2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 Review

Newest GTI gets new hull, new engine and LinQ accessories

Fast Facts

Engine: Three-cylinder 1,630cc

Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 42.5 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

MSRP: Starting at $11,399

It’s fair to say Sea-Doos GTI platform gets a little GTX-ifiedfor 2020. Youll note it immediately in the new, lower-slung profile and styling. Closer inspection reveals a wider, more stable hull and expanded rear deck area. These changes, however, arent just a trickle down of the brands flagship features. Theyre part of an overall recommitment and refocusing on the growing recreational category — and how the brand plans to satisfy the wants and needs of the riders who enjoy it. Case in point – the new 2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170.

New Onboard Experience

In the broadest of terms, Sea-Doo had two primary goals for the new GTI platform, the first of which was to give the user a new onboard experience. 

Three elements deliver on that promise. First up is the option for music. Buyers overwhelmingly jumped on the sound system bandwagon on Sea-Doos flagship models. Now, that same 100-watt Bluetooth sound system designed in conjunction with MTX comes to the GTI, albeit with its own unique speaker housing. The audio source comes from the users phone, tucked safely within a padded, watertight enclosure inside the glovebox. My lone possible gripe would be that the control pad, located on the left speaker enclosure, is positioned a little tight to the helm console, but at worst its a minor grievance. Overall, sound quality continued to impressive out on the water. 

2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 Static

The second nod to improved user experience comes in the form of that larger swim platform. Like the GTX, the aft section of the GTI saddle and base is now removable, adding 36% more real estate to the swim platform for those that want to lounge out on their craft when not underway or use the area as a casting platform when fishing. Loungers note the portion of the saddle/base that remains is angled in more of a backrest fashion. LinQ accessory mounts are recessed flush with the surface so that they dont hinder comfort. 

Yup, that was a spoiler. LinQ also comes to the GTI in 2020. The same 16-on-center recessed mounts found on the GTX, LinQ enables riders to securely mount a growing collection of accessories to the aft deck, easily increasing the crafts versatility. The Yeti-style cooler, gas caddy and storage caddy remain. New for 20 are a roll-top dry bag and the large fishing cooler used on the Fish Pro. A different type of LinQ mount allows for the quick and easy installation and removal of a ski pylon for tow duties. 

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A larger, 40.2-gallon bow storage compartment has also been introduced. Opening in traditional fashion (reserving the more expensive, direct access storage for the flagship GTX models), it adds roughly 12 gallons more space than the previous GTI storage design. An optional netted storage organizer keeps common items closer at hand, and can be packed at home and carried to the beach or launch ramp. In addition to the aforementioned watertight phone box, the glovebox also increases in size (to 2.3 gallons) and gets an optional USB accessory port.

Not to be overlooked, the GTI also gets a new 4.5-inch digital display with orange backlight, replacing the former analog gauges. 

Improved Performance, Enhanced Control, Gen 2 PolyTec

2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 Action 1

That second big-picture goal was to improve performance, control and robustness.” 

Performance comes in the form of a new, 170hp variation of the 1630 ACE engine (an engine that replaces all former 155hp models). Sea-Doo reps note a 20% improvement in acceleration over the former 155. Though we didnt have a previous model on hand to directly compare, in-house numbers show the previous model accelerated to 50 mph in 6.6 seconds, the new 170hp model in just 5.2. Of note, engine naming has also been simplified across the board for Sea-Doo; the 1630 ACE will now come in 130, 170, 230 and 300 hp variations, the first pair naturally aspirated and the latter two benefiting from a supercharger. 

As to enhanced control, elements of the ErgoLock system debut for the first time in a rec-minded model. Riders will note the familiar hourglass saddle and deck scallops around the knee and inner thigh that allow legs to rest in a more comfortable, closer-together position as well as grasp the saddle or transfer the strain from the arms to the legs when riding aggressively and cornering. Like the GTX redesign, the GTIs new lower-slung profile lowers the center of gravity. Along with an inch in added width from a hard hull chine, stability is increased by an impressive 30-percent. To prove it I stood in one footwell and barely felt the craft list.

2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 Blue

And then theres the 30-40 pound weight savings that comes courtesy of PolyTec, Sea-Doos composite polymer hull material. Critics may jump on the idea of a plastichull, but PolyTec has proven pretty strong and durable over the last several years. Nevertheless, the second generation of the material used on the GTI ups its game rather significantly. Its as much as 50% thicker and features additional fiberglass molded into the hull sides to increase impact resistance. In addition, molded stringers (a skeletonfor the hull) and over-molded engine mounts further increase the hulls robustness and rigidity. Tests (check them out on YouTube) show how well the material stands up compared to fiberglass in a variety of impact scenarios. The takeaway is that the new construction doubles the impact speed required to damage the hull and has impact resistance that is as good, or in some cases better, than conventional hull construction. Im sure that will be debated by the competition but, at least till I see different, Im a believer.

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(Side note: In the unlikely event of damage, Sea-Doo has also made things much easier to fix for 2020. A plastic welding process has been developed for dealers that will allow them to easily prep, weld and buff cracks.) 

On The Water

2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 Action 3

So how does the 2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 perform on the water? I found the hull indeed feels impressively rigid, especially when encountering waves. There was no jarring feel or sound as I flew across wave tops. Instead, it felt solidand surprisingly quiet. PolyTec has a certain dampening quality not found in fiberglass. The new hull design, which shares the former models 16-inch deadrise but loses one set of hull strakes, carves impressively with the trim angled down yet can still be spun loose into a slide with the right throttle input, body english and upward trim when desired. The hull also proved to track straight and true, with no wandering when following behind other craft and no waves knocking it from its intended course.

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Yes, PolyTecs slightly rougher finish probably shaves a tiny bit of acceleration and top speed off the 170 hp engines full potential but its still a welcome improvement over the previous 155. As noted, acceleration was significantly better. Top speed peaked at 55.2 mph on flat water with my 155 pounds in the saddle. 

As to the competition, Sea-Doo notes all the GTIs improvements — music, space, storage, performance, control and PolyTec Gen 2 add up to only a $200 increase in price compared to the former GTI SE 155. That brings the 2020 Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 in at $11,399, certainly a competitive price to Yamahas VX Cruiser HO ($11,799). Yamaha adds cruise control, Sea-Doo variable trim. Both craft feature electronic deceleration systems (iBR and RiDE). 

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