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The best part about pricy, high-tech innovation is that it eventually trickles down. That’s what Sea-Doo has done with its vaunted iControl technology, although the process has happened faster than many expected. For 2010 a total of five models received the benefits of Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR) and Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC). And while the Sea-Doo RXT 215 may be the middle child in that lineup, it’s definitely not one to be overlooked.
Same Power, New Hull
While the engine — a 215hp-rated, 1,494cc Rotax triple with supercharger and intercooler — is the same mill that propelled this boat in recent years, nearly all that surrounds it has changed. Below the bondline sits the S3 hull, a stepped, reinforced, lightweight design that tames big water like no Sea-Doo before, yet still corners with the tenacity that RXT lovers have come to expect.
Above, the deck resembles last year’s suspension-equipped RXT iS, just without the pricey shock absorber. It’s a combination that ultimately works quite well, giving the RXT a rough-water credibility it previously lacked, while still retaining the precision handling of its forerunner, one of the most aggressive handling machines on the market.
Yes, it feels bigger, and it is. The previous RXT 215 measured out at 130 inches and 801 pounds, numbers that are indeed less than the new model’s 139” length and 839 lb. weight. Yet, it remains an agile machine like its predecessor, rather than one that forces the driver to make tradeoffs for its size. Bank it into a corner and it reacts. There’s no quirkiness, or sleepy slide at the stern, but rather a predictable and precise personality that previous RXT fans will appreciate.
That said, top speed has suffered, if only slightly. Previous generation RXTs typically ran near 65 mph. The 2010 model tops out around 64. I doubt you’ll feel the difference of one mile an hour, but it’s there…at least on paper.
Apart from a familiar engine in cool new surroundings, iControl is the big news on the RXT 215, and Sea-Doo has made no secret of the fact it thinks the biggest advantage of the system is braking.
Now, if a rider encounters a sudden boat or obstacle in their path, it’s actually possible to rapidly slow the watercraft. A left-handlegrip mount lever activates the system, which uses the iControl brain to do several things in a fraction of a second — stop thrust through the pump, drop the combination reverse/brake bucket, and then reapply a controlled dosage of thrust — all of which combines to abruptly slow the craft’s forward movement. Braking, however, is reined in. You won’t lose control, and you won’t get launched over the handlebars. (In severe stops, however, you may take a little water over the bow.)
I’ve noted before that the technology is cool and has a real benefit, but in day-to-day operation iBR has more practical benefits. For one, it allows the RXT 215 to start up in neutral at the dock. Careful positioning of the bucket stops most forward, or reverse, movement. Drivers can then “shift” into the appropriate gear. Newbies will no longer start up and bash into the dock at the launch ramp or cause panic attacks when pulling into a fuel dock or waterside eatery. It’s simple, completely intuitive, and truly a great addition to any model.
Intelligent Throttle Control brings the benefits of cruise control to the RXT 215. You can select a set speed while cruising or pulling a skier, wakeboarder, or tube, or enable a no-wake mode through lengthy slow-speed zones. You can also make the craft match your moods, or the skill level of drivers you allow to take the controls. Start the boat up and it goes into “touring mode,” which follows a tamer acceleration curve en route to the craft’s top speed. Prefer an aggressive ride and you can switch to “sport mode,” which gives the driver access to the engine’s full potential. Sport mode provides a much stronger pull off the bottom, and pulls more strongly through the midrange.
The RXT 215 may be the sporty middle child, but it’s still a Sea-Doo. That means an emphasis on not only style, but comfort. The seat is cushy and supportive, with bolsters to hold you in place and provide a little support to the buttisimo and back. That seat is also now hinged, so when you want to check the engine you simply lift it up on a pneumatic strut. No more worries about where to put the seat, or keep it from getting torn. Tilt steering further dials in driver comfort.
If there’s one distinct downside to the makeover, it’s that storage has taken a rather big hit. Capacity is down to 13.7 gallons, the majority of which is found in a removable, watertight container that slips into the front storage access. A glovebox is front and center for items you want to keep close at hand.
Other standards remain. There’s a flip-down boarding ladder at the stern, full-featured information center on the console, and ski tow-eye for water toy duty. Sea-Doo’s safety lanyards do their intended job by acting as theft-prevention devices, but one can also function as a speed governor, limiting the craft to an owner-selected top speed.
One obvious question I ask myself when reviewing a new model is simple — would I buy it?
Deciding on that answer, I have to admit I think the list of innovative features, coupled with the new hull, make the RXT 215 a pretty impressive candidate. This boat has power, comfort, handling, and now all the benefits of the braking technology and throttle control…and it’s priced lower than most of its closest competition.
That demands serious consideration from anyone.
Related Reading2010 Sea-Doo RXT-X 260 Review2010 Sea-Doo WAKE Pro 215 Review2010 Sea-Doo GTI 130 Review2010 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Review2009 Sea-Doo RXT 215 ReviewAll Things Sea-Doo on PersonalWatercraft.com
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