Although it is better known for its four-wheeled off-road vehicles like ATVs, Polaris has been hard at work developing an on-road three-wheeler with a serious appetite for performance. Dubbed the 2015 Polaris Slingshot, this open-air performance three-wheeler might just become your favorite weekend road-runner.
In fact, you might not ever feel closer to the road than in the 2015 Polaris Slingshot, which is technically classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle. The open-air cockpit, underpinned by a high-strength steel spaceframe, sits a mere 5 inches above the ground. That’s half the size of your average Philly cheesesteak. Despite the Slingshot’s list of performance parts, it’s most impressive aspect is its featherweight imprint—curb weight totals just 1725 pounds (1743 pounds for the uprated Slingshot SL).
Under the hood of the 2015 Polaris Slingshot is a 173-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Power is delivered to the rear wheels like a traditional motorcycle, in this case with a carbon-fiber-reinforced beltdrive, hollow-cast aluminum swing arm, and short header exhaust. For maximum road feel, the Slingshot SL sits on forged-aluminum 10-spoke wheels (18-inchers in the front and a single 20-inch wheel in the back) and Kenda “Slingshot” 799 tires, while the base Slingshot makes do with cast 8-spoke 17-inch wheels in front and an 18-inch wheel in back. The sport-tuned suspension consists of double wishbone coil-overs with gas-filled shocks and a sway bar, paired with electronic stability control, standard ABS, and electric power-assisted steering.
The result, according to Polaris, is that “you can actually feel the rush of pavement, not just under your seat, but in your chest.” For all of its no-nonsense, purpose-built parts, the 2015 Polaris Slingshot SL is reasonably well-equipped with useful technology like push-button start. Mounted front-and-center between the driver and passenger is a 4.3-inch LCD display featuring Bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera, and there are LED rear taillights as well as projector-beam headlights up front. While there are no airbags because the three-wheeler is not technically an automobile, there are center-mounted three-point seatbelts and roll hoops. There are neither doors nor a roof, so you’ll be grateful for the Slingshot’s waterproof seats, though we’d still advise some additional outerwear.
We’re eager to get behind the wheel of the 2015 Polaris Slingshot ourselves, especially to cut our teeth on the three-wheeler’s reported 0.88 G’s in corners. As far as toys go, this might be the one to keep on your holiday gift list. The base Slingshot will start at $19,999, while the top-trim Slingshot SL (which gets a windshield and premium wheels) will cost $23,999. If you're in the market for something like a Morgan 3 Wheeler or an Ariel Atom, this might be bargain you've been holding out for.