It could be a sign of the times, but the attention Sea-Doo is putting into its low-end three-seaters is a boon for those on a budget. In a year when it did little more than tinker with the rest of its lineup, Sea-Doo redesigned its modestly priced three-seaters, turning them into real bargains. This is especially true of the low-end GTS. Traditionally, this segment has been home to rental units and also-rans — watercraft that worked but did so in a pedestrian manner.
However, with its new makeover and, more importantly, its new hull, the GTS has shed that pedestrian quality and replaced it with more than a little pizzazz.
The key is the new hull. Based on last year's high-performance RX model, the new fiberglass-reinforced hull features a semi-V design that provides a nice balance between performance and comfort. The multi-strake design also allows the GTS to get up on plane in a hurry and stick in turns, but the design is simple and elegant enough avoid the bow hunt and jarring ride of most multi-angled hulls.
Although the GTS is relatively small for a three-seater — at 121 inches, it's 3.1 inches shorter than last year's version — the steeper entry angle on the hull allows the craft slice through heavy chop better than last year's model. It is also rock solid in turns, with none of the sliding you get with the old hull design.
When combined with Sea-Doo's proven 85-horsepower, 720 series Rotax marine twin, it makes for a fairly impressive package, considering the cost. By now, every Sea-Doo fan should be familiar with the 720 engine. As in the past, the 718-cc, oil-injected, inline twin features single Mikuni BN 40-38 carburetor, rotary valve intake and a tuned aluminum pipe. Bore x stroke is 82 mm by 68 mm, and the compression ratio is 6.2:1.
In most respects, the engine is identical to the one found on the midrange GTi, and it's been tuned to provide a smooth and consistent power band, with emphasis on the low end.
Power is transferred to the water through the standard Bombardier Formula Jet Pump, pretty much the same pump found throughout the rest of the Sea-Doo lineup. However, unlike the midrange GTi, the GTS comes with a standard impeller. That's a shame because you notice the difference mainly on the low end, which takes away from the GTS's towing ability.
The GTS also lacks most of the towing features built into the GTi, including things such as mirrors, a speedometer and reverse/neutral.
That's a shame because the GTS could be a pretty good tow vehicle. The power is there. It struggles a bit more pulling skiers out of the water because of its impeller, but it does include some nice towing features. The rear boarding platform is wide enough to allow a skier or wakeboarder to sit and slip the bindings of their ski or board onto their feet, and the ski-eye is a nice touch. There's also secure seating for a spotter, thanks to the hand grip at the back of the seat and built-in footrests on the rear deck.
The GTS also has other nice features. Probably the most important is Sea-Doo's D-Sea-Bel noise reduction system, which uses a series of Hemholtz resonators, acoustically insulated air intakes and foam-wrapped waterbox/muffler to dramatically reduce the amount of the sound generated by the engine.
It also looks good. Sea-Doo incorporated the sharper angles of the RX into the new top deck. The marine green-and-white color scheme gives it a look of quality.
The rest of the riding area is roomy and comfortable enough for two, though it can accommodate three adults in a pinch. The extra-soft, form-fitting seat narrows toward the front, providing the driver with more comfort and better control.
There's also plenty of storage on board — 33.8 gallons in all, including a large front storage area under the front hood, a glove box beneath the handlebars a small bucket under the windscreen and a storage bucket under the back section of the seat. Fuel capacity is 15 gallons.
Other standard features include the D.E.S.S. (Digitally Encoded Security System) starting system, which uses a computer chip in the safety lanyard that is programmed to only start your watercraft. The system also can be programmed to include information about the owner, including name, address, place purchased and phone number in case of theft. The only instrumentation is the large analog fuel gauge.
Still, it's hard to complain about the omissions, considering the low price. That is really what sets the GTS apart. In terms of performance and quality, it has raised the bar on the low end.
|Weight (dry)||600 pounds|
|Manufacturer's suggested retail price||$5,999|
|Bore x stroke||82 mm x 68 mm|
|Fuel delivery||(1) Mikuni BN 40-38 carburetor|
|Intake system||Rotary valve|
|Lubrication||Variable- rate oil injection|
|Pump type||Bombardier Performance jet pump|
|Impeller||Stainless-steel, large hub|
|Fuel capacity||15 gallons (3 in reserve)|
|Oil capacity||1.6 gallons|
|Storage capacity||33.8 gallons|
For more information
Sea-Doo/Bombardier Recreational Products
730 East Strawbridge Avenue
Melbourne, FL 32901