Polaris Slingshot: An Alternative To Cars and Cycles

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The Polaris Slingshot. Quite an interesting machine.

As far as what the Slingshot actually is, the definition varies from state-to-state officially. Polaris calls it an “open-air roadster” which sounds a bit misleading but they’re not entirely wrong.

The classification varies legally from a 3-wheel motorcycle or an autocycle. If you’ve seen one you know how odd they are. But undeniably interesting.

It bridges an awkward gap between car and motorcycle. They’re so popular that even toy companies make ride-on versions for kids styled after the Slingshot.

In some ways, it’s more car than motorcycle. For example it has ABS, traction control, stability control, a 5-speed automatic transmission and perhaps most interesting is the 2.4 L four-cylinder engine from GM. A proper car engine.

With 91 level octane fuel, the Slingshot’s engine can produce 173 horsepower with 166 pound-feet of torque and will rev up to 7,200 RPM.

The price is much closer to a car than a motorcycle, too. The Slingshot starts at $19,000 and can be specced up to $30,999. That’s a lot by any means.

But there’s no doubt there is a market for the Slingshot. People are buying them and they sure get heads to turn.

Polaris:

Polaris Slingshot

I think it’s important to know what Polaris is so we can understand where the Slingshot came from.  

Polaris is a power sports company.  From dirt, snow, road, track (apparently), transport and even cycles, Polaris provides its customers with quite an array of choices.

Polaris also sells other brands of vehicles like Indian motorcycles, Victory motorcycles, GEM Electric and even light grade military vehicles.  Polaris is a very large company.

Polaris’ vision is all about delivering the best experience for their customers.

The company was founded by two brothers and their good friend. Edgar and Allen Heteen and David Johnson.  

The company started out as Hetteen Hoist & Derrick in 1945 before it developed into Polaris in the 1950’s after creating the first snowmobile and going on a journey across Alaska in the deep snow to demonstrate the durability of the machine.

Now, Polaris is a leader in power sports.       

Polaris’ whole company was founded on innovating.   The Slingshot is just another innovation that Polaris created, and it’s created quite a storm.

The Specs – Polaris Slingshot:

Vehicle Type: Tri-cycle
Power Plant: 2.4 L 4-cyl
Gearbox: 5-Speed Manual
Power: 173 HP
MPG: Not Available
Torque: 166 lb-ft.
Length: 149.6 Inches
Width: 77.9 Inches
Height: 51.9 Inches
Wheelbase: 105 inches
Top Speed: Not Available
Seating: Two Adults
0-60 MPH (0-120 KPH): Under 5 Seconds
Base Price: $19,000 (est).

 

The Exterior – Polaris Slingshot:

Polaris Slingshot

The outside of the Polaris Slingshot is absolutely where it makes the name for itself.

Polaris designed the slingshot to be a three-wheel motorcycle and tried to avoid having it called a car by any means.

Calling the Slingshot a car would definitely put Polaris in a position it doesn’t want to be in.  The federal regulations are already interesting with this sort of thing, with different licenses needed in different states and helmets required in some states and not others…You’ll really need to know your stuff when buying.

That’s also why Polaris sticks away from posting performance data like the zero to sixty times.  If they post that the time is less than 5 seconds (which it is), that seems relatively slow for motorcycles.  However, that’s decently quick for a car.

The outside of the Polaris Slingshot is absolutely where it makes the name for itself.

Polaris designed the slingshot to be a three-wheel motorcycle and tried to avoid having it called a car by any means.

Calling the Slingshot a car would definitely put Polaris in a position it doesn’t want to be in.  The federal regulations are already interesting with this sort of thing, with different licenses needed in different states and helmets required in some states and not others…You’ll really need to know your stuff when buying.

That’s also why Polaris sticks away from posting performance data like the zero to sixty times.  If they post that the time is less than 5 seconds (which it is), that seems relatively slow for motorcycles.  However, that’s decently quick for a car.

Polaris is doing a good job in their position, though.  Keeping things balanced so more regulators don’t raise an eyebrow.

Onto the design.

“Slingshot” to me is an odd name.  It kind of paints the tri-cycle as more of a toy.  And that’s more or less what it is.  And that’s what Polaris makes, largely.

The Slingshot has a very open design compared to pretty much anything else I’ve written about.  Purpose built for fun, and enjoying the open air.  

