By on July 31, 2006

X06PN_ST065.jpgWhen you punch the Pontiac Solstice’s go pedal to the floor, you can almost hear that great Les McCann/Eddie Harris tune “Compared to what?”  Normally, the Solstice is compared to the Mazda MX5 or its twin-under-the-skin, the Saturn Sky– which is a bit like comparing Heather Graham to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Salma Hayek.  While it's clear that the GM cars have more visual appeal than the Japanese roadster, looks can be deceiving.  Has GM “made it real,” or is the Solstice just playing a part?   

The Solstice’s flowing sheetmetal is soft, sensuous and good-to-go.  From the front, it’s a superb retro reworking of a mid-Fifties Thunderbird.  (I reckon cops in several US states will specialize in writing Solstii tickets for failure to display a front license plate.)  Move to the right, and it’s a Corvette mini-me.  The wheels fill the arches so completely the car seems designed as an extra for “Cars.”  The stubby rear end deserves twin pipes, but it might as well have that old white trash bumper sticker on it that says “I’m nuts about butts.”  The sports car’s stance is yang to the body’s yin: it hunkers on the pavement like a crouching bobcat. 

X06PN_ST089MX.jpg For old MG owners, lowering the Solstice’s soft-top is a piece of cake.  For anyone else, it’s a nightmare.  The small tent-like rear flutings must be drawn taut and attached via fasteners to the rear deck.  And once you fold the canvas top into the trunk, there is no storage space whatsoever-– unless you count the passenger’s foot well.  Whereas an MX5 driver can pack light and live, a Solstice driver is hard pressed to stow enough H2O to make it between Arizona rest areas.  At a stroke, Pontiac has rendered the Solstice a toy, a four-wheeled motorcycle.

The Solstice’s seats place you low with the hood out high; it’s highly reminiscent of the last generation Chevrolet Camaro.  Large, graphically dull black-on-white gauges (courtesy of the Chevy Cobalt) nestle in a nacelle that swoops away to encompass the shift lever.  Three simple, round controls for the heat and air-conditioning (courtesy of the Hummer H3) sit just above the radio.  Although the GM plastics [still] won’t worry Audi’s haptic team, the Solstice’s much-appreciated minimalism and aesthetic restraint give the cabin a purposeful mien.         

X06PN_ST085.jpgFire-up the 177 horsepower Eco-Tec and the mini-mill produces a warbling base note.  Once underway, the 2.4-liter powerplant proves adequate shove for the task at hand; zero to sixty in 7.2 seconds may not set the world on fire, but it will warm it up a bit.  Acceleration comes on steadily, like a turbo-prop desperate to leave an aircraft carrier.  On the downside, the motor’s as thrashy as an International Harvester combine in an Iowa hay field.  Peak torque (166 ft.-lbs.) arrives at 4800 rpm, generating more than enough vibration to discourage a regular exploration of the top of the rev range.

The Solstice’s five-speed transmission is a short throw work of art, snicking home like a Honda S2000’s shifter.  No surprise there.  Aisin manufactures the Solstice’s five-speed gearbox as well as Honda’s six.  Yes, but– the Pontiac’s clutch has a decidedly springy feel and a distinctly heavy action.  It’s not exactly truck-like, but those who look at this machine and think “girl car” will change their mind after driving it a dozen miles or so.  Still, loping along with just a trace of suspension travel, you’d swear you were in a much larger car.  Which is not always a good thing…

X06PN_ST066.jpgThe sports car law of the decreasing radius will carry you deep into a turn, with more than a bit of understeer.  There’s enough push at the throttle and rubber underfoot to get you through with [mostly] neutral balance registering at your seat.  That said, the lightly powered Solstice is a porky little thing.  Although the fully independent suspension (A-arms, coil springs, tube shocks and anti-roll bars front and rear) keep things tied down tight, with little cowl shake to disturb the proceedings, you still feel all of the Solstice’s 2888 lbs. through a bend.  Unlike its deadly rival, the highly-evolved Mazda Miata, the Solstice doesn’t beg to be thrown about.  And with ABS a $400 option, you really need to keep on top of things. 

There’s no question that the Pontiac Solstice is a driver’s car.  If nothing else, the slick shifter and communicative rack-and-pinion steering demand constant involvement, in the same sense an intelligent, beautiful woman always keeps you on your toes.  But the Solstice lacks that final measure of entertainment– a rorty engine note, a bit of unnecessary shove, some real delicacy at the limit– that would make it a “fun” driver’s car.  For the vast majority of owners, that won’t be a problem.  They’ll love the looks, live with the lid and laugh as they go. 

