Why Forward Drive Will Make You Happy

Question: What runs backwards but is faster and smoother than ever?

Answer: The cutting edge new Forward Drive technology from Volvo Penta, now a part of the Cobalt R3, R5 and R7 S Surf series. As they say, it’s moving boating forward – way forward!

So what makes Forward Drive so great?

First, this versatile system makes it easy to do any of things you and your guests want to do on the water: From docking, to cruising, to performance, and particularly for watersports including wakeboarding, wakesurfing and tubing.

“People really like the versatility,” says Bret O’ Brien, Cobalt Brand Manager for Hagadone Marine Group. “You get traditional v-bottom performance over a tow boat, and it’s better on rough days and also handles better in the marina. This system is super easy to dock and super easy to drive. It’s also a bit better fuel economy because the props are biting clean water.”

Forward Drive from Volvo Penta is a new propulsion system that leverages forward facing technology to delivery amazing results. It’s the same technology proven in yachts around the world. This innovative system provides versatility, added passenger comfort, efficiency, flexible trim and a host of performance benefits. It’s the most versatile propulsion system available.

“In fact, these have been so popular that we just sold the very last of the 2016 models,” O’Brien says. “We do have the R3, R5 and R7 Cobalt 2017 models coming in around late September, though, and we are right now taking deposits on custom Cobalt orders.”

The Forward Drive has a safety aspect that is hard to ignore for a family wakeboat.

“The forward drive puts the props up under the boat, almost the same as a traditional inboard boat,” says O’Brien. “They are tucked up under the boat and not in harm’s way. It allows you to surf safely and comfortably without getting near the propellers.”

Because the Volvo Forward Drive is under the boat, there is less noise and exhaust, meaning more comfort. The Duoprop® helps smooth the ride.

Speaking of the Duoprop®, this Volvo Penta innovation produces better bite, acceleration and speed in a more efficient and smooth way, increasing fuel economy. As opposed to a fixed inboard, the Forward Drive’s variable trim easily adjusts upward to enhance watersports action, cruising or docking.

Variable trim angles provide the right thrust for leisure cruising as well as top speeds, which as higher than an inboard. And speeding to plane? Much faster than conventional inboards. Turns are much tighter and faster thanks to directional thrust.

And what’s great about wakesurfing behind a Volvo Forward Drive?

“I like the fact that the wake cleans up very easily,” O’Brien says. “The boat seems to have very good hole shot performance. It’s also very driveable compared to some wakeboats that are loaded down with extra ballast.”

Check out the Forward Drive technology at HagadoneMarine.com or in person at the showroom, 1000 Blackwell Island Drive, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, (208) 664-8274

Here are some of the other benefits of Forward Drive:

Forward facing propellers

  • Forward facing propellers work in undisturbed water, ahead of the drive, providing more efficient use of the engine’s power
  • Propellers are 67cm (26.5 inches) forward of the propeller location on the DPS sterndrive, locating the propellers in an optimum position for watersports activities
  • No exhaust passage in the propeller hub allows for more blade area, providing good top speed, fuel economy and acceleration
  • Propellers are “off-the-shelf” items, as opposed to the highly customized propellers found on some inboards
  • Volvo Duoprop® propellers create a symmetrical wakeboarding wake and equally shaped wakesurfing wave on your side of choice

Power trim

  • High capacity trim system integrated with the transom shield and controlled at the helm, provides quick adjustments to the drive trim angle
  • Power trim is used to adjust the thrust angle of the propellers, allowing for greater adjustment of the boat’s running attitude; better control of the boat’s wake during watersports activities and better ride when cruising
  • Vectoring the propeller thrust can reduce the amount of ballast needed to create a large wake
  • Adjusting the propeller thrust angle also improves fuel economy, acceleration, and top speed (compared to inboards)
  • Enlarged trim plane on the drive also adds to these benefits


  • Cone clutch for smoother shifting
  • Pattern-matched spiral bevel gears reduce noise and improve reliability
  • Break-away coupling between vertical shafts potentially reduces drive damage if the drive strikes an underwater object
  • Built-in release function allows the drive to kick-up quickly if the drive strikes an underwater object, reducing drive damage
  • Standard tilt specification 52° (42° and 32° available as option on engine order)
  • The drive can be turned 28° in each direction
  • Easy access drive and transom shield anodes
  • Available in the following drive ratios; 1.95:1, 2.14:1, 2.32:1


  • Engine and Forward Drive package is equipped with power steering for effortless control of the boat’s steering
  • Volvo Duoprop propellers provide improved low speed and reverse handling and have less torque steer (track straighter) at cruising speeds
  • Provides equal steering to both sides, many inboards steer poorly to one side


  • The exhaust is dispersed by the propeller wash to improve surfer/ wakeboarder comfort and also reduces overall noise behind and around the boat
  • Forward Drive is only mated to engines with catalyzed exhaust systems and computer controlled emissions programs, this substantially reduces the carbon monoxide content of the exhaust at the stern of the boat and reduces the possibility of Station Wagon Effect
  • Adjustable trim angle provides more control of boat attitude when running, producing a drier and more comfortable ride Versatility
  • Forward Drive’s many new features allow for the design of new boat models that are multi-use, not boats dedicated to one watersports activity; cruising, fishing, multiple watersports are all possible from the same boat model Installation
  • Complete package, from engine to propeller, from one supplier, greatly reduces the number of components needed to plan and complete an installation
  • Full installation support from Volvo Penta’s Engineering and Applications departments
  • No separate exhaust devices, struts, rudder, or shafts required, reduces the need for ballast devices Support and Service
  • Covered by Volvo Penta’s 2+3 Factory Protection Plan, for five total years of coverage
  • Supported by Volvo Penta’s extensive global dealer network, available around the clock, 365 days a year through Volvo Action Service