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Driving Polaris’s Wild, Batmobile-Inspired Ride Reignited My Need for Speed

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Photo by Scott Seiver

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Part motorcycle, part sports car, 100 percent fun.

I’ve noticed a phenomenon: If you didn’t grow up with motorcycles being an integral part of your childhood, you’ll fall into one of two camps. You’ll either be terrified of them, or you’ll feel the burning flame of desire to get on two wheels and go fast as hell for as long as you can. There is no in-between.

I’ve been riding dirt bikes almost as long as I’ve been walking, and street bikes came later — the bug caught me early, and with every ride, the addiction grows stronger.

There’s just no feeling like riding a motorcycle; when you drive a car, you’re in your own little contained unit, hurtling through the outer world without ever really interacting with it. On a bike, you’re completely and totally exposed, the wind rushing through your hair and clothing, the chill freezing your fingers to the grips, your body and bike flying through every curve and corner as if they were one, intertwined unit.

For those of you whose moms didn’t want you riding, or whose dad or uncle took a nasty spill and swore off bikes, maybe you’ve lived in fear of the experience your whole life; fear tinged with a little “What if?” Well, what if I told you the Polaris Slingshot R was the balm to the wound of a motorcycle-less life?

Did I slide out in all the corners on our dirt driveway with my nephew in tow? Yes. Was it fun? Hell yes. Photo by Scott Seiver

The Polaris Slingshot R may look like the love child of a motorcycle and a sports car, but the way it handles is something else entirely (we’ll get into that later). What makes the Slingshot appealing, and the beauty of this machine, is that it allows those of us that haven’t been on a bike, or have aged out of the rigors of riding, to capture a glimmer of what it feels to speed through time and space without the protective, dulling effect of being wrapped in a crash-safety tested sedan. (Don’t look at me that way, you know you’re bored as hell driving that Camry.)

Yes, I know the Slingshot costs thirty-five grand. It’s not practical. It’s not necessary. But what the hell are you doing if the measure of your life was that you steered clear of chance? Would you like your epitaph to read, “Never took a leap?” Didn’t think so.

I spent a few weeks with Polaris’ hybrid motorcycle, driving it around on errands and joy rides with equal enthusiasm. After getting to know the Slingshot R, I have some thoughts.

The 2024 Slingshot R is FUN

With its low profile, aggressive power and minimal weight, the Slingshot R is indubitably fun to drive.

It is technically a motorcycle, has the front end of a sports car but handles like neither. The most accurate description would be a grown-up go kart, which is exactly how my colleague characterized his experience with the Polaris Slingshot SL a few years ago. The newer model I tested has a few notable upgrades that I thought enhanced the overall experience.

The first update is the paint job — and in a world where first impressions matter, the Slingshot R excels. The Radar Blue Fade is eye-catching to the extreme, and if you’re not a flashy person… well, why are you even contemplating a Slingshot in the first place? With a vehicle born to stand out, it only makes sense to wrap it in a premium paint job.

The interior of the Slingshot is surprisingly lo-fi. Photo by Hayley Helms

Yes, I took this selfie while driving. I was at a stoplight!Photo by Hayley Helms

Aside from aesthetics, the Slingshot R’s integrated navigation, Apple Car Play compatibility and premium sound system will almost have you forgetting you’re in something other than a normal car — until the driver next to you gives you an enthusiastic thumbs up. (That’s not happening in a RAV4, sorry.)

The 18-inch aluminum wheels and Brembo brakes helped me to slow down and stop without stress, and the paddle shifting allowed me to rally around town like a Formula 1 driver. The sounds, sensations and exposure that come with the Slingshot R make driving it an immersive experience akin to riding a motorcycle, with a little more security and comfort (and a little less ability to, you know, split lanes and blow past all the cages around you).

It should be noted that the Slingshot R, despite appearances, is legally a motorcycle. In the state of California, where I live, you are legally required to wear a helmet while operating or riding in the Slingshot. Check your state’s guidelines here before hitting the open road with a bare head.

The Slingshot’s long gearing takes some getting used to

The 2024 Slingshot R is damn fun to drive, but there was one hang-up I couldn’t quite get over: the long gearing.

For those unfamiliar, vehicles can have either short or long gearing. Short gearing enables the vehicle to shift into higher gears quickly, but doesn’t allow for a high top-end speed. On the flip side, long gearing means it takes a noticeable amount of time to shift from say, second to third, but in return for the lag you get higher top-end speed with lower RPM.

When I took the Slingshot for my inaugural drive, I noticed the gearing right away. My daily drivers are a 2012 Corolla and a 2004 F350, so suffice it to say I’m unfamiliar with the long gearing and top-end speeds the Polaris could deliver, and although I enjoyed flying down the road at 80 miles per hour with nothing separating me from the pavement but 5.4 inches of ground clearance, I could not get over the lag from the long gearing. When I wanted to be in fourth, the Slingshot was still working its way through the top end of second.

Lucky for me and any other drivers of the Slingshot R, it comes with paddle shifters, so I could mitigate the long gearing and replicate the feel of vehicles I’m more accustomed to driving — just with a little more speed thrown in.

The Slingshot R is eerily reminiscent of the Batmobile, which somehow makes it even more fun to drive. Photo by Hayley Helms

Would I Buy the 2024 Polaris Slingshot R? Probably not.

This answer is due mainly to the fact that I cannot afford to spend $35,000 on a vehicle that wouldn’t be my daily driver. The Slingshot R is meant for fun and recreation, not for daily commutes and the abuse of driving an average of 12,000 miles a year — and that’s doubly true if you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain or cold weather. That being said, if I could afford the Slingshot R, I would have to consider getting one.

My favorite aspect of the Slingshot R wasn’t the performance, and it wasn’t the similarities between riding an actual motorcycle and driving this Batmobile. (These were both fun, for the record.)

The thing that stood out to me about driving Polaris’s little fun machine was how entertaining it was to take my family and friends on rides. Hearing the laughs of delight from my son, niece and nephew and seeing my sister grip the sides while I did a burnout gave me way more satisfaction than the amount of RPMs or torque this baby brings to the table.

It was the connection to others and the sharing of joy that made me seriously think about what life would be like with a Slingshot in the garage. I have just one regret from my time spent with the Polaris Slingshot R: that I didn’t get it in manual.

Bottom line: If you’ve got the dough, I wouldn’t stop you from heading to your nearest dealer to check one out.


2024 Polaris Slingshot R

The 2024 Polaris Slingshot R is a speed machine complete with paddle shifters, a tech package including Apple Car Play and enhanced paint and finishes. With the ability to go from 0-60 in under five seconds, this motorcycle-hybrid is quickly addictive.


Engine Type

Prostar 2.0L 4 Cylinder

Fuel System

Multiport Injected

Fuel Capacity

9.77 gallons

Max Wet Weight

1,749 pounds


This much speed so low to the ground is a guaranteed thrill

Surefire attention getter


Long gearing takes some getting used to

Not exactly a daily driver