Volvo Penta debuts new sterndrive engines

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Volvo Penta held a press event today to introduce two gas sterndrive powerplants - the V8-380 and V8-225. The engine maker plans to have the engines on display next month at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

"Dealers had a chance to test the engines and the feedback has been phenomenal," Volvo Penta of the Americas vice president of marine sales Marcia Kull said.

The engines were installed in three boats at the Volvo Penta Test Center in Suffolk, Va. The engine maker also introduced a new feature called Joystick Driving, which allows the driver to operate a boat with the joystick at high speeds.

"You don't have to have a steering wheel," Kull said. "The whole idea is to incorporate the joystick into the arm of the helm seat to allow the operator to sit back in comfort. It is ideal for long-distance boating and works with the autopilot."

Joystick Driving will be available in 2013 and Volvo Penta expects to display the system in February at the Miami International Boat Show. A 36-foot Eagle Craft was equipped with Joystick Driving. I plan to try out the system, put the new engines through their paces and file a report on Wednesday.

Eight marine journalists were on hand to test the boats. Two identical boats — 260 SS Formulas — were set up for a head-to-head comparison. One of the boats was powered with Volvo Penta's V8-380, and the other with a MerCruiser sterndrive.

— Chris Landry

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