Sea-Doo GTI 130 vs. Kawasaki STX 160 Comparison [Video]

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The Kawasaki STX 160 and Sea-Doo GTI 130 are the two entry-level mid-size jet skis classed in the  Recreation category. The Kawasaki gained its reputation for great performance and rough water handling, while the Sea-Doo is known for its advanced brake and reverse system, larger hull, and greater capacities.

If you want to compare these two skis head-to-head, you’ve come to the right place.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Sea-Doo GTI 130 comparison post!

Sea-Doo GTI 130 vs. Kawasaki STX 160

By the Numbers

In the mid-size or “Recreation” jet ski class, the main competitor models are arguably the Yamaha VX, Sea-Doo GTI, and Kawasaki STX 160.

The latter is built on the proven STX platform inherited from its predecessor the STX-15F. For the 2020 model year, this ski got an entirely new top deck and was renamed the STX 160.

Regarding dimensions, this ski is built on a deep-V fiberglass platform, measuring 124.1 inches in length and 46.5 inches in width.

The power source for this Kawasaki is a 4-stroke, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected, 1489cc, 4-cylinder engine rated at 160 HP.

This unit was derived from the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-R motorcycle family. It has an open-loop cooling system as well as a gear reduction system.

In contrast, the base Sea-Doo GTI 130 houses a purpose-built Rotax PWC engine. This power mill is a 4-stoke, 1630cc, fuel-injected triple rated at 130 HP. As the name suggests, the higher-level Sea-Doo GTI SE 170 is available with a more powerful, 170 HP engine.

This power source is nestled in the proven Sea-Doo GTI platform. Compared to the Kawasaki, this hull is significantly larger, measuring 130.6 inches in length and 49.2 inches in width.

It’s made of the Sea-Doo-exclusive Polytec and features a moderate-V design.

Just like on other PWCs, the propulsion system of the STX 160 and the GTI 130 is an axial-flow, single-stage jet pump.

Regarding capacities, the GTI 130 can carry 40.3 gallons of storage and 15.9 gallons of gas, while the Kawasaki comes with a class-leading, 20.6-gallon fuel tank.

It also has a 35-gallon storage capacity split into a front storage compartment, a glovebox, an under-seat storage bin, and a small wet storage.

Features

Both the Kawasaki and the Sea-Doo come with a wide range of innovative features as standard, including:

  • 2-piece seat for 3 riders
  • Sponsons
  • Bow storage compartment
  • Glovebox
  • Dual mirrors
  • Tow hook
  • Mooring cleats
  • Reboarding step
  • Deck mat
  • Reverse
  • And more

Differences?

The biggest difference between the Sea-Doo GTI 130 and the Kawasaki STX 160 is that the latter comes with an outdated mechanical reverse that can’t be used as a brake. In contrast, the Sea-Doo GTI 130 enjoys the advanced iBR electric brake and reverse system, offering much more precise handling, higher safety, and a neutral “gear.”

The general rule is that each Sea-Doo GTI comes standard with an iBR brake and reverse system, regardless of its engine option.

More advanced GTI models including the GTI SE 130 and GTI SE 170 come with more bells and whistles like a sound system, reboarding step, cruise control, unique color scheme, and the Variable Trim System (VTS).

Unfortunately, these features don’t come with the base GTI 130.

As we’ve discussed, the Kawasaki STX 160 comes without a brake system as it only has a basic mechanical reverse. On the other hand, its top deck is designed with many advanced features including integrated PWC cup holders, dual rear grab handles, an under-seat storage bin, and a wet storage.

Like the GTI, this medium-size Kawasaki jet ski is also available in some more featured configurations, including the STX 160LX and the 160X.

The latter is marketed with a comfortable handle grip, an adjustable electronic cruise control, and a premium painted top deck as standard.

The flagship model in the STX family is the 160LX, which comes with a luxury seat, a JETSOUND Bluetooth audio system, and a unique design, featuring a premium paint job, and two-toned deck mats.

Performance and Handling

In terms of handling and performance, the Sea-Doo GTI and the Kawasaki STX 160 are fairly different skis.

The latter enjoys a more powerful, 160 HP engine, ensuring a faster acceleration and top speed. Its higher performance paired with its smaller platform ensures a more agile attitude.

Its deep-V hull design offers sharp turns and great rough water handling, so it can even be used for long tours.

As far as performance numbers go, the top speed of the GTI 130 is 52 mph while the STX 160 can reach 61-62 mph while also having a class-leading acceleration. This is fairly good for a non-supercharged jet ski!

Unlike its Japanese competitor, the GTI 130 is built on a moderate-V hull, which turns flatter and can’t cut through the chop as effectively.

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Sea-Doo GTI 130 Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of these skis into this Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Sea-Doo GTI 130 comparison chart:

SpecsSTX 160GTI 130
BrandKawasakiSea-Doo
CategoryRecreationRecreation
Displacement (cc)14981630
Cylinders43
SuperchargedNoNo
Brake NoYes
ReverseYesYes
HP160130
Length (in)124.1130.6
Width (in)46.549.2
Dry Weight (lbs)726739
Curb Weight (lbs)864847
Fuel Capacity (gal)20.615.9
Storage Capacity (gal)3540.3
Weight Capacity (lbs)496600
Rider capacity33

This chart is for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Conclusion

Compared to the Sea-Doo GTI 130, the Kawasaki STX 160 is a much faster and livlier jet ski. It’s built on a deep-V hull, which handles rough waters quite well and it’s powered by a 160 HP engine. Its Canadian competitor, the GTI 130 comes with a 130 HP engine, a moderate-V hull, and the innovative RiDE brake and reverse system.

Both of these models have their pros and cons, which are as follows:

Pros of the Sea-Doo GTI:

Pros of the Kawasaki STX 160:

  • Deep-V hull design
  • Better rough water performance
  • Lighter weight (726 vs. 739 lbs.)
  • More engine power (160 vs. 130 HP)
  • Faster acceleration and top speed
  • Larger fuel capacity (20.6 vs. 15.9 gallons)
  • More innovative features (under-seat storage, wet storage, dual grab handles, cup holders, etc.)

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