Transition of Power

Performance and efficiency are the driving forces behind the next generation of marine engines.


Lean, mean and green are the buzz words that aptlydescribe this season's crop of outboard, inboard and sterndrive engines. With their attention focused on increasing power-to-weight ratios and fuel economy, engine manufacturers are utilizing advanced electronic technology and special alloys to wring themaximum horsepower out of every drop of fuel, and the boating public benefits as a result. So whether you're looking at a new ride or considering replacing the old iron on your trusty craft, here are a dozen of the top choices on the market to get you started.


Capitalizing on technology first developed for the F350 V-8 four-stroke, Yamaha has released the next generation F250. The biggest improvement is the Command Link digital electronic controls. This cable-less system uses an electrical wiring harness to connect the outboard to the throttle and other devices. Benefits include smoother operation and automatic synchronization for multiple engine applications. The control unit is available in several binnacle configurations. Anglers will appreciate the precise throttle adjustments - 50 rpm increments - possible with the DEC upgrade. The powerhead interior and exterior are treated with an anti-corrosion paint, using an electrodeposition process for better protection.

Yamaha F250 DEC
TYPE: Fuel-injected four-stroke V-6 outboard  
DISPLACEMENT: 204.6 cubic inches
ALTERNATOR: 46 amps  WEIGHT: 609 lbs.
PRICE: $21,690 ?


Refinements developed by its racing division are the impetus for Mercury's newest outboard, the Verado 350 SCi. This 2.6-liter supercharged four-stroke engine features electronically controlled multi-port fuel injection, a double overhead cam design and electronic boost bypass control. The new top cowling delivers fresh air to intakes on the top and front of the engine for constant cooling. Another air scoop channels air to the supercharger. To handle the additional torque and horsepower, the gear case and Advanced MidSection drive shaft housing uses heavy-duty components. The 350 SCi comes standard with SmartStart automatic starting, electro-hydraulic power steering and SmartCraft Digital Throttle and Shift.

Mercury Verado 350 SCi
TYPE: Fuel-injected, supercharged straight-six four-stroke outboard
ALTERNATOR: 70 amps  WEIGHT: 679 lbs.
PRICE: $28,813 ?


Suzuki gives anglers yet another choice in small block four-stroke technology with the introduction of the DF100 for this model year. The in-line four-cylinder Dual Overhead Cam power head has four valves per cylinder. The digital electronic fuel-injection system optimizes performance through a network of computerized sensors. A 2.59:1 drive ratio lets the engine turn larger, higher-pitch propellers for a combination of low-end torque and top-end speed. Tipping the scales at just over 400 pounds, the DF100 is designed for small center consoles and bay boats. It is available in both 20- and 25-inch shafts.

Suzuki DF100
TYPE: Direct-injected four-stroke outboard
DISPLACEMENT: 118.9 cubic inches
ALTERNATOR: 40 amps  WEIGHT: 416 lbs.
PRICE: $10,250 ?


Tohatsu America Corporation, which distributes both Tohatsu and Nissan Marine outboards, is introducing new 15/20-horsepower power-tilt engines for 2009. Designed for the johnboat and tender market, these portable outboards have a displacement of 21.42 cubic inches and a gear ratio of 13:28. The power-tilt feature and compact bracket are sized to fit small fishing boats. Both are available in 15- and 20-inch shaft lengths. "Green" as well, the ultra-low emissions from these engines meet EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards. They are backed by a three-year limited warranty.

Nissan 20 Power Tilt
TYPE: Four-stroke, two-cylinder outboard
DISPLACEMENT: 21.42 cubic inches
ALTERNATOR: 11 amps  WEIGHT: 134 lbs.
PRICE: $3,990 ?


The redesigned BF50 EFI is Honda's latest outboard for marine use. This in-line three-cylinder engine features several Honda-exclusive technologies in addition to electric fuel injection. The Boosted Low Speed Torque system advances ignition timing for quick acceleration. The Lean Burn Control adjusts the air-fuel mixture for maximum fuel efficiency at cruising speeds, a savings of 20 percent, according to the company engineers. Weighing in at a modest 216 pounds, the BF50 EFI has a 22-amp alternator that generates a charge of 17 amps to the battery to keep onboard accessories fully powered.

Honda BF50EFI
TYPE: Three-cylinder SOHC four-stroke outboard
DISPLACEMENT: 49.4 cubic inches
ALTERNATOR: 22 amps  WEIGHT: 216 lbs.
PRICE: $7,999 ?


To round out its V-4 line, Evinrude unveiled the 115-hp High Output E-TEC engine for the 2009 season. This lightweight outboard is designed for single or twin applications on flats, bay and coastal fishing boats. Engineering highlights include low-speed rpm capability for slow trolling or docking, low-end torque and full peak horsepower at the upper end of the power curve. The fast-rise inductive ignition system improves fuel economy and makes operation smoother. Iridium spark plugs and enhanced fuel injectors last longer and give quicker acceleration. To increase the air circulation and boost power, Evinrude designed a lost-foam engineered exhaust housing and upper motor cover for the 115.

