The GT series is aimed straight at the family looking for some real fun on the water without breaking the bank. There are four models in ever increasing features, starting with the base GTS, then the GTI, the GTI SE, and the fully loaded GTI Limited 155.
Now while all of these exhibit great handling, if the level of comfort is the deciding factor, then the GTI SE has it all. The Limited edition adds some ride features that may or may not be as important.
- Polytec (for model w/ Rotax 900 HO ACE engine)
- Touring mode/Sport mode
- ECO mode
- Elevated fuel filler
- RF D.E.S.S. Key
- Off-Throttle Assisted Steering (O.T.A.S.)
- Interactive Multifunction Digital Information Center
|Length Overall||132.6" (336.8 cm)|
|Dry Weight||640 lbs. (291 kg)|
|Weight Capacity||600 lbs. (272 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||15.9 US gal (60 L)|
Currently no test numbers
There are definitely some key features that need to be pointed out with the GTI SE, but it’s worth mentioning which features are included in which model.
GTS, GTI, GTI SE, GTI Limited 155:
• Intelligent throttle control. This digital throttle includes three modes: Touring, Sport, and ECO. When the vehicle is first started, the default setting is in the touring mode. This gives a more relaxed acceleration curve on up to the vehicle's top speed. It's great for kids or first-timers in that it keeps them out of trouble.
- Pressing the sport button unleashes all the performance that the engine can give with a more aggressive acceleration profile limited only by the driver's finger on the throttle trigger.
- Eco-mode allows for cruising at the best economic performance, giving the most miles traveled for the least amount of fuel burned.
- • 30.8 gallons (116.6 L) of storage. There are two compartments with the bulk of the storage being in the forward trunk. A release latch opens the forward visor where there is a cavernous storage compartment that swallows a ton of gear.
- The second storage compartment is located just ahead of the driver and behind the steering wheel. This smaller compartment holds drinks and ancillary items, but be sure to keep your cell phone in a separate waterproof container if it goes into this compartment.
- • Handle grips with palm rest. Suffice it to say that the hands can get tired hanging onto a round cylindrical grip. Elongating one side of the grip and creating a palm rest extends the comfort level exponentially. We've seen these on bicycles and motorcycles and with good reason. They work and work well.
- • Closed loop cooling system. This is a feature that will be especially attractive to the saltwater boaters. The closed loop cooling system utilizes both a separate coolant reservoir and a heat exchange system to maintain the engine temperature. In this manner, the water that the vehicle is operating in never enters the engine. At the bottom of the hull is a metal plate that serves as a heat exchanger, as well as a reinforced mounting point for the engine.
- • D.E.S.S. This stands for Digital Electronic Security System. It utilizes a key with an RF frequency tag to ensure that only this key starts only one vehicle and is not interchangeable with any other watercraft.
- There is a second key, called a learning key, and when this key is utilized the same technology allows for the owner to program preset parameters into the performance envelope and limit the power output. This is a great feature when the family is going to share the watercraft with the kids.
- • Intelligent Braking and Reverse. This is an exciting feature, and, in our opinion, a necessary one especially for a family watercraft. While the right hand is used for the throttle trigger, the left hand is used for the IBR trigger. When we squeeze that left trigger, the reverse bucket is lowered behind the exhaust duct to redirect the flow forward and put the watercraft into reverse mode. This will allow us to back off of the beach and certainly aids in docking. Steering is reversed, so it's always best to continue facing forward and use the handlebars to steer the bow, not the stern.
- When we squeeze this IBR trigger while at high speed, not only does the reverse bucket dropped down into position, but the engine power is also reduced to a point that allows for the most efficient stopping distance while still allowing the operator to remain in complete control of the vehicle. This is an important point and where the term "intelligent" comes into play. If we were to cruise at flat-out speed and drop the bucket, it would be pretty easy to eject the driver from the vehicle. Adding intelligence to the braking system not only prevents this from happening, but also keeps the vehicle in complete control.
- • Touring seat. This is a three-person seat that provides additional support just behind the driver, a grab strap for the center rider, and grab handles to the sides and rear for the aft passenger. It's also extremely well padded, providing an increased comfort level from the moment it's sat on.
- • Re-boarding ladder. Whenever we play on the water, there's always a time where we end up playing in the water. Once that happens, we're going to need to re-board the vehicle, and the easiest way to do that is with a re-boarding ladder. In this case, it takes the form of a padded flip-down bar at the rear of the watercraft. This makes stepping aboard infinitely easier, and with the re-boarding taking place at the rear, there is never any concern about rolling it over and dumping us back into the water.
- • VTS. VTS stands for Variable Trim System, and it provides a method for adjusting the trim angle of the jet exhaust in order to provide a better trim angle for the vehicle itself as it goes across the water. Encountering some choppy water? Adjust the trim angle to bring the bow up a bit. Got your heavier buddy on the back? Adjust the trim angle to bring the bow back down. We adjust the trim by selecting VTS on the multifunction display and then adjusting it up and down as desired.
- • These models also feature additional functions on the center gauge that include fuel consumption and a clock.
- • Watercraft cover
- • High-performance VTS. This means that there is a dedicated rocker switch for the trim system rather than having to select trim from the multifunction panel.
- • Cruise control and slow mode. Cruise control allows us to maintain a set speed without continually adjusting the trigger. Slow mode does the same thing only while keeping the speed below no wake speed.
- • Additional gauge functions that include time and distance to empty and an altitude indicator.
GTI, GTI SE, GTI Limited 155
In addition to all the above features, these three models offer the following:
GTI SE, GTI Limited 155
In addition to everything we've already talked about, these two vehicles come equipped with the following.
GTI Limited 155
While this vehicle is not the focus of this report, it's worth mentioning the additional features that it comes with, mostly to support our decision to stay with the GTI SE model.
