Tricycles aren’t just for kids. at least, according to Polaris they’re not. In fact, their latest production model of the edgy Slingshot proves just that. Technically a reverse trike (with two wheels up front and one in the rear), the 2020 Slingshot turns heads. It also might just turn you into a little kid when you see one drive by.
To give you the low-down on the 2020 Polaris Slingshot, we’ve gathered everything there is to know. From power ratings and available features to the striking color schemes, there’s quite a bit you might find surprising about this “autocycle.” Because, yes, it’s fully street legal. Plus it’s a heck of a lot more fun than anything with three wheels should be.
Previously, a 2.4-liter GM EcoTec four-cylinder powered the Slingshot. However, with a new year comes a new name in the engine-building industry. Yup, it’s Polaris.
Their first endeavor is a ProStar 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant. It’s capable of 173 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque in base models and up to 203 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque on performance models. With a reported 0-to-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds (with the performance engine, of course), the Slingshot lives up to its name. That’s fairly impressive, especially considering it still weighs just over 1,600 pounds. It might not have the agility of a Kawasaki Ninja but it can reach 60 mph about as fast as a Volkswagen Golf R, for comparison.
Transmissions include a five-speed manual as well as a “Hydraulically Actuated Automated Manual,” known as AutoDrive. Even though the stick-shift might be disappearing from some sportscars, Polaris has paid homage to the spirit of driving by placing shifting where it should be. That is, in the hands of enthusiasts, and not the computers.
Available Trims and Safety Features
The 2020 Slingshot will be available in both SL and R trims, as in years past.
Base SL trim models are only available with the AutoDrive transmission. They come in either Red Pearl or Blue Steel colors. Choose the R trim to unlock the five-speed manual transmission. Premium colors include Stealth Black (accented by Rogue Red) and Miami Blue.
Interior accouterments include a seven-inch central display, complemented by “integrated steering wheel controls,” and GPS navigation. There are a variety of LED lights scattered around the vehicle. The Rockford Fosgate audio system is enough to fill the cockpit and the street around you with whatever type of music you prefer.
Outside, you’ll find the Slingshot is an up-to-date, “aesthetically-focused platform.” Forged aluminum wheels keep the autocycle upright, with a pair of 18-inch wheels up front a single 20-inch wheel in the rear. A proximity key fob with keyless start makes jumping in for afternoon rides super easy. A proprietary 7.5-inch wind deflector, known as the Slingshade, will keep most of the road debris and insect life out of the cockpit.
The Slingshot isn’t necessarily roomy. It’s certainly not a grocery-getter by any stretch of the imagination, only seating two. However, it does marry the idea of a sportscar and a performance bike into one unique vehicle. Keep reading to find out more about what this crazy autocycle can do.
Since the 2020 Polaris Slingshot is an autocycle, it technically falls under “federal motorcycle classification” when it comes to automotive emissions. Without putting numbers to it, it’s safe to say that the powerful 2.0-liter is built for efficiency as well as fun. Previous year models estimated about 25-to-28 mpg, so the new version should right in that range too. Since the passenger capacity is limited to a plus one, you’re free to cruise down the HOV lane worry-free.
Officially on sale in spring of 2020, the Polaris Slingshot has a starting price of $26,499. Slingshot R models will run you upwards of $30,000. For comparison, you could purchase a Kia Forte, MINI Clubman, Subaru WRX, or even a FIAT 500L for sub-$30,000. And yes, they’ve all got hard tops and four wheels.
If you’re in the market for an actual sport bike or even something a bit more laid-back, there’s quite a lot to choose from on two wheels. Or even three wheels, in some cases. The Suzuki Hayabusa, known to many drag strips, sports a base price of around $15,000. Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 platform, classified under “Hypersport,” starts just under $30,000. Even Harley Davidson’s electric motorcycle won’t cost you much more than that.
That being said, there’s a lot to like about the Polaris Slingshot. Sporting a “substantial visual upgrade” from past model years, the Slingshot “includes a redesigned interior, freshened exterior, improved suspension, the availability of an automated manual transmission and an all-new four-cylinder engine.” However, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing from the update. Polaris probably figures you’ll be occupied enough with the road before you.
The newest Slingshot model has two different drive modes. There is a “Comfort” mode and an appropriately names “Slingshot” mode. No points for creativity on that one. While we figure most drivers will open that throttle and switch to Slingshot mode more often than not, Comfort mode suits daily or leisurely driving best. If you’re looking for paddle shifters, keep those eyes peeled. Polaris has plans to install them on the Slingshot at some point.
Experts call the interior “spacious,” the seats “some of the most comfortable in the game,” and the driving position “invigorating.” Auto blog Motor1 notes the “rear end comes around quickly since there’s not that much hanging out back there,” so we recommend easing into corners until you’ve got the hang of driving this autocycle.
The Last Word
With a name like Slingshot, it can seem a bit intimidating to approach this three-wheeled autocycle and take it for a spin. For some, it’s an experience only dirt bikes and ATVs can mirror. For others, it’s just another commute.
However, if you’re serious about owning one of these crazy bike — err, trike.. umm, whatchamacallits, we encourage you to at least window-shop at your local Polaris dealership. Get behind the wheel and imagine yourself catapulting the behemoth surrounding you down the pavement. The open road awaits.