Anybody missing a few teeth or with some ugly scars will tell you that life is a lot more enjoyable when you don’t take it too seriously.
Consider the three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot SLR. A few miles behind the visor of the Slingshot will have you tearing through traffic while playing Inner Circle, and it could just be the final push you need to convince yourself to get some tribal tattoos.
The $35,286 SLR we drove was the mid-range trim level, probably between Guy and Brah. It costs around $10,000 more than the base 178-hp Slingshot S and about $7000 less than the top-tier Roush Edition.
Polaris’ Prostar 203-hp 2.0-liter inline-four engine is hidden below its ugly plastic front, and the SLR has a bigger (11.0-inch) rear wheel than standard versions.
The 1661-pound SLR has nearly as much torque as its closest automobile counterpart in terms of price and performance, the Mazda Miata, but the Polaris revs to 8500 rpm, 1000 more than the Miata.
While an automatic manual gearbox is available, our tester had as many pedals as tires. A five-speed manual transmission strikes us as archaic, yet its changes seemed smoother than those in many sports cars.
Between shifts, there’s a power band with plenty of oomph over 6500 rpm. The sprint to 60 mph takes 5.3 seconds, two-tenths faster than the last Slingshot we examined, which was powered by a 173-hp 2.4-liter four from General Motors.
The upgraded 2.0-liter also defeated the old 2.4-liter by 2.7 seconds to 100 mph. Its quarter-mile time was 14.0 seconds and 101 mph, half a second faster than the preceding Slingshot.
We’re convinced that the SLR’s acceleration figures would be more boastful with a grippier rear tire, but blazing the 305-section-width Kenda radial through second gear looks cooler than going to 60 mph a half-second faster.
The Slingshot’s front/rear weight distribution of 65.5/34.5 percent didn’t help. Polaris claims that the Slingshot can reach 125 mph if you stick with it.
The Slingshot managed 0.90 g of stick around the 300-foot skidpad, an improvement over the previous Slingshot’s 0.85 g. The Slingshot has less grip than a 2022 model we examined while being down a wheel from the Miata.
The Mazda scored 0.95 g despite riding on 205/45R-17 Bridgestone Potenza S001 summer tires, which were 20 mm smaller than the SLR’s front tires.
The Slingshot SLR required 157 feet to stop from 70 mph, two feet faster than the 2346-pound Miata and nine feet faster than the earlier Slingshot we tested. It features ABS, but the brake booster is still hydraulic, giving it an organic brake-pedal feel.
Front and rear 11.7-inch vented rotors are gripped by single-piston calipers (R models get 13.3-inch vented fronts with four-piston Brembos).
The most enjoyable aspect of driving the Slingshot SLR is hanging the tail out through turns, despite the absence of a roof, doors, or a second rear tire. Even on dry pavement, you can send the Slingshot sliding, and the three-easy wheeler’s control is a big part of the fun.
The SLR is a lot of fun—it’s the pavement equivalent of a high-powered Polaris side-by-side utility vehicle in the dirt. The optional heated and ventilated seats ($1559) are the closest to a normal automobile.
While stuck in construction traffic under the hot summer sun, the air-conditioned chairs at full speed deliciously chilled our backs.
Pick the appropriate playlist to blast over its Rockford Fosgate sound, and don’t be shocked if you start grooming your hair to better resemble the inner contours of a helmet after a few days of ownership.
The only way to understand why the individuals driving these souped-up trikes appear to be having so much fun is to ride one yourself.