Sea-Doo Sportster 4-TEC: Performance Test

The Sea-Doo Sportster 4-TEC takes away life's headaches.

4th March 2003.
By Go Boating

The Sportster is armed with a digitally encoded security system (D.E.S.S.) that limits unauthorized use.

The Sportster is armed with a digitally encoded security system (D.E.S.S.) that limits unauthorized use.

If you took a Sea-Doo personal watercraft and put it on steroids for a few months, you’d have something that looked (and handled) a lot like the Sportster 4-TEC. This flashy little boat is sure to bring a healthy amount of razzle-dazzle to whatever body of water it decides to grace with its presence.

Do you remember those Nuprin commercials that seemed to run nonstop in the early 1990s?

Sure you do. The tag line was: Little. Yellow. Different.

Ahhhh! Now you remember.

Well, that’s what kept running through our minds as we tested Sea-Doo’s new Sportster 4-TEC. The boat comes in at only 15 feet, 4 inches in length (which qualifies in some books as little), a large portion of our test boat’s hull was covered in a bright yellow gelcoat (which qualifies as, uh, yellow), and the four-stroke jet drive certainly makes it “different” (in that oh-so-good kind of way).

Nuprin seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet, but you can still find relief from life’s headaches with the Sea-Doo Sportster 4-TEC.

Smooth Operator

We tested the Sportster 4-TEC at Geist Reservoir in Indianapolis, Indiana. With the push of a button, the boat came to life; however, the waterproof ignition button doesn’t work for just anyone. The Sportster is armed with a digitally encoded security system (D.E.S.S.) that limits unauthorized use.

Gorgeous mansions surround Geist Reservoir, so the locals undoubtedly appreciated the fact that we were testing such a quiet boat near their homes. In fact, the cars traveling over the bridge that crosses the reservoir seemed like screeching howler monkeys in comparison.

The 155 hp four-stroke three-cylinder Rotax marine engine with a single overhead cam is the piece of technology to thank for such quiet operation. In addition, the engine’s multi-port fuel injection significantly increases its efficiency.

We had two adults and half a tank of fuel on board during our test. When putting the boat through its paces, the first thing we noticed was that the Sportster can turn on a dime. Boats that turn well are often described as “running on rails,” but we’ve never seen a track as flexible as this. The boat can do a 180 degree turn virtually in place.

The Sportster has a single jet drive, so it doesn’t have a rudder for stability; therefore, load is important. If one side of the boat is heavier than the other, the boat has a tendency to list to that side. Wind also has a considerable effect. However, the simple solution is to shift the load, whether that load is stowed gear or people on board.

At around 6,800 rpm, the Sportster topped out at exactly 50 mph, which is close to Sea-Doo’s posted top speed of 51 mph. Even at high speeds, handling was comfortable and controlled. Cruising speed for the boat is approximately 35 mph.

Good Sport

Although we hailed the Sportster as being little, yellow and different — one of those three adjectives is discretionary. If you’re not a fan of yellow, you can choose from a variety of other color schemes.

This aggressive look is part of Bombardier’s attempt to reach out to Generation Y. The company sees young skiers and wakeboarders as the target audience for the Sportster — even if it’s their parents or grandparents who may sometimes purchase the boat.

The jet drive eliminates exposed props, making it safer for skiers to ride behind the boat. However, if the safety factor doesn’t serve to lure in skiing enthusiasts, the in-floor ski locker and the standard ski pylon should do the trick.

Generation Y is also sure to appreciate the optional sunpad that runs along the transom, covering the engine compartment. The engine sits right in the center of the compartment, leaving stowage space on both sides.

A seating area for three people is forward of the sunpad. A rear-facing observer seat is to port and the helm console is to starboard.

In addition to full instrumentation at the helm, you’ll also find a marine AM/FM/CD stereo system. A built-in insulated cooler is hidden underneath the hood-like protrusion that shields the helm. The boat’s French-Canadian designers have also hidden additional stowage space in this area — as well as the pull-up latch that unlocks the engine compartment.

The bow has a simple stepped design, but it is too small to offer additional seating. The boat has a passenger capacity of only four people, though, so there should be just enough seating for everyone on board.

The Sportster sits low enough in the water that you can board it from the dock at just about any spot. Plus, the rear swim platform with boarding ladder makes it easy to climb back on board when you’re done skiing or swimming.

Sea-Doo Sportster 4-TEC Specifications

Length 15’4″
Beam 7’1″
Draft 1′
Dry weight (hull) 1,454 pounds
Fuel capacity 23 gallons
Maximum power 155 hp
Base price $14,299
Price as tested $14,299

Performance

Top speed 51 mph
Cruising speed 35 mph
Estimated iles per gallon at 35-mph cruising speed 11.25
Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles $13.33
Range at 35-mph cruising speed 259 miles

(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.50 per gallon.)

Engine

Model 1503 Rotax 4-TEC engine
Propshaft horsepower 155
Cylinders 3
Displacement 1494 cc
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Maximum engine speed 6800 rpm

Standard Features

AM/FM radio with CD player; full functioning instrumentation; closed-loop cooling system; digitally encoded security system (D.E.S.S.).

Options

Wakeboard tower with Bimini top; Bimini top accessory.

For More Information

Bombardier Motor Corp. of America
6545 U.S. 1
Grant, FL 32949
(800) 882-2900; (715) 848-4957
www.sea-doo.com; www.bombardier.com


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