2016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Review

Suspension sets this PWC apart

Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited iS 260 is unique in the personal watercraft market in that it truly has no apples-to-apples competitor. Sure, other manufacturers make fast, plush models with cool technology. Yamaha’s RiDE followed the lead of Sea-Doo’s iBR, and both manufacturers have chased Kawasaki’s horsepower dominance. But no competitor has yet to bring out a model with the Limited iS model’s ace in the hole – intelligent suspension.

That leaves the GTX Limited iS 260 a “limited” model…in more ways than one.

Keeping You In Suspense

Intelligent Suspension (iS) is Sea-Doo’s name for the computer-controlled cushioning the boat provides in rough water.

2016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Action Front
Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Suspension is a huge plus for passengers, who may not be able to see upcoming chop and brace for impact.

That cushioned ride is accomplished by dividing the boat into horizontal halves. The hull and deck are essentially separate entities, with everything from the footwells up linked to the hull below by two hinged arms (one forward, one aft) and a central spring and shock absorber. Hit a wave or wake and the jolt is only partially transferred to the riders in the saddle, as the upper is able to move and compress into the hull by about six inches to absorb a portion of the shock. You still feel rough water, but it’s a dampened feeling, and one that should keep the occupants fresher on longer, rough-water rides.

The craft’s electronic control unit (ECU) adjusts the preset spring tension based on the weight in the saddle when the craft is started. Should you prefer the sensation to be softer or firmer (perhaps the seat is bottoming out during wave jumps) a manual override is available.

It’s no miracle hoverboard, but it is a nice feeling in rough conditions as the jolts just don’t arrive with the impact you’d expect. That dampened response is appreciated by the driver, but more so by the passengers, who don’t have the handlebars (and the view of oncoming waves) to help mitigate the shock.

Lots Of Intelligence

Naturally, the iS Limited also gets Sea-Doo’s full star treatment. Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR) will undoubtedly make the most difference. It links a modified reverse bucket and spoiler to a throttle-like lever on the left side of the handlebars. At startup, iBR diverts thrust just enough to prevent most motion, allowing the craft to mimic a boat in neutral. Pull the throttle to go forward, pull the iBR lever to put the boat into reverse. A benefit over older systems is that eyes stay on the water and hands always on the handlebars.

22016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Action Rear
Slowing down in the GTX Limited iS 260 is as easy as pulling the iBR lever.

As to the braking part of the equation, pull the same lever at speed and thrust briefly stops as the bucket drops like a drag chute, diverting water skyward for a visual signal as the boat is rapidly slowed. Once much of this force has slowed the boat, thrust again kicks in, redirected forward by the bucket, to finish the job.

The combination does wonders for the user-friendliness of the boat, taking the stress out of docking or launching and loading, and providing a means of rapidly slowing when needed. As previously mentioned, it’s also a feature that has had an impact beyond the Sea-Doo borders.

Other “intelligent” features include throttle control. Electronic throttle enables functions like cruise control and a no-wake mode, great for taking the stress off your throttle finger or holding steady speeds for towing, but it also allows engineers to alter the craft’s acceleration profile. The default touring mode softens that curve to provide a tamer ride, Sport mode livens up the ride with more explosive acceleration, and ECO mode maps the most fuel-efficient route.

22016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Palm Rest
Cruise control allows the operator to run the craft at a steady speed while eliminating the stress on the throttle finger.

Limiting Factors

As to those extras that only come with the Limited designation, think many of the accessories you may pick up after the sale, bundled together. A storage/trailering cover is a smart choice, as is a safety kit and dry bag. Other extras include a glovebox organizer, additional gauge functions (depthfinder, time/distance to empty, altitude indicator and water temperature), exclusive high-end coloration, and handy retractable dock lines that are always at the ready. Buyers will also get a fast-responding electric trim, with presets just a double-tap of the trim button away. You also get an upscale paint job to set the boat apart. Yes, you could save the money and put your own specific bundle together, but the idea here is for one-stop shopping. For the most part, Sea-Doo hits the mark.

22016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Glove Box Organizer
One of the perks of the Limited package is this handy glovebox organizer.

GTX models, however, are also somewhat deluxe on their own. Added to the Limited mix are standards like the removable bow storage bin, tilt steering, tilt handlebars that also pivot the display to keep it within sight, Sea-Doo’s dual theft-prevention/safety lanyards (with one acting as a speed governor), and the cushy, tiered, well-bolstered touring saddle that provides plenty of back support while cradling passengers into their own distinct positions on the craft. For 2016 it gets an upgrade to the ErgoLock concept shared by the newest 300hp models, meaning the shape is scalloped out around the knees to allow riders to truly grip the saddle with their legs and transfer some of the stress of high-speed turns from the upper body to the stronger leg muscles.

The most glaring flaw? That suspension and split design eats up space, meaning storage draws the short straw. Capacity is a mere 16.6 gallons, far short of the flagship standard.

At The Core

22016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Action Left
Rough water handling is a hallmark of the GTX family.

One thing I’ve yet to mention? Power and handling. At its core the Limited is still very much a GTX, with all its rough-water handling abilities and aggressive cornering. Other than a slight compression in sharp turns, the suspension doesn’t change the boat’s abilities. Just be aware at slow speeds you may have a slightly higher center of gravity. Beyond that, count on a deep-V to carve up the turns, split oncoming wakes, and offer a forgiving ride.

Below the saddle the power should be familiar. Though 2016 saw the introduction of 300 horsepower to the Sea-Doo line, the Limited retains the 260hp variant of the Rotax 1,494cc power plant. Its response is boosted by a supercharger/intercooler combo, and in my testing over the last several years it has routinely pushed the boat to a 67 mph max speed before electronic governing kicks in. It’s plenty quick, and will run with the market flagships in a variety of conditions.

Final thoughts? It’s a GTX 260, with all the great features, performance and handling that implies. The Limited designation offers some useful extras that you’d probably buy anyway and an exclusive color scheme, and that may be all some buyers need to hear. But for my money what now truly sets the boat apart from the pack is the suspension. If you’re into a really cushy ride – or just tired of being beat up by your rougher-than-average riding area – this could be just what the doctor ordered.

2016 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Specs
Length 139.2 inches
Beam 48.2 inches
Curb Weight 1038 lbs
Engine Three-cylinder EFI, Supercharged/Intercooled
Displacement 1,494 cc
Bore and Stroke 100 mm x 63.4 mm
Compression Ratio 8.4:1
Fuel Capacity 18.6 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 16.6 gal.
Colors Jet Black Metallic & Deep Pewter Satin
Price $17,499