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Sea-Doo has been on a innovative push as of late. While the industry and economy both seemed to stall, the Canadian manufacturer forged on ahead, unveiling new boats and features aplenty. Last year, however, the manufacturer turned to one of the simplest, old-school formulas known to performance enthusiasts – take a lightweight hull and toss in a big, powerful engine.
Lighten the Load
The resulting craft is the GTR 215, and the name clearly gives away what lies below. The GT means that hull is the same as found in the entry-level GTI. Though Sea-Doo no longer gives horsepower numbers, the 215 is an obvious nod to the 215-hp Rotax, the same engine, with supercharger and intercooler, that powers the popular GTX. The combination pays immediate performance dividends. Enjoying a 60-pound weight advantage over the GTX, the GTR leaps out of the hole with enough punch to thrill a performance enthusiast, moves quickly through the midrange, and tops out at 65 mph, the same neighborhood shared by the big boys.
The hourglass-shaped seat offers riders more control when standing up.
As you may expect from the hull choice, the GTR feels lighter and more playful than the rest of Sea-Doo’s Top Guns. At the helm, you feel like you can toss it around, or flick it into a turn with ease. Yet, it’s also a stable, confidence-inspiring ride. Despite the gentler 16-degree deadrise, the GTR steams smoothly ahead at top speed, and proves a strong choice in both calm and rough conditions. Up top, rider ergonomics are superior. Flowing, canted footwells keep your feet in constant contact with the grippy traction mats, and the inward lean takes the strain off your knees. The hourglass seat shape doesn’t push your legs as wide as on some craft, a trait that also improves comfort and control when riding in the standing position.
More for Less
The formula is no doubt familiar. Yamaha essentially did the same thing first with the VXR. Sea-Doo, however, has opted to keep a few extras, rather than make the GTR a true lean, mean fighting machine. That supercharger and intercooler on the engine are one obvious example. Another is the now-familiar Intelligent Brake and Reverse (iBR) system. For the uninitiated, it provides on-water braking power by dropping the reverse bucket to redirect water flow. The system is computer controlled, so you don’t have to worry about applying so much braking power that you’ll take a header over the bow. It also allows a jet-driven engine to mimic forward, neutral and reverse. The GTR starts in a stationary position; pull the reverse lever and you can back away from the dock or launch ramp, squeeze the throttle and you move forward as expected. The dual control levers allow the driver to keep his attention focused on the water. The system is also a surprisingly quick learn.
The GTR also offers electronic throttle, a feature that allows the inclusion of different acceleration modes. A base touring mode provides conservative power; a secondary sport mode offers up the engine’s full potential. A third mode, ECO, settles the engine at a speed that provides the greatest fuel economy.
Not quite as stripped down as some performance craft, the GTR 215 comes with variable trim.
The list continues with high-performance variable trim. Lower the bow for best acceleration, raise it to increase top speed. The high-performance variant offers presets; a double-tap of the button quickly sets the trim at the desired position, and like iBR, allows the driver to keep his focus on the water.
Other features include a bolstered touring-style seat, which locks the driver in and provides a greater feeling of control. Owners also get the Learning Key lanyard system, a dual lanyard setup that provides security, but also can be used to govern the engine. A 29-gallon storage capacity means you can still take some stuff along for the ride.
The Bottom Line
Obviously, the GTR’s goal is simple. Keep the price in check, and exploit that power-to-weight ratio to the max. By keeping the iBR system and electronic throttle, however, Sea-Doo has made an obvious effort to distinguish the craft from the competition. It’s a fun, spirited ride for those that like simple math.
Related Reading2013 Sea-Doo RXP-X 260 Review2012 Sea-Doo GTX 215 Review2012 Sea-Doo Wake Pro 215 Review2013 Yamaha VXR Review
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