BOAT TEST: SEA-DOO GTX LIMITED IS 255


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Sea-Doo caters to either luxury or high-performance with its two-model IS 255 PWC range. Darren shiel gives both models a blast.

BOAT TEST: SEA-DOO GTX LIMITED IS 255
SEA-DOO GTX LIMITED IS 255

With more innovation and design progress than any watercraft I have seen in my lifetime, the GTX Limited iS 255 is touted as a luxury watercraft and is solely aimed at the cruising PWC enthusiast. Its counterpart, the RXT iS 255, is classed as a musclecraft and is aimed at the sport-loving PWC user.

Both PWCs are based on the same all-new hull design and use the existing 255hp 4-TEC engine, with minor adjustments between the two craft making them suitable to the relevant market. Both Sea-Doos also have built into them a collection of world-first technologies known as the iControl system. This completely-new technology is intended to make these PWCs not only safer and more user-friendly, but also transform them into ultimate performers via controls never before seen in PWCs. The iControl system has four distinct and world-first systems: Intelligent Brake Reverse (IBR), Intelligent Suspension (IS), Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC) and the S3 Hull.

 

 

INTELLIGENT BRAKE REVERSE



Sea-Doo's clever IBR system quite seriously needs to be experienced to be believed. Controlled by a trigger-action handle on the portside handlebar, the braking system is unbelievably effective. To put things in perspective, when running at almost full speed, a full depression of the brake lever will have the PWC slowed and stopped within 10m, or about three seconds. The system is so intelligent that it automatically adjusts the required amount of braking power depending on the current speed. It adjusts the power output several times before coming to rest in a fully stopped position.

The system works because it uses an electronic throttle control and a strong reverse cup built into the hull, rather than the jet unit. This is electronically controlled using information from the GPS-actuated speedo.

The level of safety attainable with the IBR system is nothing short of spectacular and BRP are bound to win many accolades for deploying it.

 



INTELLIGENT SUSPENSION



Incredibly simple yet extremely effective is the full-suspension system. Using a separate floating hull within a hull, the whole top deck is controlled electronically by a set of buttons, again on the portside handlebar. The system uses three separate settings: auto, controlled by the weight placed on the craft's seat; manual, allowing the driver to manually control the hard/soft setting of the seat using the buttons on the helm; and the docking position, which is the lowest possible setting and which is down low with no suspension, providing the lowest centre of gravity.

When the craft is turned on and with the IS on auto, the top deck automatically rises a full six inches to its highest point. The weight will then drop the seat down once a person sits, and the system then adjusts itself automatically.

The two craft have distinct settings to suit their individual needs. The GTX uses a soft setting for luxury use while the RXT uses a harder setting for sport users.

Throughout the test the system worked extremely well in choppy sea conditions. The workings of the suspension were clearly demonstrated and the difference was immediately apparent after jumping off a standard PWC and straight onto the IS system.

 

 

INTELLIGENT THROTTLE CONTROL



With fly-by-wire now becoming the norm in today's larger marine engines, it was simply a matter of time before digital-throttle systems were adopted by the PWC industry. Sea-Doo is again the first to execute it.

In fact, it is in the PWC industry that the ITC system demonstrates its usefulness. The digital throttle allows the craft to incorporate gear controls into the handlebars, instead of having a separate gear lever mounted on the PWC's body.

The ITC system also allows the engine to start in neutral with a touch of throttle control instantly engaging forward gear. Touching the brake lever engages neutral again and holding the brake lever while touching the throttle engages and throttles reverse gear.

ITC also means an easy-to-use and accurate cruise-control system can be implemented onboard the ski, using the GPS-activated speedo for pinpoint accuracy. The ITC system is simply brilliant and a pleasure to use. Operating a PWC in close confines has never been easier and other manufacturers should aspire to attain a comparable level of precision control.

 



S3 HULL



The stepped S3 Hull is once more a first in the PWC industry, designed to reduce drag and improve handling and top-end speed. The stepped hull has been used in many different variations over the past few decades and has proven to be a huge success in the performance-boat world. It has been fitted to boats like Fountain, Baja and Scarab and has won numerous accolades and trophies.

The basic theory behind a stepped hull is that the step introduces air onto the hull, creating less drag and resulting in better and faster performance. This also allows the PWC to turn tighter and harder meaning a more exciting ride.

The S3 hull is built using ribbed construction for strength, similar to what you would find in larger boats.

The ribbed construction allows for a more rigid structure and a stronger platform that is more resistant to impact. The hull is both longer and wider than existing hulls and is an estimated seven inches longer than existing Sea-Doo watercraft.

