Mercury Marine is keeping quiet about its next generation of four-stroke outboards.

It's not that Mercury officials are not willing to talk about the outboards that are being called Project X. Outdoors writers, BASS Federation leaders and invited guests got a sneak peak at the outboards Thursday during the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer in New Orleans.

However, the outboards are so quiet, they are almost impossible to hear. Even at 5,500 rpm, the motors produce little noise. Mercury engineers hope to make them even quieter by the time they begin arriving at marine dealers next year.

Although the low-emission motors are whisper quiet, they can make boats scream.

The motors can push a 21-foot Triton bass boat above 65 mph with ease. A pair of the motors can thrust a 31-foot center console loaded with passengers and fuel at 68 mph.

Mercury officials did not disclose the horsepower ratings for the outboards demonstrated Thursday. Steve Miller, program manager for Project X, said the motors would be marketed in 150 to 250 horsepower models. He said the new outboards would be unlike most four-strokes because they will be strong coming out of the hole and throughout their power curve. "They are four-strokes that don't feel like a four-stroke."

Ken Lemberger, an engineering technician for the Project X program, said the new outboards represent the future of outboard motors. He said many Mercury employees have poured their heart and soul into the project to design the new outboards.