It’s loud, it’s low, it demands attention—and, according to a sticker in the cockpit, it’s a motorcycle. The Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring is wild. The three-wheeled machine delivers all of its power to the rear wheel, resulting in a corner-drifting, rubber-burning ride unlike any car or bike because, well, it’s not really a car or a bike. The low-slung open-cockpit roadster is not for introverts, so if you don’t like being looked at, the Slingshot might not be your cup of tea. But burning from green light to red light, I couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot in my helmet.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor powers all Slingshot models, putting out a claimed 173 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque. Hooked up to a five-speed manual transmission, the rear wheel wants to break free any chance it gets. Kenda radial tires wrap around two 20-inch cast aluminum wheels up front and an 18-inch wheel in the rear, keeping the front of the Slingshot on rails while the back slides around. The suspension is stiff and sporty, swaying just a little bit speeding through turns. Although 298mm brake rotors are equipped on each wheel, the braking is soft—a definite area for improvement in terms of both safety and performance. Shifting through the gears, we found it pulls hard and gets up to speed quickly. I feel like a kid in a go-kart, and every passenger I took out for a ride pulled into our destination with the same dumb grin. It really is undeniably fun to drive.
The Grand Touring model was added to the Slingshot lineup for 2019 and is the most expensive variant, starting at $30,999 with a handful of unique features. A taller windshield helps cut down on buffeting, and navigation comes equipped on the 7-inch Ride Command infotainment system. Quilted seats are comfortable and deep enough to lock in both driver and passenger. A color-matched fender covers the rear wheel, and a roof called a “Slingshade” covers the cockpit, though it ended up being more impeding than helpful.
At 6-foot-4, I am unable to sit upright in the Grand Touring model, so I had to slump down in the seat to drive and even then was constantly hitting my head on the roof. Fiberglass edges of the roof are raw and unfinished, sharp enough to cut my finger and leave me bleeding when I went to feel it. The gull wing doors feel flimsy and don’t always sit right, leaving gaps between the door and roof that look chintzy and cheap. My height was definitely a limiting factor, and I had to lean forward and bend even further down to see traffic lights. It was nice to not have the sun beating down on me every time I was out driving, but the limiting factors of the roof far outweighed any benefits.
The Slingshot is classified as an “autocycle” in 40 states, which is a subcategory of motorcycle that does not require a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. This means that you have to wear a helmet if your state requires, just like you would on a motorcycle, but you also get to ride in the carpool lane solo.
Burning rubber from light to light and whipping through twisting canyon roads are where the Slingshot really feels at home. Short blasts where the elements aren’t too fatiguing and where varying road keeps the drive exciting are nice, but longer trips on the Slingshot can get to be exhausting. Like a motorcycle, you’re out in the wind, sun, and rain, but you lack the maneuverability of a bike. You’re sitting and driving like a car, but don’t have airbags, heat or air-conditioning, or many of the other comfort features that make driving long distances easy, so that’s where the Grand Touring seems like a bit of false advertising to me. If you want a touring motorcycle, you can get the best ones out there for cheaper. If you want a roadster, a 2019 Miata is a few thousand dollars less and, well, a real car. There is a unique appeal to the Slingshots, but it isn’t in long-distance touring; it’s in being loud, flashy, and fun. So go try a Slingshot, but go for the base model—it will be just as fun to drive, you won’t hit your head, and, at $20,000, it’s a little bit more reasonable.
|Engine||2,384cc, GM Ecotec 2.4L DOHC 4-cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||88.0mm x 98.0mm|
|Fuel||91-octane or higher|
|Claimed Horsepower||173 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Claimed Torque||166 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm|
|Rev Limit||7,200 rpm|
|Clutch||Dry, single plate, hydraulically actuated|
|Transmission||5-speed Synchromesh w/ reverse|
|Final Drive||Carbon-fiber-reinforced belt, 36mm x 147-tooth|
|Front Brake||298mm vented cast iron disc, ABS|
|Rear Brake||298mm vented cast iron disc, ABS|
|Actuation||Rack and pinion Assist Polaris EPAS, speed sensitive|
|Auxiliary Light Projector||H3 55-watt|
|Battery||30 AH, 12-volt, 400 CCA|
|ESC (Electronic Stability Control)||Standard|
|Front Tire||225/45R-18 Kenda SS-799|
|Front Wheel||18 x 7.5 J, cast aluminum|
|Rear Tire||255/35R-20 Kenda SS-799|
|Rear Wheel||20 x 9.0 J, cast aluminum|
|Fuel Capacity||9.8 gal. (37.1L)|
|Ground Clearance||5.0 in. (127mm)|
|Claimed Wet Weight||1,749 lb.|
|Overall Vehicle Height/Length/Width||51.9 in. (1,318mm)/149.9 in. (3,808mm)/77.9 in. (1,980mm)|
|Wheelbase||105.0 in. (2,667mm)|
|Color/Graphics||Black Crystal with White Pearl|
|Factory Warranty||2 Years, Unlimited Miles|