Powering the Superconsole Surge

Outboard-tech advances are broadening the propulsion options for midrange day boats.

Seven Marine, Outboards
Expectations for outboard engines — and the types of boats where they belong — are changing as technology does.Courtesy Seven Marine

When Volvo Penta, famous for its omnipresent IPS engine system, acquired outboard-engine manufacturer Seven Marine this past summer, owners of midrange boats gasped at the possibilities. Seven Marine was less than a decade old, having started production in 2013, but it had done for gasoline-powered engines what Volvo Penta has done for diesels: looked to automotive technology in seeking out performance enhancements.

“Outboards are vertical; they stand up on their nose,” says Seven Marine Vice President Brian Davis. “If you open your car and look at your engine, the engine is flat. We were the first ones to mount a flat engine in an outboard.”

“Luxury is not top speed. It’s high-speed cruise with enough perform­ance that it’s exciting."

- Brian Davis, Seven Marine Vice President

Seven Marine, Outboards
Seven Marine introduced its 557 hp model in 2013. Even today, other leading outboard builders top out at 350 or 400 horses.Courtesy Seven Marine
Seven Marine, Outboards
Seven Marine combined automotive technology with outboard engine design, leading to advancements in horsepower and more.Courtesy Seven Marine

The partnership should continue to advance what Davis calls the “superconsole” market: boats in the 48- to 58-foot range (and, soon, beyond that). Seven Marine’s 557 hp and 627 hp models — horsepowers previously unheard of in outboards — gave builders new ideas about how those boats could be built and used, just as Volvo Penta’s IPS has done for inboard designs.

“A center console boat is the pickup truck of the boat market, but when you make a CC perform like a Porsche 911 with the ­reliability of a Lexus, you kill the performance-boat market,” ­Davis says. “We’ve created the ability for the superconsole category to exist.”

Whereas midrange boats have long been a destination unto themselves (many yachtsmen buy a 50-footer to hang out on all day and night with friends and family), the new thought for these boats is as entertainment platforms for superyachts, waterfront homes and more.

“These boats are not your destination,” Davis says. “They’re the access to the destination.