Outboard Engine Brands

Pennine Marine's 2016 Guide to UK Outboard Engines Brands.

 

INTRODUCTION

There were just over twelve thousand new outboard engines sold into the marine market sector in the UK in 2015. The good news is that the UK outboard engine market grew last year. This is a quick guide to those brands of outboard engines which are available in the UK.  

Please note that this list is in alphabetical order. This list is not ranked by market leader and  nor is it ranked / listed by our own preferences and recommendations.

Which brand of new outboard engine we recommend for you personally will always depend first and foremost on how you are going to be using it. Therefore what is a good choice of an outboard engine for one customer may not be the best and most appropriate outboard engine for another customer - simply because they are both going to be using it for a different application.

The website address links we show here are only the official websites for the main UK company (or the UK official importer or UK representative).

 

(NOTE ABOUT WEBSITE LINKS

There are now relatively few differences between the models of outboard engines sold across the world. However there are some subtle (and not always obvious) differences remaining in the global marketplace. Therefore we recommend that you only use the official UK companies outboard engine websites. There are however other websites available, especially those written in the good old US of A.

However these US websites may contain slightly different information - especially for their outboard motor spare part number references. Therefore will you please note there are official websites listed separartely in the UK and USA which will both show you slightly different information - however both will be correct.

However we here at Pennine Marine are based on the right side of "the pond" - so we will recommend that you only use the official website written by the person who always drives on the correct side of the road ............if you know what we mean........ which over here means you are in the right if you are driving on the left ........!!! END OF WEBSITE LINK ADVISORY NOTE)

HONDA OUTBOARD ENGINES        www.honda.co.uk

Honda is a well-established Japanese outboard engine manufacturer, with long experience in the UK marine market. Honda has a well-deserved reputation for quality and all their outboard engines come with a comprehensive and long warranty. Honda are obviously very well-know for cars and motorbikes as well as their outboard engines, and they often market many of these Honda products together under the same marketing slogan.

Honda has an excellent outboard engine product range - one with good service and reliability - which is backed up by an extensive and longstanding dealer network. Honda sells the full range of outboard engine, from 2.5hp to 250hp. However Honda outboard’s tend to be most often seen in the mid-market 50-100hp sector, with a reasonable representation in the small and large horsepower sectors. Many new Honda outboard engines are now being fitted onto the hulls of their various boat partners, so you will buy your new boat and Honda outboard engine as a "complete package".

The positives with most Honda outboards are the design, reliability and warranty. There is only one real (small) lemon in their outboard engine range.

The big negative is that Honda has simply not invested in developing new models of outboard engines in recent years. Therefore we think that many of the Honda outboard model designs are now getting a bit long in the tooth. The weight and performance of some of the Honda outboard models is now quite simply not as good as the other two main Japanese manufacturers. Therefore the overall number of Honda outboard engines sold in the UK has been gradually declining over recent years. Honda are also thinking of changing the way they sell and service outboards, which may well affect the aftercare service and costs in future years.

There were however in late 2015 signs of this slightly complacent attitude by Honda beginning to change - with some upgrades and changes now being introduced in 2016 to some long-standing Honda outboard engine models.

However despite a few disadvantages, we have to say that Honda still make a very good quality outboard engine. Therefore Honda are a well-deserved "Number 3" in the list of the "big three" Japanese manufacturers in the UK outboard engine marketplace.

 

EVINRUDE OUTBOARD ENGINES (WAS JOHNSON / EVINRUDE)   www.brp.com/eu-gb

Now sold only under the Evinrude name, until very recently these outboard engines were known as the Johnson / Evinrude brand. As the old name suggested, this company was formed from the merger of two of what were once upon a time two of the best known names from the outboard motor industry.

