Yamaha 4-strokes put to the test - Trade Only Today

Yamaha 4-strokes put to the test

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The manufacturer hangs its latest engines on a variety of boats for two days of sea trials

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Yamaha Motor Corp. continued promoting its lineup of new 4-strokes in June, focusing on three Offshore model outboards and a lightweight 70-hp engine.

Soundings Trade Only was among the 17 journalists who got a chance to test the engine manufacturer's 250- and 300-hp V6 4-stroke power plants, as well as the 70-hp outboard, during a two-day event in the Florida Keys. The event coincided with Yamaha's announcement that it had begun shipping the much-  anticipated engines to boat manufacturers and dealers.

"When we first introduced these engines last November, we did it on the Tennessee River," says Yamaha manager of communications and dealer education Martin Peters, referring to Yamaha's largest press introduction ever, held at its Bridgeport, Ala., test center. "These outboards are designed for salt water, so we wanted to let everyone see what they can do in that environment."

This event was held at Hawks Cay Marina on Duck Key. Nine representatives from Yamaha, including application engineers and personnel from sales and marketing and product planning, were on hand to provide information and answer questions as the press put the engines through their paces.

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Triple F300s powered a 39-foot Contender with a stepped hull; twin F300s were mounted on a 29-foot Regulator center console; a 250-hp V6 powered a 22-foot Sea Hunt center console; and the 70-hp engine provided the propulsion for a Sundance and a Maverick - both 17-foot flats boats. The new 250-hp V MAX SHO (super high output) was hung on a 23-foot Pathfinder 23PV-11 bay boat, and a second 22-foot Sea Hunt had the previous version of the 250-hp 4-stroke with mechanical controls. All V6 outboards were equipped with Yamaha's Command Link Plus fly-by-wire controls.

The event gave representatives from each boatbuilder their first opportunity to present models with Yamaha's "Gen II" 4-strokes. "It's going to be a game-changer for our product, which starts at a 21-[footer] and ends up with this 39," says Bill Cordes, Contender vice president of sales and marketing. "The ability to offer the new 300 and 250 Offshores in our packages is going to be huge for us. Our customer is performance-oriented. They want the boat to run hard when they need it to. These lightweight V6s are going to give them everything and more."

In addition to the 250- and 300-hp engines, the V6 Offshore series includes a 225-hp engine, which was not represented at the event. All three models use the same 4.2-liter power plants and weigh 558 pounds (25-inch shaft). The previous Yamaha 225 came in at 583 pounds and the 250 at 604 pounds. In comparison to other brands, the Suzuki DF300 weighs 604 pounds, the Mercury Verado 300 is 649 pounds and the Evinrude E-TEC 300 2-stroke is 528 pounds.

"Our new family of 4-stroke Offshore outboards has less weight than the previous generation as well as best-in-class performance in most categories," says Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group president.

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The engines may be lighter, but their displacements are greater. Previous 225- and 250-hp models were built using 3.3-liter engines with a displacement of 204.6 cubic inches, while the new versions use 4.2-liter engines with a displacement of 254 cubic inches.

The new 300-hp V6 outboard replaces the V8 300, which used the same block as the 350-hp engine. The V6 version weighs 246 pounds less and is 17 percent more fuel-efficient than the V8, according to Yamaha.

The V6 powerheads use plasma-fused sleeveless cylinders instead of steel sleeves to provide a durable surface for the piston rings and to reduce overall weight, according to Yamaha. The material takes up less space in the engine block than a conventional steel sleeve, the company says.

The V MAX SHO is available in 200-, 225-, and 250-hp models, and only with 20-inch shaft lengths due to its intended purpose of delivering power, torque and hole-shot on smaller inshore boats (bass, bay, flats). The V MAX engines weigh 505 pounds, which is 53 pounds lighter than a 25-inch shaft V6 Offshore engine.

"The V MAX SHO and the V6 Offshore operate in the same 4.2-liter powerhead, but because they are used for different purposes there is an obvious weight difference there," says Yamaha product marketing information manager David Meeler.

Besides their lower-unit size, several other differences between the V MAX SHO and the Offshore engines account for their weights. The V6 Offshore has a heavier mounting bracket since it's intended for offshore use, whereas the V MAX SHO, being designed for lighter boats, has a specially designed and contoured bracket, says Meeler. The V MAX SHO uses a high-performance lower unit with a pointed nose cone, while the V6's lower half, which has dual water intakes, is the same as some of those on previous models. Both use a labyrinth exhaust system, but the V MAX SHO has no muffler. The Offshore has a muffler.

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The F70 from Yamaha is light enough (260 pounds) to be used in applications formerly reserved for older-technology carbureted 2-stokes, according to Yamaha. "Our goal with the F70 was to create a 4-stroke outboard that could provide a lightweight alternative for aluminum fishing boats, pontoons and light fiberglass boats," Speciale says. "This outboard delivers a high level of performance for its size."

Indeed, the fuel-burn rates and mileage figures of the boat/engine packages at the media event were impressive. For instance, the F70-powered Sundance FX 17 Flicker with two people aboard gets more than 9 mpg at 23 mph. The Maverick 17 HPX (with tunnel hull) gets 10 mpg at 21 mph.

The larger engines are also more economical to run. The Sea Hunt BX22 Pro with an F250 running at 28 mph burns 6.4 gallons per hour for a mileage rating of about 4.5 mpg. On the twin-engine boats, the Regulator 29FS with twin F300s gets 1.75 mpg at about 34 mph, while the sweet spot for the Contender 39 ST with triple F300s is 38 mph, where it attained a 1.5 mpg rating.

The new engines don't need to work as hard as their predecessors - and competitors - to achieve similar speeds, or they can reach higher speeds at the same rpm settings, Meeler says.

"The 4.2-liter is, at a specified rpm, significantly faster than the 3.3-liter," says Meeler.

On the water, the most notable differences between the second-generation outboards and their predecessors include better hole-shot and midrange acceleration. Plus, shifting has been smoothed out somewhat, practically eliminating "clunking" common with 4-strokes.

Retail pricing is as follows: F300 - $24,875 to $25,975; F250 - $23,750 to $25,015; F225 - $23,125 to $23,865; F70 - $8,245; F6 - $1,870; F4 - $1,565; V MAX SHO (super high output) VF250-$21,870; VF225 - $20,620; VF200 - $19,370.

Yamaha Motor Corp., Kennesaw, Ga. Phone: (866) 894-1626. www.yamaha-motor.com

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue.

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