Mercury Expo 07
  |  First Published: November 2007

It’s not often I sit in on a media day and find people so enthusiastic about their product. It’s normally just a standard presentation of what’s new and why product X is better than product Y.

But the recent Mercury Expo 07 set a new standard with enthusiastic and passionate presenters who gave presentations that were real eye openers.

I suppose I had more reason than most to listen in to what Mercury was going to do with OptiMax, their direct fuel injection 2-stroke technology. There has been a lot of talk about emission standards and the like lately and in the September issue of QFM I wrote an article on the direction of outboards. In it I stated that it may well be an all 4-stroke and new technology 2-stroke world for outboards by 2012, but the OptiMax presentation smashed that theory out of the park with some revolutionary technology and design that will see OptiMax, one of the most widely accepted super fast 2-strokes on the market, still firmly in the market with surprising increases in fuel economy and a super low environmental foot print.

So what exactly is coming in regard to OptiMax?

Well, it’s a redesign of some core areas within the engine that deliver surprising results.

For example the brand new 250hp OptiMax has the low pressure epitomizer fuel system that allows the 250 to achieve fuel economy rates equal to and in some cases better than some existing 4-strokes. Read that sentence again. Yes, it says fuel economy equal to or better than some 4-strokes currently on the market. OptiMax achieves this result by using a patented low-pressure fuel injection system that pumps exacting amounts of fuel and air into the combustion chamber at low pressure leading to far less friction inside the engine and a better burn of the fuel.

The reduction in friction means less fuel and oil is needed to get the same performance and the reduction in fuel use means the outputs into the environment are significantly reduced. The reduction in friction also allows for greater torque from the engine and will give boats better hole-shot performance as well as putting less stress on all of the engine components, thus increasing engine reliability.

The new OptiMax also features the patented Mercury Verado gear case with heavy-duty components for durability, performance and corrosion resistance, which is further enhanced by Mercury’s freshwater flushing system that means no more earmuffs.

And to add more spice to the plate, the 250 OptiMax has dual water pickups to ensure there is always a steady flow of cooling water, even when the outboard is in an elevated running position – a great safety net.

Like all OptiMax outboards, the new 250 can be linked to SmartCraft technology, which provides instant feedback on vital engine management data including fuel consumption, estimated range and remaining fuel, just to name a few.

Lastly, and this is for the environmentally conscious buyer, OptiMax will easily make it into the OEDA 3 Star category, currently the best environmental performance category, all while delivering better fuel economy. Now that is an impressive achievement.

In other outboard news, consumers who love their 4-strokes will get a big kick from the latest Verado offerings.

Accepted in the market as one of the leading 4-strokes, Verado has had awesome improvements in fuel economy, horsepower and performance across the entire Verado 4-stroke range. These performance enhancements have come about because of specific internal changes that were aimed at reducing friction. The reduction in friction gave a startling result in all areas that even surprised the manufacturers.

In addition the Verado range has been enhanced with the release of the industry’s lightest 200hp 4-stroke and the release of the beefy 300hp supercharged Verado beast.

Other New Toys

I will admit to going to Expo 07 to hear about the OptiMax breakthroughs, but there were more new toys from Mercury and parent company Brunswick Corporation – many, many more new toys.

Although not many fishing boats are currently fitted with inboard and stern drive engines, some new products from Mercury may just change the dynamics a little.

The super compact 100hp Vazer stern drive, which went into production in March 2007, has been designed to replace outboard motors in a range of traditional applications.

What makes Vazer so special is its significantly reduced engine height that allows it to fit under the seats, platforms and decks of a variety of boats, including pontoons, fishing boats and runabouts. The bulk of the engine is just 52cm high, and peaks at 66cm at the coolant pressure cap.

The engine’s unique size provides boat builders with greater design flexibility, with additional space available for passengers and gear. It also provides improved access to the water, compared to traditional stern drive or outboard engines.

It’ll be interesting to see just what the boat builders come up with and how the fishing public adapt to having a totally clear and clean stern that you can fish easily from. Some of the design concepts presented at the Expo make you really wonder about how much extra fishing space you’ll have on hand and how good that will be in a real world situation.

We also got a sneak peak at the revolutionary Axius stern drive control system. Fitted to a Bayliner 325 Sportscruiser, the Axius system provided unparalleled manoeuvrability of this big rig. Imagine being able to move the boat directly sideways, or even do a 360 degree turn in the length of the boat. Yep, it’s pretty amazing stuff.

Axius allows this precision control through the use of independently articulating Bravo Three drives. Joystick control allows the driver to “walk” the boat laterally, turn, move forward or in reverse, or spin on its axis and sinceAxius doesn’t require modifications to the hull, it’s an easy upgrade to a MerCruiser SeaCore Sterndrive with features including hardcoat anodizing, closed cooling and an increased use of stainless steel making it perfect for saltwater environments.

When it hits the markets at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in 2008, it is going to turn a few heads.

There are also new Lightweight 15hp and 20hp portable 4-Strokes, a 15hp Pro Kicker, improved 40, 50 and 60hp four strokes with stunning new looks, a 300hp Verado 4-stroke that will mix it with the best in the big engine game, a massive range of new accessories such as the Tallon range of products that is constantly being upgraded, the very interesting Port-A-Moor that allows you to have a portable mooring for your boat, and a range of accessories for your MotorGuide electric motor including batteries, cases, propellers and innovative wireless control models.

While all the new products were great to see, Mercury also pay special attention to their servicing department and they are constantly trying to upgrade the skills and performance of their dealers to ensure you, the customer, end up with the right product and the right service. Mercury has instigated a dealer award system that will have all Mercury dealers doing their best for you. The servicing team will now look the part, act the part and deliver to you the right service to ensure your Mercury product gives you the time of your life on the water.

So drop into your nearest Mercury dealer and ask about the new range of product on offer. There is literally something for everyone.

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