- mercedes and cigarette racing, maker of the eponymous boats, have been collaborating on an amg boat and car pairing every year since the 46-foot rider xp and sls amg in 2010.
- this year, it's the cigarette racing 41 nighthawk black series, which has 2250 horsepower from supercharged mercury racing v-8s, and the mercedes-amg gt black series, with 720 hp from one twin-turbo v-8.
- we got a ride in it in the florida keys, but the nighthawk has already been sold. better luck next year.
when your boat has 2250 horsepower and can do 90 mph, you don't get passed very often. but down in the florida keys, a channel in the mangroves might occasionally disgorge an mti catamaran into barnes sound, its owner intent on proving that its twin 1350-horsepower 9.0-liter turbo v-8s are more potent than the five supercharged v-8s on the stern of the cigarette racing 41 nighthawk black series. we're cruising at at easy 42 mph, cigarette president erik christiansen at the helm, when the mti appears on our stern, closing at perhaps an 80-mph speed differential. the guy probably expects a race, but christiansen doesn't touch the throttles as the mti rips past at about 120 mph. christiansen came to cigarette from mercury racing, and a thought occurs to me: "didn't you design the 1350 engine?" i ask. "yes," he replies, cracking a slight smile. the guy on the mti has no idea he just flexed on the one person on earth least likely to be impressed by fast boats in general, and mercury racing 1350s in particular.
this boat, wearing orange and black amg livery, is the 13th collaboration between mercedes-amg and cigarette, and it's meant to evoke the new mercedes-amg gt black series. when i'd heard there was another amg boat in the works, i'd figured it might have mercury's new 600-horsepower v-12 verados on the stern. after all, four of those would deliver even more horsepower than the five 450rs on this boat. but christiansen explains that the v-12s aren't exactly right for a boat that's twinned to a 720-hp track car like the gt black series.
"those engines are heavy, about 1300 pounds each, and they're designed for heavy boats," he says. "their gearboxes are huge, so they're blasting a bigger hole in the water. and they have counterrotating props, which aren't as good for really high-speed applications." i'm sure that once mercury racing rolls out a supercharged version of the v-12, we'll find out how many of those can fit on the stern of a cigarette, but for now the 450r is more in keeping with the go-fast mission.
most nighthawk 41s max out at four engines, but for the amg boat, cigarette reduced the transom spacing and found room for one more seat at the party. so, while mercury offers joystick control for many of its outboards, that's not an option here—the packaging is too tight. but i think docking the old-fashioned way—using steering, throttle, and muttered incantations to king neptune—is a fair trade to gain an extra 450 horsepower.
considering its size, the nighthawk hull is lightweight, checking in at 15,600 pounds. like its mercedes cousin, there's plenty of carbon fiber—that whole hard top, in fact. unlike the gt black series, there's a bathroom. and a bed. which are two of the many reasons that the boat doesn't quite match the car's 17-mpg epa combined rating. but it does get about one mile per gallon at 50 mph or so, a speed at which the superchargers still haven't awakened. that's a fast center console when you're not even in the boost at 50 mph.
over the past decade or so, a collaboration between cigarette and mercedes came to be an annual thing, starting with the 46-foot rider xp and sls amg in 2010. cigarette owner skip braver recently sold the company to miami attorney and entrepreneur john ruiz, and while there was no official announcement on future amg-cigarette collaborations, building one amg boat per year seems like a no-brainer. but if you have the means and want a new amg boat, you'll have to wait for next year. this one is already sold.