Prepare yourself before sliding into the bucket seat of a Polaris Slingshot. There will be reactions. Big ones, small ones. Kids shrieking with joy. Grownups shooting glances as sour as month-old milk. A leathery-tan grandma with cigs in her waistband may ask for a ride. If you’ve already got a passenger, she’ll offer to sit in your lap. Introverts need not apply.
The Slingshot’s calling card is its duality, imparting lust or revulsion depending on the onlooker, but always sparking chatter. Apart from the driving experience, the Slingshot is sold on theater, and the rubbernecking gawks that follow in its wake. Get with the Slingshot’s Daft Punk visual funk, or get lost.
Why the fuss? Because the Slingshot is flamboyant. And because three-wheeled vehicles have always been side-eyed, viewed as compromised in a world where the good stuff is laser-focused. Bikers gaze upon the Slingshot and see training wheels. Cagers see a roadster that stepped on a landmine. Nine-year olds, the true arbiters of taste, see a haunchy Transformer that licks blood from its teeth. The Slingshot is all those things in some measure. It doesn’t handle like a bike or a Miata. But just look at the thing. You’ve got a strong opinion about it already.
The three-wheeled setup means you can hardly avoid potholes. Fun fact: Michigan’s state bird is the pothole. For me, this often meant crunching that hefty rear suspension through pits I straddled with the front wheels. You feel the resulting thwunk in your brainstem, amplified by anticipation. Every rut, crack, or crater is a miniature march to the guillotine. Slingshot driving is odd psychology.
That stilted rear end simply can’t put power down under hard driving. Enjoy it. With traction and stability control engaged, the Slingshot allows 20 percent slip at the rear before cutting throttle. Use this everywhere. Stop sign? Chirp tire. Roundabout? Mini slide. On-ramp? Limit-humping micro-drifts.
Like I said, Slingshot driving is an odd psychology. You either have the confidence to dance like a fool, or you don’t. Folks of the former sort will buy a Slingshot. As for me, a guy with a grayscale wardrobe and a lethal dose of self-loathing? Wearing a full-face helmet helped me take on the role of Slingshot warrior. Which, honestly, is a shame, because the lid hid my mile-wide grin from the world.