Our first encounter with the ostentatious 3-wheeled Polaris Slingshot in 2018 was nothing short of sensational. We swept the Los Angeles landscape from the top of Culver City to Downtown. We instantly became famous as trails of head turns, bystanders taking secret photos and the occasional stranger asking for a ride as if they knew us became all too normal. The Minnesota native was breaking all the rules with its prototype, leaving those in its presence dazed and confused, but wanting in on a piece of the action.
Fast forward to 2020 and all the electric appeal remains the same, but with some favorable enhancements; most of which have been geared toward performance, drivability and ergonomics.
As of late, the Slingshot remains nearly identical to its previous models except with upgraded premium paint jobs and graphics for added flare. It has a superhero like demeanor that resembles the updated Batmobile as seen in “The Dark Knight,” 2008. The front of the vehicle posses a race car like stance with a ground clearance of 5.4 inches and a wheelbase of 105 inches. This helps keep the roadster confidently planted no matter your driving style. Next, we are met with large aggressive fender flares that allow for the updated cast aluminum 18 inch wheels to fit flawlessly. It has three updated LED headlights; two traditionally placed in front of each tire and one dead center for enhanced illumination of the road. Moving to the rear, we are made aware of the motorcycle inspired design. One 20 inch cast aluminum wheel encased in a 255 / 35R20 Kenda SS-799 tire is attached to a swing arm that delivers its power similar to a motorcycle while also making up most of the rear end appearance (tire sizes are slightly beefier for the R).
The performance upgrades and drivability make the 2020 a must have. First, the new engine has been engineered in-house and boasts up to 203 horsepower, up from 173 in the R version and up to 178 horsepower in the SL version. Torque figures are a bit lower coming down from 166 lb-ft to 144 lb-ft in the R and 120 lb-ft in the SL. However, the new engine a.k.a Prostar is much more lively generating peak horsepower in the red zone at 8250rpm in the R model and a whomping peak horsepower at 8500rpm in the SL. Moreover, the delivery of power is much more performance oriented than the previous GM Ecotech engine used in years prior. Equally important, the suspension and steering have been retuned to quickly translate driver input accurately and confidently on to the road. The tripod is now well suited for curvy mountain cruises or a round about on the track.
The most notable evolution to the 2020 Slingshot is the AutoDrive transmission. The earlier models were only available in a manual transmission. This inherently excluded those interested in the unruly auto cycle who didn’t possess that particular skill set. So, Polaris leveled the playing field by equipping the SL version with a single clutch, five-speed Magneti Marelli-sourced automated manual transmission as a standard option; and a $1700 option for the R. What’s exceptional about this particular automatic transmission is that you get the best of both worlds – it maintains the performance like shifting of a manual transmission minus all of the extra foot and hand work to go with it. And, it doesn’t stop there, turn on Slingshot mode with a touch of the red button located on the steering wheel and throttle maps and gear ratios adjust for increased responsiveness to the drivers demands. Not to mention, you can enjoy all this performance at 28 miles a gallon with a range of 200 miles per tank.
Very little has changed in configuration of the interior except for added comfort and utility. First, the bucket seats and steering wheel are now wrapped in all weather leather finish for a more luxurious feel. The cup holders have been positioned for easy grab and go placement of beverages while En route to wherever your destination. The center console now has an updated place holder that can accommodate today’s larger cell phones and is intuitively placed below the infotainment system. For storage, there is a glove compartment that can hold small items up to the size of a hand bag and two larger storage spaces located behind each seat. All storage spaces have security locks if the vehicle is left unattended.
Several technological enhancements have been addressed to make the Slingshot a viable option for everyday use in todays modern market. The infotainment system is now a 7-inch touch screen and features navigation, rear view back up camera with parking guidance, Bluetooth audio, phone connectivity and displays key logistics of the vehicles condition. In addition, keyless ignition makes it incredibly easy to get in and go or park and leave with the key fob never leaving your pocket or fanny pack. Additionally, auditory pleasure not only comes from the press of the throttle but is now powered by a 100w Rockford-Fosgate sound system. It projects loud enough to easily hear through a helmet and more than enough for your new fans to enjoy your taste in music as you pass by. Furthermore, the steering wheel comes complete with multifunction switchgear to safely control the infotainment system while in motion and a cruise control option for longer highway commutes.
In short, the 2020 Slingshot is the perfect iteration of half sport bike-half sports car and now more user friendly then ever before. Several custom options are available to hook up your rowdy roadster but the base model SL starts at $26,499 and the juiced up R comes in at $30,399.
(Photos By Jeff Langlois)