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2020 Polaris Slingshot R First Drive

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2020 Polaris Slingshot R First Drive

They seem to fall in with the 30 percent of parts carried over from before, and they need more bite if you're going to drive it hard. As good as the Autodrive box is, if you really want to thrash this thing, you need to do it yourself, and Polaris makes it worth your while. We didn't review one when it first came out in 2015 because we didn't know what to make of it, either.

At most, the rear end shifted slightly if I absolutely threw it into a corner. That could be a recipe for disaster with only one rear tire to handle the lateral g's and the shock from the powertrain, but it isn't. The steering was slow. It may ride like a sports car, but it doesn't really sound like one.

They want the open-air experience, though. In traffic. It comes with things like air bags, heating and A/C, a trunk, doors, and a roof in case it rains. (Polaris will sell you a bolt-on roof) The 2020 Slingshot starts at $26,499, and this R model starts at $30,999.

Polaris listened. It does make less torque, 120 and 144 lb-ft, respectively, but it doesn't matter much in a vehicle with a claimed curb weight under 1,700 pounds. The electric assist is nicely weighted and even gives you a little feedback through the thin-rimmed steering wheel. It's geared for performance with a single overdrive ratio, so you'll be turning 3,000 rpm at 65 mph, where cars these days are turning 1,800, but it means it pulls harder in higher gears as a result.

That's the Slingshot. My colleagues in the press who did drive it told me it was neat, a good first effort, but needed work. It's also $27,525 to start and tops out in the mid-30s. The 2020 Polaris Slingshot may not be for you, but don't make the mistake of thinking it's not for anyone.

Now, it's just 2.5 turns lock to lock and feels much sportier for it. You can only get it at Polaris dealers. People love customizing these things, and I'd start with a more aggressive pad compound. The exhaust is tucked up behind the front right wheel and still eats into the passenger's legroom. The seat bottom cushions are also a little short.

You still feel those gear changes, but it just gives you a little head bob. The computer sees the steady throttle and speed and assumes you backed off, so it upshifts. Not anymore.

I've taken both to the helmet while riding motorcycles and have been glad for the protection. Maybe practice somewhere first, because getting loose in a vehicle with no doors or roof feels pretty wild the first few times you do it. Windscreen or not (and I'm going to keep calling it that, not because I'm British but because it ain't a shield), it feels like driving a side-by-side or UTV capable of 125 mph. Having direct control over the power going to the rear wheel allows you to do things like goose it at high RPM mid-turn and get the rear wheel to step out. On the interstate.

The previously available adjustable Bilstein shocks are gone for 2020, so you just have to deal. Next to big rigs. While they were at it, the Polaris team reworked the rest of the interior, too.

It was quick, they said, but not too quick. It's loud, it's windy, and you can't help but feel vulnerable with a skeletal frame and a pair of roll hoops your only impact protection. It could use a little work, particularly in long, sweeping corners, where it gets confused. Jeeps feel faster when you take the doors off, too. The old GM-sourced 2.4-liter inline-four was never an inspiring or memorable engine when it was in a Chevy, and it wasn't doing the Slingshot any special favors, so it's been replaced by a Polaris-designed and built 2.0-liter I-4.

It's a much more visceral and exposed feeling than driving a drop-top, though. You've seen me mention the Mazda Miata in this review already. It defies categorization except unto itself.

You think you see them everywhere now? Wait until people find out you can get 'em with an automatic. There are cupholders now and a spot to put your phone, plus storage under the armrest. What it is, what it looks like, who buys one, and how they accessorize it all produce hot takes made for a Twitter world.

Whether you have to wear a helmet as I did depends entirely on your state's law, and they're all over the place. Why go to the trouble? Because thanks to Polaris' lobbying, 48 states now recognize autocycles as street-legal vehicles that can be driven with a standard driver's license (rather than a motorcycle license) but don't have to meet the crash and emissions regulations of a car. (The federal government considers them motorcycles for regulatory purposes, but legislation has been introduced in Congress to change that.) They're scooched right up to the rim of the wheel, so you have to be careful about accidentally changing the volume or something with your palms. Just push the D button and go.

