The Slingshot is priced from $34,149 in Canada.
There are four trims to select from.
Depending on your driving style, the Slingshot will cruise, or race based on your right foot.
I’ll be flat-out honest: I typically shy away from any type of vehicle with fewer than four wheels. My experiences on two wheels with an engine, all two of them, resulted in near-death experiences. On three wheels, it’s been hit and misses. I’ve just added a massive hit to my personal baggage thanks to the Polaris Slingshot.
My other hit, relevant to this review, was a brief stint at the wheel of a then 2014 Campagna T-Rex in southern California. That experience occurred about eight years ago and all I remember is noise, speed, and working to prevent wheel spin.
One other aspect was the price. At about $60,000 as tested (now starts at over $65,000), it went up against a then-new BMW M3, which to my mind, made little sense. The Polaris Slingshot, however, is priced at barely more than half that of a new T-Rex. Perhaps I’m in need of a Campagna Motors refresher but at this moment, I can’t put my finger on the reason for the $30,000 difference.
Speed and emotions
I’ll admit that, at first, I was a little concerned about driving the Polaris Slingshot through traffic in my big city. My first outing found me short-shifting and white-knuckling the steering wheel as I merged onto the highway. What I’d failed to immediately understand is that the engine needs a few minutes to warm up to operating temperature. Once up to temp, the 2.0-litre suddenly became a close friend of mine.
The naturally-aspirated Prostar 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine produces a commendable 203 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 144 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,500 rpm (up from 178 and 120 respectively in the base SL model). This is in fact the highest output for the Slingshot and it’s enough to send the 756 kg (1,667 lb) vehicle to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.
Yes, the Polaris is damn fast. A 4.9-second sprint isn’t enough to ward off evil Ford Mustang GTs or friendly Volkswagen Golf Rs, but the sense of speed will have the driver thinking they’ve engaged Warp 20 without necessarily lapping the solar system in 5 seconds. Slamming on the throttle and dropping the clutch will break the rear tire lose all the way into 3rd gear (so I’ve heard…) but after it’s been done once, it’s no longer fun.
Taking it easy-ish
And this is the beauty of the Polaris Slingshot. Interestingly, I was contacted by Polaris because, via social media I assume, I seemed to enjoy small lightweight sporty cars, which is very true. This is why I settled into the Slingshot faster than I’d anticipated. In fact, putting on the mandatory full-face helmet, sliding my sunglasses behind the visor, and dropping into the cockpit became a welcoming Zen-like ritual. I’d strap in, prod the start button and bask. I understood that I did not need to go fast to relish in the speed.
Upon start-up, the engine’s loud and remains as such even when warm. Sure, it sounds great about 6,000 rpm but the constant growl and near-constant transmission whine kept my ears satisfied. I opted for the 5-speed manual transmission over the AutoDrive automated manual and found the short-shift action and agreeable weighty clutch pedal rewarding. Rev-matching is easy thanks to ideal pedal placement even at low speeds.
While the powertrain is entertaining, My favorite aspects were the steering and the ride quality. The Slingshot is fitted with variable speed-sensitive electronic power steering that is immediate but never sharp, and extremely communicative. The chassis tune was a big surprise. The twin-tube coil-over suspension turned out to be exceptionally comfortable and forgiving. No, it wasn’t like riding on a cloud, but I fully expected to need to make an appointment with my chiropractor after every drive.
The bottom line, the Slingshot is comfortable. And it handles as though on rails. Truth be told, in the city, it’s impossible to sample the 1+ Gs of lateral grip it can achieve. What is obvious is that the driver runs out of bravery before the Polaris runs out of grip.
A wide face and two seats
There isn’t much to say about the vehicle’s styling – you either like or do not. It certainly is visually aggressive. The most striking physical aspect is the Polaris’ size. It’s almost 4 meters long and 2 meters wide. Because of the tapered boat-tail-like rear, the eye is fooled into thinking that this is a very compact “car”, which it is not.
Onboard, and the other main reason for getting the Slingshot SLR over the SL, and saving just over $4,000 for the R, are the premium sport seats. They are immensely supportive and look good while holding the driver and passenger in place.
As I demonstrate in my video, there’s a fair amount of storage onboard behind the seats and the glove compartment is decently capacious. It is conceivable to use the Slingshot for a weekend road trip adventure.
A good toy
As far as “toys” on wheels go, the Polaris Slingshot is one of the safest bets out there. The three-wheeled, two-seater vehicle was launched in 2014 and had proven to be fairly reliable as long as owners follow manufacturer requirements. The Slingshot is also reasonably affordable, especially when compared to the lighter and faster T-Rex. Between you and I, at least at this very moment, the Slingshot is fast enough.
Oh, and my hit on three wheels was riding a mid-80s Honda 3-wheeler and trying to steer and accelerate at the same time – It didn’t end well…