2007 Pontiac Solstice Road Test Review:
Gives New Meaning to "Rubber Necking"
Hypnotic design, extremely good handling, and fuel efficiency of 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway from a 177 horsepower engine is not something one expects from an unlikely place: GM. Driving the 2007 Solstice, you’ll experience the kind of ride, and rubber-necking you’d expect from a more expensive Italian or German sports car. Its distinct good looks, precise steering, strong brakes, supple ride, and a superb exhaust note make it all the more palatable in the $19,420 price range from both the Mazda Miata, and the Honda S2000. Bob Lutz’s child, the 2007 Solstice, is not perfect; but as a pure, satisfying roadster, it certainly is lovable.
A breath of fresh air, the 2007 Pontiac Solstice was introduced to the world as a concept car at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and green-lighted for production a short while later. The 2007 Solstice encompasses achievement on many levels. First, it’s a roadster that doesn’t resemble any other car on the road with its top up or down.
Second, it’s a small production run (15,000-20,000 vehicles per year) so not everyone on your cul-de-sac will have one.
Third, it is indeed a well-built car in terms of design, performance and finish. The only drawback of owning the 2007 Pontiac Solstice is the trunk space, which is limited due to sharing space with the fuel tank. If you want to take a ten hour road trip, you’ll have to pack light, or bring less stuff.
The interior of the 2007 Pontiac Solstice would tempt, even someone as picky as James Dean, with its clean, minimalist style. The comfortable cockpit has snuggly fitting leather seats that firmly hug you when you step inside, and the deceptively simple dials/buttons provide excellent visceral feedback. The sporty interior has an unmistakable European high-quality feel to it. The only drawback to the Solstice’s interior is the roof deployment mechanism which requires some effort to put in place. With the top up, the car is remarkably quiet. With the top down, the cabin gets a bit windy. Perhaps a wind-block between the headrests will be an option in upcoming models.
For the motoring purist, a turbocharged version of the Pontiac Solstice with 250 horses on tap will be available in late 2007. But the non-turbo version has plenty of guts. Press on the accelerator and the rear wheel drive 2007 Solstice goes from 0 to 60 in 7.2 seconds. Though this launch is not as fast as the Mazda Miata, or the Honda S2000, the 2.4-liter, 177 horsepower inline four-cylinder gives 166 lbs/ft. of torque, so once the car is up and running there’s little to complain about.
The Pontiac Solstice’s curb weight of 2888 lbs., compared to Miata’s 2482 lbs, and to Honda S2000’s 2855 lbs – is the culprit. Although the Solstice is well-balanced with an ideal 48:52 weight ratio, there is still a bit of an under steer as you transfer weight from rear tires.
The Pontiac Solstice is only available with a five-speed manual transmission that was usurped from the Chevy Colorado pickup. To make it work in a sports car, throws were reduced and the linkage was altered to improve shift feel. The result is a quick toss shifter, but it’s still not as direct as the Miata, or as tight as the more expensive Honda S2000.
In terms of safety, anti-lock brakes are the only option on the 2007 Pontiac Solstice. We suggest you get them. Dual side air bags are standard equipment.
On the road with the 2007 Pontiac Solstice, don’t be surprised if gawky onlookers ask silly questions, “Is it Italian?” or “Can I take a picture?” The curvy shape is reminiscent of the 1967 Ferrari Dino with supple curves and lithe lines. The body and chassis rails of the 2007 Pontiac Solstice are made from hydro-formed steel, a process that allows for more robust shapes that are impossible to achieve using traditional stamping. The resulting shape appears to lack straight lines. The sensual, curvy look highlights Solstice’s curb appeal. The car we test drove was red in color, further accentuating the Italian, sporty feel. We’re proud GM had the guts to make this car, and to price it adequately.