Let someone say that the combustion engine has been burned out: Honda has just unveiled the first series-produced V8 engine in the company’s history. Unfortunately for all earthbound Honda riders, it will never get on the road. At least it is not yet known that the Honda BF 350 outboard motor just presented will ever run anywhere other than on the water.
The Japanese manufacturer has chosen the Genoa Boat Show in Italy to present its showpiece. The eight-cylinder outboard was certainly the biggest surprise of this boat show. Not only was the pure engine presented in all its glory, but there were also several combinations with double and even triple installation on display.
The engine manufacturer has never before put such a large drive on the water. “Master the ocean” is the appropriate advertising claim. There is no doubt that Honda has taken a mighty step with the powerful V8. In Genoa, however, this claim was in stark contrast to the weather conditions. In other words, the ocean ruled the engine there, because it was so stormy and the sea was so choppy that the harbor was closed to all boats. The planned test drives were canceled for the time being.
A single boat went to sea to inspect the condition of the breakwater. Significantly, it had the Honda BF 350 at the rear. The skip returned safe and sound – that’s encouraging. However, he reported that the swell was too high. So far, so mastered.
Second test start for the Barcolana
The disappointment quickly fades when two weeks later we receive an invitation from Highfield to the famous giant regatta Barcolana in the Gulf of Trieste. Highfield builds high quality inflatable boats with aluminum fuselages. The shipyard has made 18 of its boats available to the organizers of the Barcolana, the world’s largest regatta with a joint start, for offshore logistics. All boats are equipped with Honda engines. The latest Highfield, the Sport 800, runs with the new Honda BF 350 V8.
So after the storm off Genoa, we had a new opportunity to test the Honda V8 in the Gulf of Trieste the day before the Barcolana. So there was still a lasting impression of the new Honda BF 350 V8 in motion – on the Highfield Sport 800, an open high-performance inflatable boat. That fitted.
The boat for the V8: Highfield Sport 800
The Highfield is a pure sports boat that runs best with a powerful outboard motor. Both the engine and the boat are an immediate visual match. The design of the drive is defined by the matt black air intake in the upper section of the cladding, which, like the radiator grille of some cars, conveys dynamism and determination.
If you want, you can also associate the lamellae with the gills of a fish or the teeth of a sea monster. In any case, they dominate the picture and ensure that the new engine catches the eye. And the impression of bite is not deceptive: during a test in the Gulf of Trieste, we reached a top speed of 52 knots in completely calm seas. Full power is available at 5,500 rpm.
The power delivery of the Honda engine is breathtaking, with incredible acceleration and precise cornering. Although there were five adults on board, we easily reached a cruising speed of 23 knots thanks to the high power and enormous torque.
This marching pace was not only comfortable and quiet, but also quite economical. The measured fuel consumption between 23.4 knots speed and 28.6 knots was 0.9 nautical miles per liter of fuel. This is an excellent figure – and not surprising. Honda has always been known for its moderate fuel consumption, which is ensured by the lambda sensor.
Outboards also for large yachts
Honda is known for extended product cycles instead of immediately following every trend. With the new engine, the company is probably just in time to join the phase of transition from inboard to outboard engines. This change has also been taking place on larger motorboats for some time now.
The advantages of an externally mounted drive are clear: space savings, less vibration and noise inside the ship and easier access for inspection and repair. All over the world, outboard motors are now mounted in twin or triple configurations on boats up to more than 50 feet. In the USA and the Middle East, you can see up to six units in a row.