Look at today’s Mustangs, Porsches, Ferraris, or Bugattis, and 300 horsepower seems like it wouldn’t pull you out of bed. But that’s lunacy because it’s plenty. And it used to be financially accessible, too. Just pick up a pony car for a shade less than $30,000, and you have all the tire shredding power you need. Those days are gone.

Head out today with $45,000 in your pocket, and you might—might—come home with something new that touches 300 HP. But that sounds like a recipe to resent your car more than anything else.

Fear not, I have the solution. I found the cheapest 300-horsepower vehicle you can buy straight from the dealership. And no, it’s not some clickbaity answer like an industrial airplane taxi or diesel cargo vessel engine. It’s a performance machine. I dare say it’d match or beat most of those $45,000 vehicles in a straight race to 60 mph.

Do you want something that uses its 300 HP to rewire your brain and permanently set an ear-to-ear grin? Pick up Sea-Doo’s GTR-X 300 PWC for just $17,000. That’s right, the cheapest 300 HP is in a jet-ski


A New Perception of Speed

The GTR-X 300 caught me off-guard so many times that I eventually needed to accept that I couldn’t adjust my level of preparedness to suit the machine. I had to live it to learn it. 

I still proceeded with some caution as three members of Sea-Doo’s PR team looked on from the shore. So, instead of bringing the unit to a complete stop in the lake and launching it to 60 mph from a standstill, I punched it from 20 mph. My God, did I underestimate what 300 HP in a machine this light would do from 20 mph. 

Instantly, my mind was overwhelmed with an internal monologue I couldn’t keep up with. “Jeeeeesus! Wait, that's 60 already!? Is this water too choppy? I think I’m about to get ejected from this thing! Oh God, I hope this doesn’t make me go bald, and a bug doesn’t hit my eye. AHHHHH!”.


Once I got a bit more accustomed to what this kind of speed felt like on the water, I found a calm section of the lake and started launching the GTR-X to 60 from a standstill. It was a while before I realized that if I did not stop soon, this was what I’d spend my whole day doing. And there’s a lot more to this machine than its ridiculous 0-60 time of about four seconds.

The thing that’s so impressive about the three-cylinder 1.6-liter supercharged Rotax-300—apart from the fact it’s the key ingredient to the best-value 300 hp PWC in the world—is that it makes insane power everywhere. It’s like the unit could do 110 mph, but Sea-Doo restricted it to the gentlemen's agreement between the US Coast Guard and PWC manufacturers of 68.5 mph. So its pull is relentless, whether it’s from zero or 40 mph.

But power is only half of the GTR-X’s story.

Drift Car Attitude

It’s one thing having 300 HP to use and abuse on an empty lake, but it’s another when the machine you’re on hops, skips, and jumps over the water. I’d heard the GRT-X 300 likened to a “drift car” before, but couldn’t understand how it’d possibly feel like that. Until I rode it.

The other models I tried that day seemed to cut through the choppy water with their heavier, v-shaped hulls. But the GTR-X felt like it was riding over the chop, getting air, regaining traction, reapplying 300 HP between your legs, and then starting the thrilling process all over again. And that’s all down to its hull.


The GTR-X 300 rides on a flatter hull than the other high-performance PWCs I rode on my day out with Sea-Doo, and it’s made from Polytec instead of fiberglass, which significantly reduces its weight. The result? In choppy water, you turn like a skimming stone… a skimming stone with 300 HP. 

It might seem like I’m saying the GTR-X 300 doesn’t handle as well as the RXP-X and RXT-X models, and that’s because it doesn’t. It shouldn’t: they’re the most high-performance units the brand makes. But that doesn’t make the GTR-X any less fun, quite the opposite.

To be clear, the GTR-X handles well, especially on calm water. But there’s a palpable feeling of sketchiness on choppy water when you’re on the limit. And that makes it at least as much fun, if not more, than the high-performance models on offer. I mean, this is the machine that peaked my heart rate the most, reaching 179 bpm at one point because of the sheer adrenaline produced by putting a 300-horsepower engine into a flatter, lighter hull.

You won’t beat the RXP-X around a buoy course, but you’ll probably be having just as much adrenaline-filled fun by just holding on. 


Who Knew Sea-Doo?

If you’re not an avid water sports enthusiast, I bet you’d never have guessed that the best value, new, production 300 HP vehicle you could buy was a Sea-Doo. I bet most people wouldn’t.

And this isn’t just some throwaway power stat—the GTR-X absolutely smacks. If you ever get tired of 0-60 runs, or you physically can’t anymore because you don’t have an F1 driver’s neck, just turn the thing, and there’s a whole world of adrenaline waiting for you, and according to my Garmin, that’s the world that gets your heart beating even faster than straight-line speed runs.

For every $57 you spend, you get 1 HP, and that’s what makes this the best-value 300-horsepower PWC on the market. But that’s just in the world of PWCs. I can’t find any other new, production vehicle that has 300 HP on tap for a shade less than $17,000. Never mind one that gets to 60 in four seconds.

But if you know of one, please tell us in the comments.

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