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With sexy styling, satisfying performance, tenacious road-holding and a bargain price, the 2007 Pontiac Solstice is certainly tempting. But serious enthusiasts will get more thrills out of the more refined Mazda Miata, which feels lighter on its tires and more connected to the driver.
Sexy styling, nimble handling and loads of grip, strong engine performance from GXP model, powerful brakes, low base price.
Engine revs slowly in base Solstice, tall transmission gearing, tiny trunk, poor top wind sealing, no side airbags or interior storage.
Available Solstice Convertible Models
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A new trim level, the Pontiac Solstice GXP, debuts for 2007. It features a 260-horsepower turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension and stability control. Other minor changes this year include a standard power height adjuster for the driver seat and a few new options, such as a rear spoiler and sport metallic pedals.
Now in its sophomore year, the Pontiac Solstice, by virtue of its sexy body, grabs the attention of car buffs, kids and older folks with equal magnetism. Underneath the flowing curves are the attributes of a true sports roadster: compact dimensions, two seats, front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, big wheels and tires, and a close-to-perfect weight balance.
With the new high-performance GXP variant entering the lineup for 2007, there are now two engine choices for the Solstice: the 177-hp four in the base car and the 260-horse powerhouse in the GXP. Although many purists feel that a manual transmission is the only way to go with a sports car (and the only way you could get the Solstice originally), Pontiac made a five-speed automatic available midway through the 2006 model year.
Regardless of which trim level you opt for, the fun factor of the 2007 Pontiac Solstice is high. The roadster is in its element when the top is down and one is unraveling a twisty road. But when dealing with the more mundane aspects of commuting and long freeway runs, annoyances like the Solstice's lack of interior storage and high level of wind noise come into play.
The only direct competition for the Solstice is the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Miata is better at delivering pure driving thrills thanks to its eager, fast-revving engine and lighter-on-its-feet feel. The Mazda also has a nicer cabin (too much hard plastic in the Pontiac) and a top that's much easier to operate. Between the Miata and a base Solstice, we'd have to choose the Miata. But a lot of power has a way of making one forget such quibbles. With the new GXP, Pontiac one-ups the Mazda, American style.
The 2007 Pontiac Solstice comes in two trims: base and GXP. Standard equipment for both includes 18-inch wheels with 245/45 performance tires (all-season on the standard Solstice, summer spec for the GXP), a manually operated top with a glass rear window and defogger, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel and a six-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD player. The performance-oriented GXP adds a turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, a limited-slip differential, dual exhaust outlets, foglamps, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Most of the GXP's convenience features are also available as options on the base Solstice. Other options for both trims include air-conditioning, leather seats, a couple of upgraded sound systems with MP3 playback, OnStar telematics and satellite radio.
The base Pontiac Solstice is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 177 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque. Hooked up to the standard five-speed manual gearbox, performance is certainly respectable, with a 0-60-mph time of 7.7 seconds. The GXP's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes a stout 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque; its 0-60-mph time is estimated to be around six seconds flat. It also comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional for either engine.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on both trims, with ABS optional on the base car and standard on the GXP. The latter also comes with stability control, which is not available on the standard Solstice. Side airbags aren't offered.
The Solstice may be a small sports car, but even drivers over 6 feet tall should have adequate legroom. Hiproom is another matter, though, as the car's wide transmission tunnel puts the squeeze on anyone over 150 pounds. The seats are at least well shaped for proper support, and most controls are easy to use. Downsides include a stereo display that washes out in sunlight, ergonomic flaws and an abundance of hard plastic that mars the otherwise attractive interior design. Lowering the top is a multistep affair that involves getting out of the car to stow the top and shut the hard tonneau cover. Raising it requires the same amount of effort. Although we know that sports cars aren't supposed to be practical, the Solstice's trunk is so small it's nearly useless and cockpit storage is nil.
When thrown into a corner, the Solstice exhibits little body roll and moderate understeer. It won't swing its tail out on command like the Miata, but for most drivers, the car's substantial lateral grip and quick steering make it a fun and engaging canyon companion. The suspension does a fine job, providing a firm but compliant ride and extremely stable handling. The brakes are strong, linear and fade-resistant, providing confidence on those longer spirited runs through the twisties. In terms of acceleration, the GXP is the clear winner. The base Solstice often feels uninspiring due to the 2.4's lack of aural flair and the manual transmission's long-legged gear spacing.
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