Sea-Doo Introduces Budget-Priced Spark

The Spark from Sea-Doo features an entirely new design built from a unique materia. Brand hopes to "reignite" industry sales with $4,999 starting price.

Dealers arrived at Sea-Doo’s annual dealer meeting expecting something big. For months, rumors of a new craft circulated — a new craft with a lower price point and possibly even a completely new hull and engine. Instead, dealers received a craft that arguably exceeded their expectations. The cleverly named Spark features an entirely new design built from a unique material, and in this day of near constant price creep, it starts at an almost unheard of price of $4,999.

According to Sea-Doo reps, Spark has been a long time coming. The project dates back to 2006, when Sea-Doo tasked engineers and designers with creating a new craft that was fun, like the early SP line, and had an ultra-affordable price tag. In order to accomplish this goal, Sea-Doo seriously examined its current construction techniques. Sea-Doo forewent fiberglass in favor of plastic, more specifically polypropylene reinforced with long-strand glass fibers. Why choose plastic over glass? Cost is the obvious reason, but so too is weight. The material — coined PolyTec — is substantially lighter than glass. Paired with a similarly lightweight, lower horsepower engine, Sea-Doo is able to exploit the horsepower-to-weight ratio and essentially offers more bang for the buck.

Plastic doesn’t offer the gloss of fiberglass, but it does make it easier to offer a wider variety of color choice. The Spark comes in a palette of five shades, including bright hues of pineapple (yellow), bubble gum (magenta) and orange crush (orange), as well as a more subdued vanilla (white) and licorice (black). Each is evenly mixed with black deck components and a black hull.

Rather than use an adhesive, Sea-Doo bolts the hull and deck together with a multitude of Nyloc-style fasteners. The technique offers intriguing possibilities for dealer service. Service reps won’t have to wriggle their hands into a tight engine compartment; instead, they can unfasten nearly the entire top deck in about 10 minutes and remove it completely from the hull, offering unprecedented access to the engine and fuel system. For the consumer, the Spark includes exterior access ports only for necessary items like the dipstick and battery. The fuel fill, along with a fire extinguisher, is located below the seat.

To give this plastic hull the necessary rigidity, designers created a wishbone-like exoskeleton extending from steering column to deck. The space between this “wishbone” is left empty. It’s a cost and weight savings, but also an opportunity to make the styling more dramatic. An accessory storage compartment with seven gallons of capacity can be added to the void if desired.

As to the aforementioned engine, the three-cylinder Rotax 900 ACE was developed jointly for the snowmobile and watercraft markets and comes in both 60- and 90- horsepower variations. That may seem overly small by today’s standards, but consider the craft’s overall weight is only 405 pounds in its base, two-seater version. That gives the Spark a 300-plus pound advantage over Sea-Doo’s own GTi and Yamaha’s VX Sport. Initial testing showed the 60-horsepower versions to peak at about 42 mph, and the 90-hp at about 50 mph. Both variations are also extremely fuel efficient, with Sea-Doo claiming as low as a 1.94 gallon-per-hour consumption over the course of an average duty cycle.

As to how the engine bolts into the plastic hull, Sea-Doo addressed the situation by using unique motor mounts. The engine bolts through the hull to parallel aluminum plates recessed into the exterior. One of those plates also serves as the heat exchanger for Sea-Doo’s closed-loop cooling system.

The engine is but one of many choices available to Spark owners. In an attempt to make the boat completely customizable, buyers can also choose between two- and three-passenger versions (the latter includes a longer seat and bolt-on hull extension that increases capacity from 350 to 450 pounds), as well as the option to include Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Brake and Reverse. The company has also made available more than 20 stick-on graphic kits to further customize the craft’s look. 

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