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Future models - Polaris - Slingshot

Half car, half motorcycle Polaris Slingshot revealed

Polarising: At one end the Slingshot is a car, at the other it's a motorcycle, but Polaris says it drives better than both.

Polaris planning to bring its first road 'car' – the Slingshot – Down Under

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Polaris logo11 Aug 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

AFTER 60 years of producing snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, North American vehicle builder Polaris has unveiled a skeletal lightweight model to conquer the circuit, and it could be coming to Australia.

The Slingshot has just three wheels, but by putting a majority of the vehicle weight in between the two front hoops, using lightweight construction and omitting a roof, the low-slung two-seater is engineered for high-speed cornering.

Polaris says its newest vehicle is “one of the most exhilarating driving experiences on the planet” drawing on car technology and featuring double wishbone suspension at the front, but a motorcycle swing-arm and single wheel at the back.

Its unusual combination of four and two-wheeled technologies may return a rewarding drive, but the Slingshot's unorthodox layout could also hamper its sale in Australia.

Polaris Australia and New Zealand managing director Peter Alexander said that classifying the Slingshot for road-use could “prove problematic” and that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is still deliberating over another of its models - the Sportsman ACE all-terrain vehicle.

But the Slingshot is different to Polaris quadricycle products, and is more closely related to Morgan's Three Wheeler and the Spyder from Can Am, which have both been approved for Australian road use.

The approval of those models paves the way for the for the Slingshot, but Polaris still has to commit to the program of crash testing and scrutinising that is necessary for Australian certification.

“We believe there will be a high demand in Australia and New Zealand for the Slingshot," said Mr Alexander.

"We will work with regulators in regards to what it will take to bring the unique Slingshot to our marketplace." In addition to other three-wheelers, the Slingshot could also steal a few sales from the similarly styled, but four-wheeled KTM X-Bow.

A normally aspirated 2.4-litre General Motors Ecotec engine sends 130kW to the single rear-wheel via a five-speed manual gearbox and an unusual propshaft-to-belt final-drive.

Polaris is yet to release official performance figures but with a bantam weight of just 755kg the Slingshot could crack 100km/h in under five seconds.

A taut steel space-frame keeps occupants just 120mm from the road and steering is electrically assisted, and the Slingshot features ESC and ABS as standard.

Two occupants have the comfort of weather-proof seats, a gesture of a 'blade' windscreen and a 4.3-inch screen displays the rearward view in the absence of a mirror.

A six-speaker stereo and Bluetooth connectivity are also a surprise in an otherwise spartan vehicle.

Entry level versions have 17-inch cast alloy wheels at the front and an 18-inch at the back, while top-spec SL variant gets 18-inch forged rims at the front and 20-inch drive-wheel with sportier paint-schemes.

Prices start in the United States for $US19,999, which equates to about $AU21,570 but would likely increase for Australia, if it gets the green light.

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