2020 Polaris Slingshot first drive: Similar looks, all-new fun
Welcome to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.
Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I love small, lightweight sports cars.
Cars like the Mazda Miata and Ariel Atom really pegged my personal fun meter.
That's why in 2015 I was so excited when Polaris came out of nowhere with a slingshot.
It promised an affordable package an engaging driver dynamics and some crazy visuals.
But then I got behind the wheel of one and I wasn't quite sold.
It just didn't quite hang together as a drivers experience for me.
Now I'm back here with the 2020 model, which promises a revolution underneath and evolutionary skin.
Polaris has come out with its own four cylinder engine and an automatic transmission option for people who don't want manuals.
I'm going to hop in and see if I can light a one tire fire.
If you liked the way the original slingshot Three Wheeler looked, you're going to love this new one.
It's very similar and that means it's still unmistakable.
Look closer, though, and this 2020 actually has a very different and more modern look, especially up front, where you'll find new LED illumination including distinctive arrow shaped daytime running lamps.
The fenders cover a little more of the front wheels than before and the whole thing still looks vaguely Blade Runner.
If you wanna keep a low profile, do not buy a slingshot.
Despite its familiar insect like face, just about everything has changed under the skin.
The biggest news is in all new powertrain.
Polaris has finally dumped the old entire GM source 2.4 litre Ecotec that dates all the way back to the Pontiac Solstice.
This new prostar two liter is actually polarises first four cylinder and it is a huge improvement.
Despite being smaller, it generates more power between 178 and 203 horsepower depending on trim.
It's lighter revs quicker and has a higher 8500 RPM red line.
The new engine also feels and sounds a hell of a lot better than the old one.
The latter is particularly important because with no roof, you are going to be hearing a lot of it.
In top, trim the new slingshot hit 60 and four point nine.
And because you sit so low and exposed, it feels even quicker.
I still recommend the five speed manual, but for the first time, you can now get an automatic transmission.
Well, more precisely, you can get an automated manual.
The later doesn't have a torque converter to smooth out shifts so the feel is similar to the transmission in a Smart Ford 2, which is to say rough and ready.
This two pedal option should open up the Slingshot to a much wider group of buyers but it's hard to love.
It doesn't let you take advantage of the Prostar's newfound revability and shifts are often clumsy.
Polaris understandably couldn't go with the traditional auto box because of weight and packaging concerns.
But at the very least, this new gearbox cries out for paddle shifters stat Officials hint that they may be on the way soon.
I drove this new 2020 back to back with the outgoing model.
And it is hard to overstate just how much better this new one drives.
Everything feels more connected and more visceral, especially the steering.
The new slingshots rack is much quicker than before.
It is now two point five turns lock to lock.
Full twirl less than before suspension kinematics have been completely overhauled too not only his ride quality noticeably better, you can now pull over a G and corners.
And you might even want to try because the brakes are a ton better too.
They're more powerful and more easily modulated.
The slingshot is no longer completely out of its element on the track.
In fact, it can actually be good fun.
One area that needed a ton of attention the cabin, the old slingshot felt cheap inside, partially because Polaris needed to keep it weatherproof and partially because they needed to keep it lightweight and low cost.
The new interior is massively improved, most notably the steering wheel, seat materials and a revised center console that finally has room for your phone.
You don't even have to chicken wing your arm to get a drink out of the cup holder anymore.
To be frank, this still isn't the same material quality as you'd expect in a normal car, but remember, this isn't a car, it's an auto cycle.
Simply put, this Slingshot is way better and way more fun than before, whether you're a canyon carver, a highway warrior Or just one of those dudes who cruise the city streets peacocking with those, look at me wheels, lights and stereo.
Well, you're gonna notice meaningful improvements just about everywhere you look.
And even if you've never driven one of these things before, even if you don't have a motorcycle endorsement, now that 48 states have an auto cycle classification, all you need is a regular driver's licence.
Just be sure to wear a helmet.
In a nutshell, that is the 2020 Polaris slingshot.
It still looks crazy, but it's better to live with better to drive and it's actually more accessible with the automatic transmission to a lot more drivers.
Now I've still got a little bit of time.
So let's get out there and have a little more fun
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