 

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69 Comments on “Pontiac Solstice Review...”


  • avatar
    zipper69

    Seems to me it just needs to have an aftermarket “camel hump/headrest” on the rear deck to take a couple of duffel bags and it’s good to go.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    terry again asks the right question. The solstice is good, is it good enough?The chevy corvair, and pontiac fiero, were good looking in their day, they were not good enough. I think the jury is out until the turbo get’s on the street and moves the performance needle. But just to say a gm car is great looking again is I guess why they are sold out.

  • avatar
    Schmu

    id buy one………..no room for a baby…doh!

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Hopefully the Solstice GXP will fix some of the power issues, with the 260hp turbo 2 litre engine. It’s even going to have twin exhaust, so that should fix the butt up a bit, Terry!

  • avatar
    mikey

    I`m sure the G.M. bashers are gonna be all over it.This old G.M. man says its a PONTIAC and its a ragtop,life don`t get any better than that.

  • avatar

    It makes me sick that dealers are already putting GXP badges on things that aren’t GXP… It seems to be a pretty common trick too, theres a lot of Neons around here sold with SRT4 body panels and Cobalts with SS but they generaly have the wrong rims and always sound wrong.

  • avatar
    lizthevw

    Maybe I’m the only one, but I think this is an ugly roadster. Having said that, everything else seems to be right with this car, which really impresses me.

    While US car companies have a heck of a struggle ahead of them, I will give them credit for building a number of interesting vehicles. Looking at Toyotas lineup, I am sorely disappointed at how dull the vehicles are. Not only are there no sports cars, there is nothing even remotely sporty.

  • avatar

    I really like the look of the Solstice. But from the review, and from the fact that it weighs 400 lbs more than a Miata, it seems depressingly unrefined. The General doesn’t do it again. Although I hate the Pokemon look of the latest Miata, if I were in the market for a roadster in that price range, there’s no question which car I’d go for.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Oh, that is such a great looking car… Look at that side shot… It really is like a beautiful woman, because I really don’t care about anything else.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    As an 06 Mazda MX-5 owner, sometimes I wonder… Both the Solstice and the Sky are definatly prettier, and neither has a rep as a “sissy” car.

    The other day, I saw a Solstice owner do a little raindance dance around the car in order to drop the top, something I can do with a mere flick of the wrist without even undoing my seatbelt.

    Now when I see a Solstice, I snicker uncontrollably.

    Oh… Did I mention I actually have an actual trunk?

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    This morning’s Wall Street Journal had a page-two headline, “Mazda Profits Soar on Minivan, Convertible [Miata] Sales.”

    I don’t think we’ll soon be seeing a similar one, “Pontiac Profits Soar on Solstice Sales.”

    In the quarter ending 30 June, Mazda profits were up 16 times that of the same 2004 quarter, and a large part of that was the popoularity of the MX-5.

  • avatar

    The Solstice has great lines, no doubt, but I guess I like the Saturn Sky’s lines better, even though I know it’s the same dang car. The Sky just looks a little more serious to me. Curse this Midwestern pragmatism of mine.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    Blunozer: “neither has a rep as a sissy car.”

    Not yet. They will though. Any pretty, underpowered car, with an available auto tranny has huge potential for “chick car” status. If you care about that sort of thing.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Mazda hired away the designer of the Solstice and Sky (Franz von Holzhausen), who then penned the Kabura show car. Now, wouldn’t it be ironic if the next MX-5 was also by Holzhausen?

  • avatar
    chanman

    Have they gotten the production issue finally ironed out for the Solstice?

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Careful what you wish for. Von Holzhausen was the guy who absolutely insisted on the pseudo-headrest fairings, wouldn’t even consider doing without them. They are moderately nice styling touches, if that matters to you (shut up and drive, stop mewling about styling this and styling that…), but they led directly to the ridiculous top and the near-total lack of trunk space.

  • avatar
    eslai

    The solstice is pretty hot, but every time I look at the front end, I imagine a beaver–the dam-building sort, not the kind that I’d plunge my face into.