 

 

CONTROLS



The helm position is where it all comes together. The helmsman has fully-adjustable controls, which are unlike anything the team's seen on a PWC. The entire steering wheel and dashboard display can be adjusted to suit your seated or standing position. I thought this was fantastic to work with because I had a clear view of the gauges at all times, even when standing.

A mirror is provided on either side, while the central dash consists of a speedo on the left, digital 28-function information centre (27 functions on the RXT), and tachometer to the right. The multi-function centre includes information about engine trim, suspension setting, gear setting, water depth (option on RXT) and more.

The handlebars also play a very important part in controlling the PWC. Mounted on the portside, a brake lever doubles as a reverse and neutral gear lever, which is operated by trigger action. The portside also has the engine start and stop button, as well as the up and down buttons to control the variable trim system. Another set of buttons controls the IS system.

On the very centre of the handlebars you'll find the individual coded key switch. The starboard side of the handlebars also play an equally important part in controlling the PWC. A trigger-action throttle doubles as a forward gear lever while four buttons used to navigate through the function centre's menu system fall to the right thumb. A cruise-control button to control the speed at which the PWC can be operated is also fitted here. It's GPS controlled for pinpoint accuracy.

Although both craft are three seaters they still differ in their seating configuration. As mentioned, the GTX is for cruising PWC owners and the seats can be comfortably sat on for long periods, with ample cushioning and back support for driver and passengers. The RXT is more about performance, so the seating is better suited for changes in driving position.

Both craft offer up to 62lt of storage capacity in four waterproof compartments. The main bow compartment is located in front of the dashboard under the bonnet.

The GTX comes with a host of options including retractable-mooring lines built into the side and rear of the craft, depthfinder, dry-storage bag, glovebox organiser, safety kit, sand-bag anchor, full boat cover and a luxury seat.

 

 

SUPER-TEC



Both craft are powered by the tried and proven Sea-Doo 255hp supercharged and intercooled Rotax 4-TEC engine found on other Sea-Doo watercraft.

The engine is accessed by opening the seat, but unlike other PWCs, the seat is fitted with a gas strut, allowing it to be moved effortlessly.

The engine is mounted to the main hull, so another waterproof porthole-style opening provides access to the top area of the engine. The Sea-Doo mechanics tell me that this is all they need to provide a full service to the engine and diagnostics. If further work is required, the whole floating top deck can be removed, providing access to the entire engine.

 

 

PERFORMANCE AND RIDE



The performance of the two watercraft is simply sensational. The stepped hull provides excellent handling, with easy turning on a dime at high speed.

The craft still has power in reserve during tight turns and is remarkably agile. Both craft are responsive using the ITC and small adjustments to the throttle make noticeable differences to the power output. As a result, out of the hole performance is just fantastic.

Like all modern watercraft, the Sea-Doo is responsive to trim and allows for great control in smooth or rough conditions. The models I tested were brand new with barely an hour on the clock and I was hitting 58kts at 7800rpm on both. I'm told that these craft are in initial testing and once run in properly can do as much as 62kts at 8000rpm.

 

 

CONCLUSION



In keeping with the rest of the ground-breaking features, all fixtures are of a quality build. I can honestly say that it has been a long time since I felt the "wow" factor after a test.

These two Sea-Doos are simply the best PWCs I have ever operated. The new technology has been executed incredibly well by Sea-Doo and the craft represent a giant leap forward in the PWC industry.

Would-be users may have reservations about the physical size of this watercraft, but I can assure you that this is not detrimental to performance.

Do yourself a favour and see these craft in person. Once you get a taste of how the new systems work you will be won over as much as I am.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


Great innovation
Soft riding and great performance rolled into one
Excellent resale value
Powerful supercharged engine

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


Physical size and weight might discourage some buyers

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested:  $27,590

 

 

GENERAL


Type:  Monhull
Material:  GRP
Length:  3.53m
Beam:  1.22m
Weight: 430kg
Warranty: 1 year

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 70lt
Storage: 62lt
People: 3

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Rotax 4-TEC 1503HO
Type: Supercharged three-cylinder four-stroke
Rated HP:  255
Displacement: 1493.8cc
Warranty: 1 year
Propulsion:  Sea-Doo Direct Drive jet

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Gold Coast Sea-Doo
2/118 Brisbane Road,
Labrador, Qld, 4215
Phone: (07) 5529 0322
Web: www.goldcoastseadoo.com.au; www.seadoo.com

First published in TrailerBoat #246

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