Evinrude E-TEC 115 HO
TYPE: Direct-injected E-TEC V-4 outboard
DISPLACEMENT: 105.4 cubic inches
ALTERNATOR: 50 amps  WEIGHT: 390 lbs.
PRICE: $11,620 ?



With an output of 530 horsepower at 2,900 rpm, the 6CX530 diesel inboard from Yanmar is a powerful package for the sport-fishing market. Rated at 7.4 liters, this in-line, six-cylinder engine is Tier 2 certified for EPA emission standards. It's also ready for eventual Tier 3 requirements. A common rail fuel-injection system with turbocharging is standard. So is the Yanmar-built marine gear. Cooling is done with a centrifugal freshwater pump and rubber impeller seawater pump. With its compact size and high power-to-weight ratio, Yanmar's latest offering is typical of the next generation of high-performance diesel engines.

Yanmar 6CX530
TYPE: Four-stroke, in-line, six-cylinder diesel inboard
WEIGHT: 1,645 lbs.   PRICE: Set by dealers ?


Volvo Penta**
Responding to the growing demand for IPS drives, Volvo Penta has now matched its Inboard Performance System to the new, 700 hp 11-liter engine with the IPS 900 system. The in-line six-cylinder engine connects to the forward-facing "tractor" drives via jack shafts. With a dual-engine setup, it's suitable for planing hulls up to 55 feet. A twin-entry turbocharger generates pulse charges. Those charges, combined with a mechanical compressor, produce torque at low rpm levels. The larger IPS drives and counter-rotating propellers give rapid acceleration, quicker response, increased fuel efficiency and range. Lower noise, vibration and exhaust fumes are also noticeable benefits of the IPS drives.

Volvo Penta IPS 900
TYPE: Four-stroke in-line six-cylinder turbocharged diesel pod drive
ALTERNATOR: 115 amps   WEIGHT: 3,803 lbs.  
PRICE: Set by dealers ?


Bluewater enthusiasts will welcome the power and performance of Caterpillar's new 1,001 hp C18 ACERT diesel inboards. With 1,106 cubic inches of displacement, this turbocharged in-line six-cylinder beast will push large convertibles to the offshore grounds and back with ease. The C18 has a titanium-plate heat exchanger, corrosion-resistant aftercooler core and a water-cooled exhaust manifold. It is electronically governed, and engine speed is rated at 2,300 rpm. The adjustable front-support mounting system and damper minimize vibration. Routine maintenance is made easier with the built-in wiring and service tool connector, and the C18 complies with the EPA Tier 2 requirements.

Caterpillar C18
TYPE: In-line, six-cylinder four-stroke diesel inboard
ALTERNATOR: 105 amps  WEIGHT: 4,102 lbs.
PRICE: Set by dealers


Anglers considering re-power options will welcome the new Catanium features on the Captain's Choice 5.7-liter gasoline inboard engine. This high-output V-8 powerplant produces 330 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and its small footprint fits easily into tight spaces. The Catanium system uses precious metals in the catalysts and pre- and post-sensors to ensure clean, safe emissions. The high-performance crossover protects the catalysts and sensors from water reversion and reduces back pressure for peak performance. To prevent corrosion and condensation, the exhaust cooling is thermostatically controlled. With its electronic fuel injection and automatic spark control, the 5.7 is both fuel-efficient and powerful.

Crusader 5.7 MPI Catanium
TYPE: Fuel-injected V-8 gasoline inboard
ALTERNATOR: 70 amps    WEIGHT: 950 lbs.
PRICE: Set by dealers ?


The six-cylinder Steyr MO286H43 diesel is the latest light-yet-powerful offering from this Austrian manufacturer. The engine block and cylinder head are made from high-grade cast iron. Special alloys and high-silicon aluminum make up the crankshaft and oil-cooled pistons. That adds up to a 2.65-pounds-per-horsepower ratio. Total horsepower output is 280. With high-pressure fuel injection, a freshwater cooling system and dual cooling circuit to meet more stringent emission standards, this compact engine was designed especially for sterndrive boats needing quicker acceleration and response. The MO286H43 is Tier 2 compliant.

Steyr MO286H43
TYPE: Four-stroke turbocharged diesel inboard
ALTERNATOR: 90 amps  WEIGHT: 732 lbs.
PRICE: Set by dealers ?


Cummins Mercruiser**
Cummins Mercruiser's QSD 2.8 diesel is a high-output engine for inboard or sterndrive applications. As a sterndrive, it's compatible with Bravo One, Two or Three drives. It will also work with the Axius joystick controls. This 220-horsepower engine is Digital Throttle and Shift ready and has a very favorable power-to-weight ratio. Major design features include a common rail fuel injection system, hydraulic lifters that don't require adjustment, and full electronic control for reduced emissions and better fuel economy. The QSD 2.8 is turbocharged with raw-water aftercooling. SmartCraft digital displays and vessel system integration are available accessories.

Cummins Mercruiser QSD 2.8
TYPE: In-line four-cylinder four-stroke diesel
ALTERNATOR: 110 amps  WEIGHT: 794 lbs.
PRICE: Set by dealers ?