2022 Polaris Slingshot SL First Drive: A Raucous and Rowdy Good Time
While driving the 2022 Polaris Slingshot SL, I could hear, feel, and smell everything around me. There aren’t any doors on this thing, no roof, and barely even a windshield. Even through my full-face helmet, I could smell the exhaust from the cars driving past me and feel the wind as they sped by.
The engine is loud, and the transmission whines as I work through all five of its gears. The sun beats down relentlessly as I lift the visor on my helmet to catch some fresh air. I could feel the UV rays warm my arms as I thought about the possible sunburn I would have after this trip. Why would anyone want to buy this thing? I’m driving it around for a week to find out.
The 2022 Polaris Slingshot gets a lot of attention
The roar from the four-cylinder engine under the Polaris Slingshot’s elongated hood is loud, but its unique aesthetic is even louder. Its aggressive front end, F1 car-looking cockpit, and lone rear wheel make it look unlike anything else on the road. Plenty of onlookers, from drivers to pedestrians, constantly look and point at the Slingshot as I drive by.
“Is that thing a Transformer?” I heard a kid ask out loud as he walked by the Slingshot. No, kid, it’s not. It’s an autocycle.
Yes, that’s what the Slingshot technically is, which explains its three-wheeled architecture. It’s half a motorcycle, half a car, without the benefits of either. You can’t lane split in a Slingshot, nor can you park in tight spaces. It also drives like a car but lacks the comfort and safety that a normal car has. And I thought my Honda S2000 was a deathtrap.
There’s no rearview mirror, so I must rely on the two non-powered side mirrors to look behind me. Fortunately, there is a backup camera, which comes in handy when parking this thing.
Is the Slingshot fast?
Not really. Under its long hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 178 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque. My tester is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission that shifts smoothly and operates loudly. From a dead stop, the Slingshot is quick off the line, but to get it going anywhere quickly, you have to floor it up to the 8,000-rpm redline.
It’s worth the wait, though, as the engine sings well at the upper rev range, and the rear wheel steps out a little around corners. Speaking of the rear wheel, it’s wrapped in Kenda rubber and is sized 20×9. That large wheel does well when it comes to stabilizing the Slingshot, and it has plenty of grip to lay the power down. So much so that I sometimes forget that there’s only one wheel back there.
How does the Slingshot ride?
It’s a little rough but bearable. The Slingshot gets a little jarring over uneven pavement, and the suspension does feel stiff overall. However, that’s to be expected given the vehicle’s short 105-inch wheelbase. It has a double-wishbone suspension upfront, so I’m excited to see how it handles in tight canyon turns.
So far, the Polaris Slingshot drives easier and handles better than I thought, despite its loud and rowdy nature. I’m going to be driving it around all week, so stay tuned for my thoughts and experiences with the Slingshot.