By on March 1, 2007

x07pn_st001.jpgI once drove off the road, screaming, at 80mph. Why? I was in love. When love turns blind, men do irrational things. As far as healthy, loving relationships go, the one presaging my off-highway excursion was a malignant tumor wrapped in an iron lung. I imagine that owning a Pontiac Solstice GXP is a similar affair. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; the prosecution calls her a “femme fatale on wheels.” I ask you: how could something this beautiful be so damn dangerous?

The Solstice GXP is the first modern car I’ve ever felt like licking. More hygienically, the petite Pontiac is a slam dunk that shatters the backboard of gorgeous. I could describe the velvety sexiness of each angle. The perfectly judged headlight cluster. The long, European nose and properly sculpted flanks. The classic five spoke alloys. Suffice it to say, look at the pictures. Well, OK; here’s one:

x07pn_st003.jpgGreat looking rear ends have eluded car designers for decades. The Solstice gets it right. Park the Pontiac's derriere next to a TT Convertible and Ingolstadt's droptop looks like a Bug in a soiled diaper.

Entering the excitement division's roadster, I wasn’t entirely disheartened by the usual litany of sub-third world interior parts. In fact, I only counted one hard plastic edge capable of slicing open flesh (ideally positioned right near the door handle). And how could a gainfully employed designer place cup holders behind your elbow, strategically situated to open when selecting second gear? 

Please, no accusations of nitpicking. The laundry list of ergonomic catastrophes continues.

x07pn_st008.jpgThere's no oil temperature gauge– essential for aggressive GXP’ers who fancy a track attack. There is an oil temp readout, but you have to toggle a button on the steering wheel to see it. Only the buttons on the steering wheel are too small for human thumbs. And even if there was a proper gauge, it wouldn't matter; the deep set dials are illegible.

When the Solstice debuted, it was rightly chided for having a center tunnel harder than tooth enamel. For 2007, Pontiac tried to rectify the situation by installing a slab of softer-touch plastic. It’s still as hard and cheap as Katja Kassin. If only they made it (the GXP) out of the softer, nicer material used for the door inserts. Sigh…

Notice I didn't even mention the complete and total lack of storage, hidden controls or the fact that you can raise and lower a Miata's soft top fifteen times in the span it takes to retract the Solstice's just once. And now, the good stuff…

solsticegxp07_engine22.jpgThe GXP's engine should replace every non-V8 in The General's stable. In the same way that Cadillac reduced the displacement of the Northstar V8 when fitting a supercharger to it for STS-V duty, Pontiac decreased the Solstice's Ecotec I4 from 2.4 to 2.0-liters. This was largely accomplished by reducing the stroke, which allows the eager motor to rev faster. Result? A four-banger with a single turbocharger and no detectable lag. No really. None.

Spitting out 130hp-per-liter, the GXP's direct-injected mill produces the highest specific output of any GM engine. Ever. The torque ain't bad, what with 260 ft. lbs. of the good stuff available between 2000 – 5300rpm. Sure, the engine sounds like it is made from sick clocks (what’s with that continual ticking just in front of the steering wheel?), but with the top down and the monumental thrump-a-thrump from the clownishly over-sized wheels, nothing could matter less.

x07pn_st010.jpgPerformance? Rest to 60mph happens in well under six seconds. A MX-5 Miata takes about seven flat. That's a big difference. In strict, straight-line terms, it’s worth the few thousand extra for the Pontiac. If the truncated (and rather brutal) Corvette driveline was massaged a bit more by the boffins, 60mph would live in the low 5s, if not less. But what about when the road, you know, bends?

Here's the truth. At or below 8/10ths, few cars are as entertaining to fling around bent backroads as the Solstice GXP. Turn in: sharp. Chassis: flat. Attitude: neutral. Brakes: faultless. Push a little harder and the car utterly fails. The steering goes from vague to dangerous. The suspension moans and stops thinking straight. The transmission backfires. You are suddenly overcome by the sensation that you are a driving a mutant machine made of cast-off pieces from other vehicles. Which, of course, you are.

How can Pontiac get so much right (looks, engine) and, at the same time, get so much wrong (everything else)? Enthusiasts (OK fine, Alfa Romeo and Triumph owners) are used to looking the other way when confronted with the sins of their beloved. Will Solstice GXP buyers be able to do the same? Sure. All's fair in love.

[Click on play to hear RF and JL discuss the GXP below.] 

