Verado Takes on the Pack

Head to Head: 200HP Outboards

The fourth instalment of our ground-breaking engine testing program sees the unique Mercury Verado supercharged four-stroke take on its 200hp rivals. By Jim Harnwell.

AS detailed in previous editions, Boat Fishing has embarked on an ambitious testing schedule which will see a range of 200hp outboards fitted to the Fishing World Stabi-Craft 659 Super Cab project boat and tested for between 20-50 hours. So far we’ve put the E-TEC 200 H.O. and the Yamaha F200 (Note – this engine has since been superseded) to the test (see full report in the February 2009 edition) and we compared those engines with Suzuki’s DF 200 in the June issue. This was followed in August by Mercury’s Optimax DFI 200. Now it’s time for Mercury’s unique supercharged Verado four-stroke to take on its 200hp rivals. Honda’s brand new BF200 will be the final engine tested.

inline_474_ Verado @ 28 hours
Mercury launched Verado in 2004. It was – and still remains – probably the most innovative and ambitious outboard concept ever.

Mercury’s former boss, the charismatic George Buckley, was the driving force behind the development of the Verado concept. Basically, it involved developing a quiet and fuel efficient four-stroke engine with the throttle response of a two-stroke.

Verado achieves its power and acceleration via its revolutionary supercharger system. In very basic terms, a supercharger is an air compressor used as part of a forced induction system in an engine. The supercharger allows the engine to use more oxygen and fuel and thus create more power. Superchargers differ from turbochargers in that a turbo is driven by exhaust gases and a supercharger is driven by the engine (via a belt, gear, shaft or chain). Both systems achieve a similar end result, however: much more power than would be achieved by normal aspiration. But you do pay extra for the technology. At a RRP of almost $27,000, the Verado is the most expensive engine tested so far (but that price does include Mercury’s innovative Digital Throttle and Shift control box). Aside from the supercharger, Mercury’s 200hp L4 Verado is unique in that it’s a straight four-cylinder six-valve direct acting double overhead cam with a displacement of just over 1700cc. All the other outboards tested so far have been six cylinder engines with displacement ranging from just over 3000cc to more than 3600cc.

The test unit runs a 19-inch SS prop and was installed by Nowra Marine, on the NSW South Coast. At just over 28 hours of use involving bay and offshore fishing, my opinion is that this is one very smick powerplant. Like all the other test engines, the Verado has proven 100 per cent reliable in regards to starting and in general performance. Interestingly, it boasts similar responsiveness to its much larger capacity rivals, including the DI two-stroke E-TEC and Optimax (which is also available as a high performance XS Pro configuration). Like the other four-strokes and the E-TEC, the Verado is much quieter than the growly Opti.   

The Verado doesn’t have the “rip off your head” instant acceleration of the E-TEC 200 H.O. (which remains, in my view, the clear leader in regards to power to weight ratio) but it is certainly no slow poke. It has less than half of the capacity of the 3.6 litre Suzuki, for instance, and yet provides much the same sort of performance.

That’s the benefit of the supercharger. A relatively modest-sized engine can be tweaked to provide excellent performance. The possible downside is that you could be forgiven for thinking that there are lots of complicated moving parts and belts under the Verado’s very cool looking “Darth Vader” inspired cowling. However, Mercury advises that there is only one “serpentine” belt under the cowl, which is “super reliable and inexpensive to replace”. When I asked about the complexity associated with a supercharged marine engine, the Mercury technical people pointed out that the Verado’s timing chain is 100 per cent service free for the life of the engine. The valves are also non-adjustable and require no servicing.

Verados have been in production for upwards of six years now – and supercharger technology has been around since at least the 1930s – so you would think the technology should have all the bugs ironed out.

When it was launched in 2004, Verado was the first production outboard to feature “drive by wire” controls and electro-hydraulic power steering. Unfortunately we couldn’t fit this innovative power steering system to the Fisho project boat but I have used it in other boats. This system is heralded as providing virtually vibration-free engine mounting and precise steering. We did manage to fit Mercury’s excellent DTS control system, which, as previously stated, is standard with Verado. This digital system allows for instant throttle response and very smooth shifting, Mercury says, “by eliminating the hesitation of traditional mechanical cable systems”. E-TEC has just released a similar system, called Icon.

The DTS control, which on the Fisho boat was a stylish polished silver binnacle mount, also allows you to start and stop the engine via a soft key. The user friendliness of this system can’t be over estimated.

I was surprised, however, that the forward and reverse gears seemed to “bang” when engaged. Perhaps this was an installation issue? I would have expected a much smoother engagement.

The Verado boasts a comprehensive digital engine data system via two dedicated SmartCraft guages. Everything you need to know can be accessed by pressing a button and scrolling through the menu. It is also compatible to Mercury’s unique VesselView display, which allows an awesome amount of date customisation. A VesselView screen was fitted to the Fisho boat – it certainly provided oodles of info. Personally, I reckon the SmartCraft gauges are all that’s needed for the average trailer boat – but VesselView doubtless shows the future of engine data controls.  

Performance observations
•GPS measured top speed at WOT in calm water was 40.8 knots. See Spec box on p.117 for full speed comparisons.

•The Verado ranks slightly below the Suzuki in noise at idle and low speed. Engine noise at WOT is about the same for all five engines tested so far. As it stands now, the Suzuki remains the quietest engine, followed by the Verado, the Yammie, the E-TEC and then the Optimax.

Ease of use
There are some differences between the Verado and the other engines relating to ease of use.

•The E-TEC has by far the smoothest gear shift out of the three, with the Suzuki being less “clunky” than the Yammie and the Optimax. As noted previously, the Verado’s DTS shift was surprisingly “clunky” going in and out of gear, although it was very smooth and responsive when engaged.

•The Suzuki’s tilt/trim hydraulic system matches the E-TEC in being marginally quieter than that on the Yammie and the Optimax. The Verado’s tilt/trim system was surprisingly noisy.

•At low revs/idle, the Verado, Optimax, the Suzuki and the Yamaha vibrate slightly, causing a rattle in the portside cabin window. This is not evident with the E-TEC. It needs to be noted that the Verado’s innovative electric-hydraulic steering system would negate any rattle or vibration from the engine.

•There are no noticeable fumes or smoke from any of the four-strokes, including the Verado, but the E-TEC and the Opti sometimes produced a burnt oil smell when trolling with the wind.

•All four engines feature innovative engine and fuel data systems to provide incredibly accurate fuel use and engine system information via dedicated gauges. Mercury’s SmartCraft system available with the Verado (and the previously tested Optimax) is particularly informative and easy to use. The Verado and the Opti engine management systems can also be used with Northstar units and, as from just recently, any NMEA 2000 compatible unit.

 •All the engines tested so far have factory backed warranties. Mercury offers a 3 + 2 year warranty for its engines. This means you get three years warranty as standard and another two if you get the engine logbook serviced by a Mercury dealer, thus matching the five year warranty offered by E-TEC and Suzuki. The Mercs also carry an exclusive three-year corrosion warranty. All the engines tested comply with the latest international pollution control regulations. Like the Yamaha, Suzuki and E-TEC, the Verado is CARB 3 star, rated as “ultra low emission”.

Size & weight
The Verado is the lightest of the four-strokes tested so far, coming in at 231kg dry. The Optimax is the lightest and most compact engine all up. At 225kg dry weight, it is a whopping 44 kilos lighter than the Yamaha, 38 kilos lighter than the Suzuki, 13 kilos less than the DI two-stroke E-TEC and 6kg less than Verado.

Fuel & oil
The Verado now leads the pack in the key “cruise” rev range of 3000rpm, using 14.2 LPH. The former leader, the Suzuki, used 18.9L per hour at 3000rpm. At 4000rpm (25.91L per hour) the Suzuki beats the Verado (27.5LPH) by 1.6 litres.

In the same rev ranges, the Yamaha records 27.7 and 30.5 LPH, the E-TEC 29 and 44 LPH and the Optimax 22.5 and 40 LPH.  The E-TEC retains its lead in the low rev range of idle and 1000rpm (slow trolling/jigging) while the Yamaha retains it superiority at Wide Open Throttle (WOT), beating the Suzuki by almost 5 litres, the E-TEC by 14 litres, the Opti by 11.5 litres and the Verado by 12.5 litres. The E-TEC and Opti shares the No.1 position for top end speed at 42 knots. The Verado and the Suzuki are neck to neck at about 40 knots while the Yammie maxed out at 37 knots.  The Verado now takes the No.1 spot at the marlin trolling speed, using 7.1 LPH at 2000rpm and 8.8 knots. The DI two-strokes previously held this benchmark performance figures with the Opti using 8.6LPH at 1900RPM and 8 knots compared to the E-TEC’s  9.6 LPH at 1800rpm and 8 knots.  The Verado beats the Yamaha by 5.5LPH and the Suzuki by 3.7LPH.

