Slingshot’s sharpened headlamps and restyled nose looks more coherent than before, but the big news for 2020 is the available automatic transmission.

2020 Polaris Slingshot Revealed With Automatic Transmission

Slingshot’s sharpened headlamps and restyled nose looks more coherent than before, but the big news for 2020 is the available automatic transmission.

Slingshot’s sharpened headlamps and restyled nose looks more coherent than before, but the big news for 2020 is the available automatic transmission. (Polaris/)

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.

Related: Chevrolet Camaro 1LE vs. Honda Gold Wing Tour vs. Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring Comparison Review

Interestingly, the base SL model ($26,499) is available only with an automatic transmission; the R version seen here offers a manual gearbox ($30,999) or an auto ($32,699).

Interestingly, the base SL model ($26,499) is available only with an automatic transmission; the R version seen here offers a manual gearbox ($30,999) or an auto ($32,699). (Polaris/)

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.

Slingshot wouldn’t be a lifestyle product without an accessory package, and the so-called Design Series (seen in the foreground) adds a painted front grille, tinted wind deflector, special paint, and Slingshade roof enclosure.

Slingshot wouldn’t be a lifestyle product without an accessory package, and the so-called Design Series (seen in the foreground) adds a painted front grille, tinted wind deflector, special paint, and Slingshade roof enclosure. (Polaris/)

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.

Slingshot’s so-called “backward trike” configuration has a nose-heavy look; up front are a pair of 225/45 18-inch wheels.

Slingshot’s so-called “backward trike” configuration has a nose-heavy look; up front are a pair of 225/45 18-inch wheels. (Polaris/)

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.

A 40-pound weight reduction over the previous generation should help Slingshot finesse winding roads.

A 40-pound weight reduction over the previous generation should help Slingshot finesse winding roads. (Polaris/)

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.

A closer look at an accessorized R version’s front end, which has a Transformers-like glare.

A closer look at an accessorized R version’s front end, which has a Transformers-like glare. (Polaris/)

2020 Polaris Slingshot SL And R Price And Specifications

A closer look at an accessorized R version’s front end, which has a Transformers-like glare.

A closer look at an accessorized R version’s front end, which has a Transformers-like glare. (Polaris/)
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
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.5:1
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)
RAKE/TRAIL N/A
WHEELBASE 105.0 in.
SEAT HEIGHT N/A
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
AVAILABLE Spring 2020
CONTACT slingshot.polaris.com

The Slingshot’s cabin incorporates subtle improvements intended to ease ergonomics, like a deeper cubby area and a raised gear selector panel.

The Slingshot’s cabin incorporates subtle improvements intended to ease ergonomics, like a deeper cubby area and a raised gear selector panel. (Polaris/)

Updates to the interior include a new multi-touch 7-inch screen, that’s been tilted to avoid glare; opt for the R model, and you’ll get an integrated navigation system.

Updates to the interior include a new multi-touch 7-inch screen, that’s been tilted to avoid glare; opt for the R model, and you’ll get an integrated navigation system. (Polaris/)

Slingshot R models receive sport bucket seats.

Slingshot R models receive sport bucket seats. (Polaris/)

A 40-pound weight reduction over the previous generation should help Slingshot finesse winding roads.

A 40-pound weight reduction over the previous generation should help Slingshot finesse winding roads. (Polaris/)

The R model (left) and SL (right) are the debut trim levels for 2020; don’t be surprised to see more spinoffs down the line.

The R model (left) and SL (right) are the debut trim levels for 2020; don’t be surprised to see more spinoffs down the line. (Polaris/)

The latest Slingshot’s aggro styling is a tad less controversial—but still distinctive—in the updated lineup.

The latest Slingshot’s aggro styling is a tad less controversial—but still distinctive—in the updated lineup. (Polaris/)

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