Outboard builders continue to refine their lineups, aiming to provide a solution for every angler’s need. And for 2011, the common threads running through all the advancements are: lighter weight, more power and less operating cost.
With the addition of its all-new F70 four-stroke, Yamaha beefed up its mid-range lineup in a huge way. Dropping the new outboard between its F60 and F75 might not seem like a big deal, but the added power, light weight (257 pounds) and remarkable responsiveness the outboard offers will mean a lot to owners of mid-size fishing platforms, including pontoons.
In fact, during multiple test drives earlier this year, North American Fisherman Editor Kurt Beckstrom was greatly impressed by the F70, especially its mid-range snap. “I drove a number of rigs powered by the new four-stroke,” he says. “There are a lot of good things to say about it, but what I liked most was its ability to accelerate quickly through the entire power curve. If you were cruising at any speed in mid-range, touching the throttle would set you back in your seat.”
A big factor in that type of performance was Yamaha’s decision to shave unnecessary weight wherever possible, including the engine block and two-piece upper case. The block features a 16-valve single overhead cam, eliminating the weight of a second camshaft, for example. Yet, intake valve area is 17 percent greater than that of the F60 outboard.
The latest in Mercury’s lineup of powerhouse Verados is the 250 Pro FourStroke. Merc bills it as the perfect outboard for bass boats, multi-species rigs and bay boats alike.
What separates this Verado, according to Merc, is that it’s designed to provide the same performance levels (read acceleration and top end) as the other outboards in its Pro Series, including the mighty 250 OptiMax Pro XS.
But like other Verados, this one combines a charge air cooler and supercharger to lower air temperature before it’s delivered to the cylinders. Translation: a wicked hole shot.
The 250 Pro FourStroke features Merc’s Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS), which allows for precision control and automotive-like ease of handling. And for foot-feed lovers, they’ve introduced the optional DTS Hot Foot. Simply toggle from panel control to hot-foot control with the push of a button. You can keep both hands on the wheel for high-speed runs, or get hands-on precision when you need it for docking and loading.
The new outboard comes in a 20-inch shaft version for bass buggies, as well as a 25-inch version for multi-species platforms and performance pontoons.
Suzuki comes into 2011 with a new generation of DF40A and DF50A high- performance, fuel efficient outboards, as well as some great technological innovations to their flagship 4-stroke DF300.
Both the DF40A and DF50A compliment the DF60A outboard the company introduced last year. They’re designed with 15 percent more displacement while their weight at 229 pounds is lighter than previous models.
Both new outboards are based on Suzuki’s inline three cylinder dual overhead cam, 12-valve engine with 57.4 cubic inches of displacement, and feature a high-efficiency air intake system and multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection. On the water, it means they respond crisply to every move of the throttle, particularly when accelerating from cruising speeds. In fact, Suzuki engineers report the new DF50A offers 25 percent quicker acceleration than the previous model.
Suzuki broke ground with their DF300, the first 300 horsepower four-stroke outboard, which delivered outstanding performance and excellent fuel economy.
Now, Suzuki’s Lean Burn Control technology and new Oxygen Sensor provide even more fuel economy and reduced emissions. Lean Burn Control (LBC) uses an onboard computer to analyze input from engine sensors to predict and optimize the fuel/air mixture. The addition of the Oxygen Sensor improves LBC performance by providing additional data to more efficiently control fuel/air ratios and exhaust emissions under changing conditions, varying speeds and power demands. Suzuki’s testing indicates the new DF300 is up to 14 percent more economical to operate than previous models.
Honda, the first name in four-stroke outboard technology, redesigned its popular BF115. The redesigned engine is based on Honda’s inline 4-cylinder 2.4-liter automotive power plant, and uses the manufacturer’s exclusive Boosted Low Speed Torque (BLAST) for improved hole shots and quick acceleration. BLAST activates during “hammer down” acceleration. At that point the Engine Control Module (ECM) increases injector timing, creating a more potent air/fuel mixture.
The ECM, however, also continually monitors 18 other sensors to ensure smooth easy starts, smooth operation and optimum fuel efficiency. In fact, Honda engineers say the new outboard uses 19 percent less fuel than the previous model.
Other features include the dual overhead camshaft design that creates more valve lift for increase air intake and a multi-port electronic fuel injection system that accurately controls ignition timing and fuel flow. Plus, Honda’s exclusive Lean Burn Control pairs the ECM with a linear air/fuel sensor to adjust the air/fuel mixture according to speed and load.
Even the lower unit got an upgrade. Honda’s performance oriented gearcase features a longer anti-ventilation plate to direct water flow through the prop, while a streamlined front end and larger bullet reduce drag during acceleration.
Anglers, especially those who ply shallow waters, will have a number of new and upgraded outboards from Tohatsu to consider in 2011. The company announced its new MD35 Jet Drive, based on its 50-horsepower TLDI powerhead, and is available in both tiller- and remote-control versions.
For fishermen looking for more power, however, the manufacturer introduced a new MD75 to replace the previous 70-horsepower model. Like all TLDI outboards, it uses Tohatsu’s proven Air-assist, Low-pressure Direct-injection system to boost fuel efficiency from 12 to 70 percent, depending on rpm.
On the bottom end of the power scale, three portable outboards, the MFS4, MFS5 and MFS6 were all redesigned with a front-mounted shift handle, and industry first in this category.