Evinrude outboard engines are now manufactured by the Canadian multi-national company Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) - who also makes sea-doo jet-skis, snowmobiles, can-ams and some great other exotic mechanical equipment, such as the unique Rotax engines. However please be aware that BRP are not to the same company as the similarly-named Bombardier group. Bombardier are an entirely separate multi-national corporation who make aeroplanes and trains etc  (Incidentally -  our apologies for not making this point clearer before.There was once a connection between the ownership of these companies, but no more. We are happy to make this point clear (and thank you BRP HQ for pointing out to us thsi minor mistake ................we were slightly wrong..........but it wwas nice to know you had actually read our remarks.)

The Evinrude and Johnson brands both had a long heritage in the outboard sector, now over 100 years for the Evinrude name. Their two-stroke engine brand - along with Johnson - was especially famous in the 30 years from 1960 to 1990. However Evinrude now have far fewer sales of outboard engines than they used to, both in the UK and internationally. Now in the UK, Evinrude is a minority brand of outboard engine.

Potential customers looking to buy a new outboard engine need to be aware that the underlying technology used in Evinrude outboard engines is now somewhat different to what most other manufacturer's offer with their outboard engines. Pennine Marine happens to think that the long heritage of this company was probably a disadvantage when the change in EU regulations a decade ago forced all outboard engine manufacturers to adopt a more sophisticated technological approach.  Quite simply, back then Johnson / Evinrude (now only Evinrude) followed a different technical route from almost all other outboard engine manufacturers - especially when compared to the other main three Japanese outboard engine brands.

Evinrude stuck with their well-proven two-stroke engine technology - and made it more sophisticated. The introduction of these sophisticated electronic controls was essential to comply with environmental regulations. However the Japanese decided to do it differently, and changed almost all their outboard engines to become four-strokes. The Johnson / Evinrude approach to meeting those latest fuel, noise and pollution regulation’s (the European RCD rules - introduced over a decade ago) was to stick with their well-proven two-stroke technology and then radically improve it.

Therefore Evinrude (was Johnson / Evinrude) invested heavily in making more advanced two–stroke outboard technology that could (and still does) comply with these improved environmental regulations - for noise, fuel consumption and emissions.However all of the Japanese outboard engine manufacturers - including the "big three" of Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki - all took a radically different approach. The Japanese engine manufacturers all introduced their own well-proven four-stroke motorbike technology into the marine sector - which is why all their marine outboard engines are now all four-strokes. The Japanese simply ditched two-stroke designs from their outboard engine ranges. It was/is simply a different route for the different manufacturers to tackle those environmental regulations.

The big advantages of the modern Evinrude (was Johnson / Evinrude) outboard engines are they are lightweight and hence these high-revving outboards have very good power to weight ratio. This is good for some applications - those needing continuous full power - but we think it is not so good for many other applications.

The disadvantages of the underlying two-stroke Evinrude engine technology means it has to rely on electronics to control it. However all mechanical engineers all know that all two-stroke engines inherently tend to prefer running at high-revs. Therefore all two-strokes engines which are not running at full speed have a tendency not to run as well, so they tend to coke up, especially when idled for very long periods.

Therefore (as is explained elsewhere in our help and advice section) certain brands of outboard engine uses are more suitable for one manufacturers type of engine, rather than another. So for example;

  • A lot of boat racers love these high-revving two-stroke Johnson /Evinrude outboard engines. lots of high power output when running at continuous high revs.
  • However a lot of boat engines will always be idling or on low revs for very long periods. So for example a sailing club rescue boat is idling almost all of the time. Therefore we think any make of a four-stroke outboard engine brand is a better option in those circumstances.

However the big disadvantage with buying a new Evinrude outboard engine (was Johnson/Evinrude) is that they now have very few outboard engine service dealerships left in many parts the UK. Therefore many regions of the UK quite simply don't have an Evinrude marine dealership located anywhere near them - which is a very big problem if you have a big Evinrude outboard engine.

