Specific watercraft platforms come and go over the years; the trick is knowing how long a particular ski is going to last. Following the production cycles of original equipment (OE) manufacturers reveals how most of these companies tend to operate. As an example, Yamaha tends to phase out the life cycle of a particular hull design every 9 years with an average of two or three updates sprinkled in-between.
The FZR and FZS were both introduced in 2008, powered by a 215-horsepower (estimated) Super High Output 1,812cc 4-cylinder four-stroke. In 2014, the FZ platform received the redesigned SVHO (Super Vortex High Output) producing 285-peak-horsepower, and in 2016 dropped 30-pounds from its heft with the introduction of NanoXcel2 to the molding process.
In 2017, the FZR/S was replaced by the current GP platform. As many will note, the craft was first introduced as the GP1800. In 2019, it became the GP1800R with the addition of a new ride plate and intake grate, and in 2021 was renamed the GP1800R SVHO. That same year, it also received an all-new deck design with a full-color LCD dashboard and larger storage access. These changes will remain until the platform is likely phased out for 2026.
Similarly, Sea-Doo follows a comparable program. In 2012, Sea-Doo redesigned its sporty 2-seater the RXP-X 255, replaced with the angular muscle craft-looking RXP-X 260 riding on the all-new T3 hull. Introducing the world to Ergolock seating, the 2012 RXP-X 260 came with adjustable sponsons and a fully customizable X-Steering package.
In 2016, the RXP-X received the 300-horsepower 1,630cc 300 ACE powerplant and “serviceless” supercharger as well as angled footwedges and a new 159.5mm prop and larger diameter wear ring. All of this was great, but by 2021, the RXP-X 300 was in need of a refresh. The T3 evolved into the T3R, improving pump hookup and cornering capabilities by breaking up the hull’s surface tension via two rows of “shark gills” serrations.
All of this is to illustrate that for 2023, Sea-Doo plans to unveil an all-new Spark. Yes, it has been nine years since Sea-Doo’s wunderkind Rec-Lite machine was first introduced. At its initial reveal the Spark ignited a sea change in the market, so much so that Yamaha was forced to respond in three years’ time – a far faster turnaround than the company’s typical 5-year development phase.
While at last year’s press introduction of the 2022 Sea-Doo Switch, The Watercraft Journal spoke directly with Martin Lechance – the Personal Watercraft Product Development Director at BRP – specifically about the incoming Spark reboot. While Lechance was appropriately tight-lipped on certain specifics, he did reveal that the new Spark will be a “from-the-ground-up redesign.”
Inquiring further, Lechance noted that the Spark will retain its ultra-lightweight Polytec hull and deck, low entry price and wet-and-loose playfulness – all tenets to the craft’s success. Equally, the Spark will preserve its 899cc 900 ACE engine – available at either 60 or 90-horsepower (in the 900 ACE HO variant). But what we wanted to know most was all about a fabled “Spark X” that has been rumored for the last 4 years…
Lechance artfully dodged our specific inquiries, allowing us to fill in gaps where he would suddenly go silent. Our initial presumption that the new Spark would receive the turbocharged ACE engine from the Ski-Doo line was refuted, citing super-heated plumbing as a concern as it ran alongside the Polytec deck. Rather, Lechance hinted towards the offerings powering the Switch models – namely the naturally-aspirated 1630 3-cylinder four-strokes.
Currently, the Switch is offered with 100 and 170 power outputs (besides the supercharged 230). It’s worth noting that in other watercraft (GTI and GTI SE), the 1630 is also rated at 130HP.
Lechance was quick to state that the 170-horsepower tune was an untenable option, as it propelled their research-and-development unit to a blistering 63 miles per hour – far quicker than what the OE would want to make available to the public.
Yet, that is not to say that 130 or 170HP (or more) is an impossibility. Modifiers know that the difference between the 130 and 170-horsepower 1630 is a matter of engine map tuning. If a 100HP Spark is revealed this coming August, it’s very likely we’ll see a few 170HP 63mph Sparks achieved through aftermarket tuners.
The Watercraft Journal inquired further regarding the weight differences between replacing the 900 ACE with the larger 1630, to which Lechance coyly shrugged, “No more than adding a turbo kit to the 900 ACE.”
He concluded by assuring The Watercraft Journal that in its current form, the 1630 ACE-powered prototype Spark is “a handful” and will “introduce a whole new generation to small, nimble race craft.”
Regarding further changes to the Spark (storage, fuel capacity, integration of LinQ, larger instrumentation) no more was divulged, but we were encouraged to remember how Sea-Doo managed to keep the entry price of the Spark so low. We’ll certainly see a gradient scale of optional packages that will allow the buyer to personalize and uniquely equip their Spark, but as far as further details, we have none at this time.
We at The Watercraft Journal expect to be introduced to the redesigned Spark sometime in mid-to-late August of this year, and will have a full-length video and written coverage of the full range of Spark watercraft, as well as the remaining lineup of Sea-Doo PWC for 2023. If you’re looking for further information on this impending redesign you can watch the video below.