Outboards, there is little doubt, are a practical, almost ubiquitous and incredibly versatile entity; and they are increasingly depopulating. An outboard “craze” that seems to be catching on more and more widely, employing them everywhere. A very rapidly growing trend then, and almost surprising if, indeed, we think about how outboards have actually existed for almost a century (already Piaggio, after World War II, tried to make them the engine of the masses, the “Vespa of the Seas”). Today, however, the efficiency they have achieved actually justifies their increasingly widespread use, witnessing as we are their true apex, abetted by a market capable of providing ever more efficient and powerful solutions, with construction sites to match, willing to find design solutions capable of installing them anywhere, in plain sight or hidden. But of all the options available, what are the most powerful outboards on the market?
These are the 8 most powerful outboards on the market
While in 1947 Piaggio’s 99cc Moscone was an immense success, the first mass-market outboard in Italy, the landscape is quite different today. Power ratings easily reach and exceed 450 horsepower, up to 600, and engines can be coupled, if not even put in 4 or 5 in a row, pushing hulls that are no longer the lances and goiters of the early days, but yachts that, between length and square footage, even 30 years ago would not have been imagined. And, in all of this, we also have electrical ones. In short, the landscape is diverse, vast, and offers solutions for every need. But these 8 outboards are the most powerful on the market.
Outboards. Mercury Marine: Verado V12 600
Just launched, the 600-horsepower Mercury V12 Verado outboard was an immediate success, earning it a CES Innovation Award at METS 2021, followed by a second in 2022. Exceptional fuel economy and reduced range and carbon emissions were no small part of its strength, obviously coupled with the 600 horsepower it is capable of delivering. Overall, however, this is an engine that was not created for pure speed, but to have tremendous thrust and thus adapt to heavier units as well.
From a technical point of view, we are talking about an outboard engine that, for the first time, introduces a rotary foot and similarly, for the first time integrates a two-speed transmission. Not to mention that it is the first V12 outboard in history. And, to harness all available power, Mercury Marine has designed a new series of dual, counter-rotating propellers. It is these that give maximum grip on the water (and thus better maneuverability), but also cruise speed and glide with reduced fuel consumption. Finally, it all dovetails with Mercury’s lean combustion strategy, Advanced Range Optimisation (ARO), a closed-loop fuel control system.
Mercury Racing: Mercury 500R V8
The Mercury Racing 500R is a 500-horsepower supercharged engine that aims to raise the bar at the high end of the segment. Not only horsepower, but also new technologies, are the features it boasts, including a power-to-weight ratio that hardly fears rivals, with about 329 kg of its own weight. On a technical level, on this outboard (4.6-liter V8 at 64°) the supercharger boost pressure is increased by 26%, while, a new intake manifold, allows for the necessary increased airflow. In addition, the diameter of the throttle body here has been increased by 15% , as well as the inlet shape of the supercharger has been redesigned to improve flow. The density of the intercooler fins and the flow pattern were optimized in turn, improving overall efficiency.
Most importantly, however, for the first time in a marine engine, a sensor has been incorporated to measure the moisture level of the intake airflow, thus keeping the most aggressive calibration for maximum thrust at all times. In numerical terms, there is a significant increase in power with these engines in harsh and humid conditions, with up to 30 more horsepower than the power available without moisture compensation. Among the most important new features installed, then, is the R-Drive foot (or rather the two feet), in classic or sport versions, both with a crescent profile and an elongated “torpedo” shape.
Yamaha: Yamaha V8 XTO 450
It is the most powerful outboard ever made by the Japanese manufacturer. With a 5.6-liter cubic capacity, the Yamaha XTO 8-cylinder 450-horsepower V-cylinder in fact receives the top-of-the-line baton from the “old” 425hp XTO, also a V8, thus retaining the muscular engine footprint, but with the aim of offering even more power and, thus, once again allowing outboards to be used on larger boats, those that were usually the preserve of another type of powerplant. In detail, the exhaust was changed, which now has a 4/2/1 ratio with a change in valve diameter as well. Then, to meet the increasing power needs on board, the alternator was changed from the 70-amp alternator of the 425 to a 100-amp alternator.
In terms of maneuverability, however, it allows the boat to be equipped with integrated digital electronic steering, a tool that improves maneuverability by making the boat more integrated and smooth to maneuver. Finally, the reverse thrust has also been improved so as to facilitate mooring and maneuvering in the strait. With tangible benefits in terms of relaxation for those at the helm.
