Big Power, Small Package
Volvo Penta 3.0L GXi
A SMOOTH-RUNNING, ECONOMICAL 3.0
This Volvo-Penta 3.0-liter GXi, 150 hp fuel-injected stern-drive engine had been rumored for at least two years before we tested it in the 185 LX and in two other Stingrays. Anticipated improvements for the first fuel-injected four-cylinder stern-drive were smoother, more-efficient running and even a little better top speed.
"You'll notice only a little bump in speed over the 135-horse stern-drive," said Stingray's president, Al Fink. "But what you'll really like is the midrange torque. And, when you get out there, set the rpm at 3,000 and tell me what it does in a sharp turn."
DISPLACEMENT: 3.0 (181)
NUMBER OF CYLINDERS: INLINE-4
FUEL SYSTEM: MPI
BORE/STROKE, IN: 4.00/3.60
COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.2:1
VOLVO-PENTA AQUAMATIC DRIVE: SX
GEAR RATIO: (TEST BOAT) 1.97:1, 2.18:1 (AVAILABLE)
I keyed the engine without pumping the throttle like you must do with the old carbureted engines, and it started immediately, idled smoothly and was surprisingly quiet — unlike the carbureted versions. Clear of the dock, I pushed the throttle forward. On every test boat, the throttle itself was so smooth, we were tempted to compare it to some electronic throttle-and-shift systems that we tested. Volvo-Penta's electronic throttle body helped there and so did Stingray's choice of extra-supple Teleflex Extreme shift cables.
Response was smooth and powerful all the way to wide-open throttle at 5,000 rpm. Top speed was just a speck under 50 mph or a mile or two per hour faster than old-tech engines. If top speed doesn't justify the pricier engine, the acceleration and torque will. It gives plenty of power to pull a skier with a crew of four onboard. Yet, it was another side benefit of the electronically controlled throttle body that sold us.
Like Fink directed, I put the boat on 3,000 rpm and executed a hard turn — hands on the wheel, not on the throttle. In spite of the drag of the hard turn, the engine held its 3,000 rpm setting like a cruise control, powering through every turn, holding the speed steady like Perfect Pass, a speed-control system used in more-expensive ski boats. We could see the skier benefit immediately. Set your throttle position, and the electronic throttle will manage the drag of sharply turning skiers without any manual adjustment.
The new engines are built to accept catalytic converters for immediate use in California and eventual use throughout the U.S., when new Environmental Protection Agency standards take effect in 2010. The additional fuel economy we noted over the older engine will be an even bigger bonus this summer.Boating Life Magazine