Steering wheel and seatbelts — and 173 horses
Polaris says the Slingshot was designed for one purpose: exhilaration. The Minnesota-based OEM met that description and many others when it launched the three-wheeled roadster in July during the company’s dealer meeting in Minneapolis.
The Slingshot features and open-air cockpit for both driver and passenger, both of whom sit just inches above the road. “Corners like it’s on rails” is how Polaris describes the Slingshot’s wide stance and sport-tuned suspension. The light and powerful machine offers quick acceleration and provides a driving and riding experiences not to be forgotten.
PSB managing editor Liz Keener and I were invited to drive the Slingshot earlier this summer at the Polaris research and development facility in Wyoming, Minn., alongside a select few other members of the powersports media.
Car or motorcycle? For starters, that will be up for debate. But the design and engineering are unquestionably aimed toward the gearhead on either side of the aisle.
The engine power and handling in particular made the ride an absolute blast. Take, for example, an expert driver’s run down the half-mile test strip. Just when thoughts of ‘Oh, no, we’re going into roll mode,’ began while holding on tightly for a J-turn — used in automobile testing and on the Slingshot — the Slingshot sucked tightly to the pavement. Turn off the traction control, and the fun level gets amped up while the stability remains. Burnouts bring a new level of “screeeeech” from tires that will be yearning to be replaced.
We first hit ridiculous speeds on the Polaris testing half-mile straightaway, then gave it a real-world test on county roads near the facility. I still can’t decide which one I want to repeat.
A GM-built 2.4-liter dual overhead cam engine, five-speed manual transmission up front and a carbon fiber reinforced belt drive at the rear get things rolling. Throw in a dry weight of about 1,700 pounds and the engine that produces 173 horsepower, and it’s not surprising to know that they had to shoo us off the testing track and ensuing road course.
The ride and handling benefits come courtesy of a lightweight aluminum swingarm, high-strength steel spaceframe, electronic power-assisted steering, electronic stability control and ABS disc brakes. The sport-tuned suspension features a double wishbone front suspension with a sway bar, and coil over gas-filled shocks.
The comfortable cockpit for side-by-side seating includes tilt steering, adjustable seating, lockable storage bins behind the seat and a locking glove box.
It’s safety features include three-point seatbelts, forged aluminum roll hoops, LED taillights and projector beam headlights. Lightweight alloy wheels with low-profile performance tires from Kenda are additional plusses.
The 2015 base Slingshot is available in Titanium Metallic with an MSRP of $19,999. The premium Slingshot SL Red Pearl, which offers a blade windshield and 18-inch forged aluminum front wheels and a 20-inch forged aluminum rear wheel, has a $23,999 MSRP. The SL offers a 4.3-inch LCD media screen, backup camera, USB input, six-speaker audio system and Bluetooth integration.
Among the accessories already available for the Slingshot are the blade windshield, double bubble windshield, interior lighting kit, premium wheels and tires, smartphone mount, media console, dust cover, full vehicle cover and cockpit cover.
Slingshot’s lineup of riding apparel includes DOT-certified helmet, gloves, rainsuit and casual wear, including jackets, T-shirts and ballcaps.
Dealers are expected to see machines in the fall.