- With its market-leading low-end performance, its unrivalled capacity to adapt its aesthetic to your boat and its continued ease of ownership, the G2 is the most effective Evinrude outboard we’ve seen.
- You can feel the prodigious torque of these engines pushing you hard, preserving those revs and keeping that pace up as you tighten the turn and increase the load.
- … of all the features exhibited by the new engines, the iTrim facility is arguably the most interesting.
- These new mid-range G2 engines look superb.
- … it all comes together to make the G2 driving experience thoroughly (perhaps even uniquely) enjoyable.
Alex Smith heads for Lake Maggiore in northern Italy to witness the continued development of the radical new G2 outboard engine from Evinrude.
It’s all very well creating a showpiece outboard engine at high output for the handful of platforms that require something fast, exotic and expensive. It’s another matter altogether generating an effective and affordable everyday mid-range outboard for the masses – whose pastimes routinely encompass everything from lumbering pontoon boats to recreational bowriders, overnighting cuddies, offshore RIBs and fire-spitting race machines. And yet such was the promise exhibited by Evinrude’s high-powered G2 outboards earlier this year that we headed for northern Italy with high hopes that the most valuable features of the E200, 225, 250 and 300 would make the transition unscathed to the more modest and affordable C150, C150 HO, C175 and C200.
Modern, clean and simple
First things first. These new mid-range G2 engines look superb. There’s a crisp, angular muscularity to the contour of the cowling that makes it look like the boat is being chased by the engine rather than merely propelled by it. The design flourishes are productive rather than gratuitous, and the fact that the engine can be colour-matched to the boat makes the entire platform look like a factory-built package, not a dealer’s assemblage of parts.
Look more closely and it’s plain that the integrated hydraulic steering and ‘Dynamic Power Steering’ are also key elements of the G2 aesthetic. With the steering cylinder integrated into the swivel bracket alongside the power steering unit, there are no sliding bars elbowing their way into your engine well and no additional wires or sockets – just a single umbilical, which means rigging of unparalleled ease and cleanliness.
Of course, none of this clever integration is worthwhile if the performance is in any way diminished, but when you get these boats on the water, the opposite is in fact true. The steering is light, fast and accurate, and if you want to increase the feel at higher speeds for minor adjustments of greater deftness and accuracy, there are three ‘Steering Assist’ settings to help dial that in. If, on the other hand, you’re not the type to potter with settings at all, then you can just relax, knowing that this is the only marine power steering system that automatically gives you more assistance at lower speeds than it does at pace.
However, before we get into the high-octane stuff, it’s worth noting that the sophistication of the style and the clutter-free nature of the rigging are matched by the G2’s remarkable cleanliness – and that’s nowhere more striking than at a standstill. With a low-rev idle that settles at just 500rpm, this is a very frugal engine, drinking just 0.8 of a litre per hour and allowing you to spend an entire day on the water with 10 similarly rigged boats at close quarters without once suffering the swelling nausea that fume inhalation tends to elicit. As a professional marine journalist routinely required to hang off the transoms of stationary or low-speed boats for photo shoots, noxious fumes are a major bugbear of mine – and yet here, in the course of an entire two-day event, I didn’t even detect any fumes, let alone suffer their effects.
Evinrude’s E-TECs have long been known for extended service-free periods, and that happy trait remains intact here. You get five years or 500 hours without dealer-scheduled maintenance, alongside automatic winterisation, a five-year warranty and the pleasing absence of a break-in period or oil changes. And the sheer usability of the G2 package is designed to be equally attractive to those who simply want to get in and go.
Each mid-range G2 comes with a 3.5″ display with five traditional push buttons, making it very simple to arrange any combination of fuel flow, speed and revs you fancy, without recourse to an instruction manual. Meanwhile, below the waterline, the hydrodynamics of the G2’s new gear case are designed to reduce drag and torque steer for better speed and handling, while an electric shifter in the front of the gear case means you get no mechanical clunk at the helm when engaging a gear.
As you might expect, the G2’s list of optional accessories includes the usual raft of branded merchandise you would never dream of buying, but there is also some really good stuff to be had. For instance, if you favour a foot throttle in order to keep both hands on the wheel, Evinrude’s G2 engines are fully compatible with that. In fact, if you opt for a foot throttle, it comes with full adjustability to match your leg length, and it enables you to switch manually between traditional hand and foot control. On multiple-engine rigs, i-Dock joystick control is also available, and there are plenty of smaller accessories, from auxiliary battery-charging cables to the usual flushing kits, steering braces and fitted covers.
However, of all the features exhibited by the new engines, the iTrim facility is arguably the most interesting. Described by Evinrude as the industry’s ‘first fully integrated trim assist’, the idea is that, when activated, it automatically trims the leg to provide optimum efficiency and control in response to the boat, the conditions and your helm input. As a means of enabling either a novice pilot or a frequent, everyday boater to relax at the helm with nothing more to think about than the wheel and throttle, it’s a very fine concept – but it currently appears flawed in terms of its practical operation.
