each other as outboards can get. A new V10 platform with a 350 and 400hp outboard, and at the extreme other end of the scale the new Avator lithium-powered tiller. Hooked Up was recently invited up to Sea World on the Gold Coast in what was the most amazing launch event I’ve experienced in 12 years in the industry to learn all about these new engines and take them for a spin.
Last year Mercury launched its 600hp V12 outboard, an industry first that was huge in both size and scope, and feature-packed with power and technology.
America and certain parts of Australia (such as WA) are packed full of huge centre consoles, ribs and pontoons that require large horsepower and multiple outboards, and a lot of the design features in Mercury’s new platforms have this style of vessel in mind, which is fair enough as it’s a huge market. The V12 and the new V10 solve a lot of solutions with power to weight ratios and engine spacing on a transom.
While the the V12 has limited applications for Australian trailer boat fisherman, the new Verado V10 has the power to weight ratio that a lot more big Aussie trailer boats can take advantage of. Much of that V12 technology and advancement has now been brought into the new V10 platform.
The new platform offers a 5.7-litre naturally aspirated V10 in both 350 and 400hp options, plus features such as Digital Throttle and Shift, Joystick capabilities, Adaptive Speed Control, Precision Gear Case and Advanced Sound Control. All this makes for an extremely powerful, yet ultra-quiet and smooth engine. The tell-tail has been removed so you’re not even hearing that, although having one is an option. If you want that V10 gruntier sound, it’s there at the flick of a switch, something I think everyone will appreciate.
The V10 350 and 400 weigh in at 316kg dry weight. That’s only 45kg more than the Verado 300 and a whopping 125kg less than Yamaha’s 425hp. It’s a weight saving of just under 150kg compared with twin 200 V8s. This opens some amazing power to weight ratio options that currently aren’t available.
At the launch there was a Northbank 750HT and a Haines Signature 788SF fitted with the new 400hp. Both boats ran beautifully with the single 400 as opposed to twin 200s they are traditionally fitted with. While I couldn’t make a direct comparison as I hadn’t previously been in either of these vessels, other members of the media suggested the performance was equal to or better than the traditional twin rig set-ups.
The new V10s feature electric-hydraulic power steering, which is a joy to use, as well as electric start. Today’s modern anglers will also appreciate the 150 amp output from the alternator to power the many electronics added on modern vessels.
I can see many brands such as Cootacraft, Edencraft, Haines Hunter and others quickly adopting these new V10 platforms. They provide boaters with reduced costs for purchase and servicing and greatly reduce overall weight on the transom.
They look amazing, they can sound like a big V10 or they’re whisper-quiet (the choice is yours) and while we only got a quick run in each boat, the performance was outstanding. It’s really opened up some great new options for new boat buyers and even those looking to repower. Each model is available in black and three shades of white with four shaft lengths for each.
While there is no replacement for displacement and the boating world will revel with the new V10 platforms, on the other end of the scale Mercury has just released its first lithium-powered outboard with the Avator. The Avator is powered by an internal but removable lithium-ion battery and power-wise it is the equivalent of a Mercury 3.5hp petrol-powered four-stroke. The Avator weighs 19.5kg and the tiller conveniently doubles as a carry handle. The battery itself weighs 7.6kg, taking the total weight to 27kg. It’s quite easy to carry and thanks to a traditional transom bracket is quick and easy to fit to the boat. The test day offered a Quintrex Explorer 350 and I was surprised at how well the Avator propelled it along. Changing the battery in the Avator is simple and the battery is good for 1000 charge cycles. A full charge from empty takes around 3.5hrs and will get you around 1hr run time. Spare batteries cost $1649 and with the Avator priced at $5700, it’s not cheap when compared with a petrol equivalent, which is around $1500.
While there are quite a few advantages to having an electric outboard as a tender or just for the environmentally conscious sailor, at Hooked Up we see some distinct advantages from a fishing point of view. There are many dams and lakes that have some great fishing but are only open to electric-powered vessels. The Avator is a great option to move the vessel around the waterway and then you could use a bow mount electric while you’re fishing. It would also be great for a small car topper when accessing small waters usually only available to kayak anglers. There are many skinny bass and estuary perch rivers where I could see myself using a small tinny and the Avator to navigate through them. Should you come to small rapids and skinny sections, it wouldn’t be hard for one guy to carry the Avator through them while the other pulls the boat along. The big advantage aside from not having to carry a can of spare fuel and a fuel tank is stealth – wily wild bass and perch don’t respond well to a noisy engine.
While electric-powered outboards may offer some great benefits to the environment, they also open a lot of advantages to anglers.