2012 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Review

An entry-level craft with a sense of style

While hardcore enthusiasts barely give them a second glance, pure entry-level boats have their place. Sure, that’s often in rental fleets, but the traits that make them popular in that arena — price, reliability, and ease of use — also make them appealing models to those that don’t insist on the latest and greatest.

Sea-Doo’s GTS 130 fits that bill, while bringing some surprising style to the mix. Time to check out Sea-Doo’s most affordable watercraft for 2012.

Upscale Looks

One of the most appealing features of the GTS is its price — $8,299 — but once you look past that sticker, it’s the boat’s looks that will keep your attention. Modeled on the same platform as the GTI series, it’s got a modern, edgy appeal that looks far pricier than it is. Sure, graphics are simple. The boat is primarily a black hull and white deck, with minimal red accents. It’s a clean look, however, that won’t make you look like you’re riding the blue-light special.

And with the looks of the GTI series come the advantages of the GTI series. Ergonomic touches include footwells canted inwards to take pressure off the knees, and a sloping surface that avoids sharp angles to keep your feet in constant contact with the deck. Aft, a generous boarding platform provides the room to haul yourself aboard. Even the seat is surprising, with a stadium-style step to provide the passenger a clear view forward, and a back-hugging bolster for the driver’s support. There may be no tilt steering, but instrumentation includes an 18-function digital display, and wide-angle mirrors keep tabs on what’s in your wake. Not too shabby.

Control Freak

2012 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Gauges

Also not too shabby is that the GTS gets elements of Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Throttle Control, including Touring and Sport modes. Touring provides a gentler acceleration curve great for everyday riding or to soften throttle response when towing; Sport mode gives the driver access to the engine’s full potential. The GTS even includes ECO mode. With this setting activated, speeds are tamed to provide as much as 46% improved fuel consumption at wide-open throttle.

Other Sea-Doo basics further the driver’s control of the boat. A digitally encoded lanyard serves as a theft-prevent device. A second lanyard can be used to dramatically taper the engine’s performance for those times when true newcomers are aboard.

2012 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Learning KeyA Learning Key is a great tool for inexperienced riders to learn how to ride.

Ultimate control, however, comes from below. This is the same 16-degree deadrise hull the series has featured for years, and it gives the boat a looser feel than its higher-end counterparts. That’s a good match for this audience, but also gives the boat a more playful side as a driver’s skill level improves. It can still carve a buoy course with predictable manners, but throw that weight around a little and you can spin it like the days of old. Spray-reducing chines keep things relatively dry. At virtually any speed, stability is top-notch, and will inspire confidence.

As to performance, this is the base 1,494 cc Rotax, a well-proven commodity in the Sea-Doo line. It tops out around 55 mph, and features acceleration that should get most of your crew out of the water when towing. In short, it does the job like the GTI models above, but don’t expect to win many local drag races. You should save plenty of fuel, however, and still get anywhere you’re going at a decent speed. And let’s face it, most of us cruise at 35-40 a lot more than we might like our friends to think.

Strip Tease

2012 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Swim PlatformA large swim platform is a nice feature, though a reboarding step is only available as an option.

So what’s missing? One biggie is reverse. Without it, expect to have a little harder time navigating around a tight dock or launch ramp. The lack of this feature alone is reason enough for many to consider jumping up in price, although truth be told we all use to get by without this feature back in the old days. Other items missing, but temptingly available as options, include a reboarding step, ski tow eye (a basic hook is standard), and removable storage bin.

Too little…or all you need? That’s up to you to decide. But if you do go the basic route, at least you no longer have to look as though you’re riding an outdated, stripped model with a serious lack of style.

On the contrary, the GTS will turn some heads.

2012 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Studio

2011 Sea-Doo GTS 130 Specs
Length 132.6 inches
Beam 48.5 inches
Dry Weight 745 lbs
Engine Naturally aspirated three-cylinder EFI
Displacement 1,494 cc
Bore and Stroke 100mm x 63.4mm
Compression Ratio 10.6:1
Rated Horsepower 130
Fuel Capacity 15.9 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 30.8 gal.
Color Viper Red and White
Price $8,299

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