We take a ride on the wild side with the top-of-the-line Slingshot Grand Touring
The closest I came to being a motorcycle rider was almost buying a Honda CBR600F4 just like this one only to be stopped in my tracks by my mom. She tried to reason with me, and the wannabe-Maverick in me could not be stopped. I pictured myself adorned in a Flying Tigers leather jacket astride my shiny new bike. I’d race down Artesia Boulevard alongside the runway at the Fullerton Municipal airport and pump my fists at landing Cessnas. Badass. Mom was not having it so she pulled out her secret weapon: tears. The waterworks came and I said, fine, fine, fine, I’ll stick to four wheels.
I’ve since satiated my addiction to speed with fast cars, racing schools, and lots of track time — but in the back in my head I remained curious about the open-air thrills I was missing out on in two-wheel mode. Enter the Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring, which bills itself as the most fun you can have on three wheels.
But First, the Looks
Before we get into how the Slingshot drives, let’s touch on a key selling point for image-driven consumers (aka just about everyone in Southern California) — how does it look?
Simply put, the Slingshot Grand Touring looks insane. Pop quiz: The Polaris Slingshot looks like it’s from a different a) era, b) country, c) planet, or d) all of the above. If you answered d) that’s ridiculous — there are no countries on other planets. But I get why. This vehicle defies explanation. It’s a funky F1/rally racer meets Daytona Bike Week custom project, from the future no less.
This fully-loaded Slingshot adds a Slingshade (that’s Slingslang for roof-like apparatus that gives you shade, but not structural integrity), metallic pearl paint, and color matched rear fender as well as a host of comfort and tech upgrades. It comes in one color: Black Crystal with White Pearl.
My first impression: this is something Bruce Wayne would commute in.
The Batman vibe must be a common reaction because driving around in the Slingshot, I got more stares, waves, and beaming smiles than any car I’ve ever driven. That includes everything from my ’57 wagon to modern day sports cars.
Pulling into McDonald’s to pick up breakfast for the clones, a lady asked if she could take a picture. I started factoring in an extra five minutes on my trips to the coffee shop because I knew someone would ask me about my sweet new ride.
The Slingshot elicits joy from just about everyone who notices it. You start to feel like a celebrity, astronaut, or secret agent. Actually forget “or,” with the Grand Touring trim you get “and a secret agent” as standard equipment.
It’s on three wheels, it’s open-air, and it’s got angles everywhere — in a good, F1 hits the streets way (vs. a “hey let’s throw a Predator grille on our luxury car and call it performance-inspired” way.)
From McDonald’s to the Carcadia cars and coffee meet, from shopping centers to the Arcadia Police Foundation annual gala, the Slingshot was my red carpet accessory du jour. Even the peacocks in Arcadia walked up to take a closer look.
How Fun is Fun?
The Slingshot Grand Touring doesn’t just look like a fun time, it is a royally fun time.
It’s powered by a GM Ecotec 2.4L 4-cylinder engine producing 173 horsepower and 166 foot pounds of torque at 4,700rpm. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of power and it isn’t. But, the engine is a proven one and the real fun comes in when you realize the Slingshot only weighs about 1,749 pounds with fluids. That puts the Slingshot in Civic Type R territory for those keeping score.
The real fun isn’t just in the straight-line acceleration. The super-low seating position and open cockpit reminded me of being in a Formula Mazda or a Radical racecar. The sound is pretty thrilling as well. The secret sauce for me came in the form of a constant reminder of the element of danger.
I kept reminding myself that with great power-to-weight ratio comes great responsibility, especially when you’ve only got one contact patch in the back.
In normal city driving, the Slingshot behaves fairly closely to a car. However on the freeway and definitely when you’re on the twisties, you absolutely must remind yourself you’re in a vehicle that is half-car-half-motorcycle. The laws of physics still apply. You have about two-thirds of the weight up front (ahem: engine) and a single fat tire on the back. That makes for great turn-in and carving ability and fun mini-drifts on tap whenever you feel like it. Polaris includes traction control to keep our Top Gun dreams from sending us into the side of canyon after a lesson in snap oversteer.
Is a 911 GT3RS faster? Yes. Can a motorcycle handle better? Yes. Can you have this much fun sitting side-by-side with someone with your clothes on? I don’t know. (What kind of clothes?) The beauty of the Slingshot is it is solely about fun – visceral fun that hits each of your senses.
The Danger Zone still has Creature Comforts
The Slingshot is classified as a motorcycle, so it doesn’t have to meet pesky safety requirements like airbags and the like that cars have to. That doesn’t mean you don’t get a sound system or navigation though. I mean come on just because we like speed, we’re not savages am I right?
The Grand Touring features a 7″ display with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and a much-needed back-up camera. It also features a 100-watt Rockford Fosgate Audio system powerful enough to send your music of choice through your (required) full-face helmet. There is nothing quite like tearing it up in a Slingshot while onlookers wonder what kind of land-based UFO blasts Rob Bass and EZ Rock at them.
I was particularly fond of the diamond-quilted stitching on the seats and the clever hidden storage bins behind the seats.
At first glance you may say to yourself that at almost thirty grand, the Slingshot is a total waste of money. You could buy a car for that or a proper motorcycle. True. So why did over thirty thousand people step up and buy one? Why is there a Club Slingshot group of enthusiasts worldwide drinking coffee and geeking out over their rides?
I asked Josh Fulkerson, Senior Director of Slingshot at Polaris, who buys one his answer was simple: fun-seekers. When the engineers at Polaris first start designing the Slingshot, they asked themselves “How can we have as much fun on-road as possible.” This is their answer.
It goes without saying that if you’re in the market for a three-wheeler you definitely need to consider the Slingshot. I would add to the list folks who are considering cars like the Ariel Atom, Shelby Cobra continuation cars, and track-cars. If my dream garage ever gets built, I’d now consider adding a three-wheeler like the Slingshot to the mix to spice things up. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of fun on wheels, plus there are always leather jackets to wear and planes to shake my fist at.
For more information on the Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring, visit the Slingshot website.