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Mercury Launches Forward Facing Mercruiser Bravo Four S Drive with 'Smart Tow' for 2021

By: Scott Way

2021 MerCruiser Bravo Four S
The 2021 MerCruiser Bravo Four S

There's no idling in the marine engine market these days as manufacturers continue to release exciting new products for the upcoming year. Industry leader Mercury has now laid a couple cards on the table with the unveiling of their new Bravo Four S™ Forward Facing Drive with Smart Tow®.

The new Bravo Four S™ Forward Drive will offer a versatile inboard/outboard option versus the traditional inboards often seen in wakesurf boats. Coupled with Smart Tow® controls, the new drives will carry a host of new options for wakesurfing, wakeboarding, and tow sports. Digital controls will coordinate ballast, surf tabs, and propulsion settings under a single user interface, and the forward-facing prop is designed to 'grip' the water for greater maneuverability at low surfing speeds. The new system will be compatible with MerCruiser 4.5L V6, 6.2L V8 and 8.2L V8 gas sterndrives from 250hp to 430hp and will come standard with Mercury's Digital Throttle & Shift® (DTS) system. There will also be 5 new premium propeller options from 19 to 25.5 pitch to compliment the above choices.

According to Tim Reid, Mercury VP of Product Development and Engineering in their press release, "The popularity of water tow sports — and, particularly, wakesurfing and wakeboarding — has surged. We carefully studied all the refinements that go into optimizing a boat's wake for each of the various tow sports and devised a system to make those settings easy for the boater."

He also added, ""We started with our highly visionary legacy designs and added new technologies, digital functionality for the user and seamless integration with the engine and boat controls. This is the forward‑facing drive for the new generation of tow sports enthusiasts."

The upgraded Smart Tow system will come standard with the Mercruiser Bravo Four S drive, and the controls will allow for customization of each tow sport using the Mercury VesselView® touchscreen display. The driver can quite literally select the desired tow sports activity of their choice, and the Smart Tow system will display the appropriate controls for dialing in the ideal launch acceleration, towing speed, and wake shape. The Smart Tow system articulates the boat's RPM and speed to maintain consistent speed throughout a run, and will come with 5 preset built-in profiles. Riders can create up to 8 custom profiles according to their preference. Each custom profile can employ a specific acceleration ramp rate, amount of overshoot, length of overshoot, and target speed.

Other notable advantages of the Bravo Four S drive will include:

  • Enhanced maneuverability, especially at low speeds, resulting from the forward‑facing props' extra "grip" on the water;

  • The SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift system for precise control, which is particularly important when riders are in tow;

  • A selection of five new propellers designed specifically to leverage all the advantages of the Mercruiser Bravo Four S drive; and

  • Support from the vast network of Mercury authorized dealers who can service the entire system, from drive to display.

Mercury has in fact been making a forward-facing drive since 1949 when they invented the reversible gear case. The Bravo Four S builds on the original concept and will serve as a valuable addition to the venerable MerCruiser Bravo drive lineup. "This is the forward‑facing drive for the new generation of tow sports enthusiasts," said Reid.

You can see Mercury's breakdown of the new system in the video below:

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