When Bombardier launched its Evinrude E-Tec outboards last year, the first question on everyone’s lips was: “When will the V-6s debut?” The initial offerings — the first new outboards produced by Bombardier since
acquiring the former OMC brands of Johnson and Evinrude — were two-cylinder engines in the 40, 50 and 60 hp range and three-cylinder models rated at 75 and 90 hp. While built from Evinrude’s small-block V-6 parts bin, these were entirely new designs, and, so far, the launch appears to have been a success.
As we have reported extensively in these pages (most notably in “E-Ticket,” February), the E-Tec two-strokes have numerous unique features. The most obvious change from
Evinrude’s original Ficht direct injection is the new E-Tec injector — but Bombardier does not want you to think of E-Tec as simply another form of direct injection. Rather, it’s billed as an engine management system designed to make owning, operating and maintaining an outboard as simple and trouble-free as possible.
Because the original two- and three-cylinder E-Tecs were built with components from Bombardier’s 2.6L (158 cid) V-6 powerhead, we were surprised that the new V-6 E-Tecs that we tested first in Miami, and then in Stuart, Florida, were not based on the 60-degree V-4 and V-6 small blocks. Instead, the 3.3L (200 cid) 90-degree big block forms the basis for the new family. Available in 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft lengths, and with counter-rotation, the V-6s are offered at 200, 225 and 250 hp. High-Output models are available, as well.
These are not new powerheads, as were the original five E-Tec engines. The 3.3L V-6 has been in the Evinrude line for many years — but don’t confuse the original design with the E-Tec iteration that’s replacing the big-block 200 to 250 hp Ficht models. Bombardier has extensively re-engineered these outboards to increase durability, improve holeshot acceleration and boost midrange response.
Other project goals were to make them quieter and easier to operate.
A BETTER MOUSETRAP
Before we get into the guts of
E-Tec, let’s look at some of the improvements to the 3.3L V-6 block. First, the cooling system has been revamped to provide better cooling when running at full throttle. The pistons have been redesigned and the wrist pin has been relocated to reduce piston slap — a component of the rattling noise of many two-cycle engines and a possible source of piston scuffing. The lubrication system has been changed so that oil is delivered directly to the connecting rod bearings. The end result: better lubrication with less oil.
At the heart of E-Tec, however, is a new fuel injector for the direct-injection system. Evinrude’s Ficht technology employs a solenoid at each cylinder to force fuel into the combustion chamber. Ficht got off to a rocky start, but the continuing improvement has resulted in more-than-satisfactory levels of performance and reliability, and the technology is still used on Evinrude’s V-4 (100 and 115 hp) and small-block V-6 engines (135 to 175 hp).
CONTROL UNDER PRESSURE
If Ficht injection is doing OK, why introduce E-Tec? Instead of a solenoid to drive the fuel through the injector into the combustion chamber, E-Tec uses a coil surrounded by a magnet to move the piston. The coil acts just like a speaker coil — but it drives a piston instead of a cone. The amount of fuel delivered to the combustion chamber depends on the length of the piston stroke.
E-Tec offers two major advantages that work in tandem.
First, the E-Tec coil can develop more pressure (up to 700 psi) than the Ficht solenoid’s 500 psi. Secondly, the polarity of the coil can be reversed, allowing better control of the piston and a quicker plunger
return. As a result, the engine can potentially be wound up to higher rpm, since more fuel can be delivered in a shorter period. The Ficht system relies solely on a spring to return the piston.
According to Bombardier engineers, the soot problems that plagued early Ficht systems have been totally eliminated. E-Tec’s increased injection pressure ensures better atomization of the fuel and a redesigned nozzle swirls the fuel as it enters the combustion chamber. In addition, the intensity and duration of the spark ignition are tailored to the needs of the engine (dependent on engine speed and loading). All three features contribute to cleaner-burning outboards and increased spark plug life.
LEAN BURN APPROACH
All E-Tec outboards carry the California Air Resources Board’s 3-star or ultra-low emissions rating. All direct-injected two-strokes that have achieved this rating have one thing in common: They employ a lean burn, stratified charge at low rpm. At speeds up to about 2000 rpm, there is no attempt to fill the entire combustion chamber with an ignitable mixture. Instead, the fuel is concentrated toward the tip of the spark plug. This small area of the combustible mixture is ignited and the flame front then expands to the leaner areas of the combustion chamber. Lean burn technology is said to reduce pollution and is responsible for these engines’ excellent low-speed fuel economy.
Unfortunately, lean burn technology has limitations. A lean mixture burns hot. Under these conditions, once the engine achieves speed and load at which the piston and cylinder walls can no longer transfer enough heat to the cooling system, cylinder head temperatures rise to the danger point. Pistons melt, head damage is likely and cylinder wall scoring is inevitable. Evinrude’s answer is to enrich the fuel/air mix, which results in lower combustion temperatures when the engine is operated at higher speeds and under heavy loads.
