The next generation of outboards

Posted on Written by Chris Landry

16_outboard_01Here’s a look at this year’s lineup of 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines

Despite the state of the economy, the production of next-generation 4-stroke outboards keeps chugging 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 three-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 brought to the market four OptiMax 2-strokes from 115 to 200 hp.

Four manufacturers this winter introduced a combined nine engines from 15 to 200 hp – many of them at the Miami International Boat Show. Here’s a closer look:

Evinrude

38_outboards_04At last year’s 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, the Canadian manufacturer introduced an HO 15-hp outboard. 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.

The engine will hit the market in May and retail pricing starts at $3,895. Contact: Evinrude, Waukegan, Ill. Phone: (847) 689-7090. www.evinrude.com

Honda

The Japanese manufacturer’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 will be available this summer.

Contact: Honda Marine Group, Alpharetta, Ga. Phone: (770) 497-6400. www.honda-marine.com

Mercury

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 gas prices bound to rise and the economy still shaky, Mercury dealers are seeing more interest in boats from 17 to 19 feet, he says. “What we’re trying to do is give consumers value in a more economical package,” says Miller. “In an economical boat package, you can still have the performance-enhanced engine that you’ll find in our larger [outboards].”

38_outboards_02Compared to the standard 115-hp OptiMax, the three-cylinder 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 200-hp is available now and Mercury was scheduled to introduce the 150 at the Feb. 19-21 Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala.

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.

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, Fon du Lac, Wis. Phone: (920) 929-5040. www.mercurymarine.com

Suzuki

Suzuki’s new DF60A 4-stroke follows last year’s launch of second-generation 70-, 80- and 90-hp models. “The DF60A is the logical next step as we continue developing motors that are lighter, stronger and more efficient in every horsepower class,” says Suzuki Marine marketing director Larry Vandiver.

38_outboards_03Suzuki, which has spent much of this decade manufacturing high-horsepower outboards, has turned its focus to smaller engines up to 100 hp. “Our goal was to develop quicker, smaller and lighter 4-cylinder outboards while expanding our offerings in this important segment of the boating market,” says Vandiver.

The DF60A weighs in at 229 pounds, 14 pounds lighter than its predecessor and 10 pounds lighter than the recently introduced Honda BF60. The Suzuki’s 941-cubic-inch engine has a new dual overhead cam with 12 valves controlled directly by the camshafts. That means rocker arms – and their need for periodic adjustment – have been eliminated.

Compared to the 60-hp 4-stroke it replaces, Suzuki says this model will run approximately 50 percent farther on each liter of fuel at trolling and cruising speeds, and 30 percent farther at wide open throttle. The DF60A retails for $8,794.

 

Volvo Penta’s IPS 3 breaks the 100-foot mark. With the introduction of its third-generation Inboard Performance System, Volvo Penta says the pod drive and joystick setup can now be installed on boats of more than 100 feet.
IPS 3 was unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show in February. It consists of larger drives and propellers linked to a 13-liter Volvo Penta diesel. The system is available in two power classes – IPS1050 and IPS1200, which generate the equivalent of 1,050 and 1,200 hp compared to conventional inboards.
The engine’s two-stage turbo technology delivers high torque at low and high rpm. IPS 3, which will be available this summer, can be set up in double, triple or quadruple installations.
Nearly 300 boat models have been equipped with IPS since the system hit the market in 2005, according to Volvo Penta. The original models – IPS400, IPS500 and IPS600 – utilize 4- and 6-liter engines. Last year, the 11-liter IPS800 and IPS900 were introduced.

This summer, the manufacturer’s new 8- and 9.9-hp models hit the market. Both 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 – a big difference if you’ll be mounting and removing the engine from a dinghy.

Suzuki also introduced new 40- and 50-hp models at the Miami International Boat Show, but details were unavailable at press time.

Contact: Suzuki Marine, Brea, Calif. Phone: (800) 247-4704. www.suzukimarine.com

Yamaha

The February issue of Trade Only included a report on the nine new engines Yamaha introduced late last year. It was the biggest product introduction in Yamaha Marine’s history, with models ranging from a 60-pound 4-hp kicker to a 300-hp V6 offshore outboard. Contact: Yamaha Motor Corp., Kennesaw, Ga. Phone: (866) 894-1626. www.yamaha-motor.com

This article orginally appeared in the March 2010 issue.

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