Based on these figures, we maintain our previously published view that none of the engines tested so far has a significant advantage in regards to fuel use when used in typical offshore fishing scenarios.  All five engines use significantly less fuel than a traditional two-stroke 200hp outboard.

•An important point to note is that the above performance and fuel data has been compiled using different propellers on each test engine: a 17-inch high cup on the E-TEC, a 19-incher on the Yammie, a 21-incher on the Suzuki and a 19-incher on both the Opti and the Verado. Engine performance, speed and fuel use can vary radically depending on the prop used. The props used in our tests were selected by dealers and manufacturers to provide what they regarded as “typical” offshore fishing boat performance. Fishing World invited all manufacturers involved to thoroughly “prop” the boat to ensure maximum performance. The above data needs to be assessed with that in mind.

•All three engines have been operated with 91 octane unleaded fuel with fuel data. See comparison chart opposite for detailed fuel use data.

•The Yammie, Suzuki and Verado offer a benefit over the E-TEC and the Optimax in that as four-strokes they have wet sumps and thus don’t require the addition of expensive XD100 or OptiMax/DFI Synthetic Blend 2-Cycle Outboard Oil, the synthetic DI two-stroke oils recommended for use with E-TECs and Optimax engines.  Both these oils are expensive, retailing for about $65 for four litres (or more than $16 a litre).

•The cost of oil needs to be considered when comparing fuel use between DI two-strokes such as Evinrude’s E-TEC and Mercury’s Optimax and their four-stroke competitors. The DI engines use very little oil compared to traditional two-strokes, but the cost of the new-age synthetic oils is far more than what you’d pay for a bottle of standard marine two-stroke oil. Our data indicates that the Fisho E-TEC used about 330ml of XD100, worth about $5.20, per 100 litres of fuel with the Opti recording similar figures.

•The Suzuki requires about eight litres of engine oil when the sump oil is changed annually or once every 100 hours. Based on current prices for engine oils, this involves a cost of about $70 (or $9 a litre). The Yamaha and Verado both require six litres each service (about $54 worth of oil).

Evinrude’s main claim to fame is that its E-TEC engines only require servicing once every three years, or 300 hours. This gives the Canadian outboard company a significant advantage over its competitors in regards to savings on servicing and reducing time off the water.

The other engines all require an initial 20 hour service and then a service once a year or every 100 hours.

A typical 300 hour E-TEC service would cost about $550 (including impeller change), Nowra-based E-TEC specialist Noel Hill, from Dave Hill Marine, said. According to South Coast Yamaha dealer Abby’s Autos & Marine, a 100 hour service on an F200 would be about $450 (not including impeller). An annual service for the Suzuki is also about $450 (including impeller), according to Suzuki.  An annual Opti service would be about $530, according to the service guys at Nowra Marine. A Verado service would cost $545 (including impellor), according to Mercury.

Extrapolated over a three-year period, the Verado would cost $1635 to maintain, both the Yamaha F200 and Suzuki DF200 would cost about $1350 and the Opti would set you back about $1590. An E-TEC would cost $550, resulting in an $800 saving over both the Yamaha and the Suzuki and more than a grand over the Optimax and the Verado. The $50-$70 of oil used in a year by the Yammie, Suzuki and Verado is included in the above service cost, but the DI engines’ oil use isn’t.

Note: The E-TEC 300 hour servicing schedule is based on typical use.  Impellor damage or other issues would require attention outside the servicing schedule. The E-TEC service manual recommends the owner perform basic maintenance annually.

Sum up
I really liked the Verado. Its mix of performance, style and technological innovation made it a pleasure to drive. Its relatively compact size ideally suited the test boat and the ease of use thanks to the fantastic DTS system served to enhance the general enjoyment of being on the water.

Stay tuned for the April issue for the write-up on Honda’s new 200!