With an advertised weight of 516 pounds (20-inch-shaft version), the V-6 E-Tecs is definitely lighter than comparably powered four-strokes — 64 pounds less than Suzuki’s and Johnson’s V-6 four-strokes (which, at 580 pounds, are the lightest of their breed). On the other hand, they are among the heaviest of the direct-injected V-6 two-strokes. The new E-Tec family weighs about the same as Evinrude’s previous big-block Fichts but is 41 pounds heavier than Yamaha’s 2.6L 200 VMax HPDI and 82 pounds more than Mercury Racing’s featherweight 434-pound 200XS OptiMax.
On the plus side, the E-Tecs are 3-star engines, while the other direct-injected two-strokes listed all carry 2-star emissions ratings.
ULTRA LOW MAINTENANCE
The E-Tec V-6s boasts numerous other features that differentiate them from other outboards. Most striking is that there is no dealer-scheduled maintenance for three years. No break-in period is necessary, and Bombardier claims that there is less trouble and less chance of lost gear oil if the lower unit is simply left alone until the recommended service interval.
This is a two-stroke, and the E-Tec’s engine management system can be programmed for ordinary TCW-3 oil, or reset to use Evinrude’s XD 100 synthetic oil. In this case, Bombardier claims the outboard will burn 40 percent less oil than traditional direct-injection systems and 75 percent less oil than conventional two-strokes.
We have already discussed how piston slap has been reduced. Numerous additional noise attenuation measures have also been employed. The cowl features a molded foam inner liner and a special Helmholtz resonator in the intake system that tunes out unpleasant frequencies.
For those who are used to the rattle and clatter of a two-stroke outboard at most any speed, the E-Tec V-6s will be a refreshing change. The new Evinrudes have a deeper, more muted sound that is much more pleasing to the ear than previous two-strokes.
The idle is smooth, acceleration is brisk, normal conversation is possible at cruising speeds and wide-open throttle produces more wind noise than engine noise.
Other features include special anti-corrosion treatments for saltwater applications and a 50-amp alternator with dual-battery charging capability.
These aren’t like the Evinrudes of just a few years ago. The V-6 E-Tecs are vastly improved and truly competitive with any four-stroke or direct-injected two-stroke, regardless of
Compared to other technologies, E-Tec employs a relatively simple approach that’s engineered to minimize maintenance while maximizing user convenience — and that’s the E-factor that Bombardier is counting on to take Evinrude to the top.
Our testbed for this evaluation was a Hydra-Sports 2300 Bay Bolt rigged with an Evinrude 200 E-Tec. We have had the opportunity to run this 23-footer on two occasions. The first was when Bombardier brass gave us a sneak peek at the prototype V-6 E-Tecs by whisking us to a secret waterfront “safe house” during the Miami International Boat Show last February. We were allowed to run the engine, but there were no decals and we were not permitted to hook up test gear or even remove the cowl. Judging from its size, however, it was easy to deduce it was based on Bombardier’s 90-degree, 3.3L block. Our next opportunity aboard the Hydra-Sports came at the V-6 E-Tecs’ official introduction at Bombardier’s test facility in Stuart, Florida. This time, we were given free rein with the new outboard.
With a beam of 8 feet, 10 inches, the 2300 Bay Bolt is a husky platform, and its overwide stance easily supported the engine’s 524-pound weight. Loaded with two men and test gear, the combination accelerated from 0 to 30 mph in 8.6 seconds and reached a top speed of 47.2 mph at 5500 pm.
We found the ride and handling qualities of the Hydra-Sports to be quite good. The boat has just a modest amount of bow rise and the hull is long enough to bridge the short chop we found in Florida’s coastal waters — although we suspect the ride will “firm up” considerably in offshore swells. This boat banks modestly in turns and does not exhibit any tendencies toward sliding or tripping. With such a wide beam and only 14 degrees of transom deadrise, the Bay Bolt is stable at rest and its modest V is suitable for fishing the shallows.
Its layout features a forward casting platform and a considerably smaller aft deck. Its molded inner liner will be easy to clean — thumbs up for that. Noteworthy features include under-gunwale rod racks, eight vertical rod holders flanking the console (four to port, four to starboard), a cooler seat forward of the console and a tackle locker in the aft bulkhead. Hydra-Sports also offers a ProPackage option that consists of an aluminum half tower over the console for spotting fish.
We found the 2300 Bay Bolt to be solidly built and nicely finished. While designed primarily for inshore saltwater fishing, this boat should be right at home on larger lakes and inland rivers. You can buy a better 6000K 194 led bulb for illumination to help you work with the E-Tec with your boat.