  • avatar
    GasGuzzler

    Mark,

    If I recall correctly, the Solstice and the Sky are not identical save the bodywork. Someone else may have more information, but I remember reading some reviews that favored the Sky as its suspension and steering where more responsive than the Solstice.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I don’t think that’s the case. If it is, Saturn seems to be keeping it a secret, based on the press material on the Sky that I have.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    IMHO, part of the definition of a sports car is having enough luggage space for a weekend getaway for two (packing lightly). Based on this review, I’d say the Solstice flunks my test.

  • avatar

    Solstice:

    Trunk volume, top up… 4 CF
    Trunk volume, top down… 2 CF

    MX5:

    5.1 cu.ft. either way

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    GM need to do one of two things:

    1. Make it a power top with room for weekend luggage or
    2. Go all out performance. If it’s a powerful, good handling, super responsive, light-weight driving machine the enthusiast will forgive all the rest.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Im suprised that the last paragraph calls this a “driver’s car” after reading the rest of the review. It feels heavy, is a lightly-powered porker, has a thrashy and doesnt beg to be thrown about. How is that a driver’s car?

    Personally, I think its pretty ugly but I can understand the appeal of it to many folks. The Skye is a far better visual effort but the hind ends on both are supremely homely and just beg to be kicked. And that profile just screams LooneyTunes to me with respect to proportion. Its not awful and I want to be clear here in saying that I APPRECIATE it as an effort from GM (Pontiac specifically). No clipped on aero spoilers and plastic scoops this time; thats a step in the right direction. Its a clean effort and that is to be commended from the pontiac branch.

    I am a mazda fan, and I like the MX5 update to the miata. One thing worth mentioning here is that the Miata has aged very well and the MX5 will do so with even more grace. I dont think that claim can be made for either the Solstice or the Skye.

  • avatar
    Rocketeer

    For everyone bashing the Solstice as not good enough, I say: look at Toyota. Whenever they have entered a new market (ie minivans) the first effort has not done very well, but by the second and third generation they have captured the market. If GM can continue to develop the Solstice/Sky, they may have a Miata beater in a few years, and a few years after that have a real sports car. If they leave it on a 7 year design cycle however, it will die like the Fiero.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Rocketeer, It’s a good start for sure. For GM’s first go at this type of vehicle, it’s not bad at all. As you say, further development of it should make it best in class (for the price!). But will GM do it? They have a record of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, give up!’ They don’t seems to have Toyota’s tenacity. Now if they would just do this with their ‘bread and butter’ cars…One can only hope!

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    You guys notice that it comes with its own colostomy bag?
    Tube and bag reservoir drainage system for the soft top put me off at the press launch, dunno if that’s been updated since.

    I think they’re both kind of pretty.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Rocketeer, you have to look at GM’s culture and ask yourself, “Will they really stick with the Solstice/Sky if it does not sell as expected?” Chances are that they’ll abandon it in typical fashion for the next great hit. American manufacturers do not believe in continually evolving a product.

    RF had a great editorial (I think it was Robert) about the state of American model design. He used the designer of the new Ford Mustang as an example.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I just need to restate that this is such a great-lookingvehicle, that lack of luggage space, a few extra pounds and a tricky top don’t mean anything.

    The Hi-Po version is coming soon and will be under 30K.

    All they need is a hard-top hatchback model and Pontiac has a bonafied winner.

    I am starting to see Solstices all over the place. Good for GM.

    Just a drop-dead gorgeous car.

  • avatar
    vallux06

    Terry,

    You had me at, Salma Hayek. Lol!

    Once again GM has it WRONG, introducing the stronger engine last. It might put some life in the BMW mid range model cycle to bring out an “M” version.

    But Pontiac (try as they might, nice “kidney”) is no BMW.
    The Opel GT available as we write will get only the 260hp version. Then at the end of the model cycle they will bring the Ersatz version.
    Opinions on a little sports car like this are made at the start. The car will likely become a 3rd or 4th car in the family (no storage space inside) So, gimme the fun one!! Then the budget conscious will want the watered down one.

    A couple of months back, in Ruesselsheim, I was able to drive a factory test GT. Based on that experience (I described it in the reply to the Saturn Sky) no Pontiac dealer could lure me in the showroom.

    For years the Gilson household had a ’69 Alfa Spyder boat tail. It was light, nimble and stylish with an ultra low belt line. The closest new car would be the MX 5…….. Nah, we’re still buying a classic, again.

    Val

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Turbo charged engines have an inherently shorter life span – ask any SAAB or VW 1.8T owner. But a GM four cylinder engine with a blower? Order your extra head gaskets when you order the car.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Jonny L:

    Lack of storage space does matter when you are down to 2 cubic feet with the top down! And weight can kill the fun in driving any sports car. It is no accident that some of the sports cars which are the most fun to drive also tend to be light.

