Does the Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring LE Make You Green With Envy?
Polaris aimed to broaden the appeal — and hopefully sales volume — of its three-wheeled Slingshot by adding creature comforts and a new engine for the 2020 model year. Customers can now plug in their phones and find a place to set their beverage as they cruise down the boulevard while confused onlookers ask each other what the hell they just saw rumbling down the road.
Attempting to outdo itself, the brand has now introduced the limited-edition Slingshot Grand Touring LE. Painted in an exclusive Fairway Green with contrasting bronze trim/wheels, the model also receives an upgraded wind deflector, color-matching “Slingshade” roof, and more-comfortable quilted seats. The mandatory inclusion of the company’s AutoDrive transmission further explains what this particular variant is all about — mainstream accessibility.
Power comes from a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (the GM-sourced unit is gone) that produces 178 horsepower sent through a five-speed, hydraulically actuated automatic. The thrills should remain mostly intact, even if the company envisions this as a cruiser targeting older folks. That’s probably why it has a much better (see: less garish) paint job than its siblings, too.
Those seeking more can order a Stage 1 performance package for $599, gaining a motor calibrated to produce 203 hp (with an 8,500 rpm redline), while those seeking additional niceties can spend $1,200 to have heated and cooled seats installed. Considering the car cannot be equipped with any other means of climate control, this might be a worthwhile place to put your money — especially since this is supposed to be the trike’s GT version. But you don’t have to worry about GPS or a kicking Rockford Fosgate audio system, because they come standard.
“With superior comfort, convenient technology, and head-turning styling, the Grand Touring LE transforms daily driving into unforgettable adventures,” Chris Sergeant, Vice President of Polaris Slingshot, said in the release. “Premium amenities set the Grand Touring LE apart from the rest of the Slingshot lineup, while Slingshot’s new ProStar 2.0L powertrain, AutoDrive transmission, and redesigned interior ensures that driving a Slingshot elevates an ordinary commute into an extraordinary driving experience.”
While anybody who has ever driven a trike can attest to the novel experience it provides, notions like “superior comfort” hardly come into play. Your author’s limited experiences with three-wheeled transportation only includes the Campagna T-Rex and Can-Am Spyder — neither of which could be described as luxurious. The Sypder is basically a snowmobile for the pavement and far less thrilling than the average motorcycle, while the T-Rex is more in line with the Slingshot. Campagna’s entry is incredibly fun to drive, blending the experience between a roadster and sportbike near perfectly. But there are shortcomings that overlap with Polestar’s trike.
Some of those have been eliminated by the Slingshot’s utilization of a more traditional transmission vs the T-Rex’s sequential gearbox (which I actually like more because I love motorcycles) and the new-for-2020 AutoDrive automated manual — thus expanding its potential customer base to include those who don’t understand clutching. Polaris has also wisely given its vehicle a more car-like interior, which we covered at the start of this year. Sadly, there are some things that cannot be fixed — like the inability to effectively dodge potholes.
Avoiding bad patches of road is an art among motorcyclists and a hobby among drivers who give a crap about their suspension and passenger comfort. But it’s a curse for trike riders due to the way in which the wheels are positioned. The Slingshot is also an open-air conveyance primarily concerned with maximizing thrills per dollar without forcing you to secure additional vehicle endorsements from the Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State. That means helmet laws in a lot of places, something that undercuts the Slingshot’s mainstreaming substantially. While we understand that Polaris is doing everything in its power to make the model easier to embrace, it’s still a vehicle that’s largely exposed to the elements — and one that forces you to wear head protection.
However, combined with the 2020 model year additions, it has taken a gigantic step toward automotive normalcy. Sure, someone like myself will wonder why anyone would bother when they could just save thousands on a much-quicker motorbike or spend the same amount of dough on a frisky hatchback. But a person driving reliable family transport on the daily who doesn’t want to climb atop a 2-wheeled death machine, may find the Slingshot Grand Touring LE the best way to sacrifice the least amount of creature comforts to get their open-air kicks without buying Mazda’s MX-5. Polaris’ entry should be more rambunctious, as well, though we’ll have to wait until we can test one of the new ones.
Grand Touring LE variants are heading to dealerships as we speak. Pricing starts at $33,999 and availability is said to be limited to just 300 units — though we don’t think that should make them too difficult to procure if you act relatively soon.