In the last decade or so, Yamaha has produced some revolutionary new engines that have left a definitive mark on the industry. It was the first company to envision the fourstroke as an outboard for offshore use, and succeeded in making fourstrokes an industry standard. This year we have two of what may be Yamaha’s greatest hits ever; a pair of platforms that will change the way people think of four-stroke power. Instead of just words like smooth, quiet and reliable, add new ones like attitude and performance.
Bigger Yet Lighter
The new V6 Offshore and V MAX SHO engines both use the same 4.2L V-6 aluminum block that did away with heavy steel cylinder sleeves and instead features plasma-fused cylinder bores that have 27 percent more displacement than previous Yamaha outboards in the 200–250 hp range. The sleeveless bores are said to be 60 percent stronger than steel and because they have a micro-textured surface that retains oil like a wellgreased pan, friction is reduced for better performance and fuel economy. They are lighter too, particularly the new V6 Offshore 300, which replaces the 300 hp V-8 model and saves an astounding 246 pounds of weight – the equivalent of an NFL linebacker sitting on your transom.
Weighing 558 pounds, the V6 Offshore is up to 93 pounds lighter than the four-stroke competition, and the V MAX SHO matches even the lightest two-strokes at a weight of 505 pounds. Many components on both models are lighter, such as the new cowling and composite lower engine pan. The V6 Offshore is slightly heavier due to a beefier engine bracket for battling the open ocean and a more robust alternator, which puts out an incredible 70 amps of charging power versus 50 amps for the V MAX SHO.
Big Bore Performance
Being lighter is a good first step, but they also outperform two-strokes in areas such as holeshot and midrange acceleration. This development will radically change the way bass anglers view four-stroke power, as evidenced by the Bassmaster Classic this year. There, many fans and pros got their first look at the V MAX SHO 250, which was used by every Yamaha pro in the event. Yamaha anglers ended up taking five of the top 10 spots. Dean Rojas, one of the pros, said, “I never thought I would see the day that a four-stroke could outperform a two-stroke, but I was the first one to arrive at my fishing hole every day.”
While some builders take a smaller displacement engine and “race it up” with a supercharger to achieve higher horsepower, Yamaha’s big bore philosophy makes it far easier to make power. A lot of performance engines have power curves that are maximized for one slice of the rpm range, but the Yamaha 4.2L motors offer one of the most linear power curves out there. When you drop the hammer, it keeps on pulling all the way until you reach top speed.
Bass boats are notoriously slow out of the hole, but when Yamaha engineers tested a 250 hp V MAX SHO strapped onto the transom of a Bass Cat Puma FTD, it jumped on plane in 2.8 seconds, reached 30 mph in 6.3 seconds and continued strong to a top speed of almost 80 miles per hour. At 3000 rpm (30.6 mph), it only burned 6.4 gallons per hour, which translated to nearly 5 miles per gallon. Even at 79.6 mph it burned 23 gph, which translated to 3.46 miles per gallon.
They’re the Same, Except Different
The V MAX SHO – which comes in 200, 225 and 250 hp models – uses a 20-inch shaft and is primarily designed for freshwater transoms such as bass boats and walleye boats. It is also perfect for flats and bay boats that need lightweight engines with enough power out of the hole to get on plane in shallow water. The V6 Offshore series comes in 25- and 30- inch-shaft lengths and though its name implies that they are only for the “can’t see land” set, they are also ideal for performance pontoons and multispecies models with 25-inch transoms. The V6 Offshore outboards come in 225, 250 and 300 hp models. The 300 hp version will be especially popular on boats that normally would have run twin 150s.
We had a chance to run the new Grady-White Fisherman 230 at the most recent Miami Boat Show and were impressed with the results. The 230 is a beefy center console (does Grady-White build them any other way?) that weighs 2 tons before you start loading it with gear, gas, ice and fish. Built with the Yamaha V6 Offshore outboards in mind, this near-23-footer is designed for one-engine operation and can handle up to a 300 hp, which we coincidentally had on the transom.
The ignition key was located in the lockable center console and was already armed, so all I had to do was push the start button on the dash and let go. Potential thieves beware: Our boat has the optional Y-COP security system, which uses a key fob to disable the ignition when you are away. Even though the wind was howling, at idle we registered just 58 dBA on our sound meter. Unlike the V MAX SHO, which has a pleasantly deepthroated sound, the V6 Offshore is stealthy-quiet.
The Grady-White’s SeaV2 hull starts with 20 degrees of deadrise at the stern and grows progressively sharper as you go forward, measuring about 30 degrees amidships, giving it an excellent ride in rough water, although this doesn’t help so much out of the hole. But when we advanced the drive-by-wire Yamaha Command throttle, we powered on plane in 4.2 seconds. Some engines plateau when approaching 30 mph, but we reached it in only 7 seconds and kept accelerating to our top speed of 47.3 mph at 5900 rpm.