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 aggressive front end on the Polaris Slingshot SL.
The aggressive front end on the Polaris Slingshot SL. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2022 Polaris Slingshot gets a lot of attention

The Slingshot SL badge
The Slingshot SL badge | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

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?

The steering wheel and shifter on the Polaris Slingshot SL.
The steering wheel and shifter on the Polaris Slingshot SL. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

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?

The rearview camera on the Polaris Slingshot comes in handy.
The rearview camera on the Polaris Slingshot comes in handy. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

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.

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