★★★★ | The Sea Doo Spark Personal Water Craft
Sea-Doo Like To Be Beside the Seaside
Like many people, my only experience of a personal watercraft (PWC) has been on holiday flogging a less than fresh example up and down the coast. Even when on a less than healthy machine, they are so much fun that you might even consider buying one. The Sea-Doo Spark is just the kind of pwc a first-time buyer may gravitate to thanks to the combination of low price and clever tech designed to make for an easier ride. It’s a looker too, the vibrant colours complementing the angular lines. If you get bored of your Spark’s hue, you can buy replacement bolt on body panels or graphic packages as well.
The Spark is one of the smaller, lighter machines on the market and comes available as a two or three-seater. Two power levels are available and there’s the option of iBR, intelligent brake and reverse. This not only makes manoeuvring a doddle, it also enables you to stop around 100ft sooner, making things safer and giving you more confidence. The three-cylinder 900cc Rotax engine is quiet, smooth yet plenty powerful enough to get up to 50 mph if you opt for the high output version.
Hopping aboard, made easier by the optional fold up step, the controls are simple and clear. Thumb the starter button and the engine catches easily, defaulting into Eco mode with around half power and improved fuel economy. Operating the brake and reverse soon become second nature allowing you to easily and accurately get off and on a trailer. A couple of button presses later, you unleash full power turning a fairly quick machine into one that way faster than I expected, even a few seconds of throttle see the numbers on the GPS speedo rise rapidly. The Spark is keen to change direction and great fun to throw about.
Moving from Shoreham harbour to open seas just off Brighton gave me the chance to try it in choppy waters, a daunting prospect considering my previous ride had been in calm water on a windless day. With a couple of other guys on Sea-Doos with me as well, I was thankful for the brakes on a couple of occasions! The Spark proved more than up to the task, staying stable even cresting waves taller than itself. Within a couple of minutes I had the throttle pinned sending it into the air over wave after wave, carving through the rough seas. Even this increased exuberance failed to upset the Spark, at no point did I feel like I was about to be ejected and I stayed on the craft at all times.
For a basic price of £4,999, the Spark comfortably undercuts its competition. This is however for the basic low output model that doesn’t have the option of iBR. To get this system, you need to spend another £900 for the high output model and then spend another £600 on iBR. Although the system is definitely worth £600, it’s a shame it isn’t offered on the lower power model which is probably going to be quick enough for most people anyway. Still, this is the only real flaw in an inexpensive, easy to transport (most smaller cars could still tow this), fun and cheap to run pwc. If you’re tempted by a bit of nautical fun, this seems hard to beat.
CREDIT: PR Supplied
CREDIT: PR Supplied
Easy to ride
Seriously good fun
iBR only available on high output model
Digital display could be a bit higher
Seat could be more padded to protect your balls on landing