2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Review

A high-performance, budget-friendly craft

For all the high-performance tweaks and pricey add-ons available to watercraft manufacturers, one of the simplest ways to boost performance is just to follow that age-old maxim – put as much horsepower as you can afford in a vehicle that’s as lightweight as possible. It’s a formula that first Yamaha, and then Sea-Doo, revisited several years back. And it’s one that still makes a boat like Sea-Doo’s GTR 215 so desirable.

Watch out $17,000 speed machines. A boat thousands of dollars cheaper just may eat your lunch.

Appreciate What You Have

Sea-Doo certainly didn’t have to look far for the parts to assemble the GTR.

2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Action LeftSea-Doo’s GTR 215 combines high end performance with a mid-range price tag.

Like Yamaha before it, Sea-Doo found a worthy hull in its most entry-level craft, the GTI. A lightweight, arguably simpler design with a shallower (16-degree) deadrise than the typical performance candidate, it nonetheless has proven its handling prowess in both calm and rough conditions. Weight the boat correctly and it holds tenaciously through turns. Get out of the saddle and you can confidently head into open ocean waves. That hull’s lighter weight also makes it feel easier to muscle around and leap out of the water.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Yamaha VXS

The GTI design also benefitted from a series makeover several years back that greatly improved the top deck and, in turn, how the driver interacts with it. Style was definitely improved, but so too were ergonomics, with the driver getting added features to help them become more one with the craft. Examples included sloping footwells to keep the driver’s feet always in contact with the boat, an inward cant to those footwells to alleviate stress on the knees and help utilize the stronger leg muscles, and an hourglass-like shape to the saddle to further bring those legs into the equation.

2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Action CorneringUpdates to the GTI-derived hull greatly improved the rider’s ability to interact with the craft.

For the engine that would exploit that hull’s light weight to the max, Sea-Doo opted for the 215 variation of its familiar 1,494cc Rotax engine. Boasting a supercharger and intercooler, it’s a potent driver for this relatively light 765-pound craft, and puts it into the same rarified territory of its pricier siblings. Acceleration is strong, the power curve is relatively steep, and top speed peaks at the magic 65 mph mark or more, depending on the load aboard, water conditions, and skill of the driver.

Basics…But Then Some

Retaining the supercharger is one example of Sea-Doo not stripping this boat to its barest essentials. Keeping a few familiar Sea-Doo features is another.

2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Action FrontDespite the lower price tag, the GTR 215 boasts a supercharger and BRP’s Intelligent Brake & Reverse system.

Despite its basic performance leanings, the GTR includes Intelligent Brake & Reverse. It’s become less of a novelty, and more of an everyday feature riders expect from the brand. Its claim to fame is stopping power, using a combination of the reverse bucket, spoiler, and eventually redirected thrust to rapidly slow forward momentum when activated at speed. But the easy-to-operate, handlebar-mounted-control system also keeps the GTR motionless at startup, and allows for intuitive, simple forward-neutral-reverse control around tight confines. Its addition here isn’t a non-essential add-on, but more of just a welcome enhancement that will quickly prove its worth in everyday operation.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra LX

Sea-Doo does, however, lavish a few extras upon the GTR. It offers the company’s familiar acceleration profiles – Touring or Sport – to tame the engine’s power when desired or exploit it to the max. ECO mode is also available when you need to conserve fuel. An additional performance-oriented mod is the high-performance version of the company’s variable trim system. Controlled by a handlebar-mounted toggle, it can be preset with two favored positions, allowing you to choose a bow-down profile for acceleration and bow-up stance for speed. A no-look double-tap of the button jumps between the two settings.

2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 VTS ButtonsChoosing between different acceleration profiles is as simple as a push of a button.

The boat also features a bolstered, tiered saddle. It does double duty, locking the driver in for aggressive riding while also offering back support and a raised passenger position for more casual riding. You’ll also get the familiar two-lanyard Learning Key system for theft prevention and speed governing.


2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Action Pair

Good old horsepower-to-weight ratio works. But so, too, does KISS – keep it simple, stupid. By getting down to the basics of what makes a craft a thrilling performance ride, Sea-Doo has helped bring high-end speed and performance to the masses.

After all, plenty of PWC enthusiasts care about little more.

2015 Sea-Doo GTR 215 Specs
Length 132.6 inches
Beam 48.5 inches
Dry Weight 799 lbs
Engine Three-cylinder EFI, Supercharged w/intercooler
Displacement 1,494 cc
Bore and Stroke 100 mm x 63.4 mm
Compression Ratio 8.4:1
Fuel Capacity 15.9 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 30.8 gal.
Colors Black and Sunburst Yellow
Price $11,899