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For those in the know, Hawks Key, in Florida's chain of Caribbean Islands, is one of the most incredible boating destinations. Hawks Key is also where Mercury Marine chose to unveil the newest member to the Verado family of high-tech, four-stroke outboards. Mercury's three new Verado 4-cylinder models are the 135-, 150- and 175-hp.

Last year's introduction of the 6-cylinder Verado caught the boating community by storm with their ultra-quiet, supercharged power plant. The latest edition will undoubtedly do the same for boaters seeking a smaller displacement, 4-cylinder format.  All the technology used in the larger engine trickled down to the little brothers, yet was resized not rob any power or space considerations.

The Verado make-up begins with an aluminum block and cylinder head fastened together using very long bolts to sandwich the assembly. This configuration eliminates studs in the block and results in a stronger, more dependable structure. The engine is then mated to a driveshaft housing that is comprised of a proprietary alloy, called "Mercalloy", which the company claims to be stronger and less susceptible to corrosion than other materials currently available.

Feeding this power plant is electronic, sequential fuel-injection, assisted by a super-charger into four-valves per cylinder combustion chambers. Controls are also  handled with electronics via Mercury's Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS). Finally, the whole package is capped-off with a handsome, injection-molded, glass reinforced cowling which is not only lightweight and durable, but flexible to a point that if someone whacks the cowling, it will give, but not crack, break, or leave you with a hefty tab to replace it.

Mercury Marine also used this unveiling ceremony to display the expanded line of DTS. When Merc unveiled this 'control by wire' format, many of us boating enthusiasts thought "Hallelujah, our prayers have been answered," since the original cable-actuated throttle and shift levers left us screaming for change. The new DTS is a dream to use; all the commands to the engine and transmission are handled electronically, providing the user with silky smooth gear shifts and throttle position control.

Got triples? No problem. Mercury developed a DTS which will eliminate the six-pack (three throttle levers and three shift levers) into a user-friendly dual-lever control. But how does that work? With the use of micro-processors, the center engine is controlled by looking at the position of the engine next to it, either port or starboard, and then determines whether to be in forward or reverse or, in the case of docking, will place the center engine's tranny in neutral. Best of all, the control module will synchronize engine rpm for all the engines so the driver does not have to fuss with it, eliminating driver fatigue and increasing enjoyment.

In addition to these wonderful inventions, there were other technologies exhibited such as "Smart Start", an electronic, push-button starting mechanism, and system integration for SmartCraft which will allow you to 'plug and play' many other systems such as navigation, weather data, and generator data into your SmartCraft display screen for the ultimate boating experience. Stay tuned to for more applications of SmartCraft, DTS and Verado in the coming months.

Mercury Marine's 4-Cylinder Verado
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