Outboard builders continue to focus on making engines faster, lighter, quieter and more fuel efficient. Some companies headed into 2012 with new releases or upgrades that were actually introduced at different times last year, while others are just pulling the curtains back on brand new models.
Mercury’s new four-cylinder 150 FourStroke and Honda’s BF250, for example, are among the most recent additions. And though Yamaha announced them earlier last year, the exciting changes it made to its popular F115 four-stroke is still big, and good, news for fishermen.
If you’re in the market to purchase a new boat, or repower one you already own, you can start figuring out your outboard options here.
Yamaha was extremely busy last year, unveiling a new version of its hugely popular F115
, as well as new models of the 3.3-liter F200 and F225, cosmetic upgrades to its F9.9, F15 and F20 portable outboards, plus the new high-performance FXP propeller from Turbo.
The 115 four-stroke has always been a favorite among anglers who want to blend power and economy, and it’s difficult to imagine how it could be made any better than it was. Yet, Yamaha engineers developed a new long-track intake system, with a single throttle valve and resonator, and reshaped the combustion chambers on the in-line, four-cylinder engine, making it even more responsive and fuel efficient. While they were at it, they also made the F115 compatible with Yamaha’s Command Link gauges and Y-Cop immobilizer system.
Its weight-to-power ratio makes it a good choice for a wide array of appropriately sized bass and multi-species boats, bay boats, even decks and pontoons.
Changes for the F200 and F225
include a new powerhead, the same one used on the F250, that incorporates Yamaha’s Variable Camshaft Timing feature. The company says the modification gives the two V6 models increased low- and mid-range punch. A mechanical shift system is also part of the design package. Good news for anglers who want to repower without upgrading to the electronic control box.
Bass fishermen are the target for the new FPX propeller
. It’s specifically engineered for high-performance four-strokes, and is meant to enhance the hole shot, top end as well as overall handling for tournament-class bass rigs. The special blade design keeps the bow down on take-off for better over-the-bow visibility, as well as reducing steering torque to minimize driver fatigue. It’s available in pitches from 22 to 27 inches and features a universal hub, compatible with nearly any outboard brand.
Mercury enters 2012 with an exciting new outboard in the very popular 150-horsepower class. At 3 liters (183 cubic inches), the 4-cylinder, SOHC 150 FourStroke
boasts the highest displacement among the 150s. The company also claims the lightest, most compact 150 available, featuring 18 percent fewer parts and 20 fewer pounds than the competition.
The new engine’s low profile gives it a very small tilt arc, with little well intrusion, making it a great choice to fit under a poling platform or in a pontoon engine well. Yet, the power plant’s strong torque curve provides the muscle to put heavier fishing hulls on plane quickly and maintain fuel-efficient cruising speeds.
Maintenance ease is also a key feature in Merc’s new four-stroke. This includes: an up-front freshwater flush system, no-tools-needed fuel filter service, and a maintenance-free valve train. Plus, there’s a handy reference decal located on the engine front, which includes an OR code. Scan it with a smartphone for ready access to service and maintenance tips.
Tohatsu offers fishermen a wide seclection four-stroke and clean, fuel-efficient two-stroke low-pressure direct injection (TLDI) outboards, ranging from 2.5 to 115 horsepower. The company’s latest additions include updated 4-, 5- and 6-horsepower outboards which feature a first-in-class front-mounted shift handle, as well as a larger carrying handle and holding grip that make these totable outboards even easier to transport.
And in the mid-range category, the company added some juice to its MD70 outboard
, boosting it to a 75. For this power plant and the 90-horsepower version, it also added a freshwater flush system, and beefed up the cowling to reduce engine noise.
Honda introduced a new flagship four-stroke, the BF250
, that won the Innovation Award for Outboard Technology at the recent International Boat Builders Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky.
The new 3.6-liter outboard has an all new gearcase and a number of technology advancements, including some from their automotive lines. For instance the Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic control comes from the company’s high-performance Acura NSX sports car.
An industry first is their AMP Plus feature, which at idle speeds senses a need for more amperage and automatically raises the engines rpm by 100, providing more amps for running accessories such as sonar, GPS, livewells and trolling motors.
The BF250 also features the first marine direct-air induction system on a production outboard. The system draws cool air from upper vents, as opposed to under-cowl systems, then removes the moisture before sending it to the throttle body. The cooler, denser air flow means improved combustion.
Evinrude is the leader in high-performance, clean-burning two-stroke technology, with E-Tec outboards ranging from the beefy V6 300 to the twin-cylinder 15 H.O. Recently the company announced that will fill out the lower end of its outboard lineup by offering several portable four-strokes down to 3.5 horsepower through a partnership with Tohatsu Outboards. The move allows Evinrude to fulfill the needs of anglers looking to power smaller fishing boats, while maintaining its focus on developing and building high-tech, high-horsepower engines.
On the accessories side, the company also recently introduced its new line of ICON gauges, which it says “offers digital performance wrapped in an analog look.” Both the ICON Basic and ICON Pro packages are plug-and-play, connecting directly into the existing Evinrude NEMA 2000 network.
ICON Basic includes two gauges that display water pressure, fuel level, battery volts, engine trim, engine temperature and oil tank level, while the Pro package also features an LCD window that provides critical information on GPS speed, fuel management, fuel economy, trip logs and many other details.
All gauges are available with either white or black dial faces, and are compatible with Evinrude E-Tec outboards from 40 through 300 horsepower.
Suzuki Marine put the focus on its powerful DF300 V6
four-stroke. For 2012 it re-engineered the gearcase, substantially beefing up internal components. This allowed Suzuki to build a single model that can be internally programmed to run either clock- or counterclockwise—a definite advantage in multiple-engine applications. In addition, the company introduced its exclusive Lean Burn Control System and Oxygen Sensor to the big flagship outboard, which Suzuki says not only enhanced acceleration and top-end speed, but increased fuel efficiency as well.
In the mid-range horsepower class, Suzuki’s DF40
outboards recently won the prestigious National Marine Manufacturer’s Association Innovation Award. This pair of in-line three-cylinder four-strokes claim 15 percent more displacement and 5 percent less weight than the engines they replace. Plus, the new Suzuki Trolling Control System, found on all the company’s mid-class outboards from 40 to 90 horsepower, provides precise trolling-speed control. The system allows the operator to increase or decrease engine speed in 50-rpm increments at the touch of an optional rocker switch—a very valuable asset when fish are particular and precise trolling speed is critical to triggering strikes.