    Pretty will get me in a showroom that I otherwise would not go into. However, the car has to work. DCX has produced a number of pretty designs that weren’t very good cars and they did not sell. GM will suffer a similar fate. I can forgive extra weight. This sin is committed by any number of car makers. But 2 cubic feet??? Come on!!!

  • avatar
    o_fizzle

    In terms of looks, I think the Solstice is the best of the three (other two being Sky and MX5). However, if I were to purchase one, I would opt for the MX5 due to its sportier nature.

    And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anybody who calls these fun roadsters chick cars doesn’t know anything about cars.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Hey Stephan, since I don’t subscribe to the Wall Street Journal – yep, probably should – appreciate you introducing the profit picture at Mazda into the comments section. Thing is, maybe – and admittedly this is a big “maybe” – if General Motors had ramped up for the demand of the Solstice, more would be going out the doors at Pontiac/GMC stores. But there was some understandable hesitation about competing with a known winner – the former Miata, now tagged the MX-5. Additionally, the margins on a small car of whatever kind, is probably not going to match those of the Esacalade/Tahoe/Yukon/Avalanche family of machines.
    Our pal Brock Yates – have never met him in person but consider him a mentor, from advice given on the phone – has made a good point, repeatedly, about the need for GM to build “world class” sedans; think Camry and Accord. Once that happens – and it seems to be – the Wall Street Journal will certainly tout that, if the money appears in terms of sales.
    As for the Solstice, consider it Pontiac’s final answer to the question left unanswered with the Fiero: can Pontiac build a sports car? Of course, having come of age in the Sixties, I think it is also the machine which has now inherited the mantel left by the GTO, circa 1964 through ’72 (yes, there were 1973 and ’74 versions, but let’s not talk about those).
    The bottom line – sorry to pull that old chesnut out of the fire – is that what GM needs is create a buzz, a sense that they build cars – not so much trucks – that people under the age of 40 are interested in. It seemed to me, in my time with the Solstice, they’d done that – although admittedly, most people who asked about it were guys my age, or older, who wanted to tell me about the vintage British crocks they once owned. Having started my auto-ownership with a 1952 MG-TD, it seems that the memories of old British cars is like the memories of old girlfriends: very selective.
    Hope your Porsche is running fine.

  • avatar
    ktm

    philbailey, VW’s 1.8T does not have a short life span. The turbo itself may have a short life span, but the engine and its internals are rock solid.

    I owned a 2002 S4 (biturbo V-6) in which the passenger side turbo gave up the ghost with 45k on the odometer. Turbo charged engines are fine as long as you can keep the oil from basically cooking in the turbo charger when you shut down. Chalk it up to poor design by VW (they redesigned the turbo-charger system mid model year to address an inordinate number of turbo failures).

    You need to keep those snails cool and VW packed them so tightly in the engine bay that my car would still be incredibly hot to the touch 3+ hours after I shut it down.

  • avatar
    liquidflorian

    Isn’t the bumper sticker you’re thinking of “wrangler butts drive me nuts?”

    I went to check one out a few weeks ago, the dealer was tacking an extra $2500 to the price in “market adjustment.” That just pissed me off. Why pay more then a MX-5 for a car that may not be as good as an MX-5. Are they still doing that?

  • avatar
    philbailey

    ktm;
    I think you just rested my case?

  • avatar
    n2f

    I have to say I love this car – it is exactly what GM need to be producing.

    And yes, I think it is not entirely fair to compare a car that is in its ump-teenth generation as is the Miata to a brand new offering from any car company.

    But I must agree with some other folks on this point; General Motors MUST continue to develop this car or it will no doubt go the way of the Fiero.

    As far as a more performance oriented version of this car/chassis; I read recently that Saab were intending to introduce a new roadster, a new Sonnet as it were, with styling cues from their wildly successful Aero-X concept car. Maybe that’s where GM is funneling the hi-pro?

