August 2001 Power Boating Canada Cover
Stingray Powerboats
Stingray 200MS MerCruiser Diesel - Boat Test

Powerboating Canada

Cast away your old notion of diesels...this
brand new mighty 1.7L snaps this 20-footer
to attention cleanly and quietly

Stingray 200MS

This review is more about the new lightweight diesel by MerCruiser than the Stingray 200MS. During the Miami Boat Show, I tested the first pre-production 1.7L diesel in North America. This high-speed diesel produces 120 hp coupled with an Alpha stern drive.

Hold it! Before you flip to the next page, this mighty little diesel gave "high performance compared to a 4.3L usually fitted" in the 21 footer in Europe—36 mph vs 45 mph. This very respectable performance supports the cause for considering the more fuel-efficient diesel by the high mileage.

Our test boat in Miami, the Stingray Center Console 200MS, was built as a mid-engine with 28-inch jackshaft extending aft to the stern drive. This design, positioning the motor in the middle (like a Limestone), reduces the boat's potential top speed because of extra drag or wetted surface. In very uncomfortable cross-chop caused by excessive boat traffic, our top radared speed was a remarkable 37 mph with three aboard an 7/8 fuel. In the same chop we saw about 6 mph @ 1500 rpm and a solid 22 mph @ 3000 rpm. She held on plane without falling off in tight figure eights.

Before the show, Mercury radared the same boat and motor with a 21-inch Lazer prop under more ideal conditions at a more realistic top speed of 42 mph at 4450 rpm with one aboard. The bottom line is this little diesel is fast and very economical on fuel!

Merc 1.7 Diesel The acceleration run results were quicker than I'd expected for a diesel. It spooled up fast because of the turbo charger—0 to 20 in 6 seconds, 0 to 25 in 7.5, 0 to 30 in 9.5, and 0 to 35 in 12.5. Of course, reaching 40, just two shy of max took longer—20 seconds. Its strong low-end torque delivered fast on-plane performance. Mercury says it's faster on acceleration than anything else in its class.

On cold startup there was a bit of smoke, but it soon disappeared once it warmed up. After 900 rpm, she smoothed out losing the traditional four-cylinder clatter to sound like the 3.0L gas from there up.

The fuel consumption, according to factory tests, is 7 gph @ WOT of 4450 rpm/40 mph compared to 12 gph for the 3.0L gas. The range at WOT works out to nine hours from the 63 gallon tank traveling a distance of 380 miles vs 210 with gas—no one runs wide open for the whole day.

At a normal cruise of 3000 rpm going 22 mph, she'd sip only 3 to 4 gph extending running time to 18 hours stretching an unbelievable 396 miles.

The extra cost for the 1.7L diesel over 3.0L gas is about $7,370 and over the 4.3L EFI is only $2,850 more.

MerCruiser's new 1.7 litre diesel is a co-development project that is produced in Europe by Isuzu Motors, which is no stranger to small diesels. In fact, it's based on Isuzu's 1.7 litre car motor, which has already proven its quality and performance on the European car market in the Opal for many years. It's a robust little motor.

The 1.7 is a direct-injected, turbo-charged, inter-cooled, 4-valve DOHC design. What also helps in its performance, is the motor is 25 percent lighter than other engines in the class. They are designed for single or dual installation with standard freshwater cooling. Optional is power steering and quick starting glow plugs.

It is tiny for a diesel — just under 30" long, 29" wide and 19" high (not counting the Alpha Drive) which is shorter than a 3.0L gas and about the same width as a 4.3L and similar weight to a 3.0L.

The engineering reports show that the 1.7's best fuel economy is the 2500 to 3300 rpm range and at the same time the highest torque is in the 1900 to 3000 rpm range. They tank-tested the 1.7 for 300 hours at wide-open throttle, which is equivalent to over 2000 hours of normal use. It just kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny.

In comparison tests to the 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0L in the same boat, the diesel was equal in weight, in speed, and only marginally slower during acceleration. In general overall performance, they consider them about equal. The big advantages to diesel, as we all know, are longevity and fuel economy.

Stingray 200MS The boat was the all-new for 2001 Stingray 200 MS, a 20' centre console configuration. "MS" stands for multisport—ideal for fishing, skiing, wakeboarding or transporting goods to an island cottage. For skiing or boarding, I'd recommend the 4.3L EFI. The hull is unique to the 200MS and is different than Stingray's bowrider hull. It's designed with a sharper entry and deeper freeboard for running in rougher water. The mid-engine configuration shifts the weight forward which helps the 200 get on plane faster and hold it at lower rpm. The extra weight forward also smoothes the lumps.

