Suzuki Math: 4 > 6

In the marine industry, the 200 hp four-stroke V-6 outboard is usually something of an underachiever. Sharing the same platform as its higher-?flying siblings boasting 250 ponies and more, the detuned 200 version is usually in the lineup to cater to owners with 200 hp max boats or looking to save a few bucks. In 2015, Suzuki celebrates the big Five-O with the most advanced 200 hp it’s ever produced. And no one who jams the throttle on the DF200AP will call it an underachiever. In fact, it got promoted to the head of the “Big Block” 2.9L in-line four-cylinder Suzuki class that it shares with the DF150 and DF175.

Lighten Up and Calm Down

The most obvious advantage of using two fewer cylinders is the weight reduction, and the manual-?shift DF200A model weighs 498 pounds, 69 pounds less than its V-6 stable mate, which is still being produced. The weight savings is huge, especially when the engine is powering weight-sensitive vessels such as flats or bass boats or used for repowering older boats that were designed for old-generation two-strokes. And because it’s an in-line engine instead of a V-6, it’s narrower, which makes it a better fit on mid-sized V-hulls that don’t have an abundance of transom space.

Normally, the biggest disadvantage of going to a four-cylinder from a V-6 is increased vibration, but during our two tests, the DF200AP exhibited little powerhead shaking at idle or at full throttle. To further minimize vibration, Suzuki uses a secondary balancer system to counter the pistons’ movement. The balancer is divided into right and left sections that each rotates in an opposite direction at twice the speed of the crankshaft to counteract the force of the pistons’ movement. In addition, the DF200A uses an offset driveshaft that moves the weight of the engine farther forward, placing its axis of inertia — the point where vibration is at its least, like the eye of a hurricane — over its mounting point. A rubber mounting system uses softer rubber to absorb vibrations at engine speeds through 2000 rpm and a harder rubber compound to reduce vibration at higher speeds.

Advancements Over the V-6 DF200

The DF200AP model, which weighs four pounds more than the DF200A (20-inch shaft), is loaded with every advanced feature in Suzuki’s arsenal. Most notable is Lean Burn, which changes the air/fuel mixture based on engine need. Coming out of the hole, Lean Burn provides a rich mixture to ensure maximum performance, but when the engine settles into a cruise, the mixture leans out and gives it around 19 percent better fuel economy than the V-6 DF200. Another feature that sets the DF200AP apart from the first-generation DF200 and DF200A is Suzuki Selective Rotation, which allows the owner to quickly switch the prop’s direction of rotation. On twin operation boats, owners don’t have to carry two extra props, since the prop can spin either way. It increases the resale value of the port engine, too, since it’s not a less versatile counter-rotation-only motor.

The DF200A joins Suzuki’s new generation of high-power models that employ Variable Valve Timing (VVT). Now, like the DF300A, DF250A, DF250 and DF175 models, the new DF200A can use one of its cam lobe configurations to optimize fuel economy and emissions, but when needed it can switch to employ a “racing” cam profile that changes the valve timing for the ultimate in high-speed performance.

Run It Like You Stole It

I tested the pre-production version of the DF200AP at a press event in Key Largo and the “official” version later at the 2015 Miami Boat Show. In the Keys I ran twin DF200AP engines on a 31-foot Twin Vee catamaran in rough conditions, and they pushed the cat to more than 45 mph. Later in Miami, I ran a pair of DF200APs on a Yellowfin 26, a stout 5,200-pound center console fishing boat with a stepped hull. They were spinning four-blade 15-inch-by-26-inch props that seemed to work well (Suzuki was still experimenting to find the best match). On plane in 4.3 seconds, the Yellowfin quickly picked up the pace as it reached 30 mph in 7.4 seconds. Thanks to VVT, the Suzukis really shined in the upper end, as our boat hit a top speed of 55 mph while slightly over-revving by 100 rpm to 6200 rpm before the rev limiter kicked in (the V-6 DF200 has a peak rpm of 6000).

The DF200A and DF200AP are both available in 20- or 25-inch shaft versions and are ideal for a wide variety of craft, from bay boats and pontoons to aluminum fishing boats to runabouts.


Specs

Type: In-line 16-valve four-cylinder DOHC four-stroke

Displacement: 2.9L

Full throttle range: 5500-6100 rpm

Weight: 498 lbs. (20-in. shaft A model), 514 lbs. (25-in. shaft AP model)

Gear ratio: 2.5:1

Price: $18,345

Performance

Tested with Yellowfin 26

Time to plane: 4.3 sec.

0-30 mph: 7.4 sec.

Top speed: 55 mph

Decibels @ idle: 57

Cruise: 32.1 mph/4500 rpm/82 dB-A

Peak: 55.0 mph/6200 rpm/92 dB-A

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