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99 Comments on “Pontiac Solstice GXP Review...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    Thanks for the entertaining review. The thing that bugs me about the interior is the inverted shift boot — it gives the impression that the drivetrain isn’t fully bolted in place (maybe that’s where the handling issues arise?). Damn beautiful ride, though.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    alrighty then.at first pontiac didn`t reduce any displacement but took already a ready made 2 liter engine straight out of opel haus. and why the car gives you such mixed feelings? because everything that was sourced directly from opel has quality and texture of finesse( at least by american standarts), everything that was improved there by detroit, was more mediocrishhh. that`s how you get shoddy interior and good reving engine.pontiac stack this femme on german opel astra platform outsourcing everything- gearbox, engine, chassis. what did yankees do? well ,took round backlights from chevy blazer, outsorced sidemirrors and put them on this opel, sorry pontiac. is this a great car? yes it is a great german budget sportster car. at leat what refers to german part of it. actually it is an opel vx concept that was unveiled in britain as vauxhall concept and later using opel parts `bin` plus opel designed `fuselage.`you wanted american pontiac?oops, wrong isle. you have to go to old grand am, grand prix or gee, how to put it milder, … aztek gate. lunatics@inbox.lv

  • avatar

    For the money, it's hard to imagine a hotter car. I'm looking into a motorcycle these days, but were I looking for a second car, I might actually be considering this little 2-seater. Outside of the Vette, this is the only GM vehicle that looks as good in the flesh as it does in pictures.  Good to see you're still contributing Jonny.

  • avatar

    Direct injection could be the death of superchargers. With it, it’s possible to engineer turbo engines with virtually no lag. I haven’t driven this particular example yet, but the BMW turbo six and the VW turbo four manage the same.

    They did fix a few things since I drove the SKY. Apparently it’s now possible to hit a power lock button so you can open the door with the engine running.

    My price comparison and reliability site’s page for the Solstice:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Solstice.php

  • avatar
    cdweir

    Jonny, you started my day out with a wonderful rush. I hope you can keep contributing ad-lib. And you might try licking your next soul mate as much as your cars…things might go better!

  • avatar
    Xavier96

    I really want this car (and the Sky) to really help GM finally get some much needed (and deserved) good press – you know, reviews that don't read like press releases that so many other sites and rags publish. It might be wishful thinking as I am starting to wonder if the Fiero-curse is going to set in. They have the drivetrain (like the Fiero did once they ripped the Duralog engine and installed the small V-6.) they need to make this thing move, but, like the Fiero, when the cost of improving the rest of the car was too steep, they dumped it. Mazda should start sweating if Pontiac/Saturn continues to install better materials in the interior, improve the top (it is a riot to see a first-timer work the top), and scoop out some storage in the "trunk" and interior. If that doesn't happen, Toyota MR2 anyone? Of course you can bet that Mazda is watching and prepping some kind of Mazdaspeed MX-5. With the only other close competiiton, the Honda S2000, possibly leaving the segment after the 2008 model year, this is still the race to watch.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    GM plastic….yeesh. I’ll take the MX-5 or S2000 in a second.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Jonny-

    An excellent way to start the morning- if you could drop in either to write a review or even post where we can find your stuff on Edmunds that would be awesome. Can’t believe the Katja reference.

    K.

  • avatar

    Note to readers: Mr. Lieberman's employ at Edmunds lasted 4.5 days. Note to Edmunds: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.

  • avatar
    Labrat

    Jonny, fantastic review. Too many good lines to even call out a favorite. The TTAC review for the Saturn Sky Redline pretty much trashed that car. Did you have any of the same problems, such as leaking roof, or the engine quitting?

    Although my current ‘middle income-family guy’ status pretty much eliminates any toys such as this from my shopping list, my mind constantly runs through the cars I would buy if I came upon thirty or so g’s. Right now, this car and a used Vette are at the top of my list. My concern with the Solstice/Sky is the highly boosted engine; I believe that it’s 18psi with 20psi for short bursts. Does such high boost kill the longevity of an engine?

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman: I kid you not. The Solstice GXP is the first modern car I’ve ever felt like licking. More hygienically…

    OMG, that is so funny!
    You’ve a gift for writing, Jonny.
    Welcome back!

    Umm, makes one wonder:
    What was the first (non modern) car you felt like licking? ;-)

    For techies, a short overview of the Ecotec 2.0L turbo:
    A .pdf file from GM.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Jonny’s still here! Hallelujah!

    Will sports car fans turn the other way when faults are pointed out? I thought that was the definition of a sports car owner, “When it rains, it rains inside the car too, but it still drives like hell!” Been there, done that myself.

    Is it late enough in the morning to start trolling about getting a used Boxster S instead? At least we don’t think Porsche warrants a DW.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    “Note to readers: Mr. Lieberman’s employ at Edmunds lasted 4.5 days.”

    I hope he got a free lunch at the end of that “.5″ of a day!

    As for the Solstice GXP, I must admit if fills the nich of “toy” much better than the standard Solstice. If you’re gonna suffer with such an impractical car, it should at least be fast.

