Personal Watercraft.com : By: Jeff Hemmel
The junior WAKE sees big changes for 2020
Engine: Three-cylinder 1,630cc
Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 42.5 gal.
Seating Capacity: 3
MSRP: Starting at $12,199
The 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170 benefits from a more powerful engine, larger swim platform, lighter hull and a lot more storage.
A lot has changed for Sea-Doo’s junior WAKE model in 2020. Yes, the focus is still on providing a superior experience for the more hardcore wakesports enthusiasts in the crowd, but the platform itself has been retooled as part of the new GTI series makeover. The result is the 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170 with a new look and feel, both in the showroom and on the water.
TOW EXPERIENCE REMAINS KEY
The 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170’s tow features haven’t drastically changed. The WAKE package still consists of a retractable tow pylon, wakeboard rack and enhanced speed control.
The latter two continue on as before, the pocket-like rack easily mounting to the bond rail and securing a single board by slipping it into the base and securing the top with a bungee cord. The obvious benefit is you can actually bring a board along for the ride without it taking over a footwell and banging up an ankle. Ski Mode speed control tweaks the cruise control concept to allow for preprogrammed acceleration and speed profiles. Riders can choose to have a slower acceleration, for example, when wakeboarding or a harder, more aggressive pull if trying to get up on a slalom water ski.
The tow pylon receives the most notable update. Now a removable LinQ accessory, it installs in literal seconds. Remove a twist-lock cover plate in the platform, insert the pylon base and lock into place, then snap in a two-legged brace. Like before, the pylon extends to offer a slightly higher tow point and includes two handles to provide more security for a rear-facing spotter.
Riders further benefit from the new GTI extended swim platform. It’s larger and flatter, providing more room to gear up.
One item that doesn’t fall under the WAKE package but is probably sure to be appreciated by the WAKE crowd? The BRP Audio Premium system, first introduced on GTX models. A 100-watt, Bluetooth sound system that streams music from your phone (tucked away in a new waterproof compartment inside the glovebox), the fully waterproof system includes two sizable speakers fitted into custom enclosures located at the front of the footwells. A simple touch control pad sits adjacent to the left speaker to turn the system on, control volume, pause and play and select tracks. Audio Premium is optional, but affordably priced. Many models will likely already have the system installed.
GTI PLATFORM IMPROVEMENTS
GTI platform changes further improve the 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170’s overall experience. That larger swim platform can get even bigger (about 36%) should you remove the latter half of the saddle. That’s a benefit when trying to use the area as a casting platform when fishing. The GTI is also now significantly more stable at rest thanks to a lower profile/center of gravity and added 1” in width.
Also on that platform are Sea-Doo’s LinQ accessory mounts. Recessed into the surface, they can be lifted up to anchor a growing list of accessories, including several sizes of coolers, a gas caddy, and multiple storage bin options.
Traditional storage has also grown. The bow compartment of the 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170 now offers 40.2 gallons of space, about 12 more than the previous iteration. The glovebox increases to 2.3 gallons. A new 4.5-inch digital display with orange backlighting assumes the place of the former analog gauges.
NEW ENGINE, POLYTEC, ERGOLOCK
Horsepower-to-weight ratio also gets a positive bump. The 170hp variant of the 1630 ACE engine replaces the previous 155hp model. The hull also sheds weight thanks to the adoption of Sea-Doo’s second-generation PolyTec material. A polypropylene reinforced with fiberglass, it sheds from 30-40 pounds. It’s also up to 50% thicker in key areas, includes additional fiberglass molded into areas like the hullsides for impact resistance, and features a molded-in stringer grid and over-molded engine mounts to increase the rigidity, as well as what Sea-Doo terms “robustness” of the craft.
The added power, lighter weight and more rigid construction are notable on the water. Acceleration truly comes on stronger, knocking almost a second-and-a-half off 0-50 mph times. The occasionally jarring feel of wakes is also greatly diminished, as the hull feels very solid and quieter than before. As pointed out in previous GTI platform reviews, PolyTec has a bit of a dampening quality. The hull itself remains a shallower deadrise but tracks straight and true, and carves a tight corner. Top speed averages about 55 mph.
Driver ergonomics feel a bit different. Elements of the ErgoLock system now make their way to the 2020 Sea-Doo WAKE 170, with an hourglass-shaped saddle that doesn’t force riders legs as wide and lets you use more of your leg muscles for leverage.
Not new but worth note is the continued inclusion of Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR). It provides forward/neutral/reverse gear-like handling around the dock or launch ramp as well as dramatic slowing power when applied at speed.
No other manufacturer has yet opted to provide a wakesport-specific model, but nearly any PWC can pull a wakeboarder, skier, or tuber.
The Yamaha VX Limited ($11,399) includes a watersports package. It’s comprised of a color-matched inflatable tube, 12-volt inflator and outlet, towrope, towrope bag and tube holder to strap the inflatable onto the back platform. Additional package items are Yamaha’s EcoXGear wireless Bluetooth speakers, matching cover, and two fenders.