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Review: The Compact 2023 Polaris Slingshot Delivers Great Entertainment

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2023 Polaris Slingshot R Review

Let’s be frank. I enjoy being the center of attention. I’m often decked out in vibrant clothing, have a booming voice, guffaw heartily, and am frequently the first one to kick up a storm on the dance floor, even if it’s a tabletop. However, I’ve often felt that the Polaris Slingshot, since its introduction in 2015, tends to attract unwanted eyes. I’ve consistently steered clear of it.

Ironically, here I am, zipping along the coastline in a 2023 Polaris Slingshot R, embellished in a dual-tone teal and orange finish, my face beaming, performing miniature burnouts at red lights and generally having a grand time.

The Polaris Slingshot may have caught your eye cruising near the beach or popular tourist locations such as Las Vegas or Miami. This three-wheeler, a hybrid of a car and a motorcycle, stands out with the audacity of a punk band at a sophisticated party. With a design so complex it could make a geometry teacher sob, it features two front wheels and one at the back. It’s low, devoid of a roof and doors.

In most states, it’s defined as an “autocycle”, requiring only a driver’s license to operate. Helmet regulations vary across states, so be sure to familiarize yourself with local laws before setting off for a pleasurable ride.

The 2023 Polaris Slingshot R

When I say “pleasurable ride,” I truly mean it. Each Slingshot comes equipped with a Polaris-built 2.0-liter inline-4 engine, but my high-end Slingshot R model is calibrated to produce 203 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Lower-end models churn out 178 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque, but considering the lightweight structure of approximately 1,650 pounds, power deficiency isn’t an issue even in the more basic trims.

The Slingshot uses a rear-wheel-drive setup, and power is transferred to the sole 305/30R20 Kenda tire through a belt using an optional 5-speed manual transmission. An automated 5-speed manual with paddle shifters is available, but as we found out from a 2020 Slingshot drive, it’s not the preferable option. After all, the Slingshot is the kind of vehicle that warrants a fully immersive driving experience.

For this drive, my friend Jen, who also accompanied me on the Vanderhall Venice ride (another three-wheeled joy machine), joins me. We strap ourselves in, with the seat belts coming from inboard of the seats (given the absence of B-pillars), and equip our Polaris-required full-face helmets. California permits an open face DOT helmet, but the half windshield makes extra protection desirable. With the Rockford Fosgate audio system blasting music, Jen and I can enjoy our tunes despite the helmets muffling our conversation.

Setting off from a hotel near the beach in Huntington Beach, California, we’re instantly greeted with approval from pedestrians and fellow motorists, even before reaching our coffee stop at Starbucks.

2023 Polaris Slingshot R

Having had our caffeine fix, we embark on a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway. The Slingshot exhibits exhilarating performance, revving up to a shocking 8,500-rpm redline. The gear shifter works smoothly with clean throws, and the clutch engages seamlessly. Despite the deafening noise, I couldn’t care less; I’m in my element, thoroughly enjoying the ride.

That said, I can’t shake off the feeling of being somewhat out of place. I’m neither in a sports car nor on a motorcycle. Rather, I find myself in an odd limbo that I’m not fond of. Yet, the ever-present grin on my face is hard to deny.

Surprisingly, the comfort level is rather high. The seats feature both heating and cooling, which is essential given the lack of an HVAC system. The Polaris Ride Command infotainment system is operated through a 7.0-inch touchscreen. While it’s not the most advanced system I’ve encountered, it supports Apple CarPlay for those who prefer not to use the built-in navigation system or Bluetooth. It even comes with a back-up camera.

2023 Polaris Slingshot R

Storage in the Slingshot is somewhat limited, but my model comes with two lockable compartments behind the seats that can accommodate our helmets. The glovebox is also sizable. The small center console and a rubberized cubby situated ahead of the gearshift provide additional space for your phone and keys. While legroom is ample for both occupants and a small backpack can fit comfortably, extended trips might prove challenging unless you’re a minimalist packer.

On the freeway, I feel relatively safe, albeit visibility is somewhat compromised due to the absence of a rearview mirror and a tricky blind spot on the passenger’s side. Nonetheless, it maintains its course and feels stable. Before I know it, I’m cruising at 90 mph, a tad excessive for public roads, but it’s too enjoyable to resist. To keep my speed in check, I set the cruise control. It’s not an adaptive system, but it’s handy to maintain a more reasonable speed and avoid unwelcome attention from law enforcement.