Honda: Honda BF 350
Honda’s is an engine that takes the brand into new market segments, a 350-horsepower, 5,000-displacement V8 (4,952 to be precise) designed, fundamentally, to be versatile, allowing for both single and multiple applications. Analyzing its specifications, it is a 5-liter, 32-valve, 60-degree V8 outboard with VTEC technology peculiar to all of the brand’s high-end, i.e., a variable lift and timing control system. What does it mean? That when the need arises, the engine is able to deliver higher peak power to give more thrust. There is also automatic trim control, that is, while sailing, depending on the rpm and speed of the boat, trim control is automatically activated to optimize performance with three standard presets, which can be customized by the user. Thus, there are 3 different customizable trim settings that allow the hull to glide more quickly while being fuel efficient.
There is also no shortage of ECOmo mode, the fuel management system that optimizes fuel consumption through the electronic control unit, which automatically adjusts the air/fuel mixture according to speed and load when sailing at constant speed.
Suzuki: Suzuki DF 350AMD
Equipped with a 4,390 cc DOHC 6-cylinder engine with an impressive 350 hp and a compression ratio of 12.0:1–a ratio generally reserved for thermal racing units, the highest for a mass-produced outboard–it is excellence among Suzuki outboard engines. It also takes the level even further with the engine-integrated wheelhouse, which makes the sailing experience even more enjoyable and comfortable. But the design in general is taken one step further over the entire project, starting with the foot, which has been revised by reducing the size of the front end by 4 percent.This increased the top speed by more than 2 percent due to the reduction in friction.
The DF350AMD then supports the innovative steer-by-wire system, allowing the integrated steering to be controlled electronically, including with the new dedicated joystick, which has the functions of automatic rudder adjustment and assisted docking mode.The ‘drive axle, on the other hand, is offset from the crankshaft, allowing a first reduction between the crankshaft and drive shaft, and a second reduction between the drive shaft and gearbox within the foot. A mechanism that allows the installation of propellers with large diameters, thus taking full advantage of the propulsive efficiency of the engine. To match, there is also no shortage of all of Suzuki’s integrated efficiency and carbon footprint reduction systems, starting with the multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection system and Suzuki’s consumameno technology, the Suzuki Lean Burn.
Learn more at marine.suzuki.com
Selva Marine: White Whale 300 E.F.I.
With the White Whale 300 EFI we enter the top of the range offered by Selva Marine. It is a 60° V6 equipped with 24 DOHC valves and phase shifter. Made by a plasma casting process for incredible strength and lightness, the cylinder is 4169 cc against a total engine weight of only 260 kg. In terms of steering, the White Whale contemplates Drive By Wire, integrating the latest available technologies for maximized performance and efficiency.
The power output expressed by the 300hp is 220.7 Kw, with an engine speed (rpm) contemplated around 5000/6000 rpm at the maximum potential expressible. Obviously, it is a 4-stroke, a DOHC 24V with direct-acting VTC.
Find out more at www.selvamarine.com
Outboards. Evoy: Storm 300
It was the first 300-horsepower electric outboard with industrialized production and, in fact, the most powerful in the world on the electric segment. Powering it, in the basic version, are two 63 kWh batteries paired with an 800-volt system with which this electric giant pushes boats designed for its installation up to 50 knots. In terms of range, however, it can be increased by installing batteries of up to 378 kWh, thus achieving about 103 miles of range at 25 knots.
In short, a propulsion system that, in terms of performance, comfortably competes with endothermics, albeit, looking at the range, the output is lower, a component that, however, is not so much about the individual motor as it is about the electric mobility industry in general.
Explomar: Wave 300
Presented as the right mix of “performance, green, and evolution,” the Explomar Wave 300HP is an electric outboard that, right from the numbers, promises interesting numbers, starting with a low weight of about 180 kg. Using high-quality, automotive-derived batteries (HEDB – High Energy Density Lithium Battery), the weight of the batteries also points downward, for an energy density of 175 Wh/kg.
In addition, the fully electronic, drive-by-wire powertrain and ECU management system enable easy engine management for precise supervisories and continuously adjusting power delivery to the required thrust needs. Adding on the sustainability front, the cooling system, developed in a closed loop, comes into play here, so as to avoid not only contact between salt water and internal components but, theoretically, also limiting the release of heated, particle-laden water into the sea.
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