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At $9,399, Sea-Doo’s GTI 130 is often thought of as the manufacturer’s “entry-level” watercraft. But in reality, that title is claimed by a craft a full $1,000 less, the GTS 130.
So what does an “I” at the end of the name offer that an “S” does not … and is it worth a grand to go a few letters farther in the alphabet? Let’s find out.
Share … And Share Alike
First, let’s consider what they share. Both the GTS and GTI share the same hull, deck, and engine. That means you get the same playful, 16-degree deadrise hull below, a design that can still carve a thrilling corner when desired but is arguably more forgiving and fun than the more locked-in approach featured on the next-in-line GTX models.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the Sea-Doo GTI SE 130
It’s a good match for beginners and casual riders alike, as well as experienced riders who prefer a lighter touch on the water. Some very experienced types also prefer the GTI/S-style hull in ocean conditions. It’s confident, comfortable, and stable. Spray-reducing chines also work well to knock down spray.
That hull is great, but the deck design truly stands out. A recent makeover has pushed the series out of the shadow of the GTX, with an edgy, angular, upscale design that looks far from an introductory model. Fit and finish is also on par with the higher-end models. Both the GTS and GTI also share the same ergonomic features. Footwells are constantly sloping to keep a rider’s foot always in contact, whatever their position. Those same footwells are also canted to the inside, allowing your leg to take a more natural position from foot to hip, which alleviates pressure on the knees and ankles. It also provides some leverage; you can actually push against the outer footwell to help lock yourself in during an aggressive turn.
The programmable learning key lets you limit the GTS 130’s speed to suit the operator’s experience level.
You’ll find wide-angle mirrors to help keep tabs on those behind, a full 18-feature digital display to keep tabs on your speed, fuel and engine condition, even a stepped seat that features a bolster for the driver’s back, and a raised area to allow passengers a better view forward. Top the similarities off with a large swim platform with full traction matting, a generous 29-gallon front storage compartment, and Sea-Doo’s familiar Learning Key lanyard system. The latter features dual lanyards that act as both theft-prevention devices and allows one lanyard to govern the engine’s output should you desire to limit speed for rider skill level or fuel savings.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the Sea-Doo GTI Limited 155
Engines, too, are the same, Sea-Doo’s now-familiar 1,494cc Rotax. In its 130 version, it pushes this hull to a top speed of about 55 mph, and offers enough acceleration in Sport mode to likely get most of your friends and family out of the water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, wakeskating … you get the picture.
According to Sea-Doo internal testing, ECO mode reduces fuel consumption by 46% when running full throttle in Touring mode.
And despite the price difference, both GTS and GTI even share elements of Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Throttle Control to harness that engine’s power. A push of a button toggles the power delivery between the more aggressive Sport mode (with all of the engine’s stock potential at hand) and a tamer, more beginner-friendly Touring mode. A separate ECO mode will also let the craft’s onboard computer choose the most economical power delivery to save fuel. Nice touches on a price-point model.
Vive La Difference
Both the GTS and GTI even share the same upscale look. Put a GTS or GTI next to a GTX on the trailer and it’s nearly impossible to tell one model is literally thousands less than the other. One tip-off to the GTS’s position in the overall hierarchy is the simple paint and graphics treatment. For 2013, the hull is black, the deck white, and the stowage compartment lid (which forms the look of much of the bow area) a cool Lucky Green. That same green is also accented in a small portion of the seat, as well as a simple GTS graphic just above the bond line at the stern.
The biggest difference? Don’t expect the benefits of Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Brake and Reverse system. Or for that matter, any kind of reverse whatsoever. No reverse means you won’t be able to back away from a launch ramp or dock, or slow your approach to a dock or beach area. This is old school, cut-the-engine and drift mode. Sure we all used to do it, but that doesn’t mean it was always the easiest. This is the single-biggest reason to think long and hard about the $1,000 that separates the GTS and GTI.
Other smaller items missing include a spring-loaded boarding step, but you can get one, as well as other things like a removable storage bin, as an accessory.
Do Cents Make Sense?
It’s easy to dismiss the GTS as Sea-Doo’s designated “rental fleet” boat. And that description is accurate in many ways. It’s affordable, reliable, and features little extra that could cause maintenance headaches down the road.
VIEW: Read all of our Sea-Doo reviews>
But the craft’s shared engine, hull, deck, and with them that attractive, upscale look, make the GTS more than just a rental boat. In fact, with the exception of reverse, they make the craft one that could serve many buyers quite well.
If every penny truly counts, the GTS can save you $1,000 of them … and that money can buy quite a few tanks of fuel. You just have to ask yourself if the savings makes cents … or sense.
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