KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
- Updated Date: 3/11/2009
You'll Like This Car If...
When Pontiac first showed the Solstice concept, the public and the press had just two words for the people at GM: Build it. And build it they did. Three years into production, the
2009 Pontiac Solstice roadster is an unqualified success, combining exotic good looks with a sturdy chassis and world-class handling. Despite the obvious use of in-house parts (the ventilation controls are borrowed from the Hummer H3 and the reverse lights from the GMC Envoy), and the less-than-user-friendly convertible-top mechanism, the Solstice comes off as fresh and original. Visually, the Solstice easily rivals such stylish competitors as the
BMW Z4 and
Audi TT, yet costs half as much.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you covet fine four-wheeled automotive art and your idea of driving is a small, responsive and affordable two-seat sports car on a challenging two-lane road, the
2009 Pontiac Solstice is your dream come true.
What's New for 2009
If you need ample interior storage and bring along more than a very, very small amount of luggage on the trip, you may be better off with a four-seat
convertible like the
BMW 3 Series or
Audi A4. The Solstice Roadster provides precious little room for stuff in the cockpit and a mere 5.4 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up – and almost none at all with the top down.
Coupe joins the Roadster. It features a liftback glass hatch and a removable roof panel. New standard equipment includes StabiliTrak stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a limited-slip differential.
The 2009 Pontiac Solstice's 2.4-liter engine has excellent low-end torque for strong launch and passing performance, yet it happily revs to its 6600-rpm redline when the driver's mood arises. The power rack-and-pinion steering is crisp and accurate, the large four-wheel power disc brakes are strong and linear and the short-throw shifter gives smooth, precise gear changes. Due to the combination of a stiff chassis, a wide track, near 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, perfectly tuned four-wheel independent suspension and big, handling-biased tires, cornering balance and performance are simply outstanding, yet the ride doesn't beat you up on lumpy surfaces. We also enjoyed the seat support and comfort and the surprising lack of road noise with the top up.
Just about everyone loves the looks of this car, and so do we.
Despite its reasonable price, this is a truly outstanding sports car with an exceptional level of handling response and capabilities.
The interior has a cockpit-style layout that angles the controls toward the driver and features motorcycle-inspired gauges. Unlike some small coupes, it has generous shoulder room and sufficient legroom for taller drivers. The "racing-inspired" bucket seats have small but useful storage pockets and ample bolsters for support during spirited cornering, and the thick, adjustable-rake steering wheel's diameter seems just right for serious driving. While some interior parts are borrowed from other GM products (
Chevrolet Corvette, Opel Corsa, Hummer H3) to save time and investment cost, every component is carefully integrated to complement the whole.
Notable Standard Equipment
Pontiac calls it "a modern American update of the classic roadster...inspired by the romantic era of sports cars." We call it near-perfect, with taut lines, seductive curves, long hood, short rear deck, clean body sides, high beltline, dual-port Pontiac grille and wide 18-inch wheels and tires pushed to the corners for a low, aggressive stance. The trunk lid is rear-hinged to accept the folding top, integrated fairings behind the headrests recall racing sports cars of the past and the prominent headlamps and wrap-around taillamps have a premium, jewel-like appearance. Like most convertibles, the Roadster looks best with its manual top tucked away, but is also nearly as tasty with it up. On the Coupe, cargo space is greatly increased, while a contoured roof panel increases head room to 37.4 inches.
Notable Optional Equipment
The comprehensive standard equipment list includes four-wheel independent short/long-arm suspension, Bilstein coil-over monotube shocks, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, fast-ratio rack-and-pinion steering, P245/45R18 all-season tires on alloy wheels, StabiliTrak stability control, limited-slip differential, rake-adjustable steering wheel, leather-wrapped manual shift knob, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, two-way power driver's-seat adjuster, AM/FM/MP3-compatable CD six-speaker stereo, manual cloth convertible top with glass rear window defogger and dual-stage front airbags.
Under the Hood
There are four logically-grouped packages: The Preferred Package includes power windows, locks and mirrors and remote keyless entry; the Convenience Package adds fog lamps, cruise control and enhanced Driver Information Center controls; the Premium Package includes leather seating and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls; and the Club Sport Package features a singe CD stereo and performance suspension while deleting OnStar, XM radio and all other options save for a rear spoiler. The Club Sport can be considered a basic version designed to keep weight to a minimum. Other available options include air conditioning, carpeted floor mats, premium Monsoon seven-speaker audio, GM's latest OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system and a five-speed automatic transmission.
Given the modest price, we were pleasantly surprised to see the 173-horsepower 2.4-liter variable valve timing (VVT) version of GM's all-aluminum DOHC 16-valve ECOTEC four-cylinder engine as standard in the Solstice,. Acceleration is strong up to about 60 miles per hour, but then drops off. If you're looking for more than just a comfortable touring car, the turbocharged GXP is the model you want.
2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (manual), 19/24 (automatic)
The 2009 Pontiac Solstice's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $24,000 and, when fully equipped, tops out close to $28,000. Most people will opt for the Preferred Package's power windows and locks, as well as air conditioning and the Monsoon sound system, which will add a few thousand to the bottom line. The Solstice is a hot commodity and its limited production and good fuel economy mean demand will likely remain high. To get your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price price to see what others in your area are paying for the Solstice and competitors such as the
Mazda Miata MX-5. Although it's only three years old, Kelley Blue Book expects the Solstice to retain a high resale value, on par with the BMW Z4 and Audi TT and better than the Mazda MX-5.