    Of course, this just makes me wonder out loud how my (easy to love) MX-5 would do with a turbo and a suspension upgrade…

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Clownishly oversized wheels doesn’t begin to describe it. They never show pictures of this thing with a driver in it. An average size man looks like a stick shift sitting in the drivers seat with just his head moving around around above the door sills like one of those bobble head dolls.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Jumping on the bandwagon before it gets too full, welcome back, Johnny!

    I still think I’m one of the few people on the planet who thinks the Soulstice, in any form, looks like a defective Jelly-Belly. That may explain why you want to lick it. The Saturn Sky is the car with the crisp beautifully sculpted body.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I don’t think Mazda is sweating this thng too much, and if they ever put out the Mazdaspeed version of the current MX-5, well it’s Porche that should be sweating.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Note to readers: Mr. Lieberman’s employ at Edmunds lasted 4.5 days. 4.5 days huh. That sure beats my record. Welcome back, sorry you arent making any real money. As for the car, I WANT to love it, but in the real world, once you are IN the car, you cannot see the outside of it any more. Like a partner who is only good in bed, sooner of later, you have to go to the store. This cars exterior is so voluptious, pity its more like a trophy wife, sitting by the pool all day. Compared with the Miata, I must choose the Miata. Good in bed, good outa bed. Maybe not the most stunning looker at the party, but by far, the most fun. Pity really. I could have a brief fling, tho…

  • avatar
    NN

    Juris B.,

    Solstice is on the Kappa platform, Astra is on the Delta. Vauxhall concept was based on a Delta, but the Kappa, I believe was engineered mostly in the US from a mishmash of other platform parts–wikipedia does a good job documenting it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Kappa_Platform

    Most of the parts seem to have American-engineered origins…at least more than the taillights.

    Is this something to be proud of? Not really, but I felt a fact-check was in order–take it as you will.

  • avatar

    Johnny’s another ass-man eh? Me too. ;)

    I have to agree, no manufacturer has managed a nice looking rear in a looooong time, at least not affordably, since the Ford GT’s broad hips were a treat.

    I keep looking for a nice rear, but when you have this to compare it to:
    http://chuck.forest.net/jag/superbowlsunday/superbowlsunday-Images/1.jpg
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org/archives/212

    …it is a hard act to follow. (yes, I know the luggage rack detracts like a fanny pack on Catherine Zeta-Jones… sorry)

    Nice review. Edmunds’ loss is our re-Gain. Welcome back.

    I too look at the Sky/Sol pair as a nice hail mary pass for the General, but unfortunately it seems like a nice effort, a feww yards short. Nobody can raise mediocrity to an art form like GM eh?

    –chuck

  • avatar

    Love the car but don’t fit. Corvette it is then ;-)

  • avatar
    CharleyWhiskey

    Great review Jonny. The Solstices do look pretty from a distance, but only if the top is kept down. I thought they had wrung out this chassis at Silverstone or Brands Hatch long before the release. Evidently they didn’t.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Jonny:

    Can we get a “The Truth About Edmunds” article about your 4.5 days there? That would be something great.

  • avatar
    Tim

    John,

    Welcome back. Great review although the intro paragraph is a bit thick and the closing seems rushed.

    I am definitely enjoying this more positive vibe on TTAC lately. Other sites like autoblog are such a pain to read because of all of the “OMG THAT CAR SUX” comments in reference to everything/anything. Very refreshing to see pros along with the cons.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Good to be back.

    If you want to hear how good, check the podcast at the end of the review…

    Also, Tim, this site always gives pros and cons.

    Assuming that A) There are pros and B) there are cons.

  • avatar
    agmathai

    Good to see you back Jonny.

    Making mistakes in a brand new model, no matter how avoidable they may seem, is somewhat forgiveable. Whats not forgiveable is GM abandoning the model in a few years with out ever putting serious effort into refining the model and taking it to its full potential.

    Imagine if they actually stuck with the basic design of the Solistice for 7+ years while making continuous improvements to the chassis and interior? They would no doubt end up with an automotive paradigm at least as significant as the Miata has been. Instead, if the past is any indication, the Solistice will likely end up as a Fiero for the 2000s.

  • avatar
    durailer

    A comment on the podcast…I’d put the front license plate behind the windscreen….lol

    Great to have you back Jonny.

  • avatar
    nino

    I too want to love this car, but the details are enough to annoy me. The top, no storage, the interior, are significant irritants in my book, enough so that I would go for the Miata.

    BTW, this car drives much better with the automatic transmission. Not only is it smoother without all the problems of the linkage and clutch, but it’s faster as well. All it needs is a set of paddle shifters.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Robert Farago: Note to readers: Mr. Lieberman’s employ at Edmunds lasted 4.5 days.

