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2024 Polaris Slingshot first drive: The same core with a new look

Fun on three wheels

Polaris Slingshot front driving

Polaris has unveiled its 2024 Slingshot, and I went out to California to test a couple of versions of the accessible and fun three-wheeler. Some things have changed quite a bit with this year’s version, but the core of the Slingshot is as it always was. It’s an attention-grabbing, and affordable, toy for people who like the idea of motorcycles but want something a bit more stable.

The test drive took us down a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, and inland towards some canyons, before heading back toward the sea. The route allowed me to test the Slingshot out in several environments. As you may expect, it’s at its best with a clear stretch of road in front of you. Sitting in California traffic isn’t brilliant from a “fun” perspective, though it does allow other aspects of the Slingshot to shine through.

It’s one of those vehicles that makes people stop and stare. Some will even whip their cameras out and snap a photo or take a short video of it rolling along the street. However, unlike Rolls Royces, Bugattis, and Ferraris, a Slingshot won’t cost you seven figures. With the 2024 model’s prices starting at just under $22,000, it’s a very affordable toy for anyone with a fun budget. At the top end, a Slingshot’s price can push beyond $40,000 — but that range and the variety included in it is one of the vehicle’s charms.

The vehicle’s body shape has had a bit of a rework. It still has three-wheeled Batmobile vibes, but it all seems a little sharper, slimmer, and more aggressive when compared to previous models.

The 2024 Polaris Slingshot lineup

Customization is key

Slingshots are all about standing out, and if you want to, it’s possible to stand out amongst other Slingshot riders. There are five versions of the 2024 model available, ranging from the basic S, to the SL, SLR, R, and finally the “Roush Edition.” However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Polaris’ three-wheeler is one of those vehicles where a paint job is just as important as performance. Certain versions come with certain color schemes. The “Army Green Flash” stands out, as do the “Gold Rush” and “Seaglass Haze” options. However, certain colors are limited to certain trims. So if you want a “Roush Edition” in “Midnight Blue” then technically, you can’t have it. The top-end model only comes in “RaceTrack Red.”

But this is the Slingshot, and the technicalities are a bit boring. So what you can do is buy the SL trim, which does come in Midnight Blue, and then tack on all of the parts you need to essentially turn it into a Roush edition — like the roof, a brake upgrade, and around 25 extra horsepower. Alternatively, you can look at the long list of options and just select what appeals to you while leaving other things out. The choice is yours.

Driving a 2024 Slingshot R

The driving experience is still fun

While things haven’t changed much under the hood, everything that makes the Slingshot fun to drive is still very much there. You’re low to the ground and are likely going from 0-60 in less than five seconds. At that elevation, with an open top, it feels almost obscenely fast. The single back wheel has enough grip to keep you stable in normal circumstances, but will warn you off if you’re hitting the revs a little too hard. Still, simply backing off the accelerator when you feel the wheel start to lose traction will keep you on the road.

As mentioned, the route involved driving past some of the most beautiful scenery in California. However, I only noticed that when we stopped. The Slingshot is enough to distract you from whatever you’re driving past. Instead, you’ll be focused on the feel of the road, the sound of the engine, and the delightful smell of burning gasoline.

That 2-liter, four-cylinder, ProStar engine also contributes greatly to the attention-grabbing nature of the Slingshot. It’s loud, guttural, and will turn plenty of heads when you get your foot down. Couple in the speaker system (which still goes up to a Spinal Tapping 11), and this isn’t something for the shy folks amongst you.

Side shot of a 2024 Polaris Slingshot R

Stick with the stick shift

Those of you who can drive stick, or are willing to learn, should probably opt for the manual version of the vehicle. It will save you around $2,000 and offers a far better experience than the “Automatic” version, both in terms of control and responsiveness. On the one hand, this isn’t the smoothest manual in the world. You may need to use a little force when going from third to fourth, for example.

On the other hand, the vehicle is very light, and its engine is relatively powerful. So the manual option is about as forgiving as you can get. If you’re looking for an “easy” car to learn (or teach someone) on, then this is a solid option.

So, in conclusion, the new Slingshot expands the range of options three-wheel aficionados have available. If the 2023 or 2022 models are more visually appealing, they’re still around. But there’s also a bold and aggressive new look available in a string of new colors if you need something a bit more modern.

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