It was only a matter of time, we suppose. But we've consequently learned to never say never. Not so long ago, the prevailing wisdom insisted that the laws of physics would never allow a four-stroke outboard to exceed 250 horses. It would be too big and bulky for transoms. Well, boat and transom redesigns, combined with advanced engineering and mechanical and electronic innovations, have upped the ante to the point that current wisdom knows no limitations. The former nay-sayers just shrug when someone suggests a 400-hp outboard.
If anyone can do it, it's Suzuki. At the recent Miami International Boat Show, American Suzuki Marine introduced the world's first 300-hp, V-6, four-stroke outboard motor. In his short speech, Suzuki Marine's marketing director Larry Vandiver said, "This should leave no doubt about Suzuki's commitment to push the envelope in four-stroke outboard power and performance."
The very first 300-hp two-stroke outboard qualified as a dedicated racing product. Having fished a number of them, we can vouch that they despised trolling speed so much that after trolling for several hours, you stood little chance of getting up onto plane before visiting a mechanic. Not so with Suzuki's four-stroke.
Available in both 25- and 30-inch shaft lengths, Suzuki's DF300 should elevate the company's reputation for superstrong, high-end-of-the-power-band ratings, as ever-lengthening offshore fishing boats start supplying transoms for more big-block power. Who knows? Perhaps we'll even get away from triple-engine installations in lieu of a pair of 300s.
The DF300 carries over some of the proven technology found in Suzuki's previous models, as well as features new and unique. For example, from previous models, Suzuki has kept dual overhead camshaft and 32-valve powerhead, variable valve time, multipoint electronic fuel injection, gear-driven timing chain and California Air Resources Board Ultra-Low emissions rating. However, the company created an entirely new, sleeker lower unit to handle the increased horsepower's higher speeds, but retained the successful two-stage reduction gear that allows Suzuki to turn props with higher pitch than its other engines.
Another truly appreciated feature - electronic throttle and shift controls - makes rigging a boat easier and operating it like driving on a silk highway. This system affords you several other new advantages, too: Want a second control station? No problem - just plug in a single wire. You need only one key to control any number of engines, and the key can be inside the cabin or console if you wish. And should you opt for a triple-engine installation, you don't need triple-throttle/shift controls. Underway at speed, all three engines respond to a single throttle lever. At maneuvering speeds, the two outboard engines respond to two levers while the center engine idles in neutral. We've found this to be an excellent safety feature in addition to a convenience. When maneuvering in close quarters, we always have to look down to assure that we're moving the correct lever when using triple controls. Use of dual controls more closely corresponds to an autonomic function like your heart beating or lungs breathing. With twins, we can maneuver without thinking.
Historically, Suzuki's biggest shortcoming has had nothing to do with its superb products, but rather with a smaller-than-the-competition dealer/service network. In recent years, Suzuki has aggressively entered the OEM marketplace, increasing the number of factory transoms, as well as independent dealers and service technicians.
There's a reason why you see so many Suzuki outboards used in oil-drilling operations, marine construction and commercial diving companies where a down day means a serious financial loss. Suzuki's reputation for reliability day after day buys the loyalty of those marine enterprises.
Sport Fishing is reporting this news without the 300's specifications. At press time, Suzuki had not released them. For more information, contact Suzuki at 800-247-4704 or visit www.suzukimarine.com. - Ed.