Yammie:2100RPM – 8 knots -12.6 L/hr

E-TEC:1800RPM – 8 knots – 9.6 L/hr

Suzuki:2156PRM – 8 knots – 10.8 L/hr

Optimax:1900RPM – 8 knots – 8.6 L/hr

Verado:2000RPM – 8.8knots – 7.1 L/hr


Yammie:700-900RPM – 1-2 knots
– 2.3-3.2 L/hr

E-TEC:700-900 – 1-2 knots – 0.7-1.2 L/hr

Suzuki:650RPM – 2 knots – 1.8 L/hr

Optimax:700-900RPM – 1-2 knots
– 1.6-2 L/hr

Verado:700-900RPM – 1.7 L/hr


Yamaha F200

700RPM idle – 2.3 litres per hour

1000RPM 4 knots – 3.8 litres per hour

2000RPM 7 knots – 9.7 litres per hour

3000RPM 12.6 knots – 22.7 litres per hour

4000RPM 26.5 knots – 30.5 litres per hour

5000RPM32.6 knots – 44.4 litres per hour

5800 (WOT)37 knots – 65 litres per hour

Evinrude E-TEC

700RPM idle – 0.7 litres per hour

1000RPM 3.6 knots – 1.54 litres per hour

2000RPM 8.7 knots – 10.1 L/hour  

3000RPM 18.5 knots – 29 litres per hour

4000RPM28 knots – 44 litres per hour

5000RPM 36 knots – 65 litres per hour

5500RPM (WOT) 42 knots – 79 L/hour.

Suzuki DF200

650RPM idle – 1.8 litres per hour

1000RPM 4 knots – 3.8 litres per hour

2000RPM 6.5 knots – 9 litres per hour

3000RPM 16 knots – 18.9 litres per hour

4000RPM 26 knots – 25.91 litres per hour

5000RPM 34 knots – 51.3 litres per hours

6000RPM (WOT) 40 knots – 69.74 L/hour

Mercury Optimax

600RPM idle – 1.4 litres per hour

1000RPM 5 knots – 3.1 litres per hour

2000RPM 8.6 knots – 11.7 litres per hour

3000RPM 20.3 knots – 22.5 litres per hour

4000RPM 30 knots – 40 litres per hour

5000RPM 57 litres per hour – 38 knots

5800ROM (WOT)42 knots – 76.5 litres

Mercury Verado

650RPMidle – 1.1 litres per hour

1000RPM5 knots – 2.5 litres per hour

2000RPm8.8 knots – 7.1 litres per hour

3000RPM16.5 knots – 14.2 litres per hour

4000RPM26.7 knots – 27.5 litres per hour

5000RPM34.5 knots – 54.9 litres per hour

5900RPM (WOT)40.5 knots – 77.4 l/hour


Mercury Mercury
Yamaha F200E-TEC 200 H.O.Suzuki DF 200Optimax 200Verado L4 200

Transom Height: 643mm635mm

Weight (dry):  269kg (inc SS prop) 238kg263kg225kg231kg

Engine Type: 24-Valve DOHC Loop Charged V6 90°DOHC 24-ValveV6 60° veeSupercharged

Direct Action, 60° V6E-TEC Direct InjectionDI two-strokeStraight 4, 16-valve
direct acting double
overhead cam

Displacement: 3352 cc3279 cc3614 cc3032 cc1732cc

Output (hp): 200Factory Tuned for200hp200hp200hp

High Performance

Max RPM: 5500-6000 4500-58005000-6000rpm5000-57505800-6400

Fuel management: EFIE-TEC Direct FuelMulti Point Sequential2-stage directComputer controlled

Injection w/stratified lowElectronic Fuel Injectionfuel injectionSequential Multi-Port

RPM combustion modeElectronic Fuel Injection

Alternator: 12V 45 AMPVariable Voltage Computer 12v 54amps12 volt 60ampsFully regulated belt
Controlled 133 Amp driven 70-amp

/1800 watt output(882 watt)

w/ regulator

Limited Warranty: 4 years5 Years Non-DecliningLimited five (5) years3 + 2 years3 + 2 years

for recreational use


European Union 2006EURO1, OEDA 3 Star

Colours:Grey Metallic SilverBlue/WhiteBlackBlackBlack

RRP: $23,248.00*$25,363*$25,268* $21,829*$26,877*

* All RRPs sourced independently from dealers and correct at time of printing. Prices may have changed by time of publication.

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