There's a pair of USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, and you can even get navigation. It'll also roll backward at a stop if you're on a hill because it won't engage the clutch until you hit the gas, so watch out for that. They want the outsider image.

You may want to invest in a Bluetooth helmet communication system, though, so you can talk to your passenger while moving. Joke's on you. The seat belts are still mounted in the middle of the vehicle, so you'll be reaching in the wrong spot out of habit for a while until you force that into your brain. Then again, the folks who buy these love throwing thousands of dollars of accessories and modifications at them.

It's fitting, then, that I finally found the words to describe my feelings about the Slingshot on Twitter. The good news is they don't really fade noticeably, either, so they don't get any worse. Where some look at it and find confusion, driving it clarifies. Even if it isn't the law where you live, I'd recommend you wear one. Wanna change radio stations?

The digital buttons on the screen will react as fast as you tap. Polaris has remounted the screen vertically so it doesn't get washed out by glare as easily and updated the processor so it works as quickly as any system in a car.

2020 Polaris Slingshot R First Drive

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p>Everything about the Polaris Slingshot invites a reaction. With basically no bodywork to block it, the engine is a bit loud by car standards. Polaris fixed the steering. My only real complaint is how long third gear is.

The materials felt cheap, and the controls were clunky. Getting rid of the doors will do that. Here's the thing, though. Revisions to the suspension have planted the Slingshot on the pavement. And for the people it's for, it's better than ever.

In most states, it's legally considered an "autocycle," an old-timey categorization for bicycles with engines and mopeds that weren't really bicycles or motorcycles. You only really feel the wind on the top of your head, so it's not unlike driving a convertible in terms of hair restyling. You've gotta rev the hell out of it when you heel-toe or you're going to lock-up the rear tire as the engine, transmission, and road speeds try to equalize. Yes, you can drive the Slingshot on the freeway. The 2020 Slingshot is what we'd call a major refresh if it were a car.

We should talk about helmets because it's a sticky situation. On the street. The commodious glovebox remains, as do the lockable storage compartments behind the seats, which are just big enough for a backpack, picnic basket, or a helmet each. Plus, it makes more power: 178 hp in the standard SL trim and 203 hp in this top-end R trim, up from 173 before.

There are a lot of them. Right out of the box, it's got a 7.0-inch touchscreen and a 100-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo that's more than loud enough to be heard through a helmet. Occasionally, you'll get into fourth on a good stretch, and you could drop to second in a really tight, really slow corner, but be careful: because third is so long, it drops you into second at 6000 RPM or so.

The pedals are perfectly placed for easy heel-toe downshifts and the shifter notches nicely into gear with short, crisp throws. And this ain't the only three-wheeler on the market. Author, journalist, and photographer Linda Tirado shared a piece of advice. When you stand on them, though, they just don't have the bite. Polaris says it'll do zero to 60 in as little as 4.9 seconds now, sixth-tenths of a second quicker than before.

This Polaris engine sounds like, well, a Polaris engine. Polaris has single-handedly revived "autocycle" as a classification of three-wheeled, street-legal vehicles that are neither bicycles nor motorcycles. Press the big red button on the steering wheel, and the transmission will hold gears out to redline regularly and downshift more aggressively. Put it all together, and it's a narrow demographic. They call it Slingshot mode, and it works pretty well.

It's sort of a street-legal side-by-side or UTV, but with three wheels. That steering wheel is now festooned with buttons controlling the in-house Ride Command infotainment system and cruise control. Losing the roof, the windscreen, and the doors will do that.

That would also make it a tenth quicker than a Honda Civic Type R. I'm told the materials are better this time around, but they look to me like what you'd get on a side-by-side or UTV, so they must've really been something before. You wouldn't think there would be a lot of people with the money to spend 30 grand on a weekend toy who want the open-air experience and rebel image of a motorcycle but can't ride and don't want to learn and like the sense of security from seats and seat belts. She was talking about something much more important than a car review, but the great thing about wisdom is you can apply it to all sorts of situations. "Know who you want to be and then you never have to decide how to live," she wrote. It even has a Sport mode.

You can still get the manual on this R model, but I guarantee you the vast majority of Slingshots sold from now on will be automatics. It's just about the most fun per dollar you can buy when it comes to cars. Bombing around town couldn't be easier. There's a small hesitation when you set off as the clutch engages, and pushing the gas harder just means it'll drop the clutch and chirp the rear tire.

