No wonder folks think it's the Batmobile they're meeting when they encounter Polaris' new Slingshot on the byways of southeast Minnesota. This photo was taken in the M&M Lawn and Leisure showroom in Rushford.  CHARLIE WARNER/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP
No wonder folks think it's the Batmobile they're meeting when they encounter Polaris' new Slingshot on the byways of southeast Minnesota. This photo was taken in the M&M Lawn and Leisure showroom in Rushford. CHARLIE WARNER/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP
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Folks driving the byways of southeast Minnesota just might have been startled when seeing a low, long, black vehicle with a gnarly front end resembling the famous Batmobile that Batman and Robin used to cruise around in.

No, their eyes were not deceiving them. What they saw was the new Polaris Slingshot and yes it certainly does resemble the Batmobile.

Released in 2015 by Polaris, the Minnesota-based snowmobile and ATV manufacturer, the three-wheeled vehicle has been taking the roads by storm. With two wheels up front, side-by-side bucket seats, a massive drive wheel in the back and a GM Ecotec 2.4-liter four-cylinder putting out 173 horsepower (providing zero to 60 mph in around five seconds), the Polaris Slingshot provides for performance plus.

“It's got an incredible 'wow' factor,” Tyler Peterson of M&M Lawn and Leisure of Rushford said. M&M Lawn and Leisure is the Polaris Slingshot dealer in southeast Minnesota. “The acceleration and handling are amazing. You're only riding about six inches above the pavement. Some people say it's like surfing on asphalt.” And on the winding, twisting roads that Bluff Country has to offer, negotiating the curves in a Slingshot is a real hoot.

“We've sold about 30 Slingshots at our two dealerships (M&M also has a dealership in Pine Island),” Peterson noted. “We feel there is a lot of growth potential with this. As more people see them on the roads and take them out for a test drive, we will be selling a lot of units.”

Because the Slingshot has three wheels, the federal government classifies it as a motorcycle. In Minnesota that means a motorcycle endorsement is required, as well as eye protection and a DOT-approved helmet for anyone under 18 years of age.  The motorcycle designation gave Polaris the freedom to design a machine with no doors, no roof, no windshield (it's an option), no climate control or airbags.

Peterson explained that Polaris had to work hard to keep the Slingshot's curb weight under 1,725 pounds to maintain the motorcycle designation.

The over-all length of the Slingshot is 149.6 inches, its 77.6 inches wide and 52 inches tall. It has a 9.77 gallon fuel tank, gets about 25 mpg, the front tires are 205/50R/17's and the rear drive tire is a 265/35R/18. It is belt driven (to help cut down on the weight), has a five-speed gearbox with reverse and rack-and-pinion steering.

The horsepower (173) to weight (1,718 pounds) ratio is another reason the Slingshot lives up to its name. With a turbocharger add-on, the four cylinder GM power plant will crank out an amazing 275 horsepower, which is more than many regular size cars with twice the curb weight.

When asked what the prospective clientele of the Slingshot is, Peterson opined it spans many age groups. A number of persons have traded in their motorcycles for a Slingshot. Better stability, comfort and being able to ride side-by-side with one's spouse are some of the reasons for trading two wheels for three.

“Riding in something like this is obviously safer than a motorcycle,” Peterson added. “And as people get older, handling a large motorcycle can become more of a struggle. You don't have to worry about that with a Slingshot.”

The price range of the Slingshot is from $21,500 to $26,500, depending on the options. They come in four colors: turbo silver, black, red or pearl white.

The biggest selling point of the Slingshot is the test drive, according to Peterson. If a person has a motorcycle endorsement, they can take one for a spin. Most people who do return with a big “wow” look on their face.