As noted above, all modern outboard engines rely on electronics. Therefore it is essential that the customer who is thinking of buying a new Evinrude knows they have access to a good local outboard engine service dealership. As BRP say themselves, these Evinrude outboards need to be properly serviced. The Evinrude service dealership must have the right computerised diagnostics and a properly trained technician to regularly service these sophisticated outboard engines. this is not a nice to have - it is essential. Therefore we here at Pennine Marine think that these larger and more sophisticated modern Evinrude engines cannot even be properly serviced by "a man in a van" - they are so sophisticated they need to be serviced indoors. In our own opinion, we here at Pennine Marine always recommend that all owners have their outboard engines serviced annually (incidentally we mean all brands of outboard). We think that this annual maintainance is essential, if for no other reason than to change the vital engine oil.

Therefore there are "pro's" and "con's" when considering the Evinrude outboard engine brand. We can't make this decision for you. You the customer needs to make an informed choice about where and how you will use it - and you also need to know where you will get your Evinrude outboard properly serviced.  However in our personal opinion, the Japanese built four-stroke engines are now all-round technically better - which is why 90% of UK customers who are buying a new outboard engine in the UK choose not to buy an Evinrude.

 

MERCURY / MARINER OUTBOARD ENGINES    www.barrus.co.uk

These two brands are now completely joined at the hip. There is now very little difference between the outboard engine brands of Mercury and Mariner. outboard models sold under either of these two brand names are often very similar - except for the name, colour and and cowling.

Distributed in the UK by Barrus, both Mercury and Mariner have been around for many years and there is an extensive Barrus dealer network across the UK.  However Barrus - who have been around for a century - also distribute about twenty other brands of engine, small boat and other mechanical equipment. The Barrus website therefore can be a bit complicated - but for outboard engines only look at Mercury and Mariner on the Barrus website.

The modern Mercury Mariner engine ranges tend to fall into three distinct categories. The difference in their outboard engine range is defined by the different technologies used in the various outboard engines used across the Mercury Mariner product ranges;

  • The Mariner four-stroke ranges - from 2.5hp up to 115hp. Simple - but effective - outboard engines.
  • The Mariner Verado range, from 135 to 300hp. All supercharged. An unusual approach in the marine outboard industry, but one which seems to work.
  • The Mariner Optimax range from 75 to 225hp. A traditional two stroke engine range, however with a computerised direct fuel injection system.

The advantages - across all of the Mercury Mariner outboard engine ranges - are inherent overall simplicity of the engines and low purchase prices. The boat owner has an extensive UK service dealer network to support them.

When it comes to servicing your Mercury Mariner outboard engine, Barrus have always had a large number of Mercury Mariner service centre's located all across the UK. This always attracts outboard engine owners who want to use a nearby service centre. The downside of this approach by Barrus is that the product knowledge, quality of service and facilities in the Mercury Mariner outboard engine service centre's can be extremely variable. It ranges all the way from excellent - through average - to worse than useless. Some of the Barrus dealerships mostly deal with their other types of equipment and therefore only do outboard engines as a sideline. However - to be fair - other Barrus service centres are equally as good as us. However, to be fair to them, Barrus are now getting on with addressing the issue of "variability" of the quality of their service dealerships across the UK.

Disadvantages of Mercury Mariner outboard engine range are in the poorer performance and lack of sophistication when compared against the latest Japanese offerings. This is very noticeable with their high fuel consumption. Also the electronics on the Mercury Mariner ranges are definitely not as  sophisticated as the Japanese manufacturers, so engines can sometimes show faults, or will cut back into “get you home mode”.

However Mercury/Mariner outboard engines remain "ever-popular" as being an inexpensive and robust engine range, which also benefits from having a good UK service dealer network coverage.

 

SUZUKI OUTBOARD ENGINES  www.suzuki-marine.co.uk

A very well-established Japanese outboard manufacturer, Suzuki has decades of experience in the UK marine market. Of course Suzuki - similarly to Honda and Yamaha - also make cars and motorbikes.

