The timing is not coincidental. Even though a limited number of new outboards were launched during the recent recession, that doesn’t mean the R&D pipeline was bone dry — in fact, it was just the opposite. So now, with the boating industry on the upswing, innovative outboards are splashing faster than a kid at a water slide. And that’s great news for anglers in the market for a new boat or replacement engines.
Evinrude got things rolling with the next-generation E-TEC G2 direct-injection two-strokes with a new block and piston/cylinder design to enhance combustion and improve fuel economy. Other manufacturers quickly followed suit. Yamaha is expanding its V Max SHO line of four-strokes by shedding weight and adding torque and power. The result is better top-end speed, better fuel efficiency and more rigging and control options, especially for midsize center-consoles, bay and flats boats. Not to be outdone, Suzuki introduced the DF200AP at the Miami International Boat Show, an inline four-cylinder four-stroke with a keyless starting system, electronic throttle and shift and selectable rotation. Its semi-direct air intake shunts cool air into the manifold, which improves acceleration and speed.
Mercury Marine also used the Florida stage to announce two major additions to the Verado 2.6-liter four-stroke family of outboards: The Verado 350 and Verado 400R, supercharged six-cylinder engines that were more than five years in research and development.
“The benefits of a supercharged outboard are better fuel economy, lighter weight and a compact design, yet it still delivers the torque and power needed to get the boat on plane fast,” explains Mercury category manager Larry Teeling. “Our approach has been a deliberate evolution of technology to make sure we built an engine customers wanted without over-stressing the boat itself.” The dry weight for the new 350 starts at just 688 pounds.
The Verado’s power boost comes from the new intake that efficiently delivers fresh air directly to the supercharger. Heat sucks power and increases the risk of parts failure. The redesigned vented flywheel cover dissipates heat by as much as 10 degrees over its predecessor. With a genuine 350 hp at the prop, it produces 16 percent more power than the Verado 300. It also offers better fuel efficiency throughout much of the power curve.
The 400R racing version turns up to 7,000 rpm, and the electronic knock control lets it run safely on 89 octane fuel when the recommended 91 octane premium is not available. It includes the racing-circuit proven Sport Master gear case and advanced midsection for high-performance handling and stability at top speeds.
So what do these engineering advances mean for the angling public? Primarily, more choices. Enhanced horsepower, better efficiency and reduced weight mean less is more. Dual engines can be rigged instead of triples, saving money on the initial costs as well as overall maintenance without sacrificing performance. Single-engine applications benefit, too. With less weight, there is less strain on the boat transom. Better fuel efficiency also equates to a longer range per tank and savings at the pump. Aside from higher speeds, with more horsepower, the engine doesn’t have to labor as much at the upper-operating level, which reduces wear and extends its life.
“We’ve already done some testing with the new Verados, and they are very impressive,” says Wylie Nagler, president of Yellowfin Yachts. “They are quiet, with a lot of power and a lot of torque.” Yellowfin had a 39 center console on display at the Miami boat show with quad Verado 350s. The company’s Carbon Elite Series 24 bay model rigged with a single 400R has also been running around 80 mph, top end, in early sea trials.
“If you can get more horsepower, most Yellowfin buyers will opt for that,” Nagler adds. “A lot of people also prefer lighter engines to keep the boat as light as possible. Look at what the auto industry is doing with four-cylinder turbocharged engines right now. As the technology in the marine industry keeps progressing, we’re going to see even lighter weights and higher horsepower outboards in the next few years.”