By John Burns
It was a dangerous, dirty assignment, but somebody had to do it: Go spend a night at the Surfrider Inn in Malibu, to be up early next morning to flog Polaris’ new Slingshot, with the new, new Autodrive Transmission the next day. The Slingshot has been around since 2015, but only with a 5-speed manual trans until 2020. You may recall Ryan Adams’ earlier test this past June of the new, Autodrive-equipped 2020 Slingshot, in which he was less than impressed with that transmission and said: “My hope is that the next iteration of Autodrive will come with paddle shifters (that actually shift when you press them).”
Polaris listened! The silver things poking up inside the steering wheel are paddle shifters, upshift on the right side, downshift on the left. They’re retrofittable to any AutoDrive Slingshot.
Polaris’ PR team had shifted its focus more toward the automotive and lifestyle press for this intro, but the Motor Trend guy had begged off at the last minute, hence our invite. What the heck, since this is a two-seater, I’ll kill several birds with one stone: Give Christine Rogers a break from the Covid cabin fever, get her to drive all day (a large chunk of Slingshot buyers are women), and work on my tan.
As the sun sank into the Pacific and the Pinot flowed, the Slingshot guys boasted how successful the new Autodrive transmission has been. Slingshot says it nearly doubled its business during the May – September peak in 2020, and over 80% of new Slingshooters were new Polaris customers.
In addition to the new paddle-shift automatic transmission, Polaris threw in a few more upgrades for 2021, including Hill Hold. A new Rockford Fosgate Audio system lets the world know you’re coming, and an updated 2021 RideCommand system now includes …read more