The Miami International Boat Show may not attract huge crowds from middle America, but the products introduced there every year certainly impact boaters between the coasts. The 2017 edition of “The Ultimate Boat Show” saw plenty of new power options, and even more new technology to make using that power easier and more efficient. Here’s a rundown.
Evinrude has updated its E-TEC G2 series and introduced a high-output (HO) 150 version as well. The company claims its E-TEC G2 line, encompassing 150- to 300-horsepower models, offers 20 percent more torque and 15 percent greater fuel economy than the nearest competitor. An integrated steering system eliminates the rigging mess at the transom, and right out of the box you need no scheduled maintenance for the first five years. There’s not even a break-in period. evinrude.com
Honda debuted a concept engine in Miami, designed by the automotive team responsible for the wildly impressive Acura NSX (see “Waterlines” on page XX). However, its real innovations won awards at the boat builders’ national trade show, IBEX, last fall. There, the 6-horsepower BF6 four-stroke took honors for best new outboard. Notable features garnering the acclaim include new rubber engine mounts, a much larger internal fuel tank, low-oil alert system, a new decompression mechanism that makes starting much easier and reduces recoil, a one-touch stop button and the lightest weight of any portable engine in its class. marine.honda.com
Those of you preferring inboard boats might investigate Mercury’s mid-range diesel engine family. These electronic, common-rail, turbo-charged engines come in 480, 500 and 550 horsepower in both straight inboard and Zeus pod drives. Additionally, all three power plants readily interface with Mercury’s SmartCraft controls and monitoring electronics, as well as optional joystick operation.
Mercury’s SmartCraft system also now works with numerous other engine and electronic displays from a host of manufacturers. mercurymarine.com
Suzuki announced that it’s now offering its 2.5 horsepower, presently with a 15-shaft length, in a 20-inch shaft as well for tenders, skiffs and small sailboats. In bigger iron, the company’s popular SS-Series outboards now boast a 200-horsepower four-cylinder model and adds a 25-inch shaft length model to its premier 250SS V6.
Other new engines in Suzuki’s 2017 lineup include the DF150AP and DF175AP. Just a few of the advanced features on these new 150- and 175-horsepower inline four-cylinder outboards include drive-by-wire throttle and shift, as well as Suzuki’s Selective Rotation gear case that lets a dealer program the outboard’s computer to make it right-hand or left-hand rotation, eliminating the need for two separate engines.
All of Suzuki’s big motors sport offset drive shafts, allowing for a two-stage gear reduction to deliver more power and torque at the prop. This lets the owner mount a larger diameter, more aggressively pitched prop for pin-you-to-your-seat hole shots and impressive top-end speeds. suzukimarine.com
Volvo Penta rolled out its most powerful gasoline engines ever in Miami. The 380- and 430-horsepower aluminum V8s are based on General Motors’ highly successful all-aluminum block (for highest power-to-weight ratio) and incorporate a combination of technical features such as direct fuel injection for better low-end torque and fuel efficiency; closed-loop, freshwater cooling with no internal parts exposed to raw water; wideband oxygen sensors to optimize the engine for varying fuel quality and altitude and reducing carbon monoxide emissions by 95 percent, as well as variable valve timing to optimize torque across the full acceleration range. These new 6.2-liter engines round out Volvo Penta’s full lineup of Gen-V marine engines, joining the well-received 5.3-liter V8s and 4.3-liter V6s.
Volvo Penta also introduced its Joystick for Inboard system, the first joystick for twin inboard shaft installations that includes both docking and driving modes. The system integrates all five steering components — thruster, rudders, gear shift, slip and throttle — and is compatible with all electronically controlled Volvo Penta diesel engines from 110 to 900 horsepower in twin applications. volvopenta.com
Never a company to rest on its laurels, Yamaha debuted eight new engines and other noteworthy technologies at the Miami show. First was a new F25 weighing less than 126 pounds, accompanied on stage by new F90 and F75 motors.
Yamaha also added to the mid-range power spectrum with new V MAX SHO 115 and 175 models, both now with 25-inch shafts. In addition, Yamaha’s best-selling F150 and the F175 can be ordered with digital electronic controls, as can its new 200 with a 20-inch shaft.
Joystick controls rank up there with the planing hull and GPS when it comes to innovation — changing the entire market. Yamaha’s Helm Master Integrated Boat Control System now provides “Set Point,” a dynamic positioning function with three modes: Stay Point, Fish Point and Drift Point. Stay Point keeps the boat positioned very near a chosen spot on the heading it travels when engaged. This works great for bottom fishing or awaiting an opening at a fuel dock or bridge. Fish Point maintains a selected position, but not a heading. Drift Point allows the boater to drift the boat with the wind or current while keeping the heading you were on when engaged; particularly useful when drift or kite fishing.
To make best use of all this tech, Yamaha’s new CL7 touchscreen display and a newly designed, more robust Command Link Plus lets you control your fish finder, navigation, systems monitoring and much more on a large, touchscreen display.
Finally, Yamaha added two new pontoon boat propellers to the family in 2017: the Talon Pontoon and Talon GP Aluminum SDS. These props incorporate Yamaha’s exclusive Shift Dampener System (SDS) technology and deliver quiet performance to mid-range-powered pontoons and lighter boats. In other words, with these props the gear-shifting clunk is gone. yamahaoutboards.com
Author: Dean Travis Clarke is a regular contributor to HeartLand Boating magazine