Polaris updates 2021 Slingshot with a smoother AutoDrive gearbox and more kit

The 2021 Polaris Slingshot is arriving at dealerships with an updated AutoDrive automatic gearbox and a host of new features. Polaris recently gave its 2020 Slingshot a new engine. Gone is the previous 2.4-liter inline-four cylinder motor from General Motors, and in comes a Polaris-designed 2.0-liter inline-four.

The smaller engine churns out less torque than GM's old motor, but it does pump out 178 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque in the Slingshot SL. If you go for the hotrod Slingshot R, the engine offers 203 horsepower and a healthy 144 pound-feet of torque.

With a curb weight of under 1,700 pounds, Slingshot can go from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds, or 4.9 ticks to be exact. It's about six-tenths faster with the new engine, and the Slingshot is faster to 60 mph than a top daddy Honda Civic Type R.

Granted Slingshot is not a proper car, but it's a potent track day weapon. With only three wheels, no roof, and no doors, Slingshot is a motorcycle with two abreast seating like in a normal car. Previous models only came with a five-speed manual gearbox, but Polaris updated the Slingshot with a new five-speed automated-manual AutoDrive gearbox for the 2020 model year.

The new transmission is a single-plate, dry clutch unit that executes lightning-quick gear changes for faster and seamless acceleration. However, it's far from perfect. Automated manual gearboxes are notorious for lacking smoothness, and this is what Polaris wishes to address in its 2021 Slingshot.

"In January, we promised our new 2020 Slingshot would be a game changer for consumers and dealers," said Chris Sergeant, Polaris Slingshot Vice President. We elevated the experience in every meaningful way and created a more accessible offering for people to enjoy the next-level driving experience only a Slingshot can deliver."

For the 2021 Slingshot, Polaris is looking to improve its newest track toy in The Drive, The Style, and The Sound aspects. Improving the driving experience is an updated AutoDrive gearbox with smoother gear changes in both low and high speeds. It also has new steering-mounted paddle shifters to allow for better control when you're gunning for the fastest lap time.

The paddle shifters are standard in the 2021 Slingshot R, and are available as an upgrade to older Slingshot models with AutoDrive. The transmission also comes with a new Hill Hold feature, which is now standard for all 2021 Slingshots with either AutoDrive or the standard manual gearbox.

Meanwhile, the style aspect consists of two new driving-inspired accessory options: Excursion and Drive. The former adds heated and cooled seats, a taller wind deflector, and a new storage bag collection. On the other hand, the latter adds 15-percent more power with a stage 1 tune, and is available on S and SL trims.

Improving the sound aspect is a new Rockford Fosgate audio system pumping out 100 watts of driving music. The system includes built-in tweeters in the dash to improve sound reproduction. Apple CarPlay connectivity is standard, too, and this feature is backwards compatible with older Slingshot models, as well.

And if the Slingshot's groovy design is not enough for you to stand out, the Slingshot Concert Series is just what the doctor ordered. This new package includes a more potent, stage 3 plug-and-play roll hoop audio kit by Rockford Fosgate. It even comes with a set of XKGlow interior dancing lights to complete the party atmosphere.

The 2021 Polaris Slingshot is available to order now. Base prices start at $19,999 for Slingshot S (M/T) and $21,699 for AutoDrive, while the R and R Limited starts at $31,299 and $32,799, respectively.