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2021 Polaris Slingshot revives ‘S’ trim, adds paddle shifters

The Polaris Slingshot is getting a handful of quality-of-life updates for 2021, along with some new trim options to give buyers more customization choices. 

For starters, the “S” trim has been revived. This one leads off the lineup, giving shoppers a barebones canvass from which to build. The S starts at $19,999, or $21,699 if you opt for the AutoDrive transmission. 

Speaking of which, 2021 AutoDrive (automated manual) models benefit from a recalibration and a new set of paddle shifters. The paddles can be had on any AutoDrive model, but come standard on the R and R Limited. Polaris has also added a hill hold feature across the lineup as standard equipment, regardless of transmission. Apple CarPlay is also new for 2021, and is optional on the SL and standard on the two “R” trims.

These may not seem like huge updates, but they come on the heels of a 2020 overhaul that included 70% new parts content, including a spankin’-new powertrain. The previous GM-sourced EcoTec 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine was replaced with a new, in-house 2.0-liter four producing 178 horsepower.

2020 was also the first year for the new automatic transmission, which brought shiftless driving to the Slingshot for the first time, and based on customers’ reactions, it appears to be here to stay. 

“[T]he brand’s new AutoDrive transmission proved to be a true game changer. Slingshot nearly doubled its business during peak seasonality from May through September and saw 80% of its dealers grow or remain flat in year-over-year sales comparisons,” Polaris said. “In addition, of those who purchased, over 80% were new customers to Polaris.”

“In January, we promised our new 2020 Slingshot would be a game changer for consumers and dealers,” said Chris Sergeant, Polaris Slingshot Vice President. “Based on the tremendous success we have seen this year, there is no question we delivered on that promise. 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.”

There’s good news here for those who already purchased a 2020 as well. The paddle shifters, hill hold and Apple CarPlay can all be retrofitted to 2020 models. We reached out to Polaris for details on how this works for existing owners, and it sounds quite straightforward. The paddles, for example, can be added to an existing 2020 (or 2021 model not equipped with them from the factory) for $399 — the same price as adding them during the build process. 

There’s even better news on the AutoDrive calibration front. Polaris says all 2020 owners are eligible to have their transmission control units updated at their local dealers for free. 

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