Anything that weighs just over 180kg and boasts 300hp is going to be fast. That’s basic physics. But the really important part of the equation is how that power is harnessed and controlled.
I recently had the pleasure of spending some quality time on Sea-Doo’s new RXP 300 RS and, having sampled plenty of PWCs over the years, I have to say I can’t recall having been as impressed as I was with this latest performance craft.
Sea-Doo has been at the forefront of PWC development, especially in terms of safety features, such as its innovative iBR (Intelligent Brake and Reverse) system, which has been upgraded for the 2016 model year, while performance has been boosted – literally – with the recent release of its 300hp supercharged ACE engine as fitted to the RXP 300.
The Canadian company has continually evolved its hulls and ride controls in recent times, with this latest craft riding on a new T3 hull, designed for improved ride and turning performance.
Beneath the seat beats the heart of the RXP and the most powerful engine yet fitted to a SeaDoo. The compact new 1630cc ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) Rotax three-cylinder, four-stroke engine utilises a supercharger to pump more fuel and air into the combustion chamber, which basically translates into a bigger bang each time a cylinder fires. The blower is bigger and spins faster than that used on the previous 260hp engine, while the intake charge is cooled by a new, larger intercooler.
The end result is a whole lot more torque and power, which means breathtaking performance on the water.
The upgraded iBR braking system provides a smoother, more stable braking experience, especially at higher speeds. It was a great safety feature when it was first introduced, but this latest version has raised the bar in terms of confidence-inspiring braking power and operation.
In operation, the initial braking force is a little less severe, but really kicks in as the speed washes off. This is when you really come to appreciate the new palm rests on the handgrips, which help to brace the rider as the weight transfers forward.
A couple of other new ergonomic features include an adjustable handlebar that can be set for angle and width and a new race-style sculptured seat that provides enhanced grip during turns and jumps.
Our time on the water was a mix of flat calm, and a crusty chop so that we were able to sample the new craft in a variety of conditions.
The thing I really like about the Sea-Doo throttle and brake system is that it’s intuitive and very user-friendly at lower speeds, such as when manoeuvring at a ramp or jetty. Just a dab on the left-hand (iBR) lever or the right-hand throttle is enough to move the craft in small increments so the rider has excellent control in confined and often crowded areas.
But once clear of those areas, the RXP 300 RS really struts its stuff.
With three performance modes available, riders can choose between Eco, Touring and Sport, the latter being the mode of choice for those who want to make the most of the RXP’s performance envelope. But enthusiastic use of the throttle in Sport mode is going to mean you’ll be on first-name terms with the local petrol station attendant, as the 60lt tank will be near empty after 40 minutes or so of wide-open throttle. I found it was much better to switch between modes, especially when simply cruising or travelling from one spot to another. That tended to stretch a tank out to around two hours or so of fun ‘n’ games.
And speaking of fun, squeezing the throttle on the RXP will give you a rush like few other on-water experiences. Response is instantaneous so you really need to know where you’re headed and what’s around you when you open it up. Top speed is capped at 120km/h, but all 300 of the RXP’s ponies are ready to go pretty much from idle, so you can be in three figures speed-wise almost before you’ve had time to focus on the digital speedo. Equally impressive, though, is how quickly you can return to zero using iBR. You just need to make sure there is plenty of clear space behind you because the RXP will stop on the proverbial dime.
The shaped Ergolock seat and footwells combine to offer the rider a great stance and bracing for low- and high-speed turns, while the new hull provides sure-footed turning and an impressively soft ride when wave-jumping or skipping across the chop.
The hull relies on an advanced, dual running surface design with a unique combination of soft and hard chines, adjustable rear sponsons and performance trim tabs. The result is a rock-steady ride, especially at higher speeds. The only limitation to turning was the ability of the rider (me) to hang on – or not (I managed a couple of exhilarating offs on the day).
Practical touches include a largish 160lt front storage compartment – not water-tight, so best wrap valuables in zip-lock bags – and a compact glovebox directly in front of the rider.
There’s a handy, generously proportioned boarding platform at the rear and a tow eye for dragging around skiers, boarders and tubers.
Sea-Doo’s RXP 300 RS is the consummate all-rounder in that it can deliver brain-warping performance, handling and braking, but is just as comfortable meandering quietly up a river or towing the kids off the beach.
SEA-DOO RXP 300 RS
Dry weight: 280kg
Rider capacity: 2
Engine: 1630cc Rotax, three-cylinder, supercharged four-stroke
Fuel capacity: 60lt
Price as tested: $23,500 (incl trailer)
Test craft supplied by: Melbourne Sea-Doo, tel (03) 9484 9256, web: MelbourneSeadoo.com.au.