Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Volvo Penta got its start in 1907 and the brand has always been respected as leaders in industry. Their passion and corporate drive for innovation have led them to countless industry ‘firsts.’ Consider these - Volvo was the first to market with a stern drive, first with duo prop technology, first with joystick control, and first with forward drive. That’s quite a list. There’s an old saying: “if you’re not the lead dog the scenery never changes,” but the scenery is always changing at Volvo Penta.
Our BoatDealers.ca team (consisting of a professional camera guy and yours truly) were blessed with the opportunity to put Volvo Penta’s duo prop technology though our own testing processes, and what a day it was! Technical references below are reflective of Volvo Penta’s gas engine platform.
On arrival at the docks, we immediately lifted the engine hatch to begin exploring what was powering our day. Here’s what we found:
General Motors (GM) have been building engine blocks for Volvo Penta for years and they continue to do so today. Our sources tell us that GM is now building 3500 engine blocks per day – that’s a lot of experience! Once each all-aluminum block is finished, Volvo Penta takes over at their Lexington, Tennessee plant where marinizing is completed under their watchful eye. Aluminum blocks give Volvo Penta a significant weight advantage versus the competition, and that means less weight in your boat with a Volvo.
Direct Injection Technology is next and it comes standard across the gas range from Volvo. DI delivers better fuel economy while producing lower emissions. Owners also benefit from the use of Variable Valve Timing which delivers a ‘linear power curve.’ Within my first series of waters tests, I quickly came to appreciate the benefits of a seemingly nonstop power curve. It was reassuring to note that there’s a standard 120 amp alternator which makes sure all those electronics can be kept readily charged, which means longer days together for boating families.
I stand 6’ 1” and weigh in at 235 lbs (on a good day) and upon opening the engine hatch I quickly and quietly thanked the R&D team. My own teammates asked what I was smiling about – I showed them how Volvo Penta had taken the time to position maintenance items up front, which gave me easy access. A rarity for someone my size. What items? The impeller housing was super easy to access, as was the serpentine belt, the oil dipstick, and the oil filler cap.
I also noticed a blue button on the forward port side of the engine. The magic blue button is another great Volvo feature called Easy Drain. Knowing that all Volvo Penta engines incorporate closed cooling systems, it was easy to see how every owner will benefit – simply push the Easy Drain button to drain all the water from the manifolds. Boating early in the spring and later in the fall just got a whole lot easier and knowing this is safe to do dockside really made me smile.
The entire package is wrapped up with a 5-year warranty ‘out of the box.’ Owners deal with Volvo Penta staff should the need arise, and there are no admin fees, transfer fees, or deductibles at any time during the 5-year period. Now that’s reassuring.
Now let’s talk about Duo Prop technology. Duo Prop means there are two propellers – seems obvious enough -- and these propellers are counter rotating. Now that’s interesting. The benefit? In a single prop application, the boat is prone to turn in the direction of a single propeller. With a dup prop, the boat tracks in a straight line. Duo prop also delivers better and more predictable handling at low RPM range (think docking) and delivers a noticeably better hole shot.
Volvo Penta also incorporates a multi plate clutch system they call Silent Shift, and it’s a game changer! We’ve grown all too familiar with the CLUNK sound when we shift into forward or reverse. With Silent Shift, if you listen as carefully as you can on even the quietest day of the year…you won’t hear, or feel, a sound when Silent Shift goes to work. The benefits are obvious.
If you’re in shopping mode you want reassurance that the people behind your engine and drive system have listened carefully, reacted quickly, and are ready to stand behind their exceptional product -- Volvo Penta checks all those boxes and more.