2008 Sea-Doo GTI Preview

Entry-level price with more than beginner’s power and performance

With its 2008 GTI, Sea-Doo has provided an entry-level vehicle with enough power and performance to keep its owners entertained–hopefully for years to come.

“It’s the most powerful engine in the entry-level segment,” BRP district sales manager Scott MacWilliam told PersonalWatercraft.com.

Power without the price should be the mantra for the GTI. It comes standard with a 1,494cc 4-stroke engine that pumps out an impressive 130 ponies. That kind of performance is fairly surprising considering the GTI’s US$7,799 suggested price tag.

There isn’t much point in owning a personal watercraft if you can’t start it, and the GTI tries to make that as simple as possible. A watertight digital ignition ensures a consistent spark and maximum performance and starting is always chokeless.

Sea-Doo addressed the issue of low-speed steering with its Off-Power Assisted Steering (OPAS). As the name suggests, this assists the driver with steering during off-power and off-throttle situations.

Since the GTI is an entry-level machine, a good portion of its users are likely to be inexperienced. To help keep the younger and less experienced riders a little safer, Sea-Doo made its learning key a standard option. This allows the owner of the GTI to limit the RPM and top speed to 35 mph or 45 mph.

“If you have a young rider that doesn’t have much experience driving a Sea-Doo, all you have to do is give them the learning key,” says MacWilliam. “It will cut the horsepower back and give them more control of the unit.”

Also helping keep the rider safe is the GTI’s new Progressive-V hull, which is wider, flatter and more stable than ever. Sponsons make for improved handling and bumpers will protect the unit from less-than-smooth dockings.

Sea-Doo claims that the GTI is built tough and will last at least 10 years based on average usage. Composite/aluminum stator vanes are designed to limit engine erosion and the replaceable urethane wear ring help to extend the life of the impeller.

An RPM limiter protects the engine from overheating, while the tip over protection system (TOPS) protects the engine in case of turnover.

As for creature comforts, the GTI comes equipped with a seat big enough for three. Having a cruiser seat would be a nice option, but in Sea-Doo’s defence the GTI isn’t marketed as a cruiser.

A glove compartment is perfect for smaller items and the watertight storage bin in the front can hold onto larger items and keep them out of the elements. It’s a perfect place to store lunch for two for a long day of riding and cleaning it is a snap because it is removable.

The multifunction digital information center reports 15 operating functions including fuel level, low oil pressure, tachometer, overheat, hour meter and check engine. About the only key function missing was a speedometer. It would have been nice if it was a standard option, but if it means that much to you it is available as an add-on for an additional cost.

Mirrors are also missing as a standard option. They are a nice safety feature and can be found on more and more vehicles, but you will have to cough some more money to get them on the GTI.

All told this is a pretty impressive entry-level vehicle, especially when you consider the strong power-to-money ratio (yes, we just made that up). Sure we would like mirrors and a speedometer, but the bottom line is you are getting almost 1,500cc for less than eight grand.

GTI Specs
Engine Type : 130 hp Rotax 4-TEC
Intake system : Naturally aspirated with 52mm throttle body
Bore x stroke : 100mm x 63.4mm
Displacement : 1494cc
Compression ratio : 10.6:1
Cooling : Closed-loop cooling system
Fuel type : BLRegular unleadedANK
Length : 127.0 in. (322.5cm)
Width : 49.0 in. (124.5cm)
Height : 45.9 in. (117.0cm)
Weight (dry) : 732 lbs. (332kg)
Rider capacity : 1, 2 or 3
Fuel capacity : 15.9 US gallons (60L)
Storage capacity : 12.4 US gallons (46.8L)
Propulsion system : Sea-Doo Direct Drive
Jet pump : Composite/aluminum, axial flow, single stage, large hub with 10-vane stator
Transmission : Direct drive, forward/neutral/reverse
Impeller : Stainless steel
Ignition : Digital inductive
Starter : Electric
Battery : 12 volt
Type : Progressive-V, composite
Color : Regal Red
Information Center (15 functions) : Standard
Digitally Encoded Security System (DESS) : Standard
Off-Power Assisted Steering (OPAS) : Standard
Watertight, removable front storage bin : Standard
Sea-Doo Learning Key : Standard
Wide handlebars : Standard
Speedometer : Optional
Mirrors : Optional
Reboarding ladder : Optional
Ski eye : Optional