VIDEO: Mercury Marine rolls out 250-hp sterndrive

Posted on Written by Chris Landry
Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer.

Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer.

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — The new MerCruiser 4.5-liter 250-hp sterndrive unit will be the first in a series of gasoline engines built in-house by Mercury Marine, company president John Pfeifer said Tuesday.

He said Mercury will spend the next few months driving the point home to dealers and boat manufacturers that the engine is manufactured at Mercury’s world headquarters in Fond du Lac.

“We need to make it clear that this is not just another sterndrive,” Pfeifer said. “It represents a big change in course for the industry. We’re holding events in a lot of different locations. We started in the Keys down in Florida, where we brought some customers together to show them exactly how we design the product and how we build the product.”

The engine will go on sale in September. Pricing is not available yet. Mercury said last year that it will no longer rely on automotive engines for its gasoline sterndrives.

At a press event held in Fond du Lac and nearby Oshkosh, Wis., Mercury introduced the 4.5-liter engine and three outboards — 75-, 90- and 115-hp second-generation 4-strokes.

The sterndrive’s design innovations include a long runner scrolled intake manifold and high displacement, which produces an outstanding power-to-weight ratio, Mercury said. The V6 engine weighs 130 pounds less than a 5.0-liter V8 small block, but delivers similar performance, the company said.

Its newly designed aft-facing throttle body, anti-whistle throttle plate, engine cover and mounts, lightweight flywheel, fuel supply module and structural oil pan contribute to smoothness and low noise and vibration, the company said.

The MerCruiser is compatible with SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift. An option for the 4.5-liter V6 with DTS is Joystick Piloting.

Eighteen boats were on hand for journalists to test. A 31-foot Sundancer from Sea Ray was powered with a pair of the new 4.5-liter engines, which I operated for 20 minutes on Lake Winnebago Tuesday afternoon. The Axius sterndrive joystick system was installed in the boat, which worked well, and I tried out the engine’s “Adaptive Speed Control,” which automatically maintains the set rpm point, regardless of load or condition changes, such as tight turns, tow sports and lower speeds on plane. I did a few donuts in both directions, and sure enough the two rpm gauges held steady at my chosen 3,000-rpm setting.

The engines pushed the boat onto plane effortlessly. The 250-hp motors were relatively quiet and accelerated nicely in the mid-range. In the engine compartment I saw that all of the maintenance points are right in front of you, within easy reach.

Mercury uses durable cast-iron components wherever the engine encounters seawater, and corrosion-resistant aluminum and composites elsewhere.

The 4.5-liter engine will excel in single or twin installations and can be teamed with Alpha and Bravo drives, the company said.


5 comments on “VIDEO: Mercury Marine rolls out 250-hp sterndrive

  1. David Glover

    Fuel and energy efficiency should be the norms for the future and Mercury marine should be an American leader! Unless we can get a control on our money supply we will continue to see pressure on commodity prices.

  2. John Ames

    This is the “first” engine, not based on an auto engine, designed for marine use? The Merc 470 engine was an automotive engine conversion?

  3. BayBoater

    Sure it was! You mean to say that you never heard that is was used in the Chevy Vega??? LOL

    Merc 470= Nightmare for boat buyers. Corrosion and electrical issues (as well as other issues) were never truly corrected and the 470 bit the dust as well as the resale value of the boats that had it in them. Hence my other post in response to yesterday’s article on the same subject. I would not invest one penny in a “new from the ground up” engine during its first year or so of production. I refuse to be used as a guinea pig. Especially when it involves my money and valuable time on the water. A 250hp six-banger sounds good on paper, I just hope that it performs and lasts as long as the MFG touts it to. And I am surprised to see that this new engine can be matched up with the Bravo drive. Time will tell…

  4. michel beaudry

    the 470 was partially made by Mercury it was an aluminium block built in house with a ford 460 cast iron head with closed cooling 10amp flywheel alternator. the second version was a 485 that became 170 and 190

  5. OK Smartcraft Guy

    Ok Bayboater. Let’s take the 470 comparison further. But to do so, we have to go back 40 years. Back to the days of drafting tables, slide rules, rotary dial phones, and typewriters. And carburetors and breaker point ignition.
    The 470 was conceived as a way to improve fuel efficiency. (Remember it was developed during the oil shortage of the early 70s). Light weight, big bore, 4 banger. They took Chevy 454 pistons and rods and a Ford 460 cylinder head and built a stern drive engine around it. Yes, it have a couple issues you could count on eventually experiencing, but Merc sold a bunch of them and there are still quite a few running around out there (some in boats, some in jeeps, some in dirt track cars).
    Let’s not forget the piss poor quality of the late 70’s and early 80’s wasn’t confined to the auto industry. Without e-mail, feedback from the field relied on snail mail, and few people would take the time to write. It took companies a lot longer to pick up on and act on inherent flaws in any product.
    Now back to the present. Mercury has had 40 more years of marine engine experience. Consider the technologies being used not only on the engine (EFI, DTS, catalytic converters), but to develop (3D modeling, computerized simulation, analysis, and optimization), manfacture, quality control, test, and support (Web-based product documentation and warranty reporting) the product.
    It is very niave to think the Mercury organization does not realize the risks of introducing a new product of this caliber, and even more niave to think they wouldn’t thoroughly test and correct any shortcomings prior to introduction. Also, they anticipate some problems won’t be found until after product is in the field, and have an extensive product support organization whose sole function is to deal with these problems to minimize customer dissatisfaction. I expect this V6 will be a great engine for Merc, and the follow-on V8 will be even better.
    I am curious why mating this engine with the Bravo surprises you. Why would it? The Bravo has been offered with all engines except the 3.0L and Vazer since the early 90’s. You can’t beat the versatility of the Bravo family. Bravo 1 for smaller runabouts, Bravo 2’s for anything that wont go over about 45 mph (houseboats and slow, heavy planing hulls), Bravo 3, for singles and twins that do over 40 mph. And Axius (joystick docking) works a whole lot better with twin-prop drives (single props are much less efficcient in reverse.

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