The Suzuki outboard engines have steadily - but significantly - increased their overall UK market share in the last decade. This improvement in market share has been coming along nicely ever since their excellent Suzuki four-stroke outboard engine range was introduced, which is now just over a decade ago. Suzuki outboard sales have steadily increased year on year ever since then.

Suzuki now in 2015 have supplied approximately one in five of the new outboard engines sold in the UK every year. Suzuki have therefore only very recently (in late 2015) just overtaken their long-time rival and competitor, Yamaha, as market leader. Yamaha has held this particular crown of "UK market leader" for longer than I can remember. Therefore in 2015, sales of both brands were "neck and neck" overall.

We have to say adverse comments about Suzuki’s brand image with outboard engine are now "old-hat" and completely outdated. All of the Suzuki four stroke outboard engine models are now all quite noticeably far better engineering designs than the old Suzuki two-stroke outboard engine ranges ever were (incidentally this is why Suzuki dropped all their two-stroke outboard engine range over a decade ago). The transfer of Suzuki's advanced motorcycle engine technology from their well-proven motorcycles and ATV’s onto their outboard engines has definitely paid off for them.

Then the more recent addition of their advanced “lean burn” technology - now fitted onto to many Suzuki outboard models - can best be described as a brilliant innovation. More and more Suzuki outboard engines are getting the lean-burn system fitted, literally as almost every engine model is updated

Suzuki sells the full range of outboards, from 2.5hp to 300hp. However Suzuki now dominates the UK outboard market for the smallest and lightest outboard engines of under 15hp. Suzuki’s outboard engines are a very good quality product in the midrange of 50hp to 90hp. Suzuki are progressively getting much better represented in their sales of the over 100 hp outboard engine category. Therefore Suzuki now has a well-deserved reputation for producing good lightweight and fuel efficient four stroke outboard engine designs across their whole range.

All modern Suzuki outboard engines perform well and there are no inherent quality-control issues. Overall Suzuki therefore now has an excellent product range, good service and a reputation for reliability, backed up by an extensive and comprehensive manufacturers warranty.

As of mid 2015, the whole of the Suzuki outboard engine range became far more complete. This was simply because they had launched some very good new Suzuki engine models- and one's that completely filled the previous gap in their range. Up until quite recently, in the 20hp - 40hp sector there were some noticeable weaknesses in the Suzuki product range. However with these very recent launches of the DF20, DF25 and DF30 models here are now some excellent 20hp / 25hp / 30hp engines, all with very modern designs.

There is now only two very small negatives with the Suzuki outboard range. The first is that some Suzuki engines only come with a very few model options. This leaves a few boat owners who need a more specialist applications going elsewhere to buy their engines. However this issue now only tends to affect a few niches of the market - for example yacht owner who need a sail-drive engine. The second slight negative is that the larger Suzuki outboard engines using remote throttle controls are very fiddly to rig properly and set  up - so they need to be professionally installed. We do this rigging as a matter of course, so of course when properly set, the Suzuki's give years of good service. (Therefore we advise you to beware of cowboys selling "bigger Suzuki's' in a box - for you to rig onto your the boat yourself. This approach tends to cause problems - but Suzuki UK are addressing this problem.)

Overall we have to say that there are now many good reasons for Suzuki now being the UK market leader for selling outboard engines. Suzuki have seriously invested in their new models and new technology over the last five years and are now reaping the benefits. Suzuki have also supported these products with excellent back-up service. Therefore our customers have recognised this improvement - and rewarded Suzuki with increased sales of outboard engines.

 

TOHASTU OUTBOARD ENGINES  www.tohatsu-uk.net

One of the smaller and less well known Japanese brands, the Tohastu outboard engines are typically an older generation of design and technology when compared with their bigger and more advanced Japanese competitors.

