Test Ride: 2024 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS With 850 Turbo R

After riding the new-for-2024 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS with Competition Package snowmobile featuring a turbocharged Rotax 850-class two-stroke, we’ve got one piece of advice: Make sure you’re holding on tight, fellow snowmobilers, because there’s a new musclesled in town!

We’re convinced that Ski-Doo could have just “dropped” its 850 Turbo R engine that makes 180 horsepower into a 137-inch REV Gen5 snowmobile chassis and sold a ton of them. The demand was definitely there for a two-stroke hypersled from this market share dominating brand.

But Ski-Doo rarely makes the easy decision, and its engineers and designers seem to thrive on developing new technology.

2024 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS
2024 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS

The end result is the absolutely thrilling snowmobile that we got to test ride recently out west. Incredibly fast, sleek, agile and light feeling, it sets a new benchmark for the brand for short-track riding speed freaks. But it also sets some other benchmarks in terms of technology. See details on the rest of the Ski-Doo 2024 lineup here.

Keep It Durable, And Light

Let’s face it: Turbochargers are really cool, but they are also “hot” in that their process of using exhaust pressure to spin a turbine to stuff the cylinders with additional air can generate a lot of heat. That’s why, for instance, intercoolers are commonly used on turbocharged vehicles of various sorts.

Ski-Doo and Rotax engineers didn’t want to add the weight of an intercooler, however, but they also didn’t want to compromise horsepower or durability by feeding the engine hot air. So they created some more magic by developing a system that can spray a very light mist of water and methanol into the intake tract to cool the air as it rushes toward the cylinders.

Here’s how it works: Behind the seat on the snowmobile is a 1.2-liter tank that is to be filled with XPS ICE (for Intake Cooling Enhancer) fluid. As sexy as the word “methanol” is, Ski-Doo officials said that fluid is mainly there to prevent the water from freezing while also preventing foaming. The mist of water is the key.

Rotax Turbo 850
This image tries to portray how and where the water and methanol mix is inserted to cool warm air on its way to the cylinders on 850 Turbo R sleds.

When you pin the throttle on a so-equipped MXZ X-RS, sensors on the sled will monitor multiple features and let the engine know when it should start injecting this mix into the intake track, Ski-Doo officials said. On warmer winter days, a Ski-Doo official said, it might start adding this mix as soon as four seconds into a full throttle pull. On particularly cold days, it might not add it for some time. But its ability to cool that air before it makes it to the cylinder will make it so the engine doesn’t have to de-tune itself on long throttle pulls.

Overall, Ski-Doo officials said in its testing they typically go 700 to 1000 kilometers before emptying the 1.2 liter tank in regular but aggressive riding. If, however, a person holds the throttle wide open when zooming down a 10-mile lake on a warm day, you could use up a tank in a single day. If the tank runs out, the sled will go into the same sort of self protection mode that other sleds go into when they get too hot, Ski-Doo officials said. “You’ll never have less power than a naturally aspirated 850” Rotax engine, we were told.

On top of not adding the weight of the intercooler, Ski-Doo also took the electric start off of this model and replaced it with a recoil starter plus the SHOT hot restart system previously reserved for mountain sleds.

With those changes, Ski-Doo officials claimed, a 2024 MXZ X-RS Competition Package with a 137-inch track specs out at 505 pounds, which is very close to last year’s naturally aspirated Renegade X-RS 850 with the same track. “We’re basically giving you the turbocharger for free, from a weight perspective,” a Ski-Doo official said.

A new brakes with a new, quicker-reacting, four-piston caliber is a  also part of the package on this and a few other sleds.

Ski-Doo Brake
This new four-piston caliper and brake is added to select 2024 Ski-Doos.

Testing It Out

Aside from bringing over the 180 horsepower turbocharged engine with the high-tech wizardry, Ski-Doo also brought the Launch Mode it first introduced on the 2022 Ski-Doo Mach Z into this package.

Utilizing the gauge, the rider can put the sled into Launch Mode when the sled is stopped and idling. They then pinch the brake, then the throttle, and the machine will spit-and-sputter as it gets the turbo spun up. Keeping the throttle wicked, the rider releases the brake and the sled takes off with a mighty force!

This sled was an absolute rocketship when we tested it in the Island Park area recently. We can’t wait to put it side-by-side with its competition, but we think it will fare very well. Best yet, this sled can be ridden like a bump basher whenever you want because it feels light and reacts quickly, but when you find a laketop or a straightaway, the acceleration is truly awe-inspiring.

Editor’s Note: Every Snow Goer issue includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive print and/or digital issues.

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