    Note to Emunds: You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.

    The story behind this may be even more interesting than the review of the car (which was very good).

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Great review Johnny, too bad about the Edmunds gig.

    As beautiful as the car is and I’m sure they will slowly improve the other parts (it is an entirely new platform) unless they can make a manual or power top that doesn’t make you get out and slam the rear decklid it’s not going to be the longterm sales success GM needs.

    I’d put money down that we’ll see a Solstice and Sky coupe at next years Detroit show. What small, RWD, attractive, affordable coupes are on the market? 0. The closet thing is the 40k BMW Z4 Coupe. By adding a coupe they eliminate the stupid top issue and space issue. Two of the main issues with the car.

  • avatar
    SwatLax

    Robert Farago: Note to readers: Mr. Lieberman’s employ at Edmunds lasted 4.5 days.

    Geez – I had just started checking Edmunds on a daily basis again, looking for Jonny’s writing. I hadn’t read Inside Line in almost a year. Well, they just lost me again.

  • avatar
    Keith

    Chick/poser car. ‘nuf said.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Steve,

    Pontiac is trying to position the GXP as competing with the TT, Z4 and Boxster.

    Don’t laugh too loud, as the 260hp GXP is faster around a track than all three of those.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Keith,

    The base model, sure — but 0-60 in 5.7 seconds or so is not posing for anything.

    That’s serious.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    So are we going to hear the Edmunds story???

  • avatar
    blautens

    This car looks awesome – photos and in person. I dunno about driving it personally. but here’s what it has to overcome:

    Buddy’s girlfriend moves down here to South Florida from Detroit (ironic, in a way – you’ll see why), wants the convertible to go along with the lifestyle. She owns a 2004 Chevy Cavalier. Shops convertibles…drives a Mustang, Miata, Solstice, and Sky.

    So pissed off are both of them at the Chevy she has (I call it the Crapalier) and even her experience with GM prior, she buys a slightly used 2006 Miata. She thought the Solstice was zippier looking, and a little faster, but keeps vomiting a little bit of Crapalier in her mouth when she sits in it.

    How bad does that suck? A car not only has to overcome its own issues, but all the issues of the crap that came down the assembly line years before it.

    What a hole for GM to climb out of…

  • avatar
    FreeMan

    “They beat the Solstice with a ruler to get the Sky”

    ROFL!!!!! Awesome line JL. Your return is our gain

  • avatar
    Robert Rosenberg

    Ergonomic catastrophes? The canvas top is worse than any Lotus lash-up ever!

    But isn’t it nice to see so much written about a, gasp, Pontiac!

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I agree with Jonny that the Solstice is much better looking that the Sky. To me the Sky looks like they took the Solstice and just filled the design with doo-dads, angles and schprokets. I can’t stand angles mixed with curves, either pick one or the other, they’re two different design languages and don’t mix.

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman:
    Pontiac is trying to position the GXP as competing with the TT, Z4 and Boxster.
    Don’t laugh too loud, as the 260hp GXP is faster around a track than all three of those.

    Sorry Jonny, I have to laugh. The GXP may be faster, but the Boxster is far, far, far more refined. That refinement is what makes everyday commuting enjoyable. (I prefer women in their 40s to women in their 20s for similar reasons.)

    Welcome back. Looking forward to The Truth About Edmunds.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    David,

    Obviously, the Boxster is a better car. However, you cannot simply write the Solstice GXP off. I tired — you can’t.

    Look, for essentially $20,000 less you get a better looking, faster car. To some people, that is what matters.

    Case in point, compare the Z06 to the F430. I think the Z06 is much better looking and by all accounts it is faster than the Ferrari. Again, for some, the Chevy wins.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Its just the details are SO bad…

    If the Sky had a working top, storage space, and a Mazda-quality interior, we would have bought one already. But the thing is a less practical toy than a F@#)$(* Elise!

    For some, it doesn’t matter. If you want a phychopatchic toy, the Solstice/Sky are great. But I want a CAR. If we can’t take an overnight bag and fit in a couple of cases of wine purchased on the way, we won’t buy it.

  • avatar
    frontline

    How many guys will sell their soul for a good looking woman ????

    Well, you are not giving up anything for a Sol… the platform is flex free and the car is gorgeous

    I bought one just to gaze upon her lines and ending up liking her dynamics too!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Frontline — I agree, except when you really give it the beans.

    Then… you suddenly are confronted by a very naked (and ugly) emperor.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    nweaver,

    How’s this then — the Solstice GXP is the ultimate car to tow behind your motorhome.

  • avatar
    nyyfan

    welcome back. excellent review – even better obscure porn star reference.

