Igniting the twin 570 hp Ilmor MV8 570 engines, I was rewarded with a satisfying rumble. After idling out of the canal and reaching open water, I punched the throttles. The Formula 353 FAS3Tech, in which these brand-new small-block engines were installed, took off with head-snapping acceleration and flew to a top speed exceeding 85 mph at 6,000 rpm as the bolster cushions compressed against my back and thighs.
You read that right. 6,000. The limiter restricts engine speed to 6,100 revs at wide-open throttle.
Featuring a broader rpm band than competitive engines, like the 5,400 rpm Mercury Racing 565, along with a smaller footprint, lighter weight and a host of other neat features, this new big-displacement small-block will find fans in several boating venues.
One reason for the MV8 570’s crossover potential is that it delivers incredible midrange torque, evidenced by the punch I felt at 50 to 55 mph aboard the Formula. In rough, open water this is exactly what a performance boater needs to deliver the pop that helps keep the bow up as the boat comes off waves. Indeed, test day’s three- to five-foot seas hammered that point home, the 353 FAS3Tech’s stellar ability notwithstanding.
That awesome low-end power stems from Ilmor’s initial use for the 454 cubic-inch (7.4-liter) engine on which the MV8 570 is based. Since 2011, Ilmor has been producing a catalyzed version of the same 7.4-liter engine for its tow-sports partner, MasterCraft Boat Co. For a wakeboard boat, all that torque means that when heavily loaded — like with a crew of 10, hauling a ton of water ballast, and Little Johnny “fakie front-flipping” his way to YouTube glory at the end of a rope — you get the inspiring performance you bought the boat for in the first place.
The tuned-up, noncatalyzed MV8 570 offers a wider rpm band to allow the engine to swing taller props, those with more pitch. Combined with optimized cam profiling, a sophisticated electronic control system and other fine-tuning, the result is increased speed potential while maintaining low-end torque, and enhanced fuel economy. Of course, since the 7.4-liter MV8 570 displaces less than the 8.7-liter engines it’s vying with for your dollars, the fuel economy claim is further supported if there’s any truth at all to the old saw about needing to fuel cubic inches.
That brings up the point about displacement as it pertains to durability, since another old saw holds that more iron is tougher in the long run. Ilmor’s retort? The naturally aspirated MV8 570 lacks turbo-induced stresses. Hand-built, all of the MV8 570’s internal parts are Ilmor-designed. These include a forged steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods and forged alloy pistons. The block is cast iron; the heads are aluminum, providing a balance between material strength and overall weight. The MV8 570 is also loaded with the latest in electronics, like fly-by-wire throttle and full digital engine controls.
Though it comes standard in brilliant Ilmor Red, custom colors are available for an upcharge. Ilmor also offers an appearance package called the MV8 570X featuring sport tube headers, billet aluminum pulleys, polished stainless components and carbon engine covers. This package looked great as installed aboard our test boat.
The warranty offered for the MV8 570 is one year, limited. When queried about service, I was told, “You call. We’re there.”
The MV8 570 is unique in that it is a recreational engine and a race engine. And it is the only production, small-block, gasoline, high-performance marine engine to meet the rigorous California Air Resources Board 3-Star, Environmental Protection Agency and EU Recreational Craft Directive (CE) certified emissions standards.