Author: Alan Jones
This year, Sea-Doo takes most of its recent high-tech innovations — previously reserved only for its top-of-the-line models — and brings them to the less expensive GTX S 155. Included are features such as Intelligent Brake and Reverse (iBR), the industry’s first braking system, which allows a rider to shift from forward to reverse without taking his hands off the adjustable-tilt handlebars. Also included is Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC), which always starts the vessel in neutral and gives the rider a choice of Sport Mode for high-performance riding, Touring Mode for cruising and ECO Mode, which automatically determines and sets the optimal rpm for up to 46 percent better fuel economy. But the biggest news is that for the first time, a suspension system is now available on a less-than-premium model.
For 2012, Sea-Doo brings a slightly modified suspension system to the GTX S 155, for nearly $4,000 less than the price of a GTX Limited iS 260. At the Sea-Doo press intro in Canada, we were faced with a lengthy run to Old Montreal over a wide, windswept section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, so I quickly jumped aboard this model before anyone else could snag it. In a 2-foot chop, I was able to streak across the surface, letting the 5.5-inch travel of the suspension absorb the pounding instead of my middle-aged back. With this enhancement, I was able to keep up with the hard-core PWC press corps, whose ranks are mostly filled with current and ex-racers. Once again, old age, treachery and technology proved to be a potent combination.
The only penalty associated with the suspension system is that it adds 144 pounds of weight (960 pounds overall), making the S version slightly less nimble in corners than the unsprung GTX 155. But that’s a relative metric, as the S3 hull, found on both, features a stepped design that creates a low-pressure zone to reduce drag. You still won’t have any problems showing off your awesome riding ability to your significant other. On the other hand, the additional weight, when combined with the suspension system, gives it a less “slappy” ride when cruising over the chop and contributes to its Road King-like feel during a long cruise. The Touring Seat adds to the Harley-esque comfort and grips you well in turns.
Will you be disappointed by going with a model that has 105 hp less than the 260 hp version? If you aren’t a racer, the answer is probably no. Pushing the GTX S 155 is the same 1.5L 4-TEC block that powers the higher-horsepower models, but instead of being supercharged, it’s naturally aspirated with a 60 mm throttle body and runs on regular gas. It also has a closed cooling system, which is preferred for saltwater or less-than-pristine freshwater operation. When you select Sport Mode and flex your trigger finger on the throttle, to paraphrase B.B. King, the thrill isn’t gone. Since most riders will seldom hammer the 260 hp version all the way when taking off, your real-world acceleration will be similar and very exhilarating. Time to plane was accomplished in something like “one-Mississip …” We stormed to 30 mph in 3.2 seconds. Top speed on the 260 hp version is around 67 mph, and with 155 ponies it drops to 53 mph, but most people will cruise in the 40s anyway if they’re not late for an appointment.
To help keep costs down, the S version of the GTX 155 doesn’t have the computer-driven automatic adjustment that corrects for changing conditions, which is the iS suspension system on the GTX Limited iS 260. You can, however, manually adjust it with a wrench to compensate for different passenger loads. I didn’t notice much difference in the “dumber” version’s ability to keep my back from absorbing punishment during our extended ride. And despite the weight penalty, anyone who values comfort over slightly better cornering should get the suspension system. The Variable Trim System (VTS) allows you to maintain the optimal angle of attack.
The GTX S 155 is ready for skiing, with a standard ski tow eye and optional Ski Mode for the iTC. For reboarding after a run, a flip-down step along with a grabrail makes it easy. You can even get a removable wakeboard rack and customize it with a dry bag to augment the waterproof 16-gallon front storage compartment.