For a start, you have to come back to neutral and trim back to zero before iTrim can be activated, which is distinctly inconvenient if you’re underway and fancy letting the electronic wizardry do the work. Once activated, it also seems to perform some distinctly counter-intuitive tricks. For instance, while we were travelling with wide-open throttle at 40 knots in a Ranieri 21 S with a C200 on the transom, the system set the trim at about 28%. When I put the boat into a full-speed turn, I expected to witness the iTrim bury the leg a little to help create additional stability and grip. Plainly, it’s what most of us would tend to do if left to make the decision manually – and yet the Evinrude system trimmed the boat out further, all the way to 45%, causing us to skip sideways in an arc, which was more a light-footed slide than a secure carve. I repeated the experiment on three other boats and the result was much the same on each occasion.
Now clearly, if you don’t like what the iTrim facility does, you can simply turn it off. And it is also claimed that the iTrim function at the press event had not been tailored to the specific dynamics of each individual craft. With time to customise iTrim to your boat, it is apparently capable of becoming a much more effective tool. But after a couple of days on a variety of boats, it’s safe to say that iTrim is not a function I would use, nor one I would currently recommend.
Two-stroke for a new age
Underway, however, the technicalities of Evinrude’s iTrim facility become largely irrelevant. When you slot the lever into gear, the revs build to a steady 1000rpm, enabling very easy low-speed manoeuvring. And when you throw the lever forward with more conviction, the low-end grunt of the G2 is everything the 2-stroke fan could want. On every one of the five boats I looked at, we were planing, fast and flat, within two seconds, which is great fun and also very useful for those keen to participate in towed water sports.
On a 6m cuddy with a C150 on the transom, a full fuel tank and three men on board, a mid-range cruise of 30 litres per hour at 30 knots was also very respectable – and the grip through the turn was even more impressive. I witnessed no hint either of aeration or cavitation and only very minor loss of momentum through the arc. You can feel the prodigious torque of these engines pushing you hard, preserving those revs and keeping that pace up as you tighten the turn and increase the load. It’s very impressive, but so too were the G2s in virtually every respect on every boat I tried. From idle to hole shot, from steering accuracy to throttle comfort and from the data display to the delightfully urgent bark of the engine note – it all comes together to make the G2 driving experience thoroughly (perhaps even uniquely) enjoyable.
The only real dilemma comes in the form of which G2 unit you favour for your boat. After all, Evinrude offer a High Output (HO) variant of the 150 for extra power, speed and torque. But given that the C200 shares the same block and therefore exacts no weight penalty, it seems odd that you wouldn’t simply spend an extra £1,200 (£18,499 instead of £17,299) on that. But then, of course, another product overlap makes itself evident – because at 200hp, you can either pick the C200 or you can go for the E200 HO. With its larger block (3440 instead of 2743 cc), its larger display (4.3″ rather than 3.5″), its touch screen interface and its ‘Premium’ steering package, it comes in at just £700 more than the C200. More to the point, it does so with virtually no weight penalty at all, so in direct comparison, it makes the C200 look like false economy.
But whichever of the many potential routes you choose, it should come as no surprise to learn that the new G2s are about 20% more expensive than the base E-TEC models and around 10% more expensive than comparable 4-strokes from the top Japanese builders. After all, this isn’t just a direct injection 2-stroke. In fact, it isn’t just a modern marine outboard. This is an intelligent, customisable and fully integrated propulsive solution.
With its market-leading low-end performance, its unrivalled capacity to adapt its aesthetic to your boat and its continued ease of ownership, the G2 is the most effective Evinrude outboard we’ve seen. The fact that it’s also the most streamlined and clutter-free outboard you can load onto your transom is another very serious bonus – and its behaviour at tickover is so refreshingly clean and fume-free that those who spend a lot of time off the plane will love it. Of course, it’s not yet possible to comment on the long-term reliability of these feature-laden engine packages, and I’d like to see the very promising iTrim function much better executed too. But these modest qualifications aside, there really is nothing here to dislike. On the contrary, if I were looking to rig a mid-range sports boat with outboard power, the integrated simplicity, the satisfying poke, the customisable style, the user-friendly interface and the striking cleanliness at idle would make the Evinrude G2 my first port of call. In a market dominated by refined, fruity and thoroughly well-proven 4-strokes, that’s a very impressive truth.
- Type: V6 66° E-TEC Direct Injection
- Displacement: 2744cc
- Weight: 225–245 kg
- Warranty: 5 years
- Cleanliness at idle
- Clutter-free rigging
- Aggressive pickup
- Impressive feature integration
- Beautiful looks
- Customisable colours
- iTrim could be so much better