Couran Cove Island Resort, on Queensland’s Stradbroke Island, was the location for the Haines Suzuki Marine Conference 2010, which also included a media launch for the new Suzuki DF60A, DF50A, DF40A, DF9.9A and DF8A outboards.
No less than 34 Suzuki-powered boats were available for media testing, ranging from small inflatable craft to large pontoon vessels and, with the resort’s marina situated adjacent to the Broadwater, the location was ideal for test runs on a variety of combinations.
Various models from the Haines Group’s stable formed a core part of the proffered test craft, although vessels from a number of other Australian OEM boat builders were also available, along with craft from the Coast Guard and Water Police. From an engine point of view, there was plenty to choose from, all the way from 8hp to 300hp.
Suzuki’s new DF60A was the centre of attention and the company boasts that it comes packed with many of the same advanced features found on Suzuki’s high-end outboards. Weighing in at 104kg, the four-stroke DF60A is 42 per cent lighter than its predecessor, which Suzuki claims makes it the lightest four-stroke in its class.
All four so-called “next generation” outboards (DF60A/DF70A/DF80A/DF90A) utilise a double overhead cam (DOHC) powerhead, with four valves per cylinder for high performance output. A streamlined gear case, first introduced on the flagship DF300, reduces drag by up to 36 per cent, thus contributing to faster acceleration, while a “highly efficient” propeller takes advantage of the engine’s impressive torque to provide faster acceleration and a higher top speed.
These outboards also offer smoother shifting, with a newly-designed transmission and shifting system, and fire up readily with the new Suzuki Easy Start System. Turn the key and release it and the starter stays engaged until the engine starts up.
Another impressive feature, which drew widespread appreciation from the assembled media, is the new electronic Tilt Limit System that allows the user to pre-program the ideal trim for the engine. It’s a simple procedure that only needs to be performed once on any given craft.
The media day began with a series of technical presentations, plus a “state of the marine industry” insight. John Haines presented an update on Haines Suzuki’s market position, news on the company’s new facility and the support of Suzuki. The company has also introduced a ten-year structural warranty on the Haines Signature range, which doubles the previous warranty period, plus a two-year comprehensive warranty – something, it says, no other Australian boat company offers.
Haines Suzuki staff and directors were available for questioning after the presentations, which included a “how to” video and detailed explanations from Suzuki’s technical guru, Chris Guppy, who ran through the next generation motors’ key features.
So-called ‘grey imports’ were also a focus of attention, with Haines Suzuki representatives making it very clear that outboards imported by non-authorised businesses are not covered by Australian standards, do not qualify for Australian warranty and do not attract dealer back-up. Also discussed were the potential legal problems that would likely leave an individual liable in the case of an injury occurring from a grey import.
With such a large array of choices, I focussed my efforts on first testing a number of craft from the Haines stable, which, once again, reinforced my appreciation for the build quality of these vessels, their extensive fitments and superb handling. I also took the opportunity to sample some other brands in the Haines Group portfolio, including Allison Ally, Traveller and Walker Bay. In each instance, I found the craft to be well designed and constructed for their intended purpose and the various Suzuki outboards to be well matched to each craft, with effortless performance pretty much across the board.
Overall, I was very impressed with the new Suzukis, which have come a long way from the company’s efforts of years past. I think it’s fair to say that the 2010 range is right up there in all respects and lines up extremely well when compared with other brands. On the basis of aesthetics, finish, corrosion resistance, metallurgy, weight, power and claimed fuel efficiency, I predict Suzuki should continue to gain a greater market share as time goes by and more boaties recognise the quality and value of their outboards.