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well “Liquidflorian,” I don’t know how many dealers are asking $2,500 over invoice simply for the privelege of buying a Solstice; but I can believe it is more than a few. The reason I believe that is because a friend of mine, who owns a 1999 Mazda Miata and was thinking of trading it in, went to a Pontiac dealer; who turned out to not have a Solstice demo car.
    I feel as you do, and maybe some folks do at GM. Thing is, we saw this back in 1989, when the Miata first came out – people buying two and reselling one in the back pages of AutoWeek, dealers asking whatever the market would bear – and, to my knowledge, only the Mini division of BMW asked their dealers – select, Mini-only dealers – not to do the same thing. (Well, actually come to think of it, I seem to recall hearing that, independent franchisees though they are, they were told “If you mark up the cars, and create ill will for the Mini, don’t expect to keep the franchise.” That might be some sort of “restraint of trade,” but again that is what I seem to recall Jack Pitney, from BMW, telling a bunch of auto journos in December 2000.)
    Unfortunately, with Pontiac/GMC dealers, it looks as if your only recourse is to do just what you did: walk away. Maybe some folks from GM, reading this comment section, might talk to their dealer network?

  • avatar
    nweaver

    We (my GF and I) wanted a sky. Until…

    Her motorcycle has more cargo volume than the Solstice/sky!

    The weight! Lard bad.

    The TOP. Hiss, boo: Ugly up, and NO cargo room with it down, and a huge fiasco to put up and down.

    The Trunk. Eww, oh well, nto like you can load antyhngi into it anyway.

    The ergonomics. The Miata is not just a driver’s car, it is built around the driver. No cuphordel designed to just spill coffee onto the driver. No seat adjustment and door which requires Giant Squid tenticles instead of arms to operate. No useful cubbyholes for drinks, stuff, etc.

    The solstice/sky are ALMOST cars. I’d rather have a miata, “Chick car” and all. My GF doesn’t, so I guess we will have to save the extra $10k for an S2000.

  • avatar
    liquidflorian

    Terry,
    Just got off the phone with a salesman and he told me “all” of the dealers are doing it. I asked “nation wide?” He said “nation wide.”

    But… In the same breath he said if I came-on-down he’d get me a deal. So it may be a cheap ploy to get more money for the car. I’m thinking about going down and talking to the guy tomorrow. I am looking for some more fuel efficeint and fun (emphasis on the fun) transportation.

    I know some of the guys on this board don’t like the style, but I seriously dig it.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Look, I’ve already blabbed loudly about how I really like my 99 Miata.

    I like the look of the Fiero (sorry, I mean Solstice…silly me). I do think the Sky’s even better-looking. But, GM hit the water, not the bow, on these cars.

    Nice looking, but porky (strike one). Sacrificed top ergonomics for looks (strike two). Did anyone else catch when C&D tested the damn thing, they actually BROKE THE REAR WINDOW when they input 2+ cubic feet of stuff in the trunk? That would be strike three.

  • avatar
    gunnarheinrich

    I would very much like to drive the car. The styling is just so evocative that to compare it to the rather poor looking MX5 is an exercise in poor taste. Mazda may have introduced the world to the cheap MG-like go-kart with the original Miata – but that car’s heyday is long gone. And no Mazda ever looked so good. And that’s it really – 9/10ths is how it looks and makes the driver feel sitting in the thing. And with a car as good looking as is the Solstice, the remaining 10th are just details.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    The Miata’s heyday is far from gone! Any autox-er or track day enthusiast would be happy to argue that point with you. A cheap miata is hard to find – even one in rough shape will bring a good price.

  • avatar
    Lord Bodak

    n2f,

    Let’s compare the Solstice to a first-generation Miata then. The original Miata still delivers everything people complain about with the Solstice– ergonomics, cargo space, and a top that a human can actually operate.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Back when MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey were going concerns, there was a company called MG Mitten. It was what we now call an “aftermarket supplier” and they started out with car covers for MGs – hence, “MG Mitten.” They expanded, and before they went out of business – not that far after MG and those others quit coming to the States – they also sourced luggage racks to owners of British sports cars. I believe they also offered luggage racks for the various sports cars that Fiat and Alfa-Romeo sold in America.
    With those fairings on the rear deck lid of the Solstice, it might be hard to configure. But hey, that’s why the Art Center College of Design keeps pumping out product and transportation designers. Certainly, someone could come up with a luggage rack for the Solstice, which would hold a piece of luggage (or two).
    As far as the salesman saying “all the dealers” are charging over the “normal” list price, that may be true. Before supply met demand for the Honda S2000, I remember a reader letter into C/D that said the letter writer had been quoted a price $10,000 over invoice!
    It is yet another reason that GM needs to (1) ramp up production and (2) ask its dealers to knock off the mark-ups. It is bad public relations for GM – the last thing they need, right now.

