The ultimate 5hp outboard engine group test

We pit six of the best 5hp outboard engines against each other in a head-to-head group test on the Solent to find out which is best

Tohatsu 5hp outboard engineTohatsu MFS5 outboard

  • Price: £936
  • Top speed: 5.4 knots
  • 0-top speed: 6.5 seconds
  • Noise (idle/cruise/top): 68/79/89dB(A)
  • Weight: 25kg
  • Warranty: 5 years
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The largest supplier of outboard engines in the world, Tohatsu sells its portable engines to rival brands including Evinrude, Mariner and Mercury. This can only be a vote of confidence in the quality of its engineering and build.

Tohatsu 5hp outboard engine - running shotBuild quality – 4/5
It’s a budget engine, but overall quality seems to be of a good standard, even if there are still a few rough edges.

The carry handle is well positioned, however the edges are sharp and dig into your hand. A five-year warranty is also commendable for the price. A 5A alternator is available.

Performance – 3/5
It broke the 5-knot target by nearly half a knot, although it took 6.5 seconds to reach it; along with the Mariner/Mercury, this makes it one of the slower accelerating engines on test and suggests it may struggle with a particularly heavy tender.

Tohatsu 5hp outboard engine - fitted to transomRefinement – 3/5
Noise levels were on the high side, reaching 89dB(A) at top revs, although the idle of 68 was acceptable compared with the others.

Pushing past cruising revs and it seemed to only get louder, not faster, becoming quite tiring after any length of time.

Ease of use – 4/5
We found that the tilt system was the most logical of all the engines here. Some engines require familiarity, however the Tohatsu was a first-time charm.

The front-mounted gear lever is perfect for easy access, especially when the engine is turned. A version with a 5A alternator is available, which is enough to power navigation lights and a bilge pump.

Tohatsu 5hp outboard engine - cowling offTank size – 3/5
The internal tank is 1.15 litres, just 50cl larger thant the small Yamaha tank. This engine will be able to burn through its tank in less than an hour, so it’s a good idea to plump for the optional external tank.

Verdict – 3/5
The Tohatsu is the cheapest on test but doesn’t look or feel that way with lots of useful features and solid engineering.

It isn’t the fastest or smoothest, but those looking for a robust budget buy need look no further.

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