It’s no exaggeration to say that Sea-Doo recently turned the PWC industry on its ear. With the introduction of the Spark — a craft that starts at only $4,999 — the manufacturer not only cut the price of entry into the PWC world by literally thousands of dollars, it also threw out conventional wisdom about what makes a PWC cool...and fun.
Just how different is the Spark? Way different. In a market that has come to be defined by fiberglass, the Spark is made from plastic, specifically a mix of polypropylene and long-strand glass fibers that make the hull durable, lightweight, and allow for a rainbow of trendy, matte-finish colors. Parts of the upper deck are seemingly missing; to further reduce weight (and boost style), Sea-Doo left out the area normally reserved for a bow storage compartment. Instead, twin “arms” angle down from the handlebars as part of a wishbone-like exoskeleton, leaving the space below completely open. Lift the seat and you won’t find the engine. Consumers are given small access ports to reach maintenance-related areas like the battery or oil dipstick, but for real engine maintenance a shop can simply unbolt the entire mid-deck and remove it in all of about five minutes. That’s the kind of access to the engine, driveline, and fuel systems that usually ends at the factory.
Boosting the hull’s already impressive power-to-weight ratio is a new engine. Rotax’s 900 ACE, a three-cylinder already found in the Ski-Doo snowmobile line, was developed to serve both snow and watercraft lines. It’s compact, clean, and combined with the lightweight hull, remarkably fuel-efficient. At a mere 60 hp in stock form, and only 90 hp in an HO version, it’s also surprisingly spunky. Expect to get about 42 mph from the 60 hp version, and 50 mph from the 90. Those surprised by the numbers need only ponder the craft’s power-to-weight ratio. At not much over 400 pounds, the Spark weighs little more than a standup, and carries a 300-plus pound advantage over every other manufacturer’s entry-level models.
Ah, but is it any fun? You better believe it. Play with your weight distribution and you can rail it through a snappy, sharp corner one minute, power slide it old-school-style the next. Like models of old, this is a craft that the driver feels like they’re controlling, not one where you’re simply along for the ride.
Will all that equate to the market boost that Sea-Doo is hoping for? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.