2022 Polaris Slingshot R may not be a direct motorcycle replacement, but it’s a Mazda Miata alternative done the right way.
If you are in between buying a fun roadster, or a motorcycle, why not have them both? You can either buy a car and a bike, or consider the 2022 Polaris Slingshot. It is a quite unique product in a way nobody else is offering a direct alternative, and that’s what makes the Slingshot special.
3-wheel vehicles are not new, they have been on the market for several decades. There is no one type of 3-wheel vehicle though, there are different wheel layouts, and that’s also what makes the Slingshot unique, as it is the only one with a car-like geometry and driving position, but with a two-wheel in the front, and single-wheel in the rear.
The name Slingshot also represents the design language of the whole vehicle. Like an actual Slingshot, the “Y” shaped wheel layout gives the Slingshot its driving characteristics. That also means if you look at the Slingshot from certain angles, it looks like a car, but from most angles, it just looks like nothing else.
The front fascia is probably the only place that looks similar to an automobile. It has very aggressive looks, a lot of vents, sharp body lines, and headlights on both sides make it look like a race car. Vents are fully functional, which means there should be no cooling issues for the engine and braking system.
As you can see, there is the most distinctive design feature in the back, and that’s the rear wheel. Although it has a belt drive that is connected to the transmission, the rear tire is an actual car tire and it is pretty wide. The Slingshot comes with a motorcycle license plate, but you don’t need to have a motorcycle license to operate in most provinces.
Like the front-end, the aggressive design language continues in the side profile. The wheelbase is quite long, as the rear tire is located all the way back, and the front tires are located quite forward. Longer wheelbase also means the Slingshot is quite predictable at the limit and has more space for the driver and passenger.
Speaking of interior space, let’s talk about it. It’s quite accessible simply because there is no door, windshield, or roof. Getting in and out is very easy but the seats are located quite low. Like an automobile, you get seat belts but they are located in the middle. However, you must wear a helmet to operate this vehicle without a windshield.
The dashboard looks just like an automobile with a little bit more rugged plastics as it’s meant to be outdoor equipment. Therefore, all you get is hard plastics all around the interior but they feel quite sturdy. I’m surprised that it has quite good cargo accommodation for what it is.
The first one is the glovebox and it is quite large. Inside the glovebox, you also get USB ports if you want to charge your electronic device. However, it’s not the only cargo area, as you get tons of storage areas behind the seats, and most importantly all of them can be locked.
In the dashboard and center stack there are some small cubbies for extra practicality, and that’s where you feel like this can actually be daily driven as long as the weather is nice. The Slingshot comes with an infotainment system that shows quite detailed information such as the navigation, radio and most importantly Apple CarPlay and a rear view camera.
Let’s put the tech aside, and talk about the drivetrain and real numbers. 2022 Polaris Slingshot R comes with a 2.0 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that produces 203 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque at 6500 RPM.
The 2.0L engine is matched with a semi-automatic 5-speed transmission which also comes with shift buttons and paddle shifters. It sends power to the rear wheel, meaning that you don’t have axles, differential, or traditional suspension components like an automobile.
For performance-oriented drivers, thankfully there is a manual transmission version available, and I would highly recommend choosing it as the Slingshot is meant for fun, driving engagement, and performance. Manual transmission would be a better match with the new 2.0L engine.
Don’t get me wrong, the Slingshot is a blast to drive. It literally offers what traditional automakers could not deliver for the last two decades: the fun factor. In a world where automobiles get heavier, bulkier, and less fun because they have more electronics, safety, and comfort features, the 2022 Polaris Slingshot is definitely a rare breed in today’s market.
Other than that, the 4-cylinder engine has typical naturally aspirated characteristics. It is quite peppy, likes to be revved at high RPM, and it almost feels like a traditional high-revving 4-cylinder Honda engine from the 1990s in a good way. Polaris ditched the old 2.4L engine and replaced it with this new 2.0L engine which offers almost 10% more horsepower.
2022 Polaris Slingshot R comes with a performance-oriented suspension tune, the ride is quite firm. However, the firm ride also means the chassis is very communicative and it gives you a lot of feedback. The front suspension is a double wishbone suspension setup which is a great choice for this type of vehicle.
As you see in the picture, the suspension setup can be seen quite easily, as it is very accessible. That also means if you upgrade or repair suspension components, it will be very easy to do so. Double-A arms are also aluminum, which helps with the overall weight and offers a more refined driving experience.
As we have two wheels in the front, and a single wheel in the back, the overall grip in the front is so much higher than in the rear. So the Slingshot always wants to oversteer, which means fun. The rear end is playful, but most importantly it is very predictable at the limit. It’s both forgiving and rewarding to push it hard.
Predictability is key, and that is what makes the Slingshot special. Having one wheel in the rear also means there is no complexity and fewer moving parts. Fewer moving parts mean more direct feeling, and that’s how you get more feedback at the limit, something that many OEMs have been failing to offer.
Of course, braking performance is as important as the handling characteristics. 2022 Polaris Slingshot R comes with 4-Piston Brembo brakes in the front, and 1 piston caliper in the back. They offer great stopping performance, it just has different braking feel as you really have to push the brake pedal hard to get a decent amount of stopping power.
If you are coming from a performance-oriented automobile, you may find the initial bite weak because the brake pedal feel is tuned quite differently. The brake pedal feeling is quite linear, unlike regular automobile braking systems where you get a great initial bite but not-so-linear braking performance.
2022 Polaris Slingshot R is a unique vehicle not just from the performance standpoint, but also it’s a head-turner. If you like to grab attention, this is the right vehicle for you. Despite Polaris advertising the Slingshot as a “3-Wheel Motorcycle”, it feels more like a “3-Wheel Roadster” behind the steering wheel, so you should set your expectations accordingly.
As a car and motorcycle enthusiast, I consider the new Slingshot as a better Miata, despite having one less wheel in the back. It’s not as good when it comes to daily driving, but definitely so much more fun, and offers an open-air experience like a motorcycle.
2022 Polaris Slingshot starts at $34,149 CAD and there are 4 different trims. Our tester, the R trim is the second most expensive option, which is priced at $42,149. If you opt for the automatic transmission, that sets you back an additional $2500. For more details – please visit slingshot.polaris.com/en-ca/