The only negative to a mid-engine is that it's slower because there's more wetted surface and more drag — like having tabs on a bit too much.

This centre console can be optionally rigged with either a T-Top with sunbrella fabric for fishing, or a tower for wakeboarding. Overall, like most centre consoles, it's very utilitarian with no wood and a minimum of vinyl — almost maintenance free.

At the transom, the integrated non-skid platform comes with a three-step stainless steel ladder. A round 14-gallon bait well and two coolers with drains, are in the top of the transom with large lids. The Starboard plastic lids are striped with saw cuts to create a no-slip step. They double as cutting boards/rigging stations. Two latchable plastic doors open to gain access to the battery and trim pump, etc. inside the transom. One-way scuppers let deck water out, but not the opposite.

Console Most centre consoles have their helm and companion seats mounted on long pedestals. Because the Stingray is produced as a mid-engine, the seats are mounted on the front of the motor box. The two seats are formed of rot free roto-cast plastic with snap-off cushions for reduced maintenance.

The motor box pad also snaps off for storage out of the elements. Passengers on the box cushion can safely hold onto the grab rails mounted on each side. The full inside of the fiberglass motor box is lined with foil/foam sound insulation that works. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the extra walking space all around the box and uninterrupted across the transom.

Starting with comfort, the designers have moulded two double steps; so one can stand, perch against the seat, and sit with feet on the lower or upper step. Rubber treads prevent slipping. The sole is free of annoying lumps or seams that trip.

The wheel, control and gauges are set up on the port side of the dash, leaving the rest blank for electronics. The console is topped with a flat piece of Starboard plastic to reduce the glare and ease bracket mounting of more electronics or holders.

Studying the base of the windshield on the front of the console, I discovered a pair of air ducts that route fresh air down to the motor aided by the Starboard plastic top. Several courtesy lights are strategically located throughout the cockpit. The curved smoked plexi windshield is boarded with a stainless steel railing that protects people from the edge and doubles as a handhold. The windshield is removable to reduce windage on the highway. Lots of convenient handholds include those on the welded aluminum T-Top.

Rod Holders Under both gunwales are fiberglass and Starboard plastic rod storage units — each holds two rods, boat hooks or mops. Stuff on the bottom of the recess will be held in by the Starboard plastic sea rails.

At the bow, two large lids cover triangular dry storage bins for larger items like hoses, pails, fish, etc. From a safety point of view, I was not impressed to see the style of rubber hold-down. The unemployed catch, without the rubber locked in place, sticks up above the lid and could cut hide, if someone accidentally fell on one. The lids form a single level fishing/casting platform guarded by a long tall bow rail.

The anchor is stored under another no-slip lid made of Starboard plastic. It hangs by the stock (cross bars) and can't rattle loose. Under the console, a water resistant door keeps belongings stored under here nice and dry. Great for windbreakers, PFD's etc. The seat cushion lid on the front of the console lifts to reveal the designed location for your portable ice chest. Fishermen will appreciate the two-drawer fishing tackle locker in the starboard side of the console.

cleats and bow storage At the bow, this Stingray is rigged with a pair of cleats and a pair of chocks. The running light is mounted right on the nose to reduce reflection. Springline and transom cleats plus trailer tie down hooks round out the perimeter hardware. A quick-release ski tow eye is mounted on the transom.

The one-piece fiberglass liner is bonded to the all fiberglass (no wood) stringer system for a stronger unitized construction. Chines run full length for less spray and better lift. Similarly, extra wide non-skid side decks run full length for safer boarding anywhere.

When powering your boat, you have to consider all the facts. For the ski/board group order it with the 210 hp 4.3 L EFI. It cruises @ 32 mph and tops out at 48 mph. For coastal and commercial fishermen who really pile on the hours, a 1.7L diesel truly makes sound economic sense for fuel saving and longevity. Also, for European pleasure boaters, who are paying much more than us for fuel, this quiet little diesel would save them fuel money. Anyone wise who can justify the extra upfront cost of approximately $7,370 over the 3.0L or $2,850 over the 4.3L EFI against the cost of fuel and maintenance should explore this robust little diesel.

As for the boat, this Stingray 200 MS is one of very, very few centre consoles available powered by a jack-shafted stern drive — most are outboards. If a mid-engine centre console makes sense for your application, then this is a good one to grab.

Doug Dawson
Powerboating Canada


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