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The smart buyer: Suzuki introduces second-gen 4-strokes

Suzuki rolled out five new second-generation 4-strokes from 15 to 250 hp in June, and I was able to test them at the product introduction in the Florida Keys. The three-day event was the largest engine introduction for Suzuki since it debuted the DF300 — the highest-horsepower 4-stroke at the time.

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The 15A, 20A and 250AP are completely new engines, but the 115A and 140A are based on the same baseline design as their predecessor, the DF140. The previous 115 was built around a smaller block — 1,950 cubic centimeters, or 119 cubic inches — but the new DF115A uses the larger block of the 140A — 2,044 cubic centimeters, or 124 cubic inches.

Suzuki engineers have developed programming that protects the DF140A and 115A if owners use fuel blended with as much as 25 percent ethanol, and that technology will soon be applied to other engines, Suzuki product planning manager David Greenwood says. Still, the manufacturer strongly recommends using only fuel that contains no more than 10 percent ethanol for all of its engines, he says.

Suzuki ( also introduced the DF15A and 20A. These are the first batteryless outboards in the 20-hp and smaller category with electronic fuel injection, Greenwood says. “One of the key benefits is that it has eliminated all of the carburetion issues that smaller engines have,” he says. “Another one is that batteryless fuel injection means you have 40 less pounds to carry around.”

Suzuki built the 250AP around a larger block with a displacement of 4 liters (same as the DF300). The previous 250’s displacement was 3.6 liters. Like the DF300, the 250AP operates with a 24-valve double overhead cam, variable valve timing and advanced electronic fuel injection. The outboard also has new lower-unit technology. Suzuki’s selective rotation allows the dealer to program the engine for right- or left-hand prop rotation.

The 115A and 140A now utilize Suzuki’s Lean Burn technology for better fuel efficiency, and engineers were able to reduce the weight of the 140A by about 14 pounds.

About 30 boatbuilders sent representatives to the product introduction at the Ocean Reef Resort in Key Largo. “For the past few years we’ve been hanging more and more Suzukis,” Craig Silbernick, director of materials and supply chain for Larson Boats, told me on the first day of the event. “Suzuki has continued to make more and more of a name for themselves.”

Suzuki’s pricing plan for its engines in the next year likely will further that effort. “Suzuki has become more consumer-conscious on price,” says A.L. Kirkland, co-owner of Glasstream Powerboats in Panama City, Fla. “For some of the boat manufacturers, [Suzuki] has come in with better deals than last year.”

This is true, says Gus Blakely, Suzuki manager of sales, planning and development. “For our dealers and boat companies, we’re holding our prices this year and even have reduced the price on a few models,” he says. “And we are charging the same price for the counter-rotation engine, so that’s a savings, too.”

Suzuki rigged nine boats from 12 to 33 feet, mainly with the new engines, but also two with the DF300. There was a pair of DF300s on a 33-foot Dusky, as well as a single on a 22-foot Pioneer center console. The DF20A powered a 12-foot Highfield RIB and an Apex pontoon boat. The DF15A ran a 15-foot Sea Ark aluminum dual console. There were a pair of 140s on a Bentley 249 Cruise SE pontoon boat. A DF140A was rigged on the new Carolina Skiff Ultra 21. An Alumacraft Competitor 175 had a DF140A. And a 29-foot World Cat was powered with twin DF250APs.

I ran all of the engines and noticed a significant acceleration improvement in the DF250A, compared with the engine it replaces. The outboards on the World Cat and Carolina Skiff bumped up speeds quickly from 4,000 to 5,000 rpm, thanks to the Lean Burn technology, which improves the engines’ use of fuel. The increased displacement of the 250’s engine block should lengthen its service life — a significant plus as people hold on to their boats longer. And as people hold on to their boats they often decide to repower. “Repowering is more of an option than ever,” Greenwood says. “A lot of people choose to keep their boat now and upgrade.”

The fly-by-wire controls on the DF250AP boats worked as well as any other setup I’ve tested, which includes Mercury, Evinrude, Yamaha and Honda. Shifting was nearly void of clunking noises or hard transitions into and out of gear.

Pricing for the DF15A ranges from $3,329 to $3,733. The 20A is $3,738 to $4,219. Prices depend on shaft length and whether the engine has electric start. The DF250AP ranges from $24,875 to $25,281. Pricing for the DF115A and 140A was unavailable.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue.


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