2017 Polaris Slingshot
by Brian Robinson
When it comes to people moving mechanical things that don’t really fit into one particular vehicle category, we turn to our resident two wheeler, Brian Robinson. Now he’ll ride or drive anything! And he’s not afraid of having a 3rd wheel tag along.
BRIAN ROBINSON: By now you’ve probably seen one of these on the road, and thought what the heck was that? Well, that was us too, until we found out it’s a Slingshot made by Polaris. And now that we all know what it is… let’s find out what it’s all about.
There may be 3-wheels in play here, but this 2017 Polaris Slingshot is far from what you’d call your average trike, or even a reverse trike like the Can-am Spyder. Rather, much as the Campagna T-Rex that we tested 5-years ago, its 2-wheels up front, steering wheel, and side-by-side seating, make it something entirely different.
What’s changed since then, is that due to their full car-like controls; many states are now classifying them as autocycles which means in a lot of cases a motorcycle license is no longer required; and that makes an awful lot of sense to us.
The car likeness begins with a 2.4-liter GM Ecotec 4-cylinder engine. Upon hearing that, you might have thoughts of just keeping the hood closed and not telling your biker buddies. But it’s not really a bad thing, as the Slingshot makes excellent use of its 173–horsepower and 166 lb-ft. of torque.
The only thing that’s truly motorcycle related here; is the swing-arm and belt drive setup that leads to a single rear wheel, making it one-wheel-drive. Transmission is 5-speed manual. Oh, and the whole thing weighs just 1,749-lbs.
On the road, you quickly forget all about that solitary rear wheel, and drive around like you’re in a Miata with a shorter windshield, stiffer suspension, and much quicker steering.
Which is to say the experience is indeed very car-like. There are even cup holders and a backup camera, optional of course.
The biggest thrill is feeling like you’re constantly getting away with something, like should I really be driving this on the street right now?
Throttle response is immediate, traction sometimes hard to come by. But despite that fat rubber in the middle of the lane, and the Slingshot’s propensity to find every imperfection in the road, it never feels darty or unstable, and you can actually relax a little behind the wheel if that’s your thing.
From dead on, it looks part Batmobile, part open wheel race car; and attracts way more attention than either.
From the side, you get the full taste of the open cockpit design; and of course from the rear it’s all about that 20-inch wheel sporting 305 rubber on this SLR.
SLR trim also gets you 2-tone paint, tinted windscreen, 18-inch forged aluminum front wheels, and composite brake rotors.
Inside, there are upgraded sport seats; as well as Sparco steering wheel, shift knob, and pedals.
Base Slingshots start at around $22,000; $28,499 for this SLR. There’s not too many vehicles in that price range that attract anywhere near the amount of attention the 2017 Polaris Slingshot does.
It may be more of a toy than an everyday vehicle, but what a toy it is! This 3-wheeled thrill-ride is a playdate like none other.