How to Buy
When purchasing the Sea-Doo GTI SE, there are some decisions that need to be made and Sea Doo makes the process quite easy with a simple decision tree. The first thing we need to do is determine which engine we’ll use to power our GTI SE.
Step One - Engine Choices
Standard power for the GTI SE is the Rotax 900 ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) HO engine. This is a 4-stroke, 3-cyclinder engine putting out 90-hp. If more is desired, then choose the Rotax 1503 at 122-hp ($800) or the 1503 NA 4-tec at 144-hp ($1400).
With that said, we drove the GTI SE with the standard 90-hp engine, and it lacked for nothing. In fact, we drove it right after driving a 230-hp powered Sea-Doo and thought it had the same engine. And we even argued about it. The 90-hp performed that good!
For our money, the biggest improvement in the larger engines will likely be in top speed. This 90-hp version reached 42.5 mph, so if that’s not good enough, then by all means, opt up.
Step Two - Color choices
The next decision to make is the color scheme, and Sea-Doo offers two choices. One is called black and white, but it actually includes gray and green as well. This seems to be a more traditional choice while still providing striking looks.
The second choice is called orange and white, and it includes some black highlights. This is a more standout choice, and while it not only draws attention, it also seems to add to the good looks of the GTI SE.
Options and Pricing
Now we get into adding options and adding to the price as well.
The GTI SE comes powered with the standard 900 HO ACE engine putting out 90-hp. That’s the engine we drove and loved every minute of it. With that power, she has a base price of $9599 MSRP. We’ve already discussed the price of upgrading the engines, so now lets explore adding accessories.
Some of the available accessories include a boat cover ($249.99) to protect your investment. Since the GTI SE comes with a tow ring and a three-person seat, it makes sense that we’ll be doing some tubing. That will require the 12-V outlet ($49.99) to plug an inflation pump into. We would definitely add the speed tie ($199.99). This is basically a retractable dock line that will also eliminate the need for storing lines in the forward compartment. A sandbag anchor ($29.99) will keep our ride from drifting away once were at the beach. A dry bag ($49.99) will add water protection to items like our phones and wallets. The front storage tray ($154.99) converts the fixed front storage into removable front storage. And, of course, we’re going to need the safety equipment kit ($19.99).
Now we’ve brought the retail price up to $10,353.93, and we still need to think about a trailer that can add another $900+ to the package.
The hull is made of Polytec material, a recyclable, low density, and high-impact composite material that includes polypropylene and long glass fiber reinforcements. It’s lightweight, and its strength helps maintain the structural integrity of the watercraft under stress while providing light yet durable parts.
So what’s the drive like?
We've previously stated that we test-drove this GTI SE with the base 90-hp engine that we found to be perfectly adequate, and we meant it. In fact, we also said that we had boarded this model after driving a performance machine and had to be convinced that this had much less horsepower.
She gives a forgiving ride in that no matter what we did or how hard we rode it, it showed no tendency to roll over or dump us into the water. She also gives an exhilarating ride, as she's quick to respond to the throttle, more so in sport mode, of course, and provides pure fun and adrenaline when trying to put it through its paces.
Naturally, there is a noticeable difference in acceleration between the Touring and Sport modes. The touring acceleration is gradual and more easy-paced on up to the top speed of 42.5 mph. Press that sport button, and she leaps out of the water. This is easy to accommodate when you're driving and have your hands on the handlebars, but when two people behind you are trying to hang on it and get a little dicier. We recommend sticking to touring mode when passengers are along for the ride. It's that brisk!
A Word About Safety
Obviously, these are not boats, and, therefore, they provide a much different ride and experience than boats do. For starters, these are wet rides. Nobody gets on one of these to bring a date to a waterfront restaurant for a romantic evening. You get on it to get wet and have a screaming good time -- and that's exactly what they provide. The more aggressive you are with the ride and performance, the more fun they provide.
With that said, there is a strong likelihood that sooner or later the driver will be tossed off of the vehicle. We only mention this because exploring the boundaries of the rider’s performance is part of the fun of owning one of these. If you go flat out, and put it into a hard turn without leaning into it first, you're going to end up in the water. If you try doing doughnuts at ever-increasing speeds, you're probably going to end up in the water. Once that happens, you come back to the surface laughing and swimming back on over for re-boarding.
Does this mean that we are completely departing from safety? No, not at all, but there are three things that need to be strictly adhered to in order to be both safe and legal on this type of vehicle.
First we need to be wearing a life vest. Not a life preserver like those orange ones the dealership gives you for free with the boat. We need a life vest that comes fitted with a zipper and/or multiple straps. These are more impact resistant in the event that we hit the water at high speeds. That's why they're also used when waterskiing, wakeboarding, etc…
Secondly, we need a safety lanyard. The D.E.S.S. keys that come with the GTI SE are attached to a coiled lanyard that then attaches by clip to the life vest. Should we enter the water, the key becomes disconnected from the vehicle and the engine stops. That means we don't have to worry about it running off unattended.
And finally, we need to check our surroundings. Of course all the fun we had wringing this thing out and zipping all over the place was done well away from any other boats, people, and certainly not near anyone swimming in the water. Negligent operation is an easy thing to come by so keep your surroundings well in mind when performing any maneuvers. Remember, we’re here to have fun, not get arrested. This holds true with any boat, and is not limited to these watercraft.
If we were to list some of the parameters that are required for a family fun personal watercraft it would include the words forgiving, nimble, and affordable. Those three words pretty much sum up the theme of Sea-Doo's GTI SE. It's safe enough for everyone in the family to use while allowing for the limitations to be adjusted according to the riders experience level. On top of all of this we can’t ignore the outstanding good looks. It'll be hard not to notice this one going by.