Advances in Weight, Efficiency and Power
The production of next-generation 4-stroke outboards keeps zipping along, with manufacturers throttling forward and offering lighter and more fuel-efficient engines. In late 2009, Yamaha launched a lineup of V6 outboards and a new lightweight 3-cylinder 70-hp engine. For 2010, Suzuki focuses on its midrange 4-strokes, with new 40-, 50- and 60-hp engines. And Honda continues the re-engineering it started with its BF90 in 2006, offering an improved, lighter 115-hp engine. That’s not to say the 2-stroke segment has been idle. Evinrude has launched a high-output 15-hp E-TEC and Mercury has four new OptiMax 2-strokes
At the 2009 Miami International Boat Show, Bombardier Recreational Products announced two new versions of its Evinrude E-TEC 130- and 140-hp outboards. These HO, or high-output, models are engineered with an improved power curve to maximize peak horsepower while maintaining low-end torque, according to BRP.
This year BRP introduced an HO 15-hp model. The new engine's Touch-Troll system allows the operator to adjust engine speed up or down in 50-rpm increments. The outboard is available with an adjustable tiller handle or with remote control - both of which incorporate a high-speed tilt component, supported by a heavy-duty bracket, according to BRP spokeswoman Julie Johnson. Like all E-TECs, no maintenance is required for the first three years or 300 hours.
Retail pricing for the HO 15-hp engine starts at $3,895. Contact: Evinrude, Waukegan, Ill. Phone: (847) 689-7090. www.evinrude.com
Honda's new BF115 is based on the popular Honda Accord automobile engine, sharing the Accord's inline 4-cylinder 2.4-liter DOHC (dual overhead cam) platform. "The BF115 will be able to produce class-leading performance, with unparalleled fuel efficiency and reliability," says Sara Pines, regional manager of Honda Marine public relations. "Plus, the new BF115 will feature design cues similar to its recent predecessors, the BF40 and BF50, BF75 and BF90 and BF105 Jet, including the wing-form design of the cowling and a performance-oriented gearcase."
The current BF115, also a 4-cylinder model, weighs 496 pounds - about 100 pounds more than the Yamaha F115. The new Honda's weight, price and other specifications were unavailable at press time. Honda expects to ship the engines to dealers and boat manufacturers around mid-July.
Contact: Honda Marine Group, Alpharetta, Ga. Phone: (770) 497-6400. www.honda-marine.com
This year Mercury introduces 115-, 125-, 150- and 200-hp OptiMax 2-strokes. The 115 OptiMax Pro XS was designed specifically for boats under 20 feet and pontoon boats 19 feet and larger, says Steve Miller, global brand manager for outboards from 75 to 350 hp.
With gasoline prices bound to rise and the economy still shaky, Mercury dealers are seeing more interest in boats between 17 and 19 feet, Miller says. "What we're trying to do is give consumers value in a more economical package," he says. "In an economical boat package, you can still have the performance-enhanced engine that you'll find in our larger [outboards]."
Compared to the standard 115-hp OptiMax, the 3-cylinder Pro XS, which weighs in at 375 pounds, delivers more torque, a better hole shot and may increase top-end speed by 2 mph, depending on the application, says Miller.
The new 150- and 200-hp engines are also Pro XS models, aimed at the bass boat market.
The 125-hp OptiMax is a good fit for deep-vee or pontoon boats, or for repowering an existing boat, when budget is more important than horsepower, says Miller. "We're coming off one of the most brutal recessions in recent history, and people are more cautious than ever about how they spend their disposable income," he says. "We want to make sure we give them options in a price range that appeals to a broader base."
The engine has enough "oomph" to adequately power boats with maximum rated horsepower of up to 175, says Miller.
Last year Mercury released its Big Tiller for outboards from 75 to 225 hp. "The Big Tiller has been a pretty successful feature for us, and dealers and customers have been asking for it on [the] smaller range of engines," says Miller.
Mercury responded, offering the tiller on 40-, 50- and 60-hp 4-strokes. Features of the center-mounted tiller include troll control, LED lighting, forward shift lever, and tiller key switch.
All engines are now available. Suggested retail pricing is $9,900 for the 115 Pro XS, $10,175 for the 125
OptiMax, $12,615 for the 150 Pro XS, and $15,595 for the 200 Pro XS. Contact: Mercury Marine, Fond du Lac, Wis. Phone: (920) 929-5040. www.mercurymarine.com
Suzuki this year unveiled 40- and 50-hp engines. "Just because you have a 40 or a 50 doesn't mean you can't have the best motor around," says Suzuki marine marketing director Larry Vandiver.
About five years ago, Suzuki promised to introduce a new engine each year, says Vandiver. Last year it came to market with a 60-hp outboard and in 2008 its next-generation 70-, 80- and 90-hp models hit the water.
The 40 and 50 consume 23 percent less fuel than their predecessors, according to Suzuki. The company says the new engines also can reach top speeds that are 6 percent higher than the models they are replacing. Acceleration has also been improved.
The 40 and 50, which share the same in-line 3-cylinder dual overhead cam engine, have a 57.4-cubic-inch displacement. They use Suzuki's lean-burn control technology, which regulates the fuel-air mixture in these direct-fuel-injected outboards.
The manufacturer's new 8- and 9.9-hp models utilize an inline 2-cylinder 12.7-cubic-inch engine, and the shift mechanism is now located on the throttle, rather than the face of the engine, for better access and easier operation. The 9.9-hp is 10 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The DF8, DF9.9 and DF60 are on the market now. The new DF 40/50 should be delivered to dealers in the fall. Retail pricing is as follows: DF8, $2,799; DF9.9, $2,980 to $3,430; DF60, $8,794. Pricing for the DF 40/50 was unavailable at press time. Contact: Suzuki Marine, Brea, Calif., (800) 247-4704. www.suzukimarine.com
Yamaha in late 2009 introduced nine new models ranging from 60-pound 4- and 6-hp kickers to a 300-hp V6 offshore outboard. The engine manufacturer re-engineered its V6 engine in the 225-, 250- and 300-hp models. It also unveiled the midrange F70, F4 and F6 kickers, and V MAX 4-strokes (200-, 225- and 250-hp models) for inshore coastal boats and freshwater bass boats.
All of the engines are touted as lighter, more compact, more fuel-efficient and better performing than previous models. For example, previous 225- and 250-hp models were built using 3.3-liter engines with a displacement of 204.6 cubic inches, while the new versions use 4.2-liter engines with a displacement of 254 cubic inches. The new F225 and F250 weigh 558 pounds. The previous 225 came in at 583 pounds, the 250 at 604 pounds. The new 300-hp V6 replaces the V8 300, which used the same block as the 350-hp engine. The V6 version weighs 246 pounds less and is 17 percent more fuel efficient than the V8 version.
In early May, the V MAX, F70 and F4/F6 were already available, and the offshore V6s were on their way to boatbuilders and dealers, says Martin Peters, Yamaha Marine Group communications and dealer education manager.
Retail pricing: F300, $24,875 to $25,975; F250, $23,750 to $25,015; F225, $23,125 to $23,865; F70, $8,245; F6, $1,870; F4, $1,565; and for the V MAX SHO (super high output) - VF250, $21,870; VF225, $20,620; VF200, $19,370. Contact: Yamaha Motor Corp., Kennesaw, Ga. Phone: (866) 894-1626. www.yamaha-motor.com
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This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue.