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Honda, Suzuki roll out new 4-strokes

MIAMI BEACH - Honda and Suzuki introduced new 4-stroke outboards Thursday at the Miami International Boat Show.

Suzuki unveiled 40- and 50-hp models, while Honda debuted a 115-hp engine. Both manufacturers say these next-generation outboards are more fuel-efficient, lighter and better performers than their predecessors.

"Just because you have a 40 or a 50 doesn't mean you can't have the best motor around," Suzuki marine marketing director Larry Vandiver told about 75 journalists at a press event at the show.

About five years ago, Suzuki officials promised to introduce a new engine each year, said Vandiver. Last year it came to market with a 60-hp engine 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 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 controls the fuel-air mixture in these direct-fuel-injected outboards.

Honda's new BF115 is based on its popular Honda Accord automobile engine and shares the Accord's inline 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter dual overhead cam engine platform.

"The BF115 will be able to produce class-leading performance, with unparalleled fuel efficiency and reliability," said 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."

Weight and other specifications were unavailable.

Like the 135- and 150-hp models from Honda, the BF115 is equipped with "lean-burn feedback," which adjusts the air-fuel ratio, said Honda OEM account manager Dennis Ashley. "It's all done by an exhaust gas sensor," said Ashley.

It also shares Honda's BLAST  technology (Boosted Low Speed Torque), which "advances the timing and gives the engine more fuel to push [the boat] up out of the hole," said Ashley.

I had a chance to run the 115 on a 20-foot Triton bay boat. Acceleration was excellent, providing plenty of pop to push the boat up on plane. Acceleration from a cruising speed of about 25 mph to a wide-open speed of 40 mph was impressive.

For information, contact Honda Marine Group, Alpharetta, Ga., (770) 497-6400, www.honda-marine.com. Suzuki Marine, Brea, Calif., (800) 247-4704, www.suzukimarine.com.

— Chris Landry

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