2021 Polaris Slingshot review: Still crazy, but more civilized
2021 Polaris Slingshot review: Still crazy, but more civilized
7:54

2021 Polaris Slingshot review: Still crazy, but more civilized

Cars
Speaker 1: You know, what's really great about the Slingshot is you don't have to stop to smell the road kill Speaker 1: When it comes to cars and motorcycles, I've always had a weakness for the weird stuff. You don't even need to take a peak in my garage to know that if you look at my Twitter profile for years, it's red champion of the odd, the unappreciated, the forgotten, and the misunderstood. This Polaris Slingshot [00:00:30] would certainly seem to qualify. Now, over the years, I've driven a whole bunch of these crazy things. Most recently in 2020, when they redesigned this vehicle and they included a new automated manual called auto drive. I didn't love that gear box because it was slow and jerky, but for 2021, Polaris says that they've fixed all that. And they've added paddle shifters, which is a great idea. Let's hop in and check it out. Speaker 1: [00:01:00] One thing I've learned over the years is that you can't really treat this thing like a car, and you certainly can't review it like one and you can't do it. Like it's a motorcycle either because well, I'm sitting in front of a steering wheel and I'm, I'm sitting down. So the Polaris Slingshot is its own animal and it needs to be respected as such and scored as such. So to catch you up, if you haven't been in one of these lately, they're not out powered by Polaris's own two liter pro star four cylinder, which replaces the old 2.4 liter Ecotech borrowed from GM for 2021. [00:01:30] That means you're gonna get between 178 and 200, three horsepower and a sky high red line of well over 8,000 RPM torque is set at between 120 pound feet and 144 depending model. Those may not sound like huge numbers, but remember slingshots only weigh around 1,650 pounds. Speaker 1: That is about 700 pounds lighter than a Miata as you'd expect. My Slingshot R tester is the more powerful setup. Now these days, automatics are always quicker than manuals, but [00:02:00] here I'm not so sure that's the case with auto drive. It's a lot better than it was, but you still get those URS and hesitations between gear changes, frankly. I'm really glad there are paddles because you can just do what you wanna do whenever you want. And your body can anticipate that a gear change is coming. So that makes it a lot more comfortable and a lot more intuitive. Speaker 1: Polar says you can hit 60 in under five seconds. And mid-range acceleration [00:02:30] is actually pretty impressive, especially in Slingshot mode. In fact, it's more impressive than the Slingshot standing start stuff because with only one tire Outback, even a wide 3 0 5 30, 20 Cher, your traction limited at launch. The good news is if you bought 2020 Slingshot with auto drive, you can pay a modest fee for your local dealer to add paddle shifters and reprogram the transmission to the 2021 tune. The bad news is a single dry clutch automated manual. Like this is never going to be very smooth. It's just not possible with [00:03:00] this type of gear box. And Polaris says that they didn't have the room for conventional Tor converter automatic or a D CT. Now the software re flash and paddle shifters are absolutely worth it, but the five speed manual absolutely remains the more entertaining, smoother, and cheaper choice, you know, provided you can drive a stick. Speaker 1: All of this driveline refinement talk has got me thinking, and I can't help, but wonder how amazing an all electric Slingshot could be. You wouldn't have to worry about driveline lash or the occasionally grading sound characteristics [00:03:30] of this engine. Even if it's not that refined auto drive is doing what it needs to do. Opening up the Slingshot to a much broader base of potential buyers. Pull Lara says that for the first half of this year, Slingshot sales are up over 40% and over 70% of new model sales are equipped with this new two pedal option. 70% handling is much better than the first generation Slingshot. And I think the bulk of that is due to the new quicker steering system. This via has [00:04:00] 2.5 turns locked to lock. Whereas the old one was 3.5 and that's way, way too slow. This feels much more immediate and combined with a retune suspension and your sitting just a couple inches off the pavement. The Slingshot actually feels pretty agile. Unfortunately, the brakes in this test model feel different than in the 2020 models. I drove at the launch. They're much soft, not as linear, and they're less confidence inspiring, of course, with three contact patches and a short wheel base, you probably don't want a super firm shorts stroke pedal either because [00:04:30] it might make the back end too twitchy. Even with stability control either way. I think the brakes on this unit could still stand to receive some attention. Speaker 1: Freeways being in a Slingshot are a whole different deal than a normal convertible. You get your head bouncing around in the breeze, your butt's vibrating from all the feedback that's coming through the chassis. It's a whole different sensation. There's a lot going on. Not everybody's gonna love it, but not everybody's gonna love this vehicle. I think it's a unique part of driving it. So this is a simple interior with supportive seats and great outward [00:05:00] forward. I can see exactly where the front wheels are. I got my knees and the breeze feels good. One aspect of visibility that is not good. However, is directly behind me, especially when you've got these helmets on which let's face it. You really should because a rock strike is gonna end your day. Thankfully, there's a great rear camera with tracking lines. Polaris improved the interior materials all a lot last year, but they still have to keep it weatherproof and UV resistance since there's absolutely no top. Speaker 1: So it isn't exactly plush. The biggest news [00:05:30] for 2021 is the very welcome addition of apple CarPlay to the seven inch touch screen, along with a louder clear of Rockford phosphate audio system for 2021 pricing starts a bit lower than before too. You can now get into a base Slingshot for 20 grand, but if you need the automatic, you're looking at 21 7 from there, the sky's the limit with more toys and power, the Slingshot, our auto drive retails for just over 33 and the full boat. Our limited edition is nearly 35 grand. That's not inexpensive, [00:06:00] but then again, there's a very limited competitive set here. And no matter what, there's absolutely no cheaper way to attract a lot of attention. If that's your thing. I drove an orange Lamborghini Roadster a month ago, and it got way less attention than this two-one cartoon. Speaker 1: At the end of the day, I'm still now completely sold on the driving experience of this thing. The auto drive, well, it's still a little jerky and slow to react and the brakes are too soft and hard to modulate. That's true, whether you're [00:06:30] looking at this as a car, a motorcycle or what, this actually is an auto cycle, so let's face it. You're not gonna take this to the trap every weekend. And you're certainly not gonna go on long road trips. This is about weekends, Sunday drives or maybe short commutes, whatever it is, this does that really nicely. Speaker 1: So this may sound a little weird, but one of the things that I like most about the Slingshot is how many different types of people love this vehicle. Now, obviously, if you shot away from attention, this is [00:07:00] not for you. But what I'm amazed at is how many different people from all different walks of life really enjoy this vehicle. You've got older guys that maybe were Harley riders and they can't throw a leg over anymore, but this they can get in and feel like they're hitting the road, just like they used to in their prime. And then you got young guys and gals that are in the city. They're hooking up big stereos and light to this thing. And just having a great time. I love that. And then of course, they're little kids and they think that everybody who drives one is a superhero. [00:07:30] So the Polaris Slingshot, it's still not perfect, but it is fun to drive. And it's got a singular style that nobody else is gonna mistake for Polaris. It's been a sales smash, minting, new driving enthusiast left, right and center every day. I think that's worth celebrating. And I think it's great having more oddball vehicles on the road.

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