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Sea-Doo chose a dramatic setting — a historic “refuge house” for shipwreck survivors, situated on a spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River, with a full moon overhead and lightning cracking in the distance — to unveil an equally dramatic offering for 2011. Lit brightly against the black sky, the media was shown an ultra-stylish, sleek new GTI series that combines high-end looks with elements of both iBR (intelligent brake and reverse) and iTC (intelligent throttle control). That’s a pretty heady combination for a boat that will start at only $8,999.
The company followed the unveiling the next day with an expanded, yet familiar lineup that will give Sea-Doo customers a choice of 16 total models for 2011.
Here’s an overview…
Sea-Doo designers referred to the GTX makeover of ’09 as the adoption of “flowing edge” design. They could have kept that same look for the GTI, but instead moved on to “flowing facets.” What’s that mean? It means the new GTI bears a resemblance to the GTX, but has a look all its own. Think of how a gem is cut — those are facets. Now give those lines a decided “flow” from bow to stern and you’ve got an idea of the lines of the GTI. It’s a cool, low-slung, thorough design that could have been introduced on a high-end model; seeing it on an introductory craft indicates to me that Sea-Doo is serious about challenging the Yamaha VX line for recreational supremacy.
If the looks don’t convince you, the features will. Big-ticket items include Sea-Doo’s “intelligent brake and reverse” system. iBR gives the GTI a level of control that is both impressive, and appropriate, for a novice audience. The GTI starts in neutral at the dock, and can be shifted into forward or reverse with just a touch of handlebar-mounted levers. The system also gives the craft the braking ability of Sea-Doo’s high-end models, shortening straight-line stopping distance dramatically. Most importantly, it does both while keeping a driver’s hands on the handlebar and eyes on the water.
Elements of iTC (intelligent throttle control) also make their way into the craft. GTIs now start in a more gently accelerating “touring” mode; riders can opt out and select “sport” mode, gaining the engine’s total performance, at the push of a button.
Less obvious features include a nicely sculpted seat, which offers good support but doesn’t get in the way of standing riders, and a gauge package that’s positioned further forward to stay with a stand-up rider’s view. The seat is lower to match the boat’s overall low-slung styling and lower the boat’s center of gravity for handling and stability. Even the footwells have been rethought. Rather than feature abrupt changes in angle, they feature a continuous slope, and even cant inward to lessen stress on ankles and knees.
Power is provided by the same 1,494cc Rotax engine that has moved the GTI line in the past, but it’s now tweaked to increase fuel economy and deliver slightly more performance on the top end. It’s offered in a 130hp and 155hp model in both base ($8,999) and SE configurations (SE 130 $9,599; SE 155 $10,599). SE models add variable trim, touring seat, boarding step, two color options, info display additions, and a new iTC function dubbed ECO mode, which calculates the most economical fuel consumption and adjusts acceleration and top speed accordingly. A Limited 155 package ($11,499) adds cruise control, high-performance trim, a touring seat, and the multiple extras found on the top-of-the-line GTX Limited.
New Tweaks, Old Favorites
Following years of high-end news, the attention to the low-end is welcome, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a little going on in the higher echelons of the line.
Muscle customers will find several changes. There’s now an RXT 260 along with the RXT iS 260, RXT-X 260, and RXP-X 255, as well as a big-water oriented RXT aS 260. The latter features a stiffer, manual suspension that can be adjusted via a nitrogen-charged remote oil reservoir tucked in the glove box. The cylinder is visible through a window in the glove box door, giving the craft a very custom look. The aS features a suspension calibrated for 2’-5’ waves, and provides from 65-115% more compression dampening than the automatic suspension of the RXT iS. Riders can also manually increase the preload of the suspension via a screw accessed under the seat.
Tow sports enthusiasts will get a new WAKE 155 to complement the WAKE Pro 215, based on the new GTI platform. That boat’s cruise control functions will add Ski mode, which allows the driver to pre-choose a choice of five acceleration curves. Meanwhile, the Luxury segment will see the GTX Limited iS 260, GTX iS 215, a new GTX 215 without suspension, and the GTX 155.
All that leaves is the true bare-bones segment, often intended mostly for the rental market but still a budget consumer buy. Here, Sea-Doo is offering the GTS 130 ($7,999), a boat based on the new GTI platform, but minus the iBR goodies.
Stay tuned for in-depth reviews of individual models, starting with the new GTIs. A little preview? I found the styling, fit and finish, and features pretty impressive for an introductory model.
The introductory/recreational class just got a little, make that a lot, more interesting…
Related Reading2010 Sea-Doo GTI 130 Review2009 Sea-Doo GTI SE 130/155 Review2010 Sea-Doo GTX iS 215 ReviewAll Things Sea-Doo on PersonalWatercraft.com
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