2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 Review

GTR 230 benefits from a new engine and hull

Fast Facts

Engine: Three-cylinder 1,630cc

Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 42.5 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

MSRP: Starting at $12,399

Sea-Doo’s reinvention of the GTI platform for 2020 may seem like an overdue nod to the manufacturer’s Recreation segment, but one craft that shares the GTI hull platform has higher performance in mind — the 2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230. Always thought of as a budget racer, the GTR 230 gets even more performance-minded for 2020, but in the process also becomes a far more versatile craft.

New Power, New Hull

Newfound performance comes courtesy of the 1630 ACE engine. Surprisingly rated at the same 230 horsepower as the outgoing engine, the supercharged/intercooled 1630 nevertheless boasts multiple advantages, not the least of which is greater displacement. Squeeze the throttle and the acceleration is notably stronger on the low end, a fact that is no doubt helped by the 2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 shedding 33 pounds thanks to a second generation PolyTec hull material (more on that shortly). Lower compression also means a diet of 87 octane fuel should prove just fine.

Surprisingly, top speed peaked little beyond the 63mph mark. It’s a number we would expect to rise, however, as craft provided to the press (and likely run nonstop the week before by Sea-Doo dealers) were mildly detuned and turning 300 rpm less than a planned 8,000 rpm peak. We expect to see that magic 65+ mph mark reached in production.

2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 Action

In addition to new power under the saddle, the 2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 also performs differently thanks to a new hull design below. Though Sea-Doo reps note the GTR still shares the outgoing hull’s shallower, 16-degree deadrise, the craft feels far more locked-in than its predecessor. In fact, at times it feels superior to the flagship GTX platform. Crank the bars and the hull corners with both predictability and sharp manners. Take it into rough conditions and it tracks straight and true with no feeling that the bow wants to wander. Yes, with a little finessing of the electric trim and shifting in weight placement I could still get the stern to snap loose in a playful slide, but it’s a far more precise craft than the previous GTR.

One big difference between the hull styles can be seen at the bow. Rather than feature concave pockets, the GTR hull is actually convex forward. The change is likely what allows it to roll into turns and not get spooked in mixed-up water conditions.

PolyTec, Generation Next

2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 Profile

Hull construction also makes a difference. Though some may shudder at the idea of PolyTec making it onto a performance-minded boat, this second generation proved literally rock solid. I felt no flex; in fact, I noted at the time how well the hull actually felt in rough water and how it seemingly took waves with no rattle or vibration.

Several design changes likely make that possible. For starters, the second-generation PolyTec hull now incorporates fiberglass stringers running its length. Fiberglass has also been added to the hull sides, and the thickness of the actual PolyTec material doubled throughout the hull.

Though I’ve always found the material durable and resistant to damage, repairs have also become easier should you damage the hull. For 2020, Sea-Doo is rolling out an easy-to-use repair kit to its dealers.

GTX-Inspired Innovations

2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 Audio

As to other changes, the 2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 gets many of the changes and innovations formerly introduced on the GTX platform. Like that model, it’s now shorter (130.6”) but also wider (49.2”) and though it doesn’t look it, taller by nearly 1”. That added width and a new, lower-slung profile overall greatly improves the craft’s stability, particularly at rest. Like the GTX, the aft portion of the saddle and base is now removable. Take it away and increase the size of the already generous aft platform for fishing or just lounging in the sun.

Like the GTX, the GTR also gets the versatile LinQ accessory system. Anchored by recessed, pop-up cleats in the aft deck, LinQ lets riders easily attach a variety of accessories, most useful of which are a cooler, fuel caddy and both semi-rigid and soft dry bags for additional gear. The FishPro’s larger cooler is also available. An optional LinQ tow pylon gets a dedicated quick-mount socket.

Integrated storage also gets revamped. The bow compartment grows to approximately 40 gallons. Over two gallons more is added via a large glovebox, with GTX-like waterproof phone compartment.

ErgoLock also comes to the GTR. The scalloped seat shape gives the rider more of a feel of control, lets them use their legs to brace in turns and clamp against the seat in rough water, and provides a notable bolster for back support.

And yes, the 2020 Sea-Doo GTR 230 now gets the option of music as well. Sea-Doo’s 100-watt Premium audio system is an attractive option and features speakers designed specifically to blend with the GTI platform.

Elsewhere, Sea-Doo’s standard attractions are present and accounted for, including a next generation Intelligent Brake & Reverse system;, Touring, Sport and ECO modes to tailor the performance to the rider and ride; and theft-prevention, digitally encoded lanyard.

The Competition

As to a direct competitor, Yamaha’s nearly identically priced GP1800 R HO (formerly the VXR) continues to be the obvious. The $12,299 GP1800 R HO continues to have a more stripped, race-boat feel than the GTR and a fiberglass hull and deck. Engine displacement is a whopping 1,812 cc, giving the craft strong acceleration and a top speed in the neighborhood of 63 mph. Handling is impressively precise with a racy, performance feel. Both craft feature electronic reverse and rapid-deceleration systems.

Though the GP does not have a cleat-based mounting system for accessories, Yamaha has brought a zippered, insulated storage compartment to its accessory line for ’20 that easily mounts to the stern, as well as bow storage cooler and a Bluetooth-based music option.