Many questioned the sanity of bombardier Recreational Products' dogged determination to stick exclusively with two-stroke outboard power when the world around them seemingly wanted four-stroke. However, throttling up against the tide of prevailing wisdom hasn't hurt them a bit. In fact, independent tests show that E-Tec outboard power has some distinct advantages over four-stroke. And now that the technology has been around for several years, reliability and durability no longer present question marks.
Backcountry types will surely be the happiest about Evinrude's newest E-Tec - the 115 hp - available in 20-inch (blue or white) and 25-inch (white) shaft lengths. This 60-degree V-4 powerhead features 1.7-liter displacement (105.4 cubic inches) and a 50-amp alternator. You'll also be amazed at the gauges and sensors available with this power, thanks to NMEA 2000 electronic protocol. Called I-Command, these gauges with numerous owner-programmable displays offer simple plug-and-play installation and information never before available with Evinrude, such as fuel flow (within the fuel manager system) and GPS-generated speed.
Other digital displays include battery voltage, alternator voltage, tachometer, water pressure, engine trim, speed through water, speed over ground, seawater temperature, barometric pressure and even percentage of engine load. And of course, fly-by-wire throttle and shift controls are also available.
Until engineers and scientists prove otherwise, the laws of physics demand that four-stroke outboards must be bigger and heavier than two-strokes. The Evinrude E-Tec 115 hp weighs less than every four-stroke on the market. In fact, at 369 pounds, it's the lightest 115 among all direct-injection engines too. Compared to one notable four-stroke, this 115 weighs a full 127 pounds less. That's considerable on the back of a flats skiff.
The Evinrude 115's alternator provides 60 amperes of charging power, more than twice the rating of most of its competitors (except Suzuki, at 40 amps). However, when purchasing any boat, engine or electronics, an important piece of information to consider is how much of that power the engine itself needs. Far less than the rated output is actually available for charging your batteries and running your shipboard services.
In its current version, the E-Tec 115 hp is slightly louder across the rpm band than its four-stroke counterparts, according to International Council of Marine Industry Associations measurements.
Weighted Fuel Economy
The most equitable way to measure fuel economy is ICOMIA's five-mode method. This international certification group measures engine performance (torque, fuel, etc.) at five different engine speeds based on percentage of rated rpm. According to its independent testing, ICOMIA determined that Evinrude's 115 had a weighted fuel flow of 2.29 gph, a comparatively excellent rating against competing two-stroke and four-stroke power.
It's hard to argue that two-stroke engines provide impressive acceleration, and the E-Tec 115 is no exception.
Evinrude's E-Tec 115 boasts the lowest hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions of any engine on the market. That's certainly expected when compared to four-stroke outboards that by their nature emit much higher carbon monoxide levels, but the 115 claims to be the cleanest two-stroke as well, at 127.80 grams (total emission) per kilowatt hour. (The rest of the world measures horsepower in kilowatts.) Should you want independent listings of outboard emissions, visit the EPA's website at www.epa.gov/otaq/certdata.htm#marinesi.
Other New Features
The Evinrude 115 features a brand-new fuel-injector design, allowing greater stratification of the fuel/air spray at low speeds. Oil distribution throughout the cylinders has improved; the engine runs more quietly overall; it uses many more parts common to the rest of the Evinrude line for easier and less expensive maintenance; and it enjoys the best power-to-weight ratio of any 115-hp outboard.
... and by the way
As of this 2007 model year, all Ficht engines have been retired, and you'll never hear the name again. Also, for those die-hard Johnson outboard aficionados, some bad news: All carbureted V-4 and V-6 Johnson outboards, along with all models below 9.9 hp, have been officially retired.