Tohatsu outboard engines have noticeably fewer electronics on them and overall the Tohatsu's are less sophisticated than say Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda outboard engines. Tohatsu outboards are however good, solid and reliable outboard engines, and in our experience have few known vices. The Tohatsu's are however let down by their poor finished appearance, which can often described as workmanlike. Fuel consumption figure’s and noise on these Tohatsu outboard engines are both OK, but not brilliant.

The positives with Tohastu outboard engine are simplicity, easily maintenance and low initial purchase cost. - the negatives are a lack of refinement

In the sub 40hp category the number of different Tohatsu outboard models in each horsepower band can be a definite advantage for some boat owners. This is especially true for those niche boat owners wanting an outboard engine with a more unusual combinations of starting mechanism, control gear and shaft length (permutations of which are not catered for by the other outboard manufacturers). So for example yacht owners wanting a sail-drive often look to a small Tohatsu outboard.

The main negative point with Tohatsu outboard engines is unfortunately the poor resale value after a few years. However like the very similar Mercury Mariners, these Tohatsu's outboard engines are a robust, reliable and value for money range of outboard engines

 

TORQEEDO ELECTRIC OUTBOARD ENGINES    www.torqeedo.com

Torqeedo was not - until very recently - an outboard manufacturer’s name that was well known in the UK marine market. However it was well known up here in Yorkshire.

Over the last few years, Torqeedo have been at the forefront of a silent revolution and therefore Torqeedo are now the fastest growing outboard engine manufacturer in the UK. In certain categories, these Torqeedo electric outboard engines are becoming a mainstream product.

Silence is the key word, because Torqeedo are the market leaders in small electric outboard motors. Torqeedo is now easily the fastest growing UK outboard supplier, simply because they offer a very advanced outboard engine package. Therefore Torqeedo's total global sales are increasing year on year, especially with their ever-popular 4hp Torqeedo Travel 1003S motor.

Electric trolling motors have been around for years, however Torqeedo have developed their electric outboard motor engines to the point where they are now direct competitors to traditional petrol driven outboard engines.

Advantages of the Torqeedo outboard engine range are the inherent environmental friendliness of these engines for cleanliness, lack of pollution, using a clean fuel source and especially the total absence of all noise. The Torqeedo outboard range also has a truly excellent German-made quality. The portability that comes from the light weight of these electric outboard motors is superb.

Another - often overlooked - advantage of the Torqeedo is the minimal (almost zero) running cost and no annual servicing cost (something that is always greatly appreciated here in Yorkshire).

The one - and the only - disadvantages of Torqeedo’ electric outboard engine range is the very limited number of models currently in their range. Therefore there might not be a Torqeedo model to suit your requirements. However the Torqeedo Travel 1003 motor is now very well proven in the small 4hp horsepower section. There are now for 2016 several all-new Torqeedo Cruise  motors in the mid-range engine market. At the top end there is now even the astonishing Torqeedo 40hp / 80hp Deep Blue system - the world's most powerful electric outboard engine system.

It used to be that the only other disadvantage of the Torqeedo electric outboard engine range was their higher purchase price. However that "price gap" between petrol and electric outboard motors in 2016 is now very narrow - which is what we like to see here in Yorkshire. Therefore "break out the brass - laddie!" - whilst the Torqeedo costs a bit more to buy now, there is nothing to spend on fuel and oil and servicing in the future. So save money - whilst also saving the planet.

Torqeedo's are both environmental friendly and very user friendly. Therefore our more sophisticated customers for outboard engines (do we have any other type of customer?) always love all aspects of these well-built German made electric outboard engines. Therefore we here at Pennine Marine think Torqeedo is the one outboard engine manufacturer to watch out for in the future.

 

HIDEA OUTBOARD ENGINES

Pennine Marine has only very limited experience of these Chinese made engines. These Hidea outboard engine are no longer being imported into the UK - which frankly does not surprise us!

 

PARSUNS OUTBOARD ENGINES    www.parsunoutboards.co.uk

Pennine Marine has only had limited experience of these Chinese made outboard engines.

