Mercury 500R: sea trial for the most powerful outboards ever.
A special atmosphere is in the air at Mercury Racing. May be because the headquarters are in Wisconsin, but everyone here is friendly, straightforward and, above all, concrete. A bit like the latest product of their ingenuity, the new Mercury 500R, which, unveiled to the world just last night, is already available for testing today. A major test then, which I will carry out in the calm waters of the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina.
As usual, Mercury is providing an impressive deployment of forces to thoroughly test these outboard engines, in the various configurations available. Today it will be possible to climb on board the ultra-fast fishermen, test the “very multi-powered” high performance center consoles or, just for good measure, try to break the sound barrier by hurtling aboard the racing catamarans that, here in America, are also commonly used for yachting, in perfect “Miami Vice” style.
In short, all the ingredients are there to perform an out-of-the-ordinary test, and I am eager to get started.
Mercury 500R Performance
Mercury 500R on the Midnight Express 43 Solstice
You know a child in a toy store? Well, that’s exactly what I feel walking on this pier dotted with so many boats at our disposal. We are the first to arrive and, of the many options, I immediately choose the Midnight Express 43 Solstice which, just to start the day with the highlight, displays no less than five (yes you read that right, that’s really five) Mercury 500R engines.
This boat is a clear proof of how these new Mercury 500Rs ( as well as the other outboards in the range of Mercury Racing) are increasingly chosen as the best propulsion option for luxury sport yachts. To make an automotive comparison it’s like choosing a legendary Aston Martin DB12 which, mainly designed for racing, also allows you to travel, long and fast, in first class. After all, if Mercury Racing V8 500Rs are guaranteed from the factory for eight years there must well be a reason.
With five engines installed aft you certainly don’t go unnoticed so, while a large audience follows our maneuvers, we leave from the mooring and slowly sail down the channel that brings us to the middle of the river. Just outside, the captain asks us if he can leave and then … and then he throws the throttles down and we all find ourselves crushed to the seats as a result of the crazy acceleration.
Here the power, the torque, the hydrodynamics of the new gearcase and the technology simultaneously play a symphony that sounds like perfection and that takes this boat from 0 to 80 knots (94 mph) in 25 seconds. Seeing is believing:
MTI 440X: the racing catamaran
Weighing only 3.2 tons dry, this catamaran is evidently inspired by competitions to offer the market a real fun machine. Mind you, it is not a racing boat, it has eight seats and is equipped with the necessary comforts for daily sea outings; what distinguishes it from “more normal” boats, however, is the speed with which it gets to the desired destination.
Installed at the stern of the two hulls of the MTI 440X, the two Mercury 500Rs are almost imperceptible as we idle out of the low speed zone. Then, as soon as the throttles are moved forward slightly, the cat immediately comes out of the water and gets up on plane, with simply amazing progression, while all around the world seems to slow down.
At 5100 rpm, the Mercury 500Rs reach a 6600 rpm and the boat runs at 80 knots (92 mph). However, it’s not over, the rev counter rises again and at 5600 rpm we reach a whopping 113 mph, we’re nearing 100 knots! We are going so fast that the open water ahead of us is already finished, we have to slow down.
With a longer course we would have reached over 120 mph, as the captain of this amazing catamaran tells us soon after.
Mercury 500R on a “normal” boat
Having now given vent to my wildest fantasies, I’m coming back down to earth and choosing to test the new Mercury Racing V8 500Rs on a more “human-sized” boat: the Fountain 38CC, a classic American offshore fisherman that, for this occasion, flaunts three outboards at the stern.
Weighing eight tons, this boat features a deep-V hull, quite similar to a European walk-around, which will make the test very interesting. On this boat I want to test the cruising speeds.
At 45 mph (about 40 knots), the boat reaches 3700 rpm, consuming only 56 l/h per engine, with very little noise. This figure makes us realize how these Mercury 500Rs also cater willingly to normal use, allowing high mileage averages at relatively low fuel consumption.
I push the throttles forward and arrive in the blink of an eye at 65 mph, just over 55 knots, while the rev counter still reads “only” 5000 rpm. Cruising at this speed, while the three Mercury Racing V8 500Rs are still at 75 % power, is truly impressive.
Then I can’t take it anymore and I push the throttles all the way down, the boat still accelerates vigorously while the sound of the three outboards makes my heart throb; after “trimming” properly, I reach the exciting speed of 73 knots! What engines guys, what engines …
The new Mercury 500Rs are simply outstanding engines, capable of delivering both top-notch performance and absolute cruising comfort. The sensations they give at the helm are simply unique, unprecedented even when piloting the new 400Rs, which, although exciting, are no match for these new thrusters.
However, as mentioned above, the R that adorns the grille of these engines should not mislead us because, although they are very powerful engines, they are certainly not the exclusive preserve of racing boats since they perform decidedly well at intermediate speeds as well.
These new thrusters will therefore certainly appear on the sterns of the boats of the most demanding owners, those who always want the best because, as you may have already realized, nothing is better than the new Mercury 500Rs.
If you want to know more, I recommend watching this short video that Mercury Racing has made to explain in detail all the innovations contained in this magnificent example of construction engineering.