It’s not every day that a new competitor enters the recreational boat power arena, but that’s exactly what Scania, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of diesel engines, has done. Scania marine engines are certainly not new to these shores, but they have only been available for commercial marine applications like fishing fleets, tugs, ferries and workboats, where they have gained an enviable reputation for reliability and longevity.
Their emissions-certified recreational offerings will include an in-line 13-liter six-cylinder available in ratings up to 900 hp, and a 16-liter V8 model rated up to 1,150 hp. Both models are built on Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) engine blocks that utilize a unique cylinder sleeving process that provides an industry-leading power to weight ratio. The engines are fed by a high-pressure injection, common-rail fuel delivery system incorporating an efficient single waste-gate turbocharger. The engines are lighter than their competitors are and provide impressive torque, lower operating noise and excellent fuel efficiency in a package that meets all current EPA Tier three requirements.
We had the opportunity to learn about the new engines and experience how they perform at an event in Atlantic City hosted by Scania and their US East Coast distributor Mack Boring. Sitting dockside at Farley State Marina was a Viking 46 Billfish, the first sportfishing boat to be factory-equipped with a pair of the 6-cylinder 900 hp engines. The transom was emblazoned with Mack 900 a fitting name considering it will be used both as a demo and to compete in events like the Beach Haven White Marlin Tournament and The MidAtlantic.
When I came aboard, the engine covers were in the raised position exposing the gleaming white engines and showcasing their small footprint, which provides plenty of access to check fluids and perform routine maintenance. While we’re on the subject of maintenance, Scania touted its Smart Support service initiative that aims to provide 24-hour access to almost any parts for their engines anywhere in North America and 24/7/365 phone access to a service coordinator to assist with obtaining the fastest turnaround times for any service or warranty situation.
So how did the new engines perform? When the 46 Billfish was first introduced by Viking in September of 2019, I had the opportunity to test hull number one powered with the optional 800 hp MAN diesels. There is no denying the boat ran well with them. However, the same boat powered with the new Scania has proved to be a completely new animal! The engine change shaved about a ton of weight off the boat while adding 200 additional horsepower; the difference in performance was startling.
It is rare to comment on throttle response in a boat review, but at almost any speed when Pat McGovern, President of Mack Boring, push the throttles down the boat literally jumped. At one point, we were running at 24 knots when he pushed the single-lever throttle to the pins and I was pushed back against the fly bridge railing as the boat raced to an impressive top speed, briefly hitting 43 knots. Acceleration seemed effortless for the 13-liter sixes and the boat ate up the choppy sea. Looking back over the transom, the wake was a blur of mist and white water until McGovern hauled back on the throttle and brought it back to a brisk 35-knot cruise.
The synergy between Scania and Mack Boring personnel and the design engineers at Viking Yachts was evident from my later conversation with McGovern. He explained that using Viking’s computational fluid dynamics program their engineers recommended a specific set of Veem five-blade props for the new hull and engine combination, and they were right on the money with their selection. Just to be sure, they tried a few different props, but they all proved less efficient. Not only was the top end impressive, the cruising efficiency of the Scania engines was not to be denied. At 32.5 knots, the total fuel burn was a modest 56 gallons per hour with full fuel and water tanks, gear and a load of people.
The engines were not as loud as expected and at trolling speeds they were downright mellow. When McGovern put it through some paces aimed a mimicking backing down on a billfish, the boat responded to input from the helm quickly and quietly. He would have the opportunity to do it for real two weeks later while competing in The MidAtlantic out of Cape May, NJ (the Mack 900 had a 32-pound wahoo on the leaderboard after day 1).
With their entry into the sportfishing boat market, Scania is setting a high bar for performance while striving to provide the level of service sportfish boat owners expect. While the Viking 46 BF represents the first OEM installation of the new engines, a number of charter boats were recently repowered with the engines and arrangements are being made to offer them through additional boat builders.
For more information go to www.mackboring.com