  • avatar
    86

    You guy do know that the 06 Solstice kicks the Mx-5 butt in SSB stock class racing right.Yes i do own the car, for 8 months now, Great car.The top is very easy to work .Good Job GM
    Terry Parkhurst,show know that the car has 177 hp not 170! do some research before you write something

  • avatar
    gunnarheinrich

    Mr. Parkhurst – that’s a brilliant idea! I’m certain that there is plenty of talent out there to create an outrageously stylish luggage rack for the Solstice. And it occurs to me, cars that provide for everything for all people – i.e. most of Honda’s lineup – are quite boring. The die-hard pragmatists out there need to learn that it’s okay if a sporting convertible doesn’t have too much luggage space. Next thing that they’ll demand is 105 cubic inches of interior space on a Ferrari Enzo – anything less just wouldn’t be practical.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Interesting that nobody has pointed out a particularly major failing of the Solstice/Sky, which is that the cockpit is so badly designed, aerodynamically, that it beats you up worse than an MG TC ever did. I recently spent 600 miles in one at Interstate 65/75 speeds and could neither keep a baseball cap on my head or a magazine on my lap (as a passenger, obviously). I routinely drive a Boxster, so it’s not that I’m unaccustomed to roadsters.

    Visit the Solstice/Sky forums and you’ll find lots of discussion about possible windblockers, none of which seem to work…it’s obviously a pervasive problem in “the community.”

  • avatar
    JMays

    The MX-5 clearly offers more in this segment, and is bloody good-looking. The Solstice is a competent entry and a good first attempt…we’ll see what happens as it develops and tries to be more competitive, especially in the looks department.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Hey 86, I did do some reseearch, before writing, during and afterwards. In consulting my notes, I see that I wrote the peak horsepower output for the MX-5 right next to the Solstices’s peak hoprsepower output. The MX-5′s is 170 and (you’re correct and it is appreciated) 177 HP is that of the Pontiac Solstice. My apologies to you and those interested in this car (and from the counter, that is quite a few). I don’t know when the correction will be made to the review, but here it is: 177 horsepower for the Solstice at 6,600 rpm. (The MX-5′s peak HP is 170 HP at 6,700 rpm.) But it is the torque that matters methinks: Solstice is 166 lb/ft at 4,800 rpm. The MX-5 is just 140 lb/ft at 5,000. So despite having indentical zero to 60 mph times, according to most accounts – didn’t try using my stopwatch with this car – the Solstice just feels more aggressive – to me. Yes, I have driven the 2006 Mazda MX-5 and liked it. It really feels like an old British sports car, with a suspension that you don’t want to take over railroad tracks, if you know what I mean.
    Thanks again “86.” Keep reading my stuff.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Gunnar, poor taste comparison, miata/MX5 heyday is over (hint check Q1 06 Mazda sales figures), and LUGGAGE RACKS?! Tell me, as a TTAC contributor, what are you smoking sir? And your telling the pragmatist market what it needs to learn about sporting convertibles reads alot like GM deathwatch fodder to me. Nobody asked for Econoline cargo capacity here, just the ability to carry, oh just say, ANYTHING AT ALL!!! Lastly, that last 1/10th represents the opening Toyota used to get where it is. By the way, how’s my Ian Callum transcript coming along?

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well “socsndaisy” I’m not smoking anything. But having attended the Art Center for a couple of years, I am reminded of what an instructor once said was the thing that employers liked about Art Center grads, versus your typical engineering student.
    “Art Center students do things because they don’t know they can’t,” said the instructor was name escapes me. (It wasn’t Harry Bradley, although that was the type of thing he himself was prone to say.)
    Look, I know it’s just a figure of speech, but having lived through that era, and lost one friend to what blues singer John Mayall once called “an accidental suicide,” as well as having had to listen to “lifers” (AKA career military enlisted) act as if the only time a human could be creative was when he or she was high, I would ask you to stop with the insinuations. One time here I will name-call: quit being so stodgy.
    In point of fact, the most creative people I have known didn’t use drugs at all, not the drugs of which you speak; some had problems with alcohol, but that’s not something I would discuss here.
    I still maintain that a luggage rack could be designed by an Art Center grad or current student, sold through an aftermarket company and work quite well for those on the road. (Or maybe someone from one of the other design schools in the country, such as the Pratt Institute, where the aforementioned Harry Bradley, instructor in the Transportation Design department at Art Center went, before working at GM and then at the Art Center.) Think “Route 66″ comes into the 21st Century.

