It didn’t take long for BRP to trickle its innovative iControl technology down the Sea-Doo product line. The 2010 GTX 155, an all-new model that fits at the bottom of the Sea-Doo touring line-up, features a full compliment of iControl technology, from drive-by-wire throttle with several speed-control functions to a hand-controlled brake-and-reverse system.
The only iControl element missing from the GTX 155 is Intelligent Suspension (the iS part) that debuted in 2009 on the luxury-touring GTX Limited iS. The iS system is groovy technology that makes a difference over a long day on rough water, but this GTX 155 is the boat I really wanted last year – call it the bells without the whistles – and I think it’s the best all-around Sea-Doo ever. Priced at $11,599 the GTX 155 is not exactly an entry-level model, but it does cost $4,900 less than the GTX Limited iS, and less than key competitors in this segment, including Honda F-15 ($12,999) and the Yamaha WaveRunner FX HO ($11,799) , which offer much less techno-sizzle. The GTX 155 is powered by the base Sea-Doo engine, the 1.5-liter Rotax E-TEC in 155-hp trim, with no supercharger boost. The GTX 155 does not accelerate with the authority of the 260-hp GTX Limited iS, but I think the 155-hp engine offers plenty of power for family touring and towing, and it’s happy to run on 87 octane fuel. Top speed is about 57 mph.
The S3 running surface under the GTX 155 is the same stepped shape that was introduced last year with the GTX/RXT iS models, and like those boats the new GTX is 139 inches long, or about nine inches longer than the previous GTX platform. The hull is molded of a composite material Sea-Doo says is 20 percent lighter than traditional fiberglass. The step, or raised area, in the aft sections of the hull is designed to introduce air under the boat, which reduces drag and improves efficiency. This longer hull also helps smooth out the ride as its “bridges” the gap between waves in choppy conditions.
Above the hull, the GTX 155 is all new. The shape is familial to the iS models, but does not have the deep cut-out under the cowl that’s required to accommodate the floating deck of the iS system. Instead of suspension, you get storage space. The GTX 155 has 52 gallons of combined storage, or 69 percent more than the GTX iS, which has only 16.4 gallons of space. Most of the difference is in the bow, which comes with a water-tight, lift-out bin that really keeps gear dry. The first encounter with iControl on the GTX 155 occurs when you push the start button. The engine purrs, and the boat does not move because it always starts with the reverse bucket in a true “neutral” position over the jet nozzle. Blip the throttle and the boat moves forward. Pull the lever on the left handlebar, and you get reverse. Release the lever, and you are back in neutral. It’s slick and smooth and handy and will make you look like a pro around the dock. This single feature is worth the price of iControl admission, in my opinion.
The same hand lever controls the brake. Grab it at speed and the iControl system drops the reverse bucket and engages enough throttle to cut stopping distance by about 50 percent, but not so much that you get pitched over the handlebars. Modulate the brake lever and you modulate the rate of deceleration. I think experienced riders, who know how to control a PWC with throttle, will think the brake is ho-hum. For beginners prone to panic, it’s a godsend. On the other side of the handlebars is the drive-by-wire throttle. You get two speed-control features with the GTX 155. One is for extended no-wake zones and holds the boat at about five mph. The other is a GPS-based cruise control that can be used to lock in any speed. This is especially handy when towing, as iControl can hold a much steadier speed than most human drivers. And with iControl watching the speed, the human can keep eyes forward and on the mirrors, and off the speedometer. It also has a memory, so you can stop and then start again and go right to the pre-set speed. The GTX 155 also comes with adjustable handlebars and power trim. The interactive digital display includes a GPS-based compass, a fuel-consumption meter, and a new function called “Touring/Sport Mode” that changes the rate of acceleration, from what I’d call normal in “Touring” to furious in “Sport.” It’s just the computer changing how much fuel squirts into the engine. Over a day of riding, I’m betting that Touring mode would improve fuel economy.
This big boat has a long, heavy, one-piece seat. It’s hinged at the front and rises on gas struts so you don’t have to lift it off for routine maintenance like checking the oil. The glove box is big enough to hold a water bottle, camera and sunscreen, but I noticed that its bottom can get very warm on a long ride. I took the GTX 155 on a day-long ride on the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., and even a couple of drenching rain showers did not diminish my satisfaction with this new boat. Despite its weight and size, it feels more nimble and sporty in the water than the previous-generation GTX, which earned a soft ride by simply wallowing its way through the waves, and was often reluctant to change directions. This GTX is well-balanced and fun but never too aggressive for family duty. The ergonomics are good, the seat is comfortable and the instrument display is useful and easy to comprehend. This is simply a great platform. The iControl features make it even better.
Editor’s Note: Charles Plueddeman, our Outboard, Trailer, and PWC Expert, is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.