  • avatar
    frontline

    People are still calling me for my opinion on what kind of car to buy.

    I always say —- When you walk out of your front door or walk into the garage and see the car , do you get [at least ] a little excited ?

    If that feeling is not there , don`t buy it

  • avatar
    Steve

    Gee, I love sports cars, but $40,000 plus for all these new toys seem a bit much. So two years ago I bought a 1991 Mazda Miata, with 17 inch after market wheels, Racing Beat front end, special shocks and springs, and Racing Beat Induction system for $4,000. Looks good runs good, fast, fun to drive and reliable. In over two years and 23,000 miles fo driving, no repairs. I love parking it next to new BMW Z4′s, they make my Miata look so good.

    I have had 500 HP sports cars, and 155 MPH Motorcycles, speed and power are overrated. Its balance and finese that will win in the end.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I don’t see how GM can afford to be taking these risks right now at a time when Toyota has just droped thier sports cars because there’s no profit to be had in them anymore.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Johnny, if I had the $$$ for a motorhome, it would be a Toyhauler and we’d just shove the motorcycles in the back. Why tow a Solstice when you can carry both a REAL trackday toy and the tourer in the back?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Nweaver,

    Er… you want to drive around wine country and not purchase anything?

  • avatar
    MR42HH

    Ashy Larry:
    “Can we get a “The Truth About Edmunds” article about your 4.5 days there? That would be something great.”

    Um, that was exactly what I wanted to ask for… please?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    The truth is “creative differences.”

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    If I’m just getting a toy I’ll go for a used Elise. The Solstice and Sky are very nice looking cars but looks will only get you so far, it needs to be a total package or after a few years once you are accustomed to the prettiness then the faults really begin to wear on you.

    Between the following to live with day in and day out for the next 4 years which would you really pick?

    New Solstice GXP
    Used Lotus Elise
    Used BMW Z4 3.0
    Used Porsche Boxster S
    New Mazda MX5 Hardtop
    Nissan 350 Z convertible
    Audi TT Roadster

    As a toy I’d pick the Elise, as a daily driver (if I didn’t have kids) I’d take the Z4. If I had to buy new it would be the MX5 PFHT.

    Of course while not all convertibles some other cars that offer more for the same or less are the 350z Coupe, RX8 and Mustang GT.

  • avatar
    cykickspy

    tankd0g:
    March 1st, 2007 at 3:33 pm
    I don’t see how GM can afford to be taking these risks right now at a time when Toyota has just droped thier sports cars because there’s no profit to be had in them anymore.

    Or maybe Toyota wont design a non-bland looking vehicle like the Sol/Sky.

  • avatar
    Cliff

    Um, a car for an older couple in which the wife won’t let her hubby buy a Harley? In other words, like certain Harley’s, ideal for trundling the back roads at 50-60 with the breeze in your hair, the chrome (er, paint) shining, the blue sky above… But if you really want to ride/drive, you’ll be on/in something else.

    Nice to have you back Jonny, how do you explain your knowledge of semi-obscure porn names to your significant other? Um, not that I have that problem or anything.

  • avatar
    moto

    Excellent review. The Solstice, like Pontiac’s other fantastic little car with a few flaws — the Fiero — was obviously developed as fast as GM could make it happen. Thus, it’s not a performance car. This is a roadster that is perfect for commuting or cruising. As such, it’s much higher on my list than the European imports that Steve_S points out above (which cost 2 or 3 times as much new). I’m at a loss as to why you’d buy a used German convertible when you can get a new domestic one with warranty and, in many cases, dealer incentives?

    Cheers to Pontiac for finally getting the styling right. Now increase all dimensions about 2%, work out some of the minor flaws, and offer a hatchback version, please!

  • avatar
    Dan

    I just can’t get past the fact that the Solstice looks like a beaver from the front.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    World’s sexiest beaver, then.

  • avatar
    Zach

    Damn, my Spitfire don’t get no respect!

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Johnny, I can fit more on my GF’s bike than I can in a Solstice. No kidding. With all 3 bags on, its 3.5 cubic feet of storage, compared with the

  • avatar
    adehus

    The Solstice looks OK, but I certainly can’t muster the enthusiasm that Johnny does for it.

    I once attended a lecture by J. Mays, and in discussing the design of the TT he said (and I paraphrase) “Select any given shape on a car. Now look at the rest of the vehicle and see if it has any friends (meaning- are there any shapes that are similar). If it doesn’t, it’s probably not a very successful design.”