  • avatar

    Luggage racks only look good with nothing on them. If you’re buying this car for the styling wtf do you want with tying a suitcase to the back of it? Boy, that’s a hot look. Why not bolt one of those rooftop cargo carriers to the rear deck while you’re at it?

    The lack of cargo room is a serious problem, because the vehicle is priced to a market segment that needs at least some versatility. There aren’t enough autox hobbyists, etc to carry this car in the market. It needs to sell to the sorts of real people who buy $20k cars — and those people don’t buy “track day” cars. They buy “everyday” cars. The Miata is successful not because it’s a fun driver’s car, but because Mazda sells enough of them to suburban wives and doctors and empty nesters to pay for the R&D to make it a fun driver’s car.

    IMO this car would have been a lot better in a rear or mid-engined layout with gobs of cargo room under the bonnet. Haha, yeah, Fiero I know. But it’s true.

    Here’s hoping this car shakes out in the next couple model years and becomes a mainstay at The General instead of yet another missed opportunity.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    You guys are all nibbling around the corners of the solstice price problem. When GM previewed it, it was to be the $20,000.00 simple well executed little 4 cylinder for the common man. We think Gm lots of product good price. Porsche or Mercedes not much inventory high price. I see a solstice by a pontiac dealer in our auto locator magazine. It’s a regular 4 stick, he wants $27,900.00. Not quite one third more than GM’s target, that’s a lot. For thirty large a 3 year old boxter comes to mind. You see it ain’t where it started. If Gm built enough of them, the dealers would have to slow down the add ons and some basic $20,000 ones might sneak through. So it can’t be compared to the price point it was marketed at, it has to live in another world. p.s. volkswagen for thirty large will have a new roadster with turbo and a steel folding roof. At thirty the competition is different than 20K.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Mr Parkhurst, I would perhaps call stodgy telling folks that its in poor taste to compare the benchmark car to this solstice when virutally each and EVERY enthusiast is doing so. I would also call not having a sense of humor and taking offense to the quite common “smoking” phrase,”stodgy”, as it is the very definition of the word. This is TTAC right?

  • avatar
    o_fizzle

    gunnarheinrich:

    “The die-hard pragmatists out there need to learn that it???s okay if a sporting convertible doesn???t have too much luggage space. Next thing that they???ll demand is 105 cubic inches of interior space on a Ferrari Enzo – anything less just wouldn???t be practical.”

    That’s not the point. The point is that a “sporting convertible” that has usable luggage space can be built. The MX5 has more sporting potential and more usable luggage space than the Solstice.

    So, when you have two cars around the same price with the same sporting intent, it’s not okay to be the one with less usable luggage space.

  • avatar
    bunny

    Is it me or what? I find the Miata much more visually appealing than the Solstice.

  • avatar
    bunny

    Regarding “volkswagen for thirty large will have a new roadster with turbo and a steel folding roof. At thirty the competition is different than 20K.”

    I don’t trust VW either. They kept producing expensive crap for quite a while. 30 large barely buys you a Passat. And for a brand that consistently had front windows dropping off, I don’t dare to use their hard top. That thing may very well chop the driver’s head off.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    bunny: It’s you.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    Given the choice, I prefer the curvy Solstice to either the MX5 or Saturn Sky.

    Not good or bad, just preferences.

  • avatar
    ktm

    philbailey, nope.  A distinction needs to be made between motor and turbo.  Motors cost $10k to $15k to replace, turbos up to maybe $5k if it is poorly designed (ala the biturbo) and you have to replace two.  Go to a good shop and the price is around $2500. The 1.8T is a fantastic motor and the 2.0T is a phenom.  Most failures with the turbos (when reading about them in the community) are a result of chipping.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    I think anybody looking at a Solstice is clearly looking at it as a 2nd or, more likely, a 3rd car.  Basically, a toy.

    Meanwhile, the MX-5 actually makes a pretty good only car.  Although it will never steal minivan sales away, it actually does pretty good in slogging it out from day to day.

    Me and the fiancee are planning a trip to Montreal from Nova Scotia in mine…  Try that with a Solstice!

    One of the things that scares me most with the Solstice is GM's lack of significant updates.  If the Solstice is still for sale 6 years from now (big IF!), it will still probably suffer from the same problems it does now, no trunk and an cumbersome top. 

    I mean, look at the "new" Avalanche and tell me what's changed from the old one, other than a slightler nicer interior?

