Some boaters value robust construction, predictable handling, and ease of maintenance. Others treasure bold style, lots of amenities, and exciting performance. Monterey's 298 SSX will have both camps scampering to get aboard. To be sure, the uncovered battery terminals don't conform to ABYC recommendations. Still, I like this boat. No boat's perfect but the glitches I found are easy to fix. More important, the 298 SSX simplifies the fast, brash quest for fun without neglecting the safety of its occupants or the confidence and long-term ease of ownership that any skipper will appreciate.
Packing up to 640 horses under its hatch, the 298 SSX can take the punishment all that power is bound to provoke. Check out the way the hull and deck are screwed together. Good boatbuilding dictates that the distance between the edge of the flange and the screw be twice the screw diameter. This prevents the screw from tearing out as deck and hull flex in opposite directions while underway. I've seen boats where the fasteners were right on the edge-with some screws missing the hull flange entirely! Aboard the 298 SSX the fasteners are more than ¾" from the edges, three times the recommended distance.
Good practice also shows in its rigging. Wiring is supported well and chafe-protected everywhere I looked. Same goes for most of the plumbing, though I would change the position of the mesh bag into which the transom shower hose retracts when it's not in use. Aboard my tester, the hose and bag rested on the engine exhaust. A melted hose is a distinct possibility. I laid my hands on the bilge pump, dipsticks, filters, batteries, and the discharge through-hull for the holding tank-all without undue bodily contortions. This is especially good news for the head discharge. Since you need to run the boat offshore to pump overboard, the engines are usually hot when you do it. But aboard this boat, you won't brand your cheek with an exhaust riser bolt pattern in the process of reaching for the lever.
The maintenance topper is the 298 SSX's engine hatch. This opens completely, flipping forward to grant step-in, as opposed to climb-down-and-duck-under, access from the transom boarding walkway. Running back to the truck for a forgotten tool or part is a hard fact of playing Capt. Fix-It. The geometry of this hatch will save time and your temper.