And if you don’t want the wind splashing in your face, Polaris makes a $3,000 option for you called the “Slingshade”.  It’s essentially a roof system you can add on which makes the Slingshot look much more like a car rather than a tri-cycle.

Polaris Slingshot

 

 

But this also makes the proportions look very weird.  Like someone cut off the back of a car. It looks incomplete.

Up front on the standard Slingshot, you get pretty much the bare minimum.  But it looks great.

The front end is aggressively styled and everything comes to a strong focal point at the Polaris logo.  Honestly, it’s a very cool and well thought-out design.

There are also two fog lights in a higher position than you’d normally find on a car.  Almost like nostrils on the Slingshot.

Polaris made the Slingshot to tick all of the boxes for a sporty look.  Sharp angles, low body height, long hood (obviously the size of the car/motorcycle makes it look larger), gaping holes, prominent snout and aggressive eyes.  

Like I said, body work in minimal.  Which makes for a very cool view with the suspension system exposed.

The side view is actually very attractive on the Slingshot.  The design dips downward at the passenger cell.  Polaris designed the passenger cell of the Slingshot to be open as well to help give it the open-air feel.

The slingshot looks to be the same width throughout the design, but the rear wheel makes everything narrow out abruptly.  But that’s the nature of this particular beast.

In the back, you get a massive rear wheel, suspension system and belt-drive assembly all clearly visible.

Polaris Slingshot

That’s really where the whole motorcycle DNA is.  The rest is kind of like a BAC Mono in a way…Barely.

Overall the uniqueness of the Polaris Slingshot is what makes it so special.  It’s a three-wheel car in a way.  But not in the way a Reliant Robin is a three-wheel car.

The Slingshot is a machine purely made for thrills.  And none of its design tries to hide that, unless you get the Slingblade add-on which seems odd to me.

The Interior – Polaris Slingshot:

Polaris Slingshot

Honestly there isn’t much here to really talk about.  The inside of the Polaris Slingshot is very simple and straightforward.  As it should be.

You get essentially one button, a small screen, seats, shifter and steering wheel.  Optional extras include mood lighting in the footwell!

The plastic and metal of the interior is all angled and slashed which fits the exterior design.  

It’s a tight space with a small LCD screen for (I’m guessing) entertainment and driver-focused appeal.  A good job all around.

The gauges are classic analog for the most part with a small LCD display for different messages.  

The cabin is very bare otherwise where there are no carpets or creature comforts.  Simple stuff.

There is a small sound system so you can listen to some tunes while you ride as well.  The Slingshot offers an upgraded entertainment system as well that looks much more like a normal cars add-in.  

Like I said before, you can add-on a type of roof assembly from the factory that does look a bit bulky but it closes things off if you want.  

Another option as you go through the model range for the Slingshot is for upgraded racing seats rather than the standard seats.  A nice added touch.

Overall the interior of the Polaris Slingshot is a purpose built place for a driver and one passenger.  I like that.

The Performance – Polaris Slingshot:

Polaris Slingshot

The Polaris Slingshot is quick, but by car standards.  By motorcycle standards, not so much.

Like I said before, this is why Polaris doesn’t boast or post (that rhymes) some performance metrics usually common in cars marketing campaigns.  

This is because it would seem sluggish to motorcycles but quick to cars.  Any way that Polaris can stray away from the Slingshot being a car, they’ll do.  

Simply because if the federal government classifies it as a car over a three-wheel, that’ll mean much tighter regulations on the Slingshot.

The Polaris Slingshot will do a zero to sixty sprint in less than five seconds, with 173 horsepower out of a 2.4 L four cylinder engine from GM and 166 pound feet of torque.  Enough to get the small, fun machine into some tail-happy spins.

The Slingshot is apparently a huge thrill and joy to drive around in.  It’s like a snowmobile for the road in the sense that it is solely meant for visceral thrill and little else.  

With the weight of just about 1,800 pounds, the 173 horsepower really shines through.  It’s not quick for a motorcycle, but to say it isn’t quick period is a lie.

Sum It Up:

The Polaris Slingshot is a bit pricy for a toy, but the beauty of it is in how unique the Slingshot is.  It fills a very interesting space where I’m sure the market isn’t the size of let’s say, the mid-size sedan market, but customers are there nonetheless.

 

It’s not a car and it’s not a motorcycle, but it is a ton of fun.  

 

 

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