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2006 Pontiac Solstice

2006 Pontiac Solstice New Vehicle Review
Martha Hindes

Pontiac Solstice
Pontiac Solstice Interior

For someone who finds unusual touches a source of delight, Pontiac's sexy Solstice is a doozy. To drop the top on this roadster, you release two knobs on the rear deck lid and ragtop corners spring up and open before it retracts into the clamshell trunk.

The rest of playtime in Pontiac's new rear-drive "halo" car - a near-image cousin of upcoming Saturn Sky - is designed to turn every head within range. Solstice has a simply beautiful bod with the muscle tone of an Oscar De La Hoya paired with a Halle Berry kind of sensuality. It lets you know there's something seductive beneath the surface. "Taut, tightly wrapped proportions," says Pontiac.

While competitor Mazda's Miata and others have sometimes been frowned on for a lighter (some say more feminine) nature, that's not necessarily so with Solstice. Despite its more diminutive size that accompanies two-seater roadster classification, it gives a sense of authority underneath that coincides with a slightly gutsier powerplant.

Propulsion comes from GM's 2.4-liter Ecotec four, mated with the five-speed manual from intro days a year ago, or newly added five-speed automatic for Spring 2006. It punches out 177-horsepower and 166 lb.-ft of torque over a four-wheel independent suspension. Yet there's a solid road feel from its high tech structure designed as much for long, higher speed road trips as slow, in-city crawls.

Inside are plenty of expected amenities, including handsome, sporty gauges and controls, race inspired buckets, leather-wrapped shifter and available Monsoon Premium sound. Solstice got a widely publicized kick in the kickoff about a year ago with a Donald Trump Apprentice promotion that started a rush of pre-orders, and GM reported selling 1,000 within 41 minutes.

If there's anything lacking in the Solstice (and almost every vehicle out there lacks something), it would have to be in storage capacity. Plan on a laptop maybe, a modestly sized handbag, a strategically placed small overnight bag in the sparse trunk. Beyond that, go for a heck of a good time and dress in layers. For a sports car that enters the world a squeak under $20 K for starters, maybe it's not worth sweating the small stuff.