The optional stick shift is the way to go on this high-performance R model. A helmet blocks some of https://cars45.com/listing/ford/galaxy/1999 it out. Don't let the automated manual thing put you off, either. It got far more looks and questions than the Ferrari I tested two days later.

Brake early. I get why you wouldn't if you didn't have to, though. That's downright quick, and it feels even faster on board.

It's not harsh or teeth chattering, but it is stiff, and you're going to feel every bump. Don't be that guy. Parking lot practice reveals the Slingshot R actually drifts very nicely and is easily controlled. If you've ever driven one of their powersports toys, you know it, even if it's bigger and has more cylinders than any other Polaris has built.

I whipped the Autodrive as hard as I could on a mountain road, and it wouldn't let go. With the automatic transmission, it wouldn't overpower the rear wheel (I tried). There's the Harley trike, the Morgan 3-Wheeler, the Campagna T-Rex, Vanderhall Venice, Can-Am Spyder, and more. Please be courteous and turn it down when you're driving in traffic or neighborhoods. It's a good thing those seats are squishy because this R model rides like a sports car.

I might've gotten it to misbehave even more had I been more confident in the brakes. Granted, that old GM engine didn't sound good, either, but it sounded like a car. Do it under hard braking or trailbraking and you'll destabilize the rear end and get it chattering all over.

Past reviews found the Slingshot would understeer slightly in hairpins and kick the tail out if you goosed the throttle. And man, do other people pay attention to this thing. There are also bosses on the back of the spokes where paddle shifters could and should go (Polaris is considering adding them). Many require helmets the same as riding a motorcycle, but several specifically exempt autocycles either entirely or with conditions. Polaris has sold somewhere north of 40,000 of these things already, and that's with a manual transmission.

You wouldn't expect it from a single rear wheel, but there's little reason to fear a power slide or a bit of trailbrake-induced oversteer. Yeah, I had to Google Kenda, too. That's a lot of scratch for a third vehicle, a toy you only drive on the weekend and maybe the odd summer night. Lots of people complained it was just too slow for sporty driving; 3.5 turns lock to lock is like putting Camry steering on a Miata. Most people can't drive stick and aren't going to learn.

It revs higher and makes peak power at redline rather than falling on its face at high rpm like the old engine. The seats themselves have big, fat bolsters to keep you in place, though the seat was rather wide on me, so I slid from bolster to bolster. It's no Porsche PDK, but it's a hell of a first effort. I know, usually those suck.

When you get to the end of the curve and deeper in the throttle, it panics and drops a gear hard. The standard windscreen does a remarkably good job of directing air up and over the seats even at highway speeds, but it won't stop rocks and larger bugs. This means if you live anywhere but New York or Massachusetts, you can do what I did: step over the side, buckle the center-mounted seat belt (after searching for it in the usual place), and hit the road.

They're fine tooling around town, if a bit spongey. It's a Taiwanese company that custom-makes this tire for Polaris. It's not a car, but it's not a motorcycle, either. The even bigger story is the new Autodrive five-speed automated manual gearbox, aka an automatic transmission. Because you can thrash it harder, the stability control is more active with the manual transmission, but you can turn everything off.

It knows exactly what it wants to be. Polaris figured out real quick it was leaving a ton of sales on the table with only a five-speed manual, and that's been corrected. This is the best automated manual I've driven, and that list includes Lamborghinis and Aston Martins.

They shift slow and give you whiplash every time they change gears. People who buy Slingshots don't want a motorcycle, because they don't know how to ride one, because they don't feel comfortable (read: safe) on one, or because of a physical limitation. It exists solely for people who want a Slingshot, specifically.

The staggered 18-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels with their 225-width front and massive 305-width rear Kenda tires on the R model hang on tight even when you're really thrashing this thing on a mountain road. I doubt many people do. It still shifts slowly by modern automatic standards, but not slowly enough to really complain about. Good from roughly 25 mph to 85 mph, on a good road you find you're spending most of your time running up and down the rich 8500-RPM power band rather than changing gears, which is the whole point. The brakes were soft and spongey.

It's science.

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