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Since I have a chipped 1.8T A4, I'd elaborate on that a bit and say most failures are the result of chipping and then getting into the turbo way too often and too hard.  I use the chippped potential of mine pretty occasionally and only when necessary.

  • avatar
    Droptop

    For what it's worth, not only am I a past owner of two Miatas (first and second gen), but also was for some time a contributing editor for "Miata Magazine". So I guess you could say I'm rather fond of 'em.

    Now, my experience at the wheel of a Solstice has not been at all as lengthy. But I did molest one around the road course at Pocono not too long ago. And I liked it. While it has its faults, they are certainly outnumbered by its strengths. Besides, like the mischievous but pretty girl who you just can't stay mad at, sports cars can be forgiven a lot. Pardon me, pard', it's a sports car! Shut yer Camry-hole, whydoncha!

    I was struck (though, fortunately, no one at the track was) by how, for all their similarities, the Pontiac and the Mazda were so different in final character. From Japan, their ongoing homage to MGB, and from Detroit a tip of the flat cap to the Healey 100-6.

    Like two different wines or flavors of ice cream. You may prefer strawberry, and I might choose rocky road (er, well, whatever), but in the end it's good to have more delicious treats to savor.

  • avatar
    ktm

    I did not want to get into the 'driver' side of the argument as well.  Even though the 1.8T (and my old 2.7T) is coolant cooled, you should still take it easy the last mile or so before stopping the car.

    When reading the community forums, you would think that the owners of the chipped cars whose turbos died only drove them to church 1 mile each way on Sundays.  It's never their fault.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

      Stodgy: lumpish, dull, uninspired. Asking someone "what are you smoking?" is as uninspired and dull as its more recent replacement phrase: "are you on crack?"

      Yes, this is TTAC. My sense of humor is like Mark Twain's was: dark and twisted, based on surviving a certain amount of horror, early in my life (my entire family deceased, by the time I was 17).

     Part of TTAC is also having some imagination. Shooting down the very suggestion of a luggage rack, just because it is out of the ordinary is really the epitome of stodgy. For what it is worth.

     As for smoking various illegal substances or ingesting same in all sorts of ways, well, I lost my sense of humor on that one when we lost Sam Kinsion in that freak auto accident, back in 1992 – not that it was his fault and not that it had to do with his earlier excesses. Now there was a guy with a sense of humor!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Gunnar, you say styling is 90% and the rest is just details. It is unfortunate but that is what the Asians do best, sweat the details. From the day toyota and Nissan waded ashore back int the 60′s they had details. What American companies made you buy as accessories, the Japanese put in every car leaving one only tochoose a color. By being detail oriented, the aura of a truly superior car starts to come through. Now GM being roman candle oriented will see the solstice light up the sky, but leave it alone and when it falls to earth abandon it to launch a new roman candle. When the first miata hit the streets it was said if only the mg was made this good with everything working all of the time. This is the dirty little secret of the Asians, they abandon nothing, they pick it back up fine tune it and relaunch it even higher than the old model. Do that for 25 years and see if the products don’t start to feel like fine jewelry. Now that is a business model.

  • avatar
    Gary Cernoch

    The Corvette had less than stellar ratings when it first arrived.
    It would be difficult to find much to complain about now. I guess that some people want a top that you press a button and it goes about its business. I had a 73 MG Midget and find this top to be a delight. It has no truck space, but how much stuff do you need to take to go on a trip? If you want fast, get something with two wheels.
    Don’t use me as a car expert, I have a 84 El Camino and that is not the most practical car, either. Both of these cars get comments, such as “I used to have an El Camino, and I miss it.” People stop and tell me about the Solstice or pull up alongside and stare. They don’t do that to my Escort or my Silverado. My teenage daughters friends think that she is cool because of the Pontiac and that has to be worth the markup I paid for it.

  • avatar
    ole_sol

  • avatar
    HollowScar

    Hey! It’s a nice car. It really looks fantastic. To me, it looks very European and elegant. Unfortunately, it looks are not backed by it’s performance. This is the type of car, that people want to race with a stop light signal, but it cannot do that. It is merely a car, that is very posh, but can be outrun by other cars in the category. The Saturn Sky is the same thing, with a different look. it has more features. This car is nice, but for the money, it can only give you a sense of driving a head turner car. I don’t know about you, but it surely did turn my head when I saw one. Beautiful, but need a lot of improvements.


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