The steady sales growth of the Polaris Slingshot has been defying critics since its introduction five years ago. But the just-revealed 2020 Slingshot has the potential to draw a whole new demographic to the quirky three-wheeler: For the first time ever, Slingshot will be available with an automatic gearbox.
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The available transmission ditches the clutch pedal on the entry-level SL trim level, which is priced at $26,499. The automatically shifting transmission uses identical ratios as the five-speed manual, only with a hydraulically actuated cog swaps. The new starter model gets a higher-revving 2.0-liter, 180 hp Prostar engine (replacing the 2.4-liter Ecotec powerplant). The base engine now revs to nearly motorcycle-like 8,500 rpm (as opposed to its 7,200 rpm predecessor), and produces 120 pound-feet of torque. Bundled into the package is a back-up camera, 100-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, and cast aluminum 18-inch/20-inch wheels. Standard driver aids include speed sensitive power steering assist, traction control, stability control, and ABS.
Stepping up to the $30,999 R model yields a brawnier 203 hp powerplant that produces 144 pound-feet of torque. Although it tops out at a lower 8,250 rpm, Polaris says the new mill can spin from idle to redline in a mere 0.8 second. The R is slowed by two-piece composite brakes, and features higher-spec seats, paint, lighting, and forged aluminum wheels. The upmarket version also incorporates navigation into the 7-inch display, which has been repositioned for easier viewing. Rounding out the lineup is the so-called AutoDrive R model which, at $32,699, combines the top-spec engine with the automatic gearbox.
Among the Slingshot’s restyled bodywork is a new front end with linear headlamps. The look is better suited to the angular design language, and embeds a central foglamp deep into the nose’s center for a more menacing glare. Performance improvements include 40 pounds of weight loss for a better power-to-weight ratio. The punchier package gets the compact two-seater to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Polaris claims the new model is also capable of sustaining 1.02 Gs of lateral grip, furthering the argument that the Slingshot could, ahem, slingshot past sportbikes in the canyons. Aiding the handling claims is a low elevation of 5.4 inches from pavement, and a quick 2.5 turn lock-to-lock steering ratio.
We dig the multitude of mechanical improvements made to the Slingshot, which promise a more involving drive while retaining the option of combining a row-it-yourself manual gearbox along with the punchier powerplant. But this three-wheeler’s more incremental interior upgrades are not to be underestimated in the grand scheme of things. With better ergonomics and more premium touchpoints gracing the otherwise stark cabin, Slingshot adds thoughtful details like a padded armrest and additional storage cubbies to make everyday life with this admittedly frivolous machine quite a bit easier. The changes move Slingshot a small step away from being a glorified side-by-side and closer to the automotive genre it aspires toward. Along with the new two-pedal setup, the 2020 Slingshot should find itself a whole new slew of enthusiasts.
2020 Polaris Slingshot SL And R Price And Specifications
|PRICE||$26,499 (SL), $30,999 (R, manual), $32,699 (R, automatic)|
|MOTOR||1,997cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-4 cylinder; 16-valve|
|BORE x STROKE||93.0 x 73.5mm|
|FUEL DELIVERY||Multiport fuel injection|
|CLUTCH||Hydraulically actuated single plate dry clutch|
|TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE||5-speed manual or hydraulically actuated automated manual/belt|
|FRAME||Reinforced tubular steel|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Independent, double wishbone w/ forged aluminum control arms|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Single-sided swingarm w/ monoshock|
|FRONT BRAKE||Vented cast iron, 298mm rotor w/ ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||Vented cast iron, 298mm rotor w/ ABS|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR||Cast aluminum, 17 x 7.5-in. / 20 x 9.0-in. (SL); Forged aluminum, 17 x 7.5-in. / 20 x 11.0-in. (R)|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR||225/45-18 / 255/35-20 (SL); 225/45-18 / 305/35-20 (R)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||9.8 gal.|
|CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT||1,659 lb. (SL), 1,640 lb. (R, manual), 1,654 lb. (R, automatic)|
|WARRANTY||2 years, unlimited mileage|