Jen had to depart midway through the ride, but not without voicing her thoughts. The side grab bar’s positioning was uncomfortable for her, and she desired an additional front grab bar. Her major gripe, however, was the lack of security due to the absence of doors. She felt on the verge of toppling over during turns. If safety is a concern, the Vanderhall Venice with its higher beltline might be a more fitting option.

2023 Polaris Slingshot R

After dropping Jen off, I continue my journey, heading towards the hills. This is where the Slingshot reveals its flaws. It’s thrilling on broad curves, but struggles with tighter bends due to the single rear wheel struggling to maintain grip. Although it features stability and traction control, it lacks the speed of a compact sports car, and I assume that motorcyclists would overtake me easily. A few days of familiarization with the rear wheel’s limits would be beneficial for new owners. On the bright side, this limited grip allows for some fantastic burnouts that I’d highly recommend trying out.

The Slingshot offers Comfort and Slingshot (or Sport) driving modes. With the automatic option, gear changes are more precise, but since I’m manually controlling the gears, I experience slightly more steering weight. The ride is quite stiff and doesn’t change across modes. Although it’s not unbearably harsh, long drives could be strenuous depending on your tolerance levels.

2023 Polaris Slingshot R

During my ride, I stumble upon Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon, a favorite hangout spot for bikers in Southern California. I decide to mingle with the crowd despite anticipating their mockery, but surprisingly, they adore the Slingshot.

Motorcycle enthusiasts of all sorts, from Harley riders to sports bike fans, are intrigued by it and eager to take a ride. They’re impressed by the manual transmission, the 200-plus horsepower, and the bold aesthetics. Even though I remain unconvinced, these tough bikers have nothing but praise for this peculiar vehicle. To my amazement, I even get a

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 2023 Polaris Slingshot R Review

What is the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R like to drive?

The 2023 Polaris Slingshot R is exhilarating and enjoyable to drive. Despite its unconventional design, it is comfortable and has a surprisingly powerful engine, offering a thrilling experience for those who seek fun and attention. However, it shows some limitations when it comes to tighter turns and it lacks certain features like an HVAC system. Despite these drawbacks, the joyride in this three-wheeled monstrosity remains unforgettable.

How does the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R perform in terms of power?

The 2023 Polaris Slingshot R houses a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that delivers 203 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Although it’s lightweight, it certainly isn’t lacking in power. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. When pulling away from a stop, it speeds up enthusiastically to an 8,500-rpm redline.

Is the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R comfortable?

Despite its unconventional and open design, the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R offers a decent level of comfort. The seats feature heating and cooling systems. There is ample legroom for both the driver and the passenger, although storage space is limited.

What is the public response to the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R?

Many people find the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R fascinating and attention-grabbing, with its unique design drawing a lot of curiosity and intrigue. From pedestrians to other motorists, people are generally impressed and keen to learn more about this unusual vehicle.

What’s the price range for the 2023 Polaris Slingshot R?

The base model of the Slingshot starts at around $21,500. For more features like more color options and a stereo system, the SL variant is available for $27,500. The SLR, which has a performance-tuned engine and a larger rear tire, is priced at $30,400. The top-of-the-line R model, equipped with features like navigation, Apple CarPlay, two-tone paint, and Brembo brakes, costs $34,000.

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5 comments

Jake83 July 28, 2023 - 7:44 pm

Seriously, these things are wild. had a chance to ride one in vegas, best time ever!!

Reply
RoadsterRoamer July 28, 2023 - 8:58 pm

Cant believe these are street legal. I mean it looks like a roller coaster on wheels haha!

Reply
FastCarFan July 29, 2023 - 12:07 am

i’m more of a sports car guy, but this… this is something else! Like being in a tron movie or something.

Reply
MotoGal July 29, 2023 - 1:47 am

saw one of these in miami last month. Guy looked like he was having a blast. Maybe I’ll try it out sometime.

Reply
HarleyRider July 29, 2023 - 9:41 am

Never thought I’d see a review of a Polaris here, I guess its closer to a bike than a car. Its definitely got the looks

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