Polaris Slingshot

Would you believe me if I would say to you that Polaris Slingshot is all-electric motorcycle? But it is.It is a three-wheeled motorcycle and in some states you may even need special motorcycle license to ride it

8/23/14 4:27 am chumakdenis 1

Polaris, the powersports giant, moves from off-road, snow and slush directly onto the pavement with its new three-wheeled motorcycle, the Slingshot, and a prayer that enthusiasts will embrace the hot rod two-seater.

Polaris makes a wide range of powersports equipment, including Victory and Indian motorcycles, Polaris snowmobiles, side-by-sides, ATVs an GEM Electric Motorcars.

The Slingshot is unlike any conventional motorcycle, with two wheels up front and one in the rear. That may sound like the Can-Am Spyder - but the Slingshot is an entirely different animal.

At first glance, the Slingshot looks for all the world like an exotic car. It has an open cockpit, and angular polymer body panels that define a low, wedge-shaped profile. The bodywork hangs on a tubular steel frame, dressing the vehicle without attempting to conceal its skeleton.

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Body panels are made from rustproof, lightweight and impact-resistant polymer

It’s got three headlights, a lower air splitter, and two big exposed car-like 17″ x 7″ wheels (18″ x 7.5″ on the SL model) connected to the power-assisted rack and pinion steering with double wishbone suspension, coil over springs and a sway bar - very performance car-like.

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But the 2015 Polaris Slingshot is not a car. It is a three-wheeled motorcycle.

This distinction is very important to Polaris, and it’s very important to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The fact that the Slingshot has been classified as a motorcycle means that it is not loaded down with airbags, bumpers, crash protection, a collapsing steering column and other car safety equipment. It has not been subjected to crash testing. The Slingshot’s classification as a motorcycle is the only reason that it made it through development and into production. As a car, the Slingshot never would have made it.

The Slingshot is a motorcycle, and requires a motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement in order to be ridden on public streets. Drivers - I mean riders - and passengers will have to conform to motorcycle helmet laws. The Slingshot will be eligible to be licensed and insured as a motorcycle in all 50 states, and presumably will be entitled to the same privileges (what few there are) that are accorded to other motorcycles, like access to carpool and HOV lanes, reduced tolls and motorcycle parking.

Interior

1650.jpgThe vehicle’s interior is equally simple, but sporty. Essentially wrapped in a motorsport-like roll-cage, the cockpit consists of a bare-aluminum floor, a large center console that splits the area in two and a simple dashboard. Despite its spartan design, some features hint that the Slingshot is a machine built in the 21st century. These include a 4.3-inch LCD screen that incorporates a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity and an audio system that comes with six speakers.

Adjustable, waterproof seating and tilt steering are standard, while two storage bins are mounted behind the seats.

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There’s a tilting steering wheel, three foot pedals (clutch/brake/throttle) and a manual gear selector/stick shifter on the center console. There’s a locking glove compartment, and two locking storage compartments (one behind each seat).

However, the bins fit no more than a helmet or a standard backpack. That’s enough for a day at the track or a trip up and down a mountain road, but you shouldn’t plan your vacation in a Polaris.

Safety-wise, the Slingshot comes with three-point seat belts, which, truth be told, is a bit worrying. All we can hope is that Polaris will introduce five-point harnesses once the vehicle is launched.

Drivetrain

Power comes from a GM-sourced, 2.4-liter, Ecotec four-cylinder engine with liquid-cooling, dual overhead cams and variable valve timing, tuned to produce 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same basic engine that powered the late, lamented (by some) Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky, hooked up to a conventional five-speed manual transmission with a reverse gear. The Slingshot can carry 9.77 gallons of gas in its tank, and it prefers 91-octane Premium.

Engine 2384 CC DOHC Inline-4 Horsepower 173 HP @ 6200 RPM Torque 166 LB-FT @ 4700 RPM Transmission Five-speed manual Brakes 11.7-In. vented rotors front and rear, ABS Steering rack & pinion, electric assist Fuel Capacity 9.8 gallons

Weight

1658.jpgThe Slingshot is light (about 1,725 - 1,743 lbs, depending on equipment), it’s very low to the ground (5.0″ of clearance and a seat height of about 11″). It is designed to keep all three wheels stay on the ground, with standard traction control, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.

