words - Andrew Norton
The Evinrude Ficht 225 packs a bigger punch than its OMC-produced predecessor, suggesting there ain't no substitute for cubes

The Evinrude Ficht 225 is the most powerful model its manufacturer, Canadian giant Bombardier, has released to date. In fact, it's so torquey that it was really too powerful for the 5.9m Seafarer Vermont testboat, resulting in severe chine-walking at Wide Open Throttle if you weren't careful.

The most powerful outboard I had previously tested on this hull, the 3lt carburetted Johnson 250, ran out to 92kmh at 5400rpm spinning a 22in stainless steel Raker prop. Spinning the same prop and pushing a similar total of 1400kg including two adults, the current Ficht 225 averaged 95.7kmh on 5600 revs. And whereas the Johnno consumed 110lt/hr, based on figures supplied by Bombardier, the Evinrude was using 73.8lt/hr - a substantial difference in economy.

By honing the cylinder bore by 4mm, playing around with the engine management system and fitting a stronger but more hydrodynamic lower unit, Bombardier has created a 225 that is much more powerful than the OMC-built 3lt Ficht 225. Again on the Vermont but spinning a 20in Raker, the 3lt model I tested in April '99 ran out to 88kmh on 5400 revs, exactly the same speed as a 3lt Optimax 200 tested on this hull in March 2002.

But like all direct-injection two-strokes, the main strength of the Ficht 225 is its ability to troll for hours on the smell of an oily rag.

Bolted to the back of the Vermont and travelling at 5.3kmh on 650rpm, the Evinrude consumed 1.5lt/hr, similar to its Optimax competition. And even at 8.2kmh and 1000rpm, the Ficht used just 3.1lt/hr.

Approaching 2000rpm, the big Evinrude had the usual Ficht and Optimax 'miss' where the engine management system switches from stratified to homogenous combustion. By the time the engine spun to 2000rpm - for the ideal offshore trolling speed of 14.2kmh ? the fuel consumption had risen considerably to 17.1lt/hr.

The additional torque of the current 225 enabled it to plane the Vermont at a lower speed and lower revs than the 3lt 225 - 31.5kmh and 2500rpm compared to 34.0kmh and 2800rpm. Increasing the revs to 3000rpm allowed the Vermont to maintain a quiet cruise of 38.4kmh using 24.3lt/hr, ideal for keeping the boat on the plane in rough conditions.

At 4000rpm the current Ficht 225 averaged 67.6kmh using 39.7lt/hr, compared to 61.0kmh at the same revs for the 3lt 225. And while the Johnson 250 averaged 68.0kmh, at these revs it used 65lt/hr!

Through tight figure eights at 4000rpm, the Evinrude refused to ventilate and the fast-acting power trim helped us accelerate rapidly once out of the turns.

From 4000rpm to WOT the 225 threw us back in our seats when the throttle was 'floored', and it was definitely the most fun I've had in a Vermont since testing the Johnson 250.

I have to admit I had no complaints at all with the 3lt 225. It started instantly hot or cold and at no time did any oil smoke appear.

But the new 225 seems to be a more refined motor, more responsive to the throttle (there's no substitute for cubes!) and quieter across its entire rev range.

Despite running on double the normal fuel/oil ratios, there was no oil smoke or even smell in following winds.

Once the upper cowl is removed, powerhead access is very good, assisted by the absence of a belt-driven air compressor and alternator, though I question Bombardier's logic in not fitting a flywheel shroud.

Recommended servicing intervals are every 100 hours or once a year (also for waterpump impeller replacement) after the initial 20-hour service.

Although Bombardier is targeting Yamaha as its main competition, I compare Fichts against the Optimax product, and above 1000rpm all the Optimax models I've tested appear to score better on fuel efficiency. But this is offset by the greater complexity of the Optimax induction system.

It's great to see Fichts back on the market again, and consumers can only benefit from the greater choice of clean, fuel-efficient, low-emission outboards like this Ficht 225 now available.

Type: 90° V-six direct-injection two-stroke
Prop hp/rpm: 225.2/5750
WOT rev range: 5500-6000
Piston displacement (cc): 3300
Bore x stroke (mm): 98 x 73
Ignition system: Electronic engine management
Charging circuit: 35 amps with voltage regulation
Fuel type: ULP 91 RON
Oil type: Evinrude Ficht Ram TC-W3
Fuel/oil ratios: 60:1-300:1
Gear ratio: 1.86:1
Transom heights (inches): 25/30
Weights (kg): 232/235
Rec. retail extra long: $23,734
Spare Raker prop: $1000
Servicing costs*
Year One: $530
Year Two etc: $295
*As per manufacturer's recommended schedule excluding parts. Prices current as of May 2002. Demo motor from Bombardier Recreational Products (02) 9794 6600, prop and servicing prices from Hirecraft Marine (02) 4959 1444.

Published : Wednesday, 1 January 2003

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