    I’m inclined to amend that to say “If it doesn’t, it’s probably not a very sophisticated design.” Visually, the Solstice strikes me as self-evidently unsophisticated, and yet it is pretty far from being a failure. The proportions are well worked-out, and the curves are attractive, but everywhere the surface is interrupted (by headlights, tail lamps, and especially those nonsensical side marker ‘scoops’) the shape that is made by those interruptions is unsympathetic to the design language of the bodywork. And furthermore, the shapes are unsympathetic to each other. It’s like a hot woman who can’t accessorize.

  • avatar
    adehus

    “I just can’t get past the fact that the Solstice looks like a beaver from the front.”

    True dat. It’s like a hot woman with buck teeth who can’t accessorize!

    Or something.

  • avatar

    That is called artistic integrity (referring to the J Mays quote, above–thanks, Adehus!). I came to a much better understanding of that after I began photographing cars. I shot an old Beetle from an unusual angle, and saw, for the first time, the high level of artistic integrity in its design.

    Re the Solstice, I do’nt think it’s such a bad design, but it’s certainly not in a class with the Boxster or especially the 3.1419 (TT).

  • avatar

    I hate the Pontiac kidney grill. Not fond of it on bimmers, either, but on thm its not as offiensive.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Err, stupid HTML…

    Johnny, I can fit more on my GF’s bike than I can in a Solstice. No kidding. With all 3 bags on, its 3.5 cubic feet of storage, compared with the F-all on the Solstice/Sky, the motorcycle is a more practical hauler of stuff…

    And if I wanted a toy vehicle like that, I’d probably get Kawasaki’s new Concourse 1400…

    About 4 cubic feet of cargo with a topcase added to the side bags. All day comfort. And a 150+ hp, 1.4L engine… “Activate Transwarp Drive”…

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman:
    Obviously, the Boxster is a better car. However, you cannot simply write the Solstice GXP off. I tired — you can’t.
    Look, for essentially $20,000 less you get a better looking, faster car. To some people, that is what matters.

    Jonny, The money certainly talks. But if I were in the market, and looking to save the 20k, I’d take the Miata for the same reason I’d take the Boxster–refinement. That’s more important to me than sheer power and torque.

  • avatar

    Steve: So two years ago I bought a 1991 Mazda Miata, with 17 inch after market wheels, Racing Beat front end, special shocks and springs, and Racing Beat Induction system for $4,000.

    Steve, how many miles on that thing?

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Styling is a very individual thing, but the SolSky reminds me of the Cleric’s answer to the question “How was your soft-bolied egg?” Yes, parts of it are good, but, to me, the whole lacks cohesion. Especially the high rear end. Makes one wonder why they couldn’t have carved out a little more trunk/storage space. GM culture, being what it is, seems to mean that one never learns from one’s mistakes. From the original Corvette, through the Allante, and now this, a top that is difficult/time consuming to lower/raise. On cars that are supposed to be fun. Hmmmm.

  • avatar
    Flipper

    While I believe the solstice is a very beautiful car. Its complete lack of practicality kills it. Who needs a roadster that you and a loved one can’t take away for a weekend jaunt, with more than enough room for a contact lens case?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I don’t believe what I am reading.

    Did the whole world go blind? Or at least, the bulk of this site’s readership?

    Boxsters look like widgets. TTs look like paperweights. The Z4 looks like a nurse shark. And the new Miata, while better looking than all the Germans, looks like an angry catfish.

    Besides the Corvette, there are no convertibles even half as good looking as the Solstice within $25,000 of the price.

    Now, if you want to talk Aston Martin V8 Volantes, well, that’s another story.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    That is why I jettisoned our MR-2 Spyder so quickly….

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    How about a Mustang GT rag top Jonny? Sure it has a craptastic interior (only slightly worse than the pontiac) but it is considered good looking on the outside and costs about 30k…

  • avatar
    adehus

    David Holzman:

    Artistic integrity is a very good way to put it. It’s a shame how few cars have it, and how apparently minor of a concern it is for most makers.

    Totally agree that the Solstice is nowhere near the Boxster or TT, design-wise. Heheh… 3.14159, the TT is a poem to pi.

  • avatar
    Jon Furst

    Newsflash! A base 245hp Boxster, costing only 72% more than a Solstice GXP, offers more refinement and a better overall driving experience. (Snob tax included, see your dealer for details)

  • avatar
    adehus

    “Besides the Corvette, there are no convertibles even half as good looking as the Solstice within $25,000 of the price.”

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Got any pictures of the woman that sent you off the road at 80mph? (just kidding)

    Even if you don’t think the Germans or the Japanese competition compare, did you forget the Lotus Elise?

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    Jonny, I don’t think the readers went blind. I just think they might be blinded by the name… Porsche, so beautiful. BMW, so beautiful. Pontiac… Well I guess it’s good for a Pontiac.

