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Polaris’ Absurd 3-Wheel Slingshots Boast Serious Upgrades for 2021

For serious enthusiasts, driving a roadster is the purest, most exhilarating automotive experience: Top down, wind in the hair, significant other (or dog) in the passenger seat, cutting switchbacks through a nearby mountain range. Polaris knows this, which is why the company’s absurd, open-top Slingshot three-wheeler continues to offer one of the best dollar-to-fun ratios of anything on the road today. This year, the brand is introducing the most significant, across-the-board upgrades in the Slingshot’s brief, five-year history.

2020 polaris slingshot front

At its core, the Slingshot is a purpose-built, street-legal go-kart for grown-ups. The low-slung, pared-down design can hardly be considered a “car” (in fact, it’s classified in most states as an “autocycle”), and it dispenses with the conveniences of most modern automobiles. In the five years since its debut, Polaris hasn’t upgraded the lineup much. For 2020, however, both trim levels receive substantial visual and performance enhancements.

2020 polaris slingshot side

Across the line, a full 70% of the parts are new, including redesigned aesthetics inside and out. Both the Slingshot SL and Slingshot R are available in two new colorways: Red Pearl and Blue Steel for the former, Stealth Black and Miami Blue for the latter. Visually, the silhouette is more angular and aggressive with the addition of LED accent lighting and a 7.5-inch wind deflector.

2020 polaris slingshot interior

Reviewers routinely knocked the interior of previous model years as cheap and uninspired, which is hardly surprising given Polaris’ roots as an ATV manufacturer. The company evidently listened, because the waterproof cockpit of the 2020 Slingshot looks better and more refined. Redesigned racing seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are fitting of a genuine sports car. Polaris has also bolstered the Slingshot’s viability as a daily driver with conveniences like a 7-inch touchscreen Ride Command system with an integrated backup camera and a full Rockford Fosgate audio setup.

2020 polaris slingshot night

For 2020, Polaris has ditched the previous GM-sourced four-cylinder engine. Under the hood, the new entry-level Slingshot SL receives a brand new four-cylinder Polestar engine good for 178 horsepower and 122 ft-lbs of torque through an Autodrive transmission. For true enthusiasts, the Slingshot R upgrades to a sportier 203-horsepower Prostar powerplant, an optional short-throw manual transmission, and a 305mm-wide rear tire. Those figures are hardly heart-stopping until you consider that a fully tricked-out Slingshot weighs just 1,700 pounds. With the right pedal technique, the Slingshot R crushes 60 miles per hour in under five seconds.

The 2020 Polaris Slingshot lineup is available for pre-order with the Slingshot SL model starting at $26,499 and the top-of-the-line R trim basing just under $31,000.

The debut of Polaris’ revamped lineup also means deep discounts on older Slingshot models. Used versions of the brand’s Batman-worthy Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring can be had for under $30,000. Mask and cape sold separately.

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Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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