Ripping through Government Cut so fast that we were passing cars driving at highway-speeds right next to us on the causeway, it didn’t take long to discover the fast acceleration, mid-range oomph, and sheer power Mercury has managed to pack into the new 350 Verado. My test boat, a 6,500-pound 36’ Yellowfin rigged with triple towers of power, jumped out of the hole like a flats boat and powered into the upper-60’s before the rough seas (it was blowing over 20-mph) forced us to back off on the throttles. In decent sea conditions, this will be a 70-mph-plus rig.
At those speeds we saw a fuel burn of a hair over 32-gph per motor—yowza. At a 4500 rpm cruise, however, the boat made about 1.3 miles to the gallon, not bad for a triple-screw rig toting over 1,000-hp. on the transom. Mercury makes the power with an in-line-six, supercharged design that’s iced off with electronically-controlled sequential multi-port fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, and double-overhead cams. The net result is a motor with a lot of punch, particularly in the mid-range, where many four-stroke outboards seem lethargic. Go from 3500 rpm to wide-open throttle, and you’ll get a neck-snapping jolt.
The Verado’s controls are also something to crow about. Like other 6-cylinder Verados, the Smartcraft digital throttles are far smoother then cables (really, cables seem archaic at this point, don’t they?) and all of your gauges are digitally displayed at the dash. Also like this outboard’s smaller siblings, the 350 has 158.5 cid, puts out 70 amps, and has a 3.23” bore by 3.23” stroke. Unlike its relatives, however, the 350 swings at relatively high rpms, and is rated to spin up to 6800. (The 300 and 275, by comparison, spin 6400 rpm.)
One of the big worries when jumping through the 300-hp barrier was gear cases; outboard manufacturers knew they could get the juice out of their powerheads, but they also knew the existing gears might go kablooey if they put that much power through them. So the 350 features a beefed-up system with an aluminum bearing carrier and a propshaft that’s 25-percent larger. That’s part of the reason why the 350 puts on a little weight in comparison to other big Verados, tipping the scales at 667-pounds. Still, this is significantly less then the competing Yamaha F350, which breaks 800-pounds.
Sound levels were low during our test, and we were able to hold normal conversations at the helm while cruising. That made the 350 downright fun to run—especially when we were passing Porches and BMWs, that were driving at highway speeds.
Price: They list over $28,000, but can be found for thousands less.
Observed performance notes w/4 people and full load fuel, on a 36’ Yellowfin rigged with triple 350 HP Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards, swinging 14 5/8” x 23” three bladed stainless-steel props:
Speed in MPH
Gallons per hour
Miles per gallon
Wide open throttle/5800
Grady-White's 336 with twin Yamaha F350's
And now, let’s run the Yamaha:
While cruising with a pair of 5.3-liter Yamaha F350 outboard slung on the transom of Grady-White’s 336 Canyon center console, then again on a Dusky 33, one fact stood out: these things sound like an Accura coasting down the freeway. Their hum is barely louder then wind-noise created by the 37-mph cruise at 4500 rpm, and less then a decade ago, outboards with half this much power produced twice as much noise.
Fuel efficiency is also light years ahead of old-tech outboards, and on the Grady we burned 35.2-gph at cruise, to get a hair better then one mile to the gallon. And during this test we had three people and full fuel aboard—so these are real-world, canyon-running numbers. Top speed was just under 50-mph, while turning 5800 rpm. Of course, normal anglers won’t be running at wide-open throttle very often but if you do so, note that when we cranked these beasts up they start chugging fuel like it was Cool Aid. At wide-open throttle the 350’s burned 34-gph each, netting us about 0.7 miles to the gallon.
The F-350 has 325 cid, a 60-degree V-8 block, and 3.70” x 3.78” bore and stroke. It puts out 50-amps, which should be plenty of juice but is on the low end compared to Verado’s 350 (70 amps). However, it’s putting out 40 of those amps at just 1000 rpm, so trollers won’t have to worry about low output as they putt along looking for fish. Variable camshaft timing, multi-point electronic fuel injection, and a dual overhead-cam 32-valve design are a few other highlights. The 25” shaft model is 804-pounds—yup, she’s a whopper—and the 30” shaft version comes in at 822-pounds. Compare that to 667-pounds, for the 350 Verado.
I particularly liked Yamaha’s control Link digital controls, which allow for rpm adjustment to 50 rpm, can synch the throttles in twin and triple engine installations, and boasts all digital gauges. Running these boats was a pleasure and the digital controls come in handy when docking, too. They basically eliminate those herky-jerky shifts, and accidentally racing the engine. In fact, putting the Grady into her slip was a piece of cake—almost as easy as parking an Accura.
Observed performance notes w/3 people and full load fuel, on a 33’ Grady-White rigged with twin 350 HP Yamaha four-stroke F350 outboards, swinging 16 1/4” x 19” three bladed stainless-steel props:
Speed in MPH
Gallons per hour
Miles per gallon
Wide open throttle/5800
The Verado and the Yamaha posted amazingly similar fuel efficiency. Yes, the Verados did a bit better at a slow cruise, but triple-screw outboard rigs usually do post slightly higher efficiency numbers then twin-screw rigs. And when Yamaha tested a 36’ Contender with triple 350’s, it came up with identical efficiency numbers: 1.3-mpg at 3500 rpm, 1.1-mpg at 4500 rpm, and 0.7-mpg at WOT. As a rule, Yamaha’s published test numbers are dead-on. So economy seems to be a wash. Both motors post similar sound levels and both manufacturers have excellent dealer networks, so neither of these factors are apt to push buyers in one direction or the other.
The Verado holds a clear advantage, however, when it comes to weight. Being 137 pounds trimmer, it’s likely to tip the decision of speed demons and those re-powering boats over 10 years old (which were generally designed to carry light two-strokes on the transom,) in the Merc’s favor. For that you can thank the use of the supercharger to generate maximum horsepower (as opposed to displacement, which is 158.5 cid for the Verado versus 325 cid for the Yamaha). Considering this same fact, however, some other anglers will go for the Yamaha because – although neither of these powerplants has been on the market long enough to make blanket statements regarding overall reliability and longevity – as a rule of thumb the more complex an engine becomes, the more things there are to break or fail. And yes, supercharging a motor certainly does make it more complex. One other factor falls in the Yamaha’s favor: cost. It sells for several thousand dollars less then the Verado.
The bottom line: it’ll be several more years before anyone can use data (instead of anecdotal evidence) to show that one engine is “better” then the other. If you’re considering both, you’ll just have to dwell on the advantages and disadvantages each holds, and decide for yourself which are the most important. The good news? Make that choice, and in both cases when you slam down the throttle and let 350 ponies run wild you’ll be in for a serious testosterone rush.
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