Yamaha has used one of its most reliable engine blocks to power its new series of V-6 Offshore Digital Electronic Control outboards. Since 2014, according to Yamaha, 97 percent of its outboards built with this 4.2-liter power head have had zero warranty claims for power train, lower unit, or trim and tilt components.
“This truly was the powerhead that moved 4-stroke outboards into the last remaining vestige of 2-stroke power: lightweight and powerful,” says David Meeler, Yamaha’s new product introduction manager. “Add in the amazing fuel economy and reputation for durability this engine has deservedly earned over the years, and you see why boaters, OEMs and our dealers didn’t want this platform changed. Just improved.”
Built-in Digital Electric Steering
While the engine block remains the same, the F250 and F300 models have upgrades. The biggest upgrade is the availability of an integrated, all-electric steering system that previously was found on Yamaha’s 425-hp V-8 XTO Offshore.
Yamaha’s Digital Electric Steering eliminates the need for hydraulic fluid, pumps or hoses, and makes rigging cleaner and easier to install. The feature also adds functionality to the Helm Master EX control system, especially with the optional joystick controller for single- to quad-outboard packages.
Engines can be ordered with either built-in DES or bolt-on units. Pricing for the F250 with built-in DES ranges from $30,870 to $32,390, while the F300 costs $32,400 to $35,180 depending on shaft length. Models with bolt-on power steering units are $27,295 to $28,810 for the F250, and $28,650 to $31,470 for the F300.
Another advantage of the DES system is that it doesn’t draw electricity unless the helmsman is turning the wheel. With hydraulic systems, the pumps run continuously when the engine is running, draining power from the electrical system.
All V-6, 4.2-liter models also have alternators that can produce up to 70 amps. The DES power savings can be used to help keep batteries charged even if the load includes power hogs such as gyrostabilizers.
Improved Reverse Maneuvering
Another feature trickling down from the flagship outboard is Thrust Enhancing Reverse Exhaust. On all outboards, exhaust exits through the hub when the boat is running forward. But when the boat is in reverse, the propeller has to try to gain bite through the exhaust maelstrom, which makes the prop less efficient.
With the TERE feature — which is standard on all 4.2-liter Offshore models — exhaust is diverted away from the hub. It exits through exhaust ports just above the cavitation plate when the boat is in reverse and operating below 2,500 rpm.
TERE allows the prop to spin in undisturbed water and greatly increases thrust and maneuverability at times such as docking or backing down on a fish.
Advanced Tilt Function
The new models also have the TotalTilt function that lets the skipper automatically tilt the engine down until it reaches the upper limit of the trim ram contact. This feature works with a double push on the tilt/trim button, so when launching the boat, the operator doesn’t have to hold the button down to get the lower unit into the water.
Conversely, when the operator wants to tilt the engine clear of the water (which legacy models can’t do), a double push of the button makes it happen.
This feature is programmable, so owners can dial in the maximum amount of tilt without damaging the cowling or boat. For safety, a horn sounds to warn everyone before the up or down sequence is executed. To prevent a driver from accidentally tilting the engine all the way up when running, the feature only operates when the engine is turned off.
Yamaha engineers also improved the lower unit on the new outboards by increasing lubricant flow, and improving water intrusion protection and gearset durability.
The new engines take styling cues from the 425-hp V-8 XTO Offshore. The pearlescent white (F300 only) color now has a matching lower unit. The sleek one-piece top cowling matches the XTO’s and has a water-draining air duct molding.
For models with built-in DES, there’s a new bottom cowling and raised chrome graphics. (Non-built-in DES models have decals.) The models with built-in DES also have a new mount that raises them 2.8 inches to accommodate rigging on most boats with a flat transom.
All of the new models have larger, softer lower mounts for a smoother ride while still firmly supporting the outboards.
Dual Flush System
There are two ways to flush the new outboards. First is a boat-mounted flush hose that can be routed through a new rigging grommet inside the rigging tube. The setup is similar to the one on the XTO. Automatic or manual on-board engine flushing systems can easily be used (with a Yamaha flushing kit).
The second method is via a built-in external flush attachment that all V-6 Offshore outboards have. A new side exhaust cover should help to prevent paint discoloration.
Power Steering, or Not
The V-6 Offshore models also include digital/mechanical versions of the F250 and F300, with hydraulic steering for those who prefer it. These models can be upgraded to a bolt-on electric steering system later, though it won’t be an integrated system like the ones found on the Offshore DEC models.
Yamaha is also still manufacturing mechanical-only versions of the F225 ($23,380), F250 ($24,370) and F300 ($26,370). The F250 and F300 DEC models are available with 25-, 30- and 35-inch shafts, while the mechanical versions are available with 25-inch shafts.
Yamaha’s Helm Master EX Side-Mount Control
Many boats, including pontoons and smaller dual consoles, lack a place for a binnacle-style throttle and shift. So Yamaha created a flush, side-mount Helm Master EX control that has such features as speed control, station select and neutral hold. The Helm Master EX has adjustable throttle friction to suit driver preferences, and works as a separate Digital Electronic Control system, as well as with Digital Electric Steering, Yamaha Autopilot and the manufacturer’s joystick option.
This article was originally published in the March 2021 issue.