After several years of attention on high-tech — and high-priced — watercraft, Sea-Doo is turning its attention back to the Introductory/Recreational market for 2011, redesigning the GTI series into a feature-packed, cutting-edge design line of machines that one Sea-Doo rep not-so-surprisingly labeled “VX killers.” Meanwhile, at leastone high-end machine has received attention. The RXT-X is now available in a manual-suspension variation that should prove a favorite for ocean riders.
The new craft were unveiled to the press last week in Florida. My first impressions? Multiple points immediately stand out on the GTI. First, they look awesome, the result of a makeover that gives the boats some of the lines of the GTX series, but a unique personality all their own. Forget the dated design the previous GTI touted for years. These boats are ultra modern and could pass for flagships. Fit and finish has also been raised. Remember that wimpy hood and latch on the GTI? That hood is now solid and finished on the interior, and that hinge is now abeefy, sturdy arm. It’s a wholesale departure from the former line, and one that should turn heads both in the showroom and on the water.
That design incorporates some clever ergonomic features. Footwells now feature a consistent slope, or arc, rather than the abrupt angular changes that have become the norm. That keeps the foot in constant contact with the footwell, no matter what the leg position. Footwells are also canted inward to match the natural angle of a rider’s knees and ankles. The low-slung styling incorporates a lower seat and handlebar angle, dropping the boat’scenter of gravity closer to the water. The seat narrows at the knees for comfort, but also to make stand-up riding easier. For that same reason, the info display has been moved forward to stay in view.
For an entry-level machine (the base GTI 130 starts at $8,999), there are some high-end features. Intelligent Brake and Reverse (iBR) means these craft will have not only the braking ability of Sea-Doo’s high-end models, but also the simple, intuitive handling provided by a craft that starts in neutral, and can be shifted easily from forward, neutral, and reverse via the handlebar-mounted throttle and brake/reverse lever. That makes it simple to launch, load, and maneuver around a tight dock area, an area that has proven over time to be one of the most intimidating to the Introductory audience. GTIs also now get elements of Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC). They start in “touring” mode, which features a gentler acceleration curve; override it for “sport” mode and the full acceleration and power of the engine is on tap for more experienced riders.
One thing hasn’t changed. While there are tweaks — the water inlet has been relocated to improve pump efficiency and top speed and the material is now the long-fiber injection material introduced on the S3 hulls in 2009 — the basic hull design is still the GTI of old. That means the boat is still more playful than the locked-in machines that dominate the PWC market.
The end result is an impressive combination of style, ride, features, and price that should shake up the entry-level market Yamaha has dominated for years. You can find more of my thoughts on the GTI on PersonalWatercraft.com.
As to that big-wave RXT-X? The aS (Adjustable Suspension) model features a manual suspension that uses a nitrogen-charged remote oil reservoir to adjust the stiffness of the suspension, as well as an adjustment screw under the seat to change the preload. The overall system has been calibrated for 2′-5′ wakes, and should prove popular with offshore riders. It even has a custom, racy look, with the oil reservoir cylinder visible through a window in the glovebox door.