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2007 Pontiac Solstice

Overview
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2007 Pontiac Solstice Review

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Pontiac has a long history of issuing sporty machines, including the renowned Camaro cousins, the Firebird and Trans Am, but its heritage has been short on two-seaters. Launching the Solstice roadster for 2006 filled that gap. A true sports car, the rear-wheel-drive Solstice two-seater initially came only with a relatively mild powerplant. A performance-oriented GXP roadster has joined for 2007, ready to unleash 260 turbocharged horses from its direct-injection four-cylinder engine. Saturn offers a similar turbo SKY Red Line roadster, priced higher but with additional standard equipment. Customers have been waving extra dollars at dealers in an attempt to grab early examples of both models.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're searching for serious sports-car handling talents and frisky performance at an affordable price, the Solstice GXP just might fill the order for fewer dollars than the similar Saturn SKY Red Line - though the Pontiac is more skimpily equipped. Ready to plant itself firmly through tight curves, this two-seater delivers confident control and composure, though engine response is tamer than expected in the upper gears.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you prefer sports cars that feel light on their feet and manual gearboxes that operate with a gentle flick of the wrist, neither the Solstice GXP nor its Saturn counterpart might be the best choice - though Pontiac's version is a tad more friendly. Both models suffer ergonomic drawbacks, including tight entry/exit, limited over-the-shoulder visibility, meager luggage space and inadequate instruments.

What's New for 2007

Tucking a turbo beneath the Solstice hood supplies performance to match the roadster's richly-curved, assertively-shaped skin, while weight distribution near 50/50 contributes to the GXP's balanced sports-car handling. Clever design provides a hidden compartment for the convertible top, though it steals trunk space and raising or lowering the roof isn't a simple task.

Driving the Solstice
Driving Impressions

Like its Saturn counterpart, the Solstice suggests the rather heavy feel of BMW's Z4 roadster, though neither rivals the BMW in refinement. Solid, heavy steering feel imparts confidence. Stable on...

... straightaways, the GXP remains extra-flat and firmly planted through curves. Don't expect scintillating engine response at lower speeds in upper gears; the turbo demonstrates its force mainly at higher engine speeds. Despite the taut suspension, the ride is reasonably comfortable - until rough patches occur. Even then, the GXP suffers only a little overreaction. The manual gearshift and clutch seem a little friendlier and less balky than the Saturn's, but those differences are very slight.

Sinuously Curved Body Profile
Evolved from a Vauxhall concept car that was created in Europe, both the Solstice and its Saturn SKY counterpart flaunt seriously sensuous curved lines. Not many General Motors products in recent times have been so visually enticing.

Turbocharged Direct-Injection Four-Cylinder Engine
Despite a smaller displacement than the base-model Solstice's engine, the 2.0-liter turbo manages not only to produce far more power, but to achieve better EPA fuel-economy estimates. Direct injection, which sends fuel straight into the combustion chambers, makes that possible.

2007 Pontiac Solstice Details
2007 Pontiac Solstice photo Interior

Serious sports-car seats, whether in standard cloth or available leather, are snugly but unobtrusively bolstered and accompanied by fine cushioning and support. Seats are GXP-embroidered, with grey or red accent stitching, and there are brushed aluminum sill plates and embroidered floor mats. Motorcycle-inspired gauges are more readable than those in the Saturn SKY when red-lit, but less visible when dark because they're so deep-set. Apart from chrome gauge rings, there's less brightwork inside the cockpit than Saturn uses, so sun reflections are less troublesome. A short-throw shifter sits high atop the central console. Expect serious blind spots with the roof raised.

Exterior
2007 Pontiac Solstice photo

Not many roadsters draw admiring glances as effortlessly as the Solstice and its Saturn SKY cousin. Color choices sound menacing, including Mean Yellow, Aggressive Victory Red and Sly Shadow, but they highlight the Solstice contours to make it stand well apart from the pack. Front and rear fascia extensions add to the GXP's bold appearance, and highly-polished stainless-steel dual exhaust outlets release the turbo's gases. Cargo volume is 5.4 cubic feet with the top up, but trunk space isn't conventionally, or conveniently, shaped. With the top down, it dips to a minuscule 2.1 cubic feet.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard GXP equipment includes a limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes (ABS), a Driver Information Center, fog lamps, cruise control, an engine immobilizer, CD player and turbo boost gauge. GM's StabiliTrak stability-enhancement system also comes standard to help maintain control during sudden maneuvers or in low-traction conditions. Performance tires mount on polished aluminum alloy 18-inch wheels, and the GXP gets a sport suspension. No spare tire is included because of limited trunk space, but at least you get a tire repair kit.

Optional Equipment

Several features that are standard on the Saturn SKY Red Line will cost extra at Pontiac dealerships. Air conditioning, for one, can cost around $1,000 on the Solstice GXP. GM's OnStar emergency/communications system can run $700 and sport metallic pedals add just over $100. A Premium Package adds leather-surfaced seat trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls. An automatic transmission adds about $850 to the GXP's sticker price, though many performance fans will prefer the manual-gearbox model to take full advantage of the turbocharged engine. Also optional: A rear spoiler, six-CD changer, Monsoon audio system, XM Satellite Radio, acoustic headliner, chrome wheels and premium paint colors. GM's optional OnStar system now includes Turn-by-Turn navigation guidance.

Under the Hood

In the rear-wheel-drive Solstice GXP, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 260 horsepower, driving a five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. A 177-horsepower 2.4-liter engine goes into the regular Solstice.

2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
260 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)

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