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With all the hype surrounding Sea-Doo’s Spark, it’s important to note that many of that model’s intended buyers – entry-level or family types – may be better served by Sea-Doo’s previous low-price king, the GTS 130.
I’ve reviewed the GTS 130 numerous times, most recently here. If you want the complete scoop on the craft, by all means check it out. The 2014 model has received no notable changes. Instead of rehashing the story for 2014, I thought it would be a better idea to see how the GTS 130 compares to the Spark in order to help buyers decide which craft is truly best for their needs.
Both are great models. Each has a unique personality and style. But chances are, one or the other is a better fit…for you.
The Tale Of The Tape
At initial glance, the two craft may not seem initially close on price. The GTS starts at $8,199, while the Spark can be had for a mere $4,999. A closer look, however, reveals the spread may not be as wide as the craft’s respective starting prices would suggest.
For starters, the GTS is a true three-seater and features a 130hp engine. The craft is a full 132.6” in length and its saddle is ready to accommodate a full complement of passengers; two in total comfort, three in relative comfort if the combo is two parents and a child, and yes, three adults if the crew doesn’t mind being a little cozy. Total rider capacity is 600 pounds.
By comparison, getting the Spark in a three-passenger version and equipping it with the larger, 90hp Rotax tacks on $1,300 to its price tag, bringing the craft in at $6,299. Even then, the three-passenger capability comes via a bolt-on extension. It’s relatively seamless, but not an integral part of the hull and deck. With it, the Spark measures in at 120” and features a 450-pound rider capacity. I’d suggest the boat is ideal for one, okay for two, and to be frank, a little pressed to carry three.
Yet another spec worth considering is storage. The GTS comes standard with a spacious front storage tub, which forms much of the boat’s nearly 31-gallon capacity. The Spark’s only real storage comes via an optional storage bin that secures within the craft’s front cutout section. It adds another $200 to the price, and holds a mere seven gallons.
Certainly, the Spark has its place. It’s a smaller, lighter, more agile craft, with a feel and style all its own. I’d argue it’s far more fun to play on solo, spinning a 180 or skidding into a powerslide. It’s old-school, calm-water freeriding wrapped in a modern package. Surf fans will also tell you the Spark can be a fun tool to take into the big waves.
And yes, it’s still cheaper. Even in three-passenger trim, with the more powerful engine and storage bin, the Spark’s $6,499 price tag is a substantial $1,700 less than the GTS. That’s a savings that will be obvious in a monthly payment and one that will make a real difference to those cost-conscious buyers Sea-Doo is trying to attract.
Those that truly require a full-fledged three-passenger craft, however, will find the GTS the better choice. It’s physically larger, more stable on the water and more comfortable with multiple passengers. The GTS hull also fares better in larger, rougher bodies of water. In fact, the same basic 16-degree deadrise hull shared by the GTI models is a favorite for those that venture offshore. By comparison, Sea-Doo itself notes the Spark is ideally geared more toward smaller bodies of water. (Those big-wave jumping types are on their own.) The GTS also offers more horsepower to haul passengers or tow water toys, isn’t as affected by their pull on the towrope, reaches a higher top speed – about 55 mph compared to the Spark’s 50 mph – and allows you to bring more gear on the ride. That latter fact, coupled with the GTS’ greater fuel capacity (and its aforementioned edge in passenger comfort), makes it more realistic for touring.
Still In The Game
Again, this is not about what craft is better. I could wholeheartedly recommend the Spark to some buyers, and the GTS to others. It all depends on your wants and needs, where you ride most often, who typically comes with you, and how much you’re willing to pay for your fun.
The GTS, however, certainly hasn’t been overshadowed. It still has its place in the Sea-Doo lineup, and buyers interested in either model would be wise to look at the other.
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