BOAT TEST: KAWASAKI ULTRA 300X


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Want more power than the average bloke can handle? Kawasaki's Ultra 300X leaves everything else for dead.

BOAT TEST: KAWASAKI ULTRA 300X
Kawasaki Ultra 300X

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #275, Oct 2011

 

 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… and so on and so forth. Alternatively, just when you thought PWCs couldn't get any more powerful, they did. Earlier this year Kawasaki launched the world's most powerful production Jet Ski - they're allowed to call it a "Jet Ski" because they invented the name - and it's called the Ultra 300X (or the Ultra 300LX, for the fancy version with the cushy seat).

Trailerboat was the first magazine to test ride the big Ultra so we know exactly how tough it is. To say a 300hp Jet Ski is "fast" is a superfluous observation. PWCs with less horsepower than this are also extremely quick. There's no such thing as a slow Jet Ski.

But here's a conundrum. I evaluated this missile alongside the 260hp model and found very little difference in outright acceleration or speed. The 300 might have blasted out of the hole a little quicker but that's the only advantage it seemed to have over the 260. They were neck and neck and seemed to have the same top speed.

What does this mean? Who knows? It may mean there's only so much speed you can get out of a production Jet Ski, even if you double the size of the pump and the impeller and make the nozzle as big as a dumpster.

 

 

NUTS AND BOLTS



Before we go any further with all that, let's have a look at what Kawasaki has changed and improved with this ground-breaking model.

Top of the list would be changes to the hull and engine. The weight and balance of the deep-vee hull has been tweaked slightly to make the 300 more manoeuvrable. In my opinion the changes have worked. We had a 260 owner with us when I tested the 300 and he said the new ski turned sharper than the 260 and was easier to steer.

It felt a lot more agile too, he said. And that's a darn good thing. A lot of Australians use their PWCs as "family boats" - they ski with them, fish from them and cruise on them - so it makes sense to have a ski that everyone in the family feels good about riding.

On the other hand, if you read the spec sheet on this missile, and you have an eye for detail, you will notice that maximum torque arrives at 7250rpm and maximum power one poofteenth of a second later at 7750rpm. I'm no expert on marine powerplants but it seems to me that if power and torque conspire to be at the same place at the same time, all hell will break loose if you give it half a chance. And it does.

 

 

CLEVER STUFF



Like other PWC manufacturers, Kawasaki uses the familiar "two-key system" to tune the 300 engine for riders of differing skill levels. Hotshots use the performance key while those less skilled use the novice key. It's a great safety idea. But it's not the only one, as Kawasaki has been very busy. This model gets electronic cruise control, which is very useful when you're tooling through a no-wake zone on a lake or river. Even more so, cruise control is really useful when you're towing a couple of kids on skis or wakeboards and you have to maintain a constant speed of around 10-13kts (20-25kmh). That's tricky to do without cruise control, because you constantly have to check your speed. With cruise control it's a snap - and another worthwhile safety feature. 

The 300 also has an "Economode" setting that helps you maximise fuel economy, and a trick new LCD instrument display that I found easy to see even in bright sunlight.

There's also provision for a GPS unit on the handlebars and this, funnily enough, was my only criticism of the control layout. It's a small point I know, and perhaps I'm being pedantic, but the bar-pad has been made so large to accommodate a GPS that when you're seated it actually obscures your view of the LCD display.

Along with the other niceties, the 300 also gets a rear boarding step, a huge storage bin in the front - very handy for stowing wetsuits, towels, tow-ropes and so forth - and a sculpted seat found only on the LX variant. Fuel capacity is 78lt - this thing takes more fuel than my Third World ute - and the gorgeous 300X comes in either Sunbeam Red or, yep, lick me Lime Green (Metallic Titanium / Luminous Vintage Red for the 300LX).

 

 

ON THE GAS



You won't be surprised to hear that many of the features we see on PWCs these days were first tested on high performance motorcycles - like the engine on this PWC. It's 1500cc and is now force-fed with an Eaton twin-vortices, four-lobe supercharger, but it made its first appearance in 2000 as the naturally-aspirated motor on Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-12R road bike.

It's hardly surprising then that the 300X is fast. In fact, from zit to 90 it's insanely fast, but only if you're unaccustomed to real speed and what it feels like. Anyone who owns a PWC or rides one regularly will not be surprised by the 300 or anything it can do. But then fast guys will always take that view. All they ever want is more power.

So where does this leave the average work-a-daddy muffinhead? Put it this way: no-one buys a PWC to run meekly all day through a 5kt no-wake zone. We buy these things because they're insanely fast and feel groovy and look cool and chicks - or in my case, old ladies with purple hair - seem to like 'em.

But that doesn't mean PWCs are one-trick ponies. You can ski and wakeboard behind one and you can fish from them too. Indeed, there are loads of fishing accessories for them these days, like rodholders and small baitboards.

Apart from all the hoo-har about speed and acceleration though, what really matters is that more families are finding that these machines are cheaper to buy and own than your regular "family boat". $21,000 versus about $70,000 is yet another reason to take a look at one if you like the idea of family fun on Kiddy Creek without mortgaging the split-level beach house.

 

 

On the plane...


Great engine
Breathtaking performance
Turns great too

 



Dragging the chain...


Large 'bar pad can obscure view of instruments

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $21,499 (300X);$21,999 (300LX)
Options: Nil

 

 

GENERAL


Type: PWC
Length: 3.37m
Beam: 1.19m
Height: 1.15m
Weight: 426kg incl. fuel

 

 

CAPACITIES


People: 3
Fuel: 78lt

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Kawasaki 1498cc four-cylinder
Type: Supercharged, intercooled, fuel-injected, in-line, four-stroke
Maximum power: 300hp

 

 

MANUFACTURED BY


Kawasaki Motors
Web: www.kawasaki.com

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Kawasaki Motors Australia
Web: www.kawasaki.com.au

 

Story and photos: Bazz
Originally published in TrailerBoat #275

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