Sea-Doo pushes horsepower lead

Sea-Doo recently unveiled to dealers the highest horsepower engine seen to date in a production personal watercraft, a 215-hp four-stroke housed within the all new RXP two-seater. A derivative of the supercharged 4-TEC engine introduced in 2003, the new powerplant is reportedly capable of speeds in the upper 60-mph range, while the new RXP hull promises to blend characteristics of Sea-Doo’s more aggressive two-seaters — the RX and XP — into a user-friendly design capable of pleasing both recreational and aggressive riders.
The basis of the RXP’s power is nothing radically different than what Sea-Doo has shown dealers in the past. It’s the same four-stroke engine originally found in the GTX 4-TEC, a 155-hp mill that received an additional 30 hp bump in 2003 with the addition of a supercharger to the mix.
Now, yet another 30 ponies have been added to the bottom line, thanks to the addition of an intercooler, a device designed to cool the air being force fed to the engine in order to further increase performance.
According to Sea-Doo officials, both the supercharger and intercooler were planned on during the initial design of the engine, and as a result, both are relatively easy fits. Bottom line? A chart-topping 215 horsepower, a number certain to test the limits of the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” to cap speeds at 65 mph.
Of course, as of the present time Sea-Doo still lays claim to the largest displacement on the market. The 4-TEC powerplant is a larger-than-life 1494 cc, and weighs appropriately. The RXP hull, however, will reportedly weigh in at 776 pounds, or about 90 pounds lighter than the GTX 4-TEC hull. That combination of power and weight should eliminate normal worries about horsepower-to-weight ratio. Additional improvements include further recalibration of the 4-TEC engine; a new stainless steel, four-blade impeller; and an aluminum pump.
Two-hundred-and-fifteen horsepower. Sea-Doo dealers will certainly love the bragging rights. Non Sea-Doo dealers will have to get used to a lot of questions from their performance junkies.
While 215 hp will certainly get the attention of consumers, it’s not the only thing Sea-Doo has to offer dealers in 2004. That engine will be based inside a new hull design as well, one that is both shorter and lighter than the GTX 4-TEC platform.
As the name would imply, Sea-Doo is billing the RXP as a blend of the characteristics of both the XP and the RX, two gutsy two-seaters that have carried the company’s performance flag to this point. Most of the lines seem inspired by the RX, but, in truth, the two-seater’s design apparently emanated from the GTi.
The XP’s influence is mostly in style rather than substance. It’s evident in the lines of the bow, and obvious in the air tubes, chrome, and contours. The rider position is higher than the RX, theoretically allowing the driver more leverage.
“The history comes from the RX, but it has evolved,” explained Sea-Doo PR Coordinator Tim McKercher. “It has been changed significantly. It’s a totally different design with a different center of gravity. This platform is designed for this engine.”
Design influence also reportedly came from Detroit — as in Detroit during the prime era of the musclecar. Bright colors, air scoops and chrome were all elements drawn from the automotive industry of yesteryear. Modern influences include race cars and aircraft. The result? A green and black boat that Sea-Doo hopes will be hard to miss going fast or standing still.
“It’s kind of a natural heir to the RX,” said Glenn Sandridge, Sea-Doo’s director of communications. “This is pretty much straight forward, in your face. It’s going to be a head turner. It’s going to be fast. It’s got all the tricks, and from a design standpoint, we wanted to bring in the design heritage of the old muscle cars into the future and also add in the DNA of the XP.”
Aside from the horsepower and hull, Sea-Doo dealers can expect the RXP to be decked out with the familiar Sea-Doo arsenal of features. The boat features the O.P.A.S. off-throttle/off-power steering system, as well as the Learning Key lanyard, which allows owners to limit rpms for younger riders or newcomers. Variable trim, a 16-function info center, and 33.8 gallons of stowage space also are par for the course.
New additions include a removable engine hatch, which is certain to make life easier at the dealer level when it comes to service. A removable rear seat cowl, an idea borrowed from the company’s Rev snowmobile, also is included as a nod to comfort.
As for the ride, pre-production boats were as fast as one would expect, easily topping existing production models. Whether that power remains in production remains to be seen, but Sea-Doo has made it clear that this boat is intended to be a speedster, so expect as much as the company can get away with, both from a production and legislative standpoint. In our initial testing, the RXP offered incredible acceleration and pulled easily away from the GTX 4-TEC Supercharged.
The hull handles the speed quite well, offering an aggressive turning attitude like the RX and GTi, yet retaining a soft and predictable feel at the handlebars. The ride may seem wet at times to those accustomed to the bigger three-seaters, but it fits the personality of the boat.
Ready Or Not
Is the public ready for a 215-hp personal watercraft? Dealers will be the first to know, but our best guess is that they’ll be banging down the doors of dealerships once the boats arrive off the production line. Comfy three-seaters may have been the name of the game in recent years, but it appears that performance is indeed back in vogue.
Said McKercher: “This is our entry into re-growing the hard-core enthusiast market. We think we can really re-ignite that segment of the market with this boat.”

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