Lightweight with grunt

Kevan Wolfe | VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1

The launch of Yamaha’s F200F four-stroke has been much anticipated.

Yamaha is looking to maintain its market share lead in Australia and New Zealand in the big and midsize outboard arenas with the launch of an all-new, 200hp, in-line, four-cylinder four-stroke.

The F200F sits at the top of Yamaha’s four-stroke range, which was previously led by its F150. But the F200F is not just a bored-out 150; it’s a completely new engine with new crank and balance shafts, the Variable Camshaft Timing (VCT) system of the V6, and a host of Yamaha technical and weight-saving innovations, including a new-look cowl.

Yamaha boasts that the slim-line engine is the lightest in its class, tipping the scales at 227kg – some 50kg less than the F200C V6.

The Engine Control Module controls the VCT actuator so that the camshaft timing is advanced or retarded depending on the engine rpm. This increases the air intake and exhaust efficiency at low to mid-range engine speeds.

The engine block air intake is routed through a single electronically controlled throttle valve. It works with a long-track intake system and a resonator to improve throttle response. Multi-point fuel injection completes the package. The result is an increase in torque between 2000 and 3500rpm.

Yamaha introduced the Shift Dampener System in 2010. Since then the company has introduced a new design and components, which takes out all the force when shifting into gear. Gone is that terrible grating sound that can happen as the engine is put into gear; it’s smooth and positive no matter how slowly the control is used to select the gears.

Another feature for serious fishermen is the trolling function, which allows the rpm to be set at the desired trolling speed and advanced or decreased in increments of 50rpm.

The lighter weight will also allow it to be fitted to a wider range of boats and is aimed primarily at customers looking to repower and who want the compact dimensions of the 150 or even the two-stroke 200. It also makes a twin-rig set-up easier by sharing the bolt pattern of the HPDI 200, with just 660mm (26in) between centres.

Yamaha has developed a new Reliance Series SDS (Shift Dampener System) – highly polished, stainless steel propellers for the unit that are available in 15in to 21in pitches. These are designed with a reduced trailing edge that has better anti-ventilation (cavitation) characteristics than the previous painted stainless steel propellers.

The F200F with mechanical controls will be available by April 2013 and can be retro-fitted to a boat with existing mechanical controls. A fly-by-wire version with digital electronic controls will be available later in the year.

We drove a brand new Cruise Craft 595 Explorer fitted with the new outboard on the Gold Coast’s Broadwater. At the time, there was a nasty short chop set up by a northerly wind on an outgoing tide. The boat felt well balanced and the 14.25in x 18in polished prop suited the boat. If ever there was a perfect package, this one went very close.

The F200F will rev out to 6000rpm, which gives a top speed of around 45 knots (83.1km/h). But the sweet spot was at 3000rpm when the boat ran comfortably with about one quarter trim out at 20 knots (37.0km/h) and used 15.6lt/h. This gives the boat a range of some 220nm (395km); about 12 hours’ running from the 190lt fuel tank leaving a five per cent reserve. Ask the question at 3000rpm and the engine responds immediately, running smoothly up to WOT. There is only one negative: the F200F needs 95-octane fuel for it to give its best.
Yamaha launched the F200F earlier than it would have liked, as word had got around the industry that it would soon be on the market. While it won’t be here for a little while yet, the new four-stroke F200F is worth waiting for.