Whilst the Chinese made Parson's outboard engines are supposed to be a direct copy of the Yamaha's. However in practice the quality of materials actually used inside the Parsun outboard engine's is far worse than the Yamaha's. This quite simply means that the Parsun's break down far more often than the Yamaha's - so we think they are not a very good copy.  Therefore the Parsun outboards are seen only in our skipton workshop, not in our showroom.

However what attracted many boaters to these Parsun outboard engines was the low purchase price. Whilst you get a lot of engine for your money, we will point out that it only takes one serous breakdown for a single repair bill to "bridge the gap" and erode all the savings you made when buying it.

The other major disadvantage of the Parsun outboard engine range is that they come from Lancashire. This comment is not, we hasten to add, the old Yorkshire /Lancashire rivalry flaring up again 9although we do keep a very nicely preserved  castle here in Skipton, just in case). It is simply because we know the place the Parsun's are imported into very well. Frankly the quality of the Parsun website and their "marketing spin" is far far better than the physical Parsun engine support facilities (when these are actually seen "in the flesh" over there in Lancashire).

Spare parts availability and technical support for Parsun in the UK is very poor - however many Yamaha spare parts can be made to fit.

 

YAMAHA OUTBOARD ENGINES    www.yamaha-motor.eu

Yamaha is easily the best established Japanese outboard engine manufacturer in the UK. Yamaha have over 40 years of deep experience of selling and supporting outboard engines in the UK marine market.

Until very recently Yamaha were the UK market leader in outboard engines - and they had been for decades. Now despite Yamaha being neck and neck with Suzuki on overall numbers of outboard engine sales in the UK, we still have to say that the whole range of Yamaha outboard engines are still very good. products

Yamaha’s brand and reputation was forged in their two-stroke outboard engine days, when Yamaha's two-stroke outboard models were quite simply the best in the business - these being head and shoulders and "half a torso" above all of their competitors. However with the arrival of four-stroke outboard engines, Yamaha have kept their lead in the outboard marketplace, although the simple truth is that some other Japanese outboard engine manufacturers have begun to catch them up - and therefore are now definitely sharing their lunch (if not eating more of it..).

Yamaha outboard engines have a thoroughly well-deserved and long-standing reputation for quality. Quite simply, the Yamaha's are an excellent build quality. This is evidenced by the one simple fact, that during the last five years, we here at Pennine Marine have never made a  warranty claim for any Yamaha outboard engine - and we sell and service a lot of Yamaha's!.

Yammy’s therefore often have a superb reputation with their extremely loyal customers, who are drawn back to the Yamaha tuning fork symbol time and time again (and again and again and again). In our opinion, the Yamaha customers are probably the most loyal of any brand of outboard engine customers – all for very good reasons. We know a few customers that have had over a dozen outboard engines from them !

Yamaha outboard engines sales in the UK are now neck and neck with Suzuki. Yamaha still supply just under a quarter of the new outboard engines sold in the UK every year. Yamaha still have an excellent outboard engine product, with great service back up and excellent produtct reliability. This is also backed up by an extensive and comprehensive dealer service network and warranty support.  Yamaha sell the full range of outboard engine, all the way from 2.5hp right up to 350hp. However Yamaha still seem to continue to dominate the market for the larger outboard engine units in the "over 100hp" category. Yamaha outboard engines have also always had a very strong reputation in the commercial and professional marine market.

The strong positives with Yamaha outboard engine range are the build quality, reliability and strong resale values. The slight negatives with Yamaha are the high initial cost and - with some models in the Yamaha range - some of their older designs being caught up and equaled by other outboard manufacturers, especially now Suzuki.

However this very strong competition between the two very good Japanese outboard engine manufacturers is however very good news for any the customer who is looking for a new outboard engine.

Competition gives you the customer more choice. Think before you buy - and if in doubt please ask!