Edgy in looks, performancePosted on Written by Richard Armstrong
MILWAUKEE — Propulsion system and power sport manufacturer BRP kept its cards close to its vest when it invited marine journalists from around the world to a sneak peek at its newest engine line.
There had been rumors that BRP would introduce a new 4-stroke engine, but the company instead affirmed its commitment to 2-stroke technology.
Forty-six journalists from 14 countries attended a press event June 12-14 in Milwaukee for the unveiling of the second generation of BRP’s Evinrude E-TEC line of 2-stroke outboards. The line of quieter, cleaner-burning 2-strokes was introduced in 2003, but this E-TEC is an entirely different animal.
The E-TEC G2, as it is branded, is the first outboard the manufacturer has built “from the prop shaft to the flywheel” — the company’s first totally new product in 38 years — and BRP boldly promises as much as 75 percent fewer emissions, 15 percent better fuel efficiency and 20 percent more torque than leading 4-stroke engines.
Kept under wraps during its two years of in-house development (as opposed to the more typical six-month development cycle), the G2 is also the first outboard specifically designed for and engineered around the direct injection system.
When the G2 hits the market this fall (BRP has yet to reveal an MSRP range), accompanied by a comprehensive advertising and promotional campaign, consumers will have the option of 200-, 225-, 250- and 300-hp models.
The line will be backed by a 5-year engine and corrosion warranty and no scheduled dealer maintenance for the first 500 hours of use.
“Without a doubt, these are going to set the benchmark in the industry for reliability,” George Broughton, director of engineering for Evinrude, told an audience of 2,000 dealers, BRP employees and media at a gala multimedia Global Reveal ceremony that followed a factory tour of its Sturtevant, Wis., plant and an afternoon of sea-trialing the new engines.
Broughton said consumers can expect about “$4,800 in savings over five years, compared to conventional 4-stroke engines.”
G2 innovations include a new “starboard-starboard” engine design that features two identical piston chambers. That design, BRP says, is the primary source of the line’s torque and long-term reliability.
Last year Evinrude introduced a line of pontoon-boat-specific outboards. The Pontoon Series, ranging from 65 to 150 hp, is the first outboard engine built specifically for pontoon operation, according to the company.
For now, there are no plans to discontinue production of the first generation of E-TEC engines unless consumer demand drops.
Journalists had the opportunity to test-drive 27 demonstration boats, all but four rigged with the spectrum of G2 engines. BRP intentionally employed a wide variety of boats — bay boats, bass boats, center consoles, pontoons and performance boats — to showcase the engine’s versatility.
The consensus among the journalists who sea-trialed one or multiple boats was an impressive display of torque, both out of the hole and at mid-range. The 300-hp engine was impressively quiet even at full throttle.
The brain of the engine, the Engine Management Module, adjusts performance to automatically and properly break in the engine, regardless of how the consumer runs it. The module also delivers automatic storage and winterization features.
Exclusive features include integrated hydraulic power steering with three levels of assist (minimal, medium and maximum), an i-Trim automatic trim system that Jason Eckman, product marketing manager, says will control “performance and efficiency probably better than 80 percent of customers will be able to.”
Another standout feature is the dual axis rigging that routes all engine cables through one tube, creating a clutter-free transom.
“We think a lot of boatbuilders will adjust their boat designs to take advantage of the additional space,” Eckman says. Integrating the power steering within the engine is the key to the clean rigging outcome, he says. The integration results in no moving parts exposed to corrosion — a helical design Evinrude took from industrial loader designs, he says.
The new SLX gear case is designed to be rugged and durable.
Eckman says the G2s will deliver 40-percent more charging capacity at idle versus first-generation E-TECs of comparable horsepower.
Although BRP touts its redesigned inner workings, it’s the exterior of the G2 that makes a first impression — and that, too, is by design. Gone are the smooth, soft curves, replaced by an angular, almost jagged shape.
“It doesn’t look like another outboard. It has to shock to work if you want to change things,” says Eckman, echoing the rallying cry of Denis LaPointe, vice president of innovation, who led the design team that developed the unique look of the G2.
“We needed a wow factor,” LaPointe said at the Global Reveal event. “Designing from the ground up meant changing the game.”
Adding to its game-changing exterior are five options for standard side panel colors and 14 accent colors, designed to help consumers better match the look of their engine to their boats.
“We wanted the engine to be visible and instantly recognizable as an Evinrude from 100 yards away at dusk,” says André Côté, design manager in charge of design innovation.
The 250-hp HO G2 will burn 21 gallons an hour at wide open throttle, according to the company. That model’s carbon monoxide emissions of 570 parts per million at idle speed are “the lowest ever total emissions” from an outboard, Eckman says.
Two new propellers were designed for the G2 line, the RX4 (for offshore) and Raker H.O. (high-speed), as were fully integrated digital displays ranging from 3.5 to 7 inches, the larger models being touch-screen.
The props will feature Variable Vent Porting, designed to allow more exhaust out through the propeller and enable fine tuning of the prop specific to each boat at the dealership level.
“The look of the G2 may take time to get used to,” is how design manager André Côté summed up his public perception expectation of the G2. “But great innovations in design need that time.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue.