When Mercury Marine introduced its new FourStroke outboard engines the entire Mercury line-up took a major shift. Once dominated by the Mercury Verado, a supercharged 2.6 liter engine, the popular power sizes from 175 to 300 horsepower shifted to naturally aspirated V6 and V8 models. Just two of the original Mercury Verados remain: the 350 and the 400R (sold under the Mercury Racing banner), power levels that the new outboards simply couldn’t obtain.
Don’t be confused: Mercury is recycling the Verado label with its 250 and 300 horsepower models, so you’ll still see the Verado name, but these are not supercharged engines. Rather, the company decided to use the moniker for its top-end V8 offerings. These are the exact same powerplants as the FourStroke 250 and 300 engines, but includes features like standard digital throttle and shift, electro-hydraulic power steering, Advanced Sound Control (the ability to flip a switch and circumvent muffling), automatic oil level check, and optional Joystick Piloting.
The power boost to 350 horses was originally attained with a newer water-cooled supercharger, which could deliver about 10-percent more boost. In order to handle the additional oomph, Mercury also reshaped the cylinder head, revised the camshafts, valves and valve springs, and redesigned the air intakes. Jumping an additional 50 horses required new heads and valve trains to create the 400R, but this engine also hits its heights by being remapped to spin a rather mind-boggling 7000 rpm.
These engines can run on 89 or 91 octane fuel, although 91 is recommended to attain peak performance. The alternator puts out 70-amps, controls are digital SmartCraft, and the gear ratio is 1.75:1. In both iterations, the Verado weighs in at 668-pounds with a short-shaft and 695 with a long shaft. Compare that to 727-pounds for the Suzuki Df350A, or 763-pounds for the Yamaha F350C.
Both models are available in both black and white and both also come with a three-year warranty – a nice perk for those considering buying the 400R, which used to be offered with one year less than the 350.
These surviving Verados represent a long evolution, since they were first introduced in 2004. Mercury was able to step the initial 275 horsepower flagship up to 300 horses three years later, with a new camshaft, recalibrated fuel injection and spark plug timing, and by switching to forged pistons that didn’t require oil cooling. This allowed a reduction of crankcase oil by one third, reducing windage-based friction (the additional friction caused by airborne oil molecules inside the engine interacting with moving parts). Mercury Racing got their hands on the 300 and naturally turned it into a 350, then in 2015 Mercury rolled out the 350 and Mercury Racing stretched it to 400. Today, there are over 150,000 Verados on the water and these latest models represent the fifth generation for this platform.
As one might expect, this much power doesn’t come cheap.
You’ll find the Mercury Verado 350 starting slightly under $30,000 and the 400R slightly over that mark. Exact pricing, of course, depends on the specific model and options you get, as well as who’s selling it to you. In general, that makes the Verado 350 a couple-few thou less expensive than the Suzuki DF350A and maybe a couple less than the Yamaha F350C. Truth be told, these differences are minimal considering that in most applications a few thousand dollars will amount to just two or three percent of the overall cost of the boat they’re going on.
So, just how much additional speed can up-sizing the powerplants by 50 horses get an average boat? Testing on a fully-loaded Boston-Whaler Outrage 370 rigged with triple 350s netted 3.5 mph at top end over triple 300s. In single engine applications with smaller boats, Mercury says bumps of up to five mph can be expected.
Is that worth the additional expense and operational costs?
That’s a question only you can answer, for yourself. But we can say one thing for sure: if you want a supercharged powerplant hanging on your transom, from here on out the Mercury Verado 350 and the Mercury Racing 400R are the only ways to make it happen.