When Polaris, Inc. introduced the three-wheel Slingshot model, consumers didn’t know what to make of it. The innovative vehicle is a strange cross between a motorcycle and a car.
With no roofs or windows, the Polaris Slingshot is a one-of-a-kind driving experience that owners have been enjoying since its inception in 2015. There have been several modifications to the original model, making the ride faster and more fun. The addition of paddle shifters to the 2021 Polaris Slingshot takes it up a notch, with drivers loving every minute of it.
The 2015 Polaris Slingshot
When first introduced, the Slingshot had a clunky 2.4-liter GM Ecotec engine, and the five-speed manual transmission was the only option available at the time.
With a base price of $21,995, the 16-valve inline-four engine pumped out 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 Polaris Slingshot took 6 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, topping out at a blistering 130 mph.
After taking the Slingshot for a spin for the first time, MotorTrend claimed, “there are far better performance vehicles than the Polaris Slingshot, but very few of them will make you smile when you’re scared senseless as well as capture the attention and imaginations of friends.”
The two-passenger autocycle has not changed much in appearance over the years, with onlookers still gaping in awe at the unique vehicle. What has changed is the specs. Significant improvements have been made to the second generation model of the 2020 Slingshot.
Paddle shifters added to the new Slingshot
According to Sling Mods, the old GM engine was replaced in the 2020 Slingshot with a two-liter ProStar engine designed by Polaris. The 2021 model utilizes this four-cylinder engine that generates 180 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque in the lower trim levels. The custom-built engine can rev up to 8,500 RPM.
Additionally, the introduction of the Slingshot R in 2020 made it possible to implement an automatic transmission. The 2021 performance model boasts 203 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque.
The availability of an optional Magneti Marelli five-speed automatic transmission in the 2021 Polaris Slingshot includes paddle shifters for a modest $2,000 upcharge. The automatic shifting gives drivers total control without ever having to take their hands off the wheel. The paddle shifters downshift the vehicle when it gets up to about 650 RPM, keeping the engine from grinding gears and lurching unexpectedly.
The paddle shifters are a welcome addition to the 2021 Polaris Slingshot, with New Atlas saying, “Polaris did a great job of finding middle ground by giving the automatic manual control paddle shifting.”
Features of the new 2021 Polaris Slingshot
The introduction of paddle shifters in the 2021 Polaris Slingshot allows for smoother transitions. When in “Slingshot” mode, the RPM rate runs high, allowing for an aggressive burst of power as the gears engage. Meanwhile, in the “Comfort” driving mode, the shifting is smoother and less intense, making it easier for drivers of the Slingshot to control the vehicle, especially on hard-to-navigate turns.
While test-driving the 2021 Polaris Slingshot, New Atlas found that “pushing slightly harder on the throttle as you pull the upshift paddle or letting off slightly as you pull the downshift reduces the jerky feel of shifts.”
The new and improved 2021 Polaris Slingshot can hit 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. It maintains highway speeds without difficulty, weighs only 1,700 lbs, and can hit 100 mph with quick acceleration.
The autocycle is not only fun to drive but has an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 35 mpg city and 45 mpg highway. The base price has been lowered to an affordable $19,999, and dealer modifications and aftermarket options are vastly available.
As the Polaris Slingshot keeps getting more enticing, more drivers may be more akin to giving the unique three-wheeler a spin.