One of the unique strengths of the Slingshot and a major attraction will be the side-by-side riding position. It will not be difficult to convince friends, dates, even hitchhikers to ride along in the Slingshot’s passenger seat, and if you equipped your lids with helmet-to-helmet communications, you could even have a conversation while riding together. There will be no learning curve for the passenger, and no pillion shame, either.

Suspension and brakes

1660.jpgThe Polaris Slingshot rides on sport-tuned, double wishbone independent suspension with gas-filled shocks. Traction is provided by 18-inch wheels on the front and a 20-inch wheel out back, all wrapped in low-profile, high-performance tires designed by Kenda. Electronic stability control, traction control and speed-sensitive power steering come standard to keep the three-wheeler on its best behavior under heavy throttle.

Front Tire Type Kenda "Slingshot" 799 Front Tire Size 225/45R18 Front Wheel Type Forged; 10 Spoke Front Wheel Size 18x7.5 J Rear Tire Type Kenda "Slingshot" 799 Rear Tire Size 255/35R20 Rear Wheel Type Forged; 10 Spoke Rear Wheel Size 20x9.0 J

Prices

The Polaris Slingshot costs $19,999 in standard guise, with the sticker going up to $23,999 for the SL model. This makes it way cheaper than the Morgan 3-Wheeler, its main competitor, and a lot more affordable than the KTM X-Bow. In fact, only the base Caterham Seven 160 poses a threat pricing-wise, with a sticker that sits at $25,400.

Polaris also offers a number of options for the Slingshot, starting with $49.99 iPhone cases and mounts and ending with cockpit and trailer covers that cost $249.99 and $449.99 respectively. The infotainment center kit, priced at $2,199.99, is the most expensive option you can check. All told, the Slingshot can cost nearly $27,400 once all the options are selected.

Model Price Polaris Slingshot $19,999 Polaris Slingshot Red Pearl $23,999

Options

Infotainment Center Kit $2,199.99 iPhone 4 Case + Mount $49.99 iPhone 5 Case + Mount $49.99 iPhone 5c Case + Mount $49.99 Full Trailer Cover $449.99 Cockpit Cover $249.99 Dust Cover $219.99 Interior LED Lighting Kit $149.99

Competitors

Judging by the number of wheels alone, the Morgan 3-Wheeler is the most appropriate competitor for the Polaris Slingshot . Leave this similarity aside, and the Morgan competes in a league of its own, mostly due to its classic design and no-nonsense approach. The modern 3-Wheeler still resembles the classic V-Twin cars launched in the early 1910s, although its underpinnings and engine are pretty much fresh in terms of technology.

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Speaking of engines, the 3-Wheeler is powered by a Harley-Davidson, 2.0-liter unit that generates 82 horsepower. Paired to a five-speed manual transmission, the mill is powerful enough to propel the 1,157-pound vehicle from 0 to 62 mph in 6 seconds and onto a top speed of 115 mph. Pricing for the Morgan 3-Wheeler begins from  about $44,500.

KTM X-BOW

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The KTM X-Bow may have one extra wheel, but the principle it is built on is the same. The X-Bow is light, it has a small engine and a whole lot of power for considering its weight. Although it’s heavier than the Morgan 3-Wheeler at 1,867 pounds, the 2014 X-Bow GT benefits from a lot more horsepower, as its Audi-sourced, 2.0-liter TFSI delivers no less than 281 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque.

With this kind of power at its disposal, the X-Bow GT thunders from 0 to 60 mph in only 4.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 143.5 mph. Base pricing for the KTM X-Bow sits at $88,500, but a GT model will get you closer to the $100,000 mark.

Conclusion

The world of lightweight, no-nonsense sports cars just got more interesting with the Polaris Slingshot. Those looking for a pure driving experience for the weekend (or even full-time) have one more option to consider. Making things even better is that the Slingshot is available Stateside, unlike the Morgan 3-Wheeler, at an affordable price. Will it be enough to draw customers that are unlikely to trade four wheels for only three? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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