It's too bad there isn't a direct competitor to Raymarine autopilots. Crummy product with bad customer service.
On my Catalina 28, I went with a CPT Autopilot. It won't integrate with your other electronics, but it's much easier to install, and is a more robust unit. And, great customer service. If you don't need a lot of connectivity, it's worth considering.
They're O.K. for fair weather light displacement boats. Not exactly a ringing endorsement I know. Before breaking mine apart when It first started disengaging the clutch I simply tightened the allen screw on the engagement arm and bingo it worked. I think some of the problems with these units is people taking them apart to "fix'" the problem. If you want an honest to goodness real autopilot on a boat above about 8000 lbs displacement you need to bight the bullet and install a unit that attaches directly to the quadrant or drive unit. Unfortunately that would have been virtually impossible on my boat with its shallow pan that contains the radial drive and so in more than about 12 knots of breeze close hauled or much of a seaway the wheel pilot simply doesn't have the power to overcome the pressure that the rudder places on the wheel. On the other hand it certainly beats no pilot at all by a long shot.
In 2015 I installed an evo 100 wheelpilot on my 2002 c&c 110. I believe the wheelpilot is undersized for the 110, but it was the only autopilot in my price range. Overall i was satisfied with the performance.
relatively cheap - on sale for under $1500 most of the time
relatively easy to install.
easy integration w other instruments (nmea 2000) like plotter, wind, etc.
good performance in moderate conditions
poor performance downwind
need a bungy cord to keep it engaged
for me it has been reliable and has done the job.
my new boat has a below deck pilot and there is no comparison in performance, it it is way more expensive.
I have one on my O'day35. I can NOT recommend it. The wheel drive is a piece of non reinforced plastic. Mine broke after 4 years. Just bought a new one to get me from FL to RI, and you can be sure that I will check it once I return to RI.
I installed mine on my C&C 32. I don't sail off shore, only on a mountain lake. But I looked at the under deck access to my quadrant, and it just ain't happening.
I've used the pilot upwind, and downwind. I agree it takes the unit quite some time to figure out sea state downwind, but it eventually does. The trick to me was making sure the rate compass was installed correctly, and perfectly centered.
The kit is very plastic, so when I am not using the boat, the whole wheel/binnacle are covered to prevent UV degredation. I am only 1 year into ownership. I've only sailed in up to 30 knot winds with it. I solo sail ALL the time (nearly all, like 99% of the time). The pilot is a necessity for what I do. So it gets LOTS of use. I could see the belt inside the unit having issues over time, and the kit has to fit perfectly so installation is key for sure.