By Jeff Hemmel
WASHINGTON — BRP Sea-Doo acted like the market leader it is, unveiling a collection of new products at its Aug. 28 press introduction PWC.
Highlighted by the expansion of the brake and shift concept into more models, new innovations in the iControl system, a new hull/deck combination, and even an innovative trailer concept, the 2010 introduction proved Sea-Doo is continuing to forge ahead despite the industry downturn.
As noted by Marketing Director Louis Levesque, Sea-Doo has always been known for innovation, and that won’t change heading into the new year. As a result, some typically bold products will hit the pipeline. The brand is also, however, getting a little more serious about its competition, taking numerous competitive claims head-on, as well as showing some aggressive pricing comparisons between competitive models.
As many insiders expected following last year’s introduction of iControl, Sea-Doo’s catch-all name for the braking/shifting, suspension and throttle control systems introduced on the GTX Limited iS and RXT iS models in ’09, elements of that system are now trickling down into less expensive models. The full system is now featured on the GTX 215 iS, but iControl sans suspension now debuts on the RXT-X, RXT 215, GTX 155 and Wake Pro 215. All four models also now mate the S3 stepped hull design with a new top deck. The resulting boats are substantially lighter absent the suspension hardware, yet keep the familiar looks of last year’s iS model’s top deck. They also tout iControl’s intuitive “start in neutral, shift into forward or reverse with both hands on the handlebars” personality, which is likely to be especially appreciated by the first-time buyer.
The development of last year’s electronic throttle has paved the way this year for some continuing advancements. Most intriguing is that users can now calibrate the throttle response on the fly. Boats will now start in a “touring” mode, which features a gentler acceleration curve. Users can also opt for a “sport” mode, which delivers far stronger, snappier acceleration off the bottom. From a purely seat-of-the-pants perspective, it feels even stronger than last year’s market-leading acceleration on the high-end models. The Wake also gets an additional Ski mode, which allows users to choose one of five, progressively steeper, pre-programmed acceleration curves, designed to haul everything from a tube to a heavyweight slalom skier out of the water. Ski mode also allows the driver to input the desired towing speed, a speed the boat will then attempt to keep based on the GPS-based speedometer. Top speeds in all modes continue to be capped at 67 mph.
Tweaks of the iControl system now allow Sea-Doo to claim 260hp on the GTX Limited iS 260, RXT-X 260 and RXT iS 260, once again equaling Kawasaki in the battle for horsepower supremacy. Other notable additions include fuel consumption displays, including both distance and time-till-empty features on every craft with iControl. The handlebars on all RXT models can now also be fine-tuned in terms of overall width, grip angle and tilt.
Sea-Doo is using the expanded iControl features, as well as what the company says are more performance and better fuel economy, to take a tougher stance on the competition. Several times during the presentation graphics were presented that noted favorable head-to-head comparisons with Yamaha models. Dealers can expect Sea-Doo to make a strong argument for its RXT 215 versus the Yamaha FZS, the GTX 155 versus the FX Cruiser HO and even the GTX 155 rivaling the Yamaha VX line in terms of fuel economy.
Sea-Doo is also taking on the trailer market. Noting that nearly 50 percent of models are sold with a single-place trailer, the company has elected to dip a toe into those waters as well, although in typical Sea-Doo fashion they haven’t done it in a conservative fashion. Yes, a single, bargain-priced trailer is in the offerings, but the standout is the high-end iCatch, which replaces the standard winch and tackle with a hands-free catch system that secures the bow of the craft. Operators can then walk on and off the trailer via a raised “walk pad,” which doubles as a guidance system that positions the craft perfectly atop the roller bunks. Launching the PWC is accomplished by pulling a release lever located within reach of a driver while seated on the craft. It’s truly a clever, unique solution, albeit one that comes at a premium $1,399 price tag.