    And not to blaspheme against the corvette, Jonny, but I think the Solstice and the Sky are the two best looking cars under 100,000. I mean don’t get me wrong, the TT is a good looking car, but when I was at the Washington Auto show a month ago, the TT did not illicit stares from me, and judging by the crowd around the Solstice/Sky I was the only one. Most people just wandered past the Porsches and TTs.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Hello! How about a comparison dealership sales and service experiences with both a New Mazda and a Solstice?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Terry,

    truedelta.com

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Turbo G — the Mustang GT — a car I like very much: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1981 — is just a totally different proposition.

    As in, very difficult to compare the two. But, the Solstice is basically as fast and handles better, so there’s that.

  • avatar

    Jonny writes: “Boxsters look like widgets. TTs look like paperweights. The Z4 looks like a nurse shark. And the new Miata, while better looking than all the Germans, looks like an angry catfish.”

    A nurse shark! An angry catfish! Although I disagree with you some about what looks good and what doesn’t, I got a great laugh out of these.
    What I don’t like about the Miata is the Pokemon eyes.

    Cowbell: I suspect people wandered past the Porsches and TTs while eyeballing the GM roadsters because they’ve never (or at least hardly ever) seen the GM roadsters before.

    I don’t thikn that just because it’s German it’s beautiful. Audis, Vdubs, benzes, don’t do much for me, and I didn’t like the old peanut eyes on the Porsches. And I confess–O, forgive me for I have undoubtedly sinned–to liking Bangle’s influence on BMWs, except for those goddam cateyes,

  • avatar

    One car with styling I love–although I would not buy one–is the new Mustang.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Johnny absolutely nailed the current popularity of the Solstice and Sky models.

    You can’t find them at the dealer auctions. No ‘automotive remarketer’ in their right mind would sell one of these.

    It brings (a lot of) people into the door and offers a nice halo effect for everything else that you offer.

    Even if you hiked the price up $3k to $5k (depending on the options) you would still be able to sell it via financing.

    Miata’s, Boxster’s, TT’s and Z4′s more or less blend with the scenery in the affluent markets. The Solstice & Sky today have as much presence as the MR2 and SVX did back in 1992. They offer serious stickiness from the buying public. In fact, looking at the Solstice reminds me of when the last generation MR2 first came out in zonker yellow.

    Now, the silver SVX that I have on the driveway is another story. I bought that from an Infiniti store for $1025 and it was owned by a Subaru dealer in Atlanta. It may very well be the only mint condition SVX in the entire state of Georgia.

    Guess who plays with that rocket ship on the way to the sales :) :) :)

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I’ll say this much, with so little price difference between the regular and GXP Solstice, I’m not sure what reason GM has to keep the naturally aspirated version in production.

    Now, a GXP with one of the shooting brake style hardtops you can get on the aftermarket, that’d be a pretty cool proposition. A highly flawed and screwy proposition, but cool nonetheless.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Heh, MX-5 outsold Solstice for the 2nd month in a row, although barely.

  • avatar
    allen5h

    JL: As usual, a very entertaining review.

    This car is a great candidate for GM to credibly improve upon incrementally, year after year. This is how Toyota/Honda have gained their success in NA, now time will tell if GM can (last long enough to) do the same thing.

  • avatar

    The aesthetic problem with all those cars you’re arguing about is that they’re convertibles! give me a coupe. the z4 coupe (finally saw one in the flesh last week) is beautiful. I have secret (and very dirty) fantasies about mazda making a fastback miata. and if you want to talk about recent cars with back, check out the hips on a z3 clown shoe coupe sometime.

  • avatar

    With all the gearheads in attendance, would anyone have some ideas about how to fix the handling problem. Mayby shocks, or suspension parts?

  • avatar

    allen5h
    This car is a great candidate for GM to credibly improve upon incrementally, year after year. This is how Toyota/Honda have gained their success in NA, now time will tell if GM can (last long enough to) do the same thing.

    When Saturn first came out, there was talk about incremental improvement, with allusions to the old Beetle. I had high hopes. So pardon me for being extremely cynical.

  • avatar
    eslai

    Best, Most Entertaining Review On The Truth About Cars.

    Well done, Jonny!

    I disagree with the looks though–the Solstice looks like a squashed beaver to me. :)

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    Good review, Johnny and welcome back. The true test of GM is how they stick with and improve this car. GM’s problem (and I believe this holds true for all of the Big 2.5) is that they expect sales volume much greater than is sustainable, i.e. Fiero, Allante, PT Cruiser. If they accept sales of 15,000 to 25,000 a year, then this car has a chance of being around for a while. If they need 30,000 sales a year to break even, then this car will follow the Fiero into the dumpster of history.

