Revamped Polaris Slingshot Gains Goodies, Ditches GM Engine

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
revamped polaris slingshot gains goodies ditches gm engine

Retirement stands to become even more special in the just-revealed 2020 Polaris Slingshot. Revamped and re-engined for the coming year, the oddball three-wheeler that may or may not require you to wear a helmet (check local laws) remains a colorful choice for weekend outings.

Forgive the author for noting the age of your average Slingshot driver.

With the new model, buyers receive not just an in-house engine, but a transmission designed to atrophy your left leg muscles.

Yes, there’s a five-speed AutoDrive automated manual on tap for 2020, but lovers of the three-pedal lifestyle can still source a five-speed manual in the uplevel R model. The automated tranny offers gear selection via an array of pushbuttons. Two drive modes — “comfort” and “Slingshot” — allow owners to fine-tune their driving experience.

While the term “automated manual” calls to mind the atrocious shifting of a Smart Fortwo or, say, an Eaton-Fuller-equipped semi trailer, the Polaris experience may be far different. We haven’t driven one.

Entered the powersports fray back in 2014 with a 2.4-liter inline-four sourced from General Motors, the Slingshot now carries a 2.0-liter four, good for 178 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque in the standard SL model. That’s a mild horsepower upgrade, but a significant torque downgrade from the 173 hp/166 lb-ft GM engine.

Thankfully, buyers can upgrade to the hotter R model, which sees the ProStar 2.0L bulk up to 203 hp and 144 lb-ft.

It’s hard not to notice the Slingshot’s evolution into something just a little more car-like. The company says the model offers 70 percent new content, with a revamped cockpit aimed at improved occupant comfort. The addition of a padded center console and new storage compartments, plus adjustable dash vents, speaks to this. Cup holders now accept girthier beverage containers.

The tech side of things sees an updated Ride Command infotainment system come aboard, accessed via a 7-inch screen. Two USB ports greet occupants. In front and out back, LED lighting abounds — a good thing for navigating gloomy, mountainous two-lanes in New England. (Those brave travellers will want to spring for the Weekender series, one of three “collections” of the 23 accessories available on the 2020 model. Going the Weekender route brings overnight bags and boosted storage. There’s also a Design and Premier series.)

The 2020 Slingshot starts at $26,499. Opting for a manual R brings the price to $30,999, with AutoDrive being a $1,700 extra. The fun starts this spring.

[Image: Polaris]

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2 of 19 comments
  • Slavuta Slavuta on Jan 16, 2020

    I always thought that a good gas engine would have similar HP/Torque vs this 178/120. Should this be a red flag?

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jan 17, 2020

    The S2000 was similar, it all depends on where you are making power. If it is up high then you end up with figures like this. There aren't many vehicles out there under 1800 pounds so it would be pretty go cart like, even compared to a Miata.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged