Polaris has a wide range of Powersports equipment, and that equipment includes Indian motorcycles, Victory, side-by-sides, GEM Electric Motorcars, Polaris snowmobiles and ATVs. The first Polaris motorcycle is a three-wheeler that is called the “Slingshot”.
The Slingshot looks for all the world just like an exotic car and has angular polymer body panels and they are defining a low and wedge-shaped profile, and an open cockpit. The bodywork holds on a tubular steel frame and it covers the bike without to conceal the skeleton. It’s got three headlights, two big exposed 17” x 7” wheels that are connected to the pinion steering and the power-assisted rack with double wishbone suspension, sway bar and coil over springs.
But the 2015 Polaris Slingshot is not a car, it is a three-wheeled motorcycle. The difference is very important to Polaris and to the U.S. Department of Transportation too. If the Slingshot was a car, probably it would not exist and it would never be street legal. If the Slingshot was a car it would have bumpers, airbags, a collapsing steering column, crash protection, and any other safety equipment for cars. And of course, it would have to be crash tested. But luckily the Slingshot has none of those things.
The Slingshot is really a motorcycle, and to ride it on a public street you need to have a motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement. The riders and passenger must have motorcycle helmets. The Slingshot will be able to be licensed and insured like a motorcycle in all 50 states and will have some privileges more than the other motorcycles, like reduced tolls, access to carpool and HOV lanes and motorcycle parking.
But your eyes tell you that this is a car. The Slingshot has two seats side-by-side in the weather-proof open air cockpit. The seats of the Slingshot look more like a car seats than saddles and also they have a pair of three-point safety belts. The driver sits on the left side and uses automobile style foot and hand controls to drive or ride the vehicle. There is a three foot pedals (clutch, brake, throttle), a tilting steering wheel and a manual gear selector shifter that is placed on the center console. There is two locking storage compartments behind each seat and a locking glove compartment.
It looks like a car, but it’s not. On the back, the single 18” x 9.5” wheel wears Slingshot branded Kenda rubber with symmetrical tread. The wheel to the frame is connected with an aluminum swingarm, and a carbon-fiber reinforced final drive belt transports power to the wheel. The rear wheel rig really looks like a motorcycle and that makes sense.
Under the hood of this vehicle, a car-derived Powertrain holds court. That is a GM Ecotec 2.4 liter inline 4-cylinder gasoline engine that has liquid-cooling, variable valve timing and dual overhead cams, that are made to produce 173 HP and 166 lb-ft of torque. The engine is connected to a conventional 5-speed manual transmission with a reverse gear. The Slingshot carries 9.77 gallons of gas in the tank and prefers 91 octane Premium.
The Slingshot is light about 1,725 – 1,742 lbs, that depends on equipment and it is very low to the ground, 5.0” of clearance and a seat height of about 11”. This vehicle feels amazingly fast. We don’t have the exact information for what time it reaches 0-60 mph, but it is about 5 seconds.
The Slingshot is very well controlled and that is because of the geometry of the front end. Even if the vehicle performs aggressive drift, all three wheels stay strong on the ground. To keep this things sane, here are the electronic stability control, the standard traction control and anti-lock brakes. The Slingshot maintains the composure, and behaves manageably and predictably even while smoking the rear tire with turned off traction control. One of the best and the unique strengths of this beast and also main attraction will be the side-by-side riding position. You can easily convince your friends and dates to ride with you in the comfortable passenger seat of the Slingshot and you can even equip your lids with a helmet-to-helmet communications and you can have a conversation with your partner whole riding this machine. For the passenger there is no pillion shame and no learning curve, but that will bring more fun.
The Slingshot will be available in two models at launch. The base model that comes in Titanium Metallic priced at $19,999 with 17” front wheels and an 18” rear wheel. The Slingshot SL comes slathered in a coat of red paint, is priced at $23,999 and gets 18” front wheels and a 20” hoop in the back. The Slingshot SL has six speakers, a blade windscreen and a media console with 4.3” LCD screen that has a Bluetooth integration and a backup camera. Polaris for Slingshot will produce a mass of accessories and we must admit that they are excellent at that. If 173 HP is not enough for you, then there are many aftermarket providers who know how to get more power out of the GM lump, if you are prepared to void the 2 year warranty from Polaris.
There are only a few three-wheel motorcycle competitors. There are trikes, they have one front wheel sand two wheels rear, the Cam-Am Spyder with two wheels front and one rear and inline seating, and a few conversions like the Tilting Motor Works. The Morgan 3 Wheeler, that is an English car priced at $54,000 with a V-twin engine, side-by-side seating and two wheels front and one rear. The Campagna T-Rex worth $65,000 that is most close competitor for the Slingshot. It is running with a BMW 1,600 cc motorcycle engine and also a motorcycle transmission.
Polaris said that the Slingshot is not an automobile, it is a three-wheeled motorcycle. It doesn’t meet the automotive safety standards and it does not have airbags. You are assuming the same safety risks while riding the Slingshot as when you ride a motorcycle, so better be careful to not get lulled into a wrong sense of security. The Slingshot brings risks equal as any other motorcycle. In some situation, it can go unnoticed by larger vehicles because it is very low, and it is so fast that can cause some damages to the riders in an accident. If you choose to drive this beast, manage it very carefully.