Engine Review: Honda BF350 V8 Outboard

Late last year, Honda Marine announced the BF350 – its biggest outboard yet. Now Kiwi anglers can really get excited as one has landed on our shores, and we fielded an exclusive offer to check it out.

The backstory

Much to the dismay of landlubber boy racers, Honda’s first V8 on the market is not in a car but rather an outboard engine. The 5-litre V8, which was in development for around eight years, puts Honda into the high-output engine market alongside the other major outboard brands. Before the BF350, Honda’s outboard range maxed out at 250hp with the 3.6-litre V6.

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While the new V8 shares much of the technology that makes Honda’s smaller engines popular (such as the VTEC system), the design has been rethought from the ground up, and the look is radically different. They haven’t thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, however. As the largest engine manufacturer in the world that has been focused on four-stroke technology for over five decades, Honda know their systems work!

The tech

The BF350's powerhead adopts a single overhead cam configuration with a 60-degree angle, coupled with a 32-valve V-8. The lower unit uses a 1.79:1 gear ratio and features two lower pick-ups to ensure a constant supply of water to the engine while operating. Featuring Honda’s 4-Front Corrosion Protection System, the engine incorporates 24 button anodes in its cooling system to help protect against corrosion, while the use of more bonding wires aims to minimise electrolysis.

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The BF350 weighs 355kg. This is comparable to Yamaha’s 5.3L V8 F350 and slightly heavier than both the 4.4-litre V6 Suzuki DF350 (330kg) engine and the 5.7-litre V10 Mercury Verado 350 (316kg).

Now, let’s get into the acronyms. Honda’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control) engages a high-output cam profile for higher-RPM operation, resulting in a broader, flatter torque curve and the delivery of smooth power throughout the engine’s operating range. The BLAST (Boosted Low Speed Torque) System, which Honda claims as another technological advantage, improves the performance and acceleration of the BF350 by advancing ignition timing during ‘hammer down’ acceleration. Finally, the Engine Control Module (ECM) steps in to increase injector timing, creating a more potent air/fuel mixture. The resulting boost in available torque at low rpm contributes to a strong holeshot to get up on the plane.

Honda has put a lot of effort into ensuring the BF350 creates a user-friendly experience. The BF350 pairs with Honda’s exclusive Drive-By-Wire system ensuring easy shift and throttle control. The ergonomically designed top-mount control includes digital controls like Trim Support, Automatic Tilt, Cruise Control, and Trolling Control Mode.

Trim Support has three customisable pre-sets to automatically trim the engine to help get on the plane and assist with fuel economy with an integrated O2 sensor that optimises combustion efficiency. Automatic Tilt provides an auto full tilt up or down with a double push of the power trim button to a pre-set height. Trolling Control Mode gives precise slow-speed control in increments of 50 RPM from 650-1000 RPM, whilst Cruise Control enables the engine to be set at any speed or revs from 1000 RPM to 6000 RPM (redline).

During idle states, if the engine detects a demand for more amperage, it will autonomously raise its RPM by 100, enhancing the amp output. This clever alternator mechanism ensures that batteries aren't inadvertently depleted when there's a surge in accessory power demand during prolonged low-RPM operations.

The BF350 is fully compatible with most MFDs/chartplotters through NMEA2000 engine data compatibility. Also, although not necessary for rigging, launching alongside the new engine is Honda’s new HD-5 digital engine display.

The aesthetics

The design of the all-new Honda BF350 is certainly a change of tack from Honda’s usual marine guise, featuring a distinctive new design that oozes a stylish yet powerful appearance. While the engine’s frame is compact widthways, when viewed beam on she’s quite a sizeable girl. That space is utilised to assist cooling and houses an intake designed to separate water from the air to eliminate moisture reaching the throttle bodies. Customers have the option of choosing between white or Honda’s hallmark silver.

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The performance

The first Honda BF350 in NZ has been mounted on Fishing & Adventure’s fifth iteration of Holy Ship – a Surtees 800 Gamefisher. With a standard towing weight of around 3.5 tonnes and a recommended horsepower of 300-450hp, this hull is far from diminutive.

Surprisingly, there was little ostentation when the BF350’s key was turned… well, until the lads from Honda trimmed the engine up, negating the noise suppression tech and revealing the unambiguous grunty V8 roar. Back down went the power trim and the noise fell away to a gentle whisper – both at idle and when leaving Westhaven Marina at five knots.

Heading west we passed under Auckland Harbour Bridge, marking the end of speed restrictions and the opportunity to see what the BF350 had to offer. With the throttle pushed forward, Holy Ship was up on the plane quickly, with power and speed building smoothly. Mid-range throttle response was good, and at higher revs, VTEC kicks in to help the engine breathe more air and deliver more power for top-end fun.

The digital display is intuitive, although some of the figures are presented in a reasonably small font size, making the data hard to see when mounted forward of the binnacle (such as on Holy Ship’s helm layout). Not a concern, however, as the Raymarine MFDs also presented the engine data, and the green ‘ECO’ symbol pops up to provide a handy indicator when you hit the fuel economy sweet spot. Being the first engine in the country and with low hours, the team at Honda hasn’t yet done accurate fuel economy testing locally to mention stats, but it’s worth noting it does run on 91 octane fuel which these days is obviously a bonus at the pump.

Circling back around to the acoustics – even with the throttle laid down, the BF350 is impressively quiet. Sure, some petrolheads want everyone to know there’s a big V8 on the back of their rig, but most fishers probably want to chat and enjoy the music as they cruise between spots.

The verdict

Our early introduction to the BF350 suggests this V8 sports all the attributes that have made Honda a top player in the four-stroke category for so many years. Mix the 7-year transferable warranty with a swag of new tech that should further enhance the power, efficiency, and reliability the brand is known for, and you’ve likely found a good partner in crime for your offshore fishing vessel.

Pre-orders available now!

Starting from $56,995.

For more information, visit the Honda Marine website.


April 2024 - Nick Jones
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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