  • avatar
    Dream 50

    Optic:

    Mazda did make a Miata coupe. The second generation model was, I believe, a Japanese Domestic Market car only. I can fish around and try to find something if you like. It wasn’t too shabby looking, but I think for a vast majority of Miata buyers it was totally pointless.

    Keith

  • avatar

    The interior designers at Toyota, those supposed oracles of ergonomics, fared no better with my 1995 Toyota Celica GT 5-speed’s cupholders (one word?), placing them in such a way that makes it darn near impossible to shift when they’re holding beverages of any size. When the sliding unit eventually snapped off, instead of lamenting the event, I gave thanks to the car gods, who, just a year later, smiled upon me by deciding to let the vehicle’s rear end suspension require about $2,000 worth of wear-and-tear-related repair before this automobile from the company that, ostensibly, can do no wrong, had even reached 160,000 miles. My 1988 Olds Delta 88, of all things, did much better than that; in fact, till the post 200,000-mile day we retired it following a smash-up courtesy of my younger brother, that Olds never ate a drop of oil between changes — again, much more than can be said for my ’95 Celica GT. So much for foreign superiority in durability (or ergonomics, for that matter).

  • avatar

    By the way, with my previous comment I in no way meant to ignore the many, many glowing and positive points your post had to make about the Solstice. Nice review. I just felt the overwhelming urge to use my personal experience as an example that, just perhaps, might give rise to healthy debate and skepticism regarding what has become the dogmatic, unthinking, and pervasive “conventional wisdom” about car manufacturers foreign and domestic.

  • avatar

    I thoroughly enjoyed the post and the comments! You guys should all wander over to the solstice gxp owners forum and ge tthe real scoop. I ordered my Sly in May when they first opened the process – took delivery 1/31/07 – and now hve a whopping 750 miles. I have NEVER had a car this much fun. And that includes a 72 Challenger, and a 97 Vette. Who cares that I look like a bobblehead and can’t even put a laptop in the trunk

  • avatar
    Mike

    Jonny,

    The trunk release button is in the glovebox.

  • avatar
    scottofoz

    Jonny, pockets in the front of both seats for your cell phone, sunglasses, etc. And you CAN fit an overnight bag and at least one case of wine in the trunk…I have. plastic interior, cup holder problems, manual rag top, not practical as a daily driver…yes, I agree. Most fun I’ve ever had driving a convertible…yeah baby! (ex-vette, porsche, and miata owner).

  • avatar

    I currently own a 78 Z28, and have owned two TR6′s and a couple of Mustang Convertibles.

    I have never had a problem getting in or out of them. Im sure the Sol/Sky are wonderful driving cars, but at 6ft 1 I cant get in it.

    Being middle aged male I am the perfect customer for this car… just a few inches longer so the seats could go back and I would be all over a yellow one.

    Guess I will have to wait for the new Camaro and see if that gets my money

    BTW the Miata is too small too, but I would love one

  • avatar
    ezirider

    I have driven for two weeks now, (GXP Black)anyone can say or write whatever they want but driving experience is whats its all about, I love this better than anything I have ever driven, from the Roadrunner 426 hemi in 71 to the datsun 240/260 and a 1978/z280
    then they changed it to nisson?? I have raced and dragged motorcycles and cars and trucks, I am in Love again, and I thought that would not happen with another car! signed an old man in a real car

  • avatar
    9streets

    Just ending a 3 year lease.

    Pros – Very sharp looking car! We leased it because my wife was going to learn how to drive a stick for the first time. A sexy little car… Perfect for a woman. I’ve heard the solstice described as a “chick car” many times, and I agree.

    The interior is simple and the dash is arranged logically. Cheap plastic all the way.

    The seats are comfortable and the foot well has plenty of room.

    This car has a lot of pep between 20-60mph for a four banger.

    Cons – This is a actually not a good car to teach someone how to drive a stick. First gear is unforgiving compared to most other sticks I’ve experienced. It’s jumpy and easy to stall for a beginner driver.

    The brakes… Where are they???? Sporting four of the smallest brake rotors I’ve ever seen, this car works hard to stop under normal driving conditions. Car too heavy – brakes too small.

    The window buttons on the door cannot be reached comfortably from any position with your left arm.

    The emergency brake is placed in a position that interferes with your arm resting comfortably.

    Cheap cup holder broke within the first 30 days.

    You pay the price for this turbo four banger. At idle, when you turn the AC on you can hear the engine start running a bit rough. Just turning on the AC greatly effects the power of this overworked four.

    Acceleration is not smooth due to the turbo. At slower speeds the turbo will make the car lurch a bit.

    Finally, the handling is terrible as so many reviewers have already stated.

    What you really have here is wanna- be sports car. It looks great but just can’t perform.

    The lease is up and we can’t wait to get rid of it.


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