Admittedly, we didn’t see this one coming. In recent years, Sea-Doo has made custom one-off watercraft for celebrities or unique events that garner the brand some added attention on social media for a few weeks. So when the early images of Formula 1 racer Daniel Ricciardo aboard a graphite-and-green RXP-X 300 sprung up in Spring of 2022, people rightly became suspicious.
Then the video dropped with Sea-Doo teasing, “We’ve partnered with F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo to bring a fresh Sea-Doo perspective on the world of high-performance watercraft. Bold, unique, with an attitude that commands the water – just like the people who squeeze the throttle. We couldn’t be more excited for what’s coming next! Stay tuned!”
And that left all of us thinking, what the heck was that supposed to mean?
Well, what it meant was the 2023 RXP-X Apex 300. Offered as a 2023 limited run model that are only available via pre-order with deposits ending November 30th, 2022, you’ve already missed the pre-order window as of this recording.
Slated with the brand’s first MSRP over $20 grand – $20,999 – the Apex offers the consumer a few extras and added features over the traditional RXP-X 300 – but are they enough to counter the $4,500 premium? Let’s talk about it.
The Apex comes almost exactly as shown in the leaked pictures and video – the Apex is wrapped in Racing Green and Graphite Gray, and features a carbon fiber hood structure and rearview mirrors (which retain their conventional plastic substructure) and custom blacked-out emblems. Custom diamond-patterned traction mats and foot wedges fill the gunwales.
All Apex models come standard with the BRP Tech Package – meaning the 100-watt sound system, USB port in the glovebox and 7.8-inch wide full color digital dashboard.
The ErgoLock R saddle is also covered in a grippy two-tone canvas as is the adjustable bolster seat. As part of the Apex’s asking price is the otherwise optional second passenger seat. Aesthetically, diamond-patterned graphics and color-matched rounded handgrips complete the package.
Yet, what truly sets the Apex apart from the standard RXP-X 300 is the use of a Hydraulic Steering Damper on a reinforced steering column.
The adjustable hydraulic damping action is designed to reduce the amount of rider input necessary to track through chop – particularly at speed – and consequently, reduce rider fatigue. This addition – more than any other attribute or feature – is the sole reason that performance enthusiasts should consider the Apex over the standard RXP-X.
In our testing, The Watercraft Journal pounded on the Apex, pushing its 1,630cc centrifugally-supercharged 3-cylinder and all of its 300-horsepower as far as we dared in and out of hairpins, chop and boat wakes (nearly losing two cameras in the process).
Now, it’s important to emphasize that there is nothing different about the Apex over the RXP-X 300; the hull’s the same. The sponsons are the same design – although Sea-Doo says they’re “carbon injected” (whatever that means). The pump, intake grate and impeller are all identical too. There’s absolutely zero mechanical differences between the two machines…except for the steering damper.
And…it totally friggin’ works. Like, of all of the gimmicks, add-ons and doodads that Sea-Doo has come out with in the last 15 years, this one honest-to-goodness delivered.
The steering damper is surprisingly easy to operate – even on the fly – and rewards the rider with immediate feedback. Backed all the way down, it’s no different from the standard RXP-X. Cranked up to the third setting (there’s only three settings) the hydraulic steering neck soaks up a huge amount of play in the steering and more importantly, reduces rider input by half.
This means immediate, snap-quick steering response in all water conditions. The RXP-X can feel muted and (at slower speeds) downright obstinate to steering input – not so with the Apex. Never once did the Sea-Doo feel unruly, wander in cross chop or bow hunt in surf.
The steering damper cannot undue certain characteristics imbued in the hull design – be them good or bad – but it does make them far, far more manageable.
Now I understand that most watching this will likely never push an RXP-X 300 or an Apex to its bleeding edge, and that’s OK. But it’s nice to know that if you do, the Apex’s steering system will enable you to do so smoother and easier than without it.
Otherwise, all other characteristics of the Apex remain identical as the standard RXP-X. Again, the T3R hull remains unchanged, meaning the Apex mirrors the traditional RXP-X’s dimensions: length, width and height included. Even with using carbon fiber over molded plastic, the ski’s weight is identical too at 780 pounds (that excludes the weight of fuel, engine oil and coolant, and battery). That might be due to the mandatory addition of the tech package.
Storage too is a direct carryover at 40.6 gallons of total cargo – two and a half of that belonging to the RXP-X’s voluminous glove box.
During our testing we eked out a decent 70.1 mile per hour peak top speed before the Intelligent Throttle Control manually backed the ski down. Other features include the fast-acting VTS trim control toggle, push-and-play MODE controls allowing the rider to toggle through Touring, Sport and ECO modes; and Sea-Doo’s intuitive Speed Control – a far more user-friendly version of traditional cruise control.
Pressing the UP and DOWN arrows on the VTS pad simultaneously sets the Sea-Doo’s Launch Control feature like unlocking a secret code in a video game. Launch Control toggles the trim for a more precise launch from a dead stop. The attuned rider will often fare better results operating the trim manually, but for the neophyte, Launch Control never fails.
It’s difficult to justify the added premium for the Apex over the standard RXP-X when we know that the 3-way adjustable steering damper – the most significant addition – will become an optional item down the line. Rather, I surmise that the Apex buyer is looking for exclusivity more than anything. The 2023 Sea-Doo RXP-X Apex 300 is only meant to be sold for this year only and those with the cash and drive are going to snatch ’em up. And that’s cool too.
Only now are we starting to see more folks customize their skis – not just in performance but in looks and coloring – so the Apex is really gonna speak to those people. And that’s the kind of targeted marketing that builds some serious brand loyalty and some diehard enthusiasts.