Sept. 6, 2010 – An eye on the low price point

After spending the past several years focusing on high-end technologies — and price points — Sea-Doo opted to retool its low-end GTI platform for 2011.
Four new models were unveiled to the media at the company’s late-August press introduction in Hutchinson Island, Fla., and the result seemingly puts Sea-Doo in prime position to take on segment champ Yamaha in this popular category.
Sea-Doo readily admits that, while it has been able to grow market share in many categories, the Introductory/Recreation segment has not been one of its strong suits. Company officials are counting on that to change with the new line.
The departure from the old-school GTI platform is immediately evident. Long gone is the dated GTI design. In its place is a new, faceted, cutting-edge top deck that pays homage to the GTX makeover of the past several years, but also clearly charts new territory of its own. It’s
modern, low-slung and features a level of color, graphics and fit and finish that defies its position as an entry-level boat.
There’s function to the form. The sculpted seat, as well as all rider contact points, is now lower to bring the boat’s center of gravity closer to the water, enhancing both the ride and the craft’s stability. The seat is wide at the base, but narrows around the legs to facilitate comfortable stand-up riding. The gauge package has been positioned farther forward so those who choose to stand won’t lose sight of the display. Even the footwells have been rethought. Rather than feature abrupt angular changes, the well follows an arc, allowing the driver’s foot to stay in full contact at a variety of riding positions. Wells even cant slightly inward to alleviate stress on knees and ankles and increase comfort.
The new design is three inches longer than the previous GTI. The longer nose is said to help wave penetration, and a more generous rear platform provides more room for towsports riders gearing up, but also provides more volume to increase stability. The running surface below, however, is essentially borrowed from the previous GTI. It shares the same long-fiber injection material introduced on the S3 hull in 2009; Sea-Doo notes it reduces weight by 20 pounds. A new water inlet increases pump efficiency and adds 1 mph in top speed, the company says.
The hull keeps the boat a little more loose and playful than the locked-in GTX models, allowing riders to still spin and slide the craft when desired. The lower center of gravity, however, now seems to give the boat a slightly more lean-in personality, and with trim down, it tracks aggressive corners. Splash deflection also has been improved through the use of three splash-deflection ridges forward.
Tech Trickles Down
An array of tech has trickled down to the GTI from higher in the line, highlighted by the iBR “intelligent brake and reverse” system.
Braking technology is impressive on a boat in this price range. Sea-Doo trotted out a VX to show the GTI stops about 80-100 feet shorter than the Yamaha in a straight-line stop. (Both models feature off-throttle steering for collision-avoidance turning maneuvers.) But where it really shines, especially given its intended buyer, is in close-quarters maneuvering, such as the dock or launch ramp. Thanks to iBR, the GTI now starts in neutral, and can then be shifted into forward or reverse via the handlebar-mounted throttle or brake/reverse lever. It provides a level of low-speed control unmatched at the moment by any other brand of PWC.
Also trickling down are elements of Sea-Doo’s iTC (Intelligent Throttle Control). GTI models now start in “touring” mode, which features a gentler acceleration curve best for a wide audience. Drivers can choose “sport” mode through a convenient handlebar-mounted button to have the computer choose a much more aggressive acceleration curve. The programmable Learning Key lanyard system is also still in place to further tame the ride for newcomers or younger riders.
Other additions? A new storage area does away with the removable bucket for a wide-open locker forward. A welcome small touch is a beefy new hinge for the lid, which is far more solid than the previous model. Mirrors are now wide-angle and positioned for better driver view of the action behind the craft.
Four Flavors
Four models make up the new GTI line — the base GTI 130 ($8,999), the SE 130 ($9,599), the SE 155 ($10,599), and the SE 155 Limited ($11,499). All use the same 1,494cc Rotax engine found in the previous GTI line. Top speeds for the 155 models are around 58 mph; the 130 models fall in the 54 mph range.
SE models add variable trim, as well as a touring seat, boarding step, two color choices, info display additions and ECO mode, a new iTC function that calculates the most economical fuel consumption and adjusts acceleration and top speed accordingly. Sea-Doo says recalibration of the 130 engines makes the GTI about 12 percent more fuel-efficient than the VX at a 30 mph cruising speed. By engaging ECO mode, Sea-Doo reps say riders should seen an additional 8 percent improvement at the engine’s sweet spot of around 41 mph.
The Limited package adds Cruise Control, high-performance VTS, a touring seat and the host of Limited extras shared by the GTX Limited, including cover, dry bag, sandbag anchor, safety kit, etc. PSB

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