2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Pontiac Solstice Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 260 hp @ 5300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Pontiac Solstice

  • The 2008 Pontiac Solstice has what most folks want in a roadster: "look at me" styling, respectable performance, tenacious road-holding and a bargain price. What it doesn't have is the refinement and more communicative nature of its admittedly less flashy rival, the Mazda Miata.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sexy styling, plentiful grip, blazing acceleration from GXP model, attractive pricing.

  • Cons

    Engine revs slowly in base Solstice, tall transmission gearing, tiny trunk, elevated wind noise on freeway, lack of interior storage.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 Pontiac Solstice receives a few formerly optional features as standard this year. Both the base and turbocharged GXP versions now include OnStar, an acoustic headliner for the soft top and a trip computer. An upgraded audio system with satellite radio and MP3 playback for the CD player is also part of the deal. In terms of options, the GXP also now offers the Club Sport Package that includes firmer suspension tuning and silver-painted wheels. There are also two new special-edition trim levels this year that celebrate the car's success in SCCA racing.

Full 2008 Pontiac Solstice Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice receives a few formerly optional features as standard this year. Both the base and turbocharged GXP versions now include OnStar, an acoustic headliner for the soft top and a trip computer. An upgraded audio system with satellite radio and MP3 playback for the CD player is also part of the deal. In terms of options, the GXP also now offers the Club Sport Package that includes firmer suspension tuning and silver-painted wheels. There are also two new special-edition trim levels this year that celebrate the car's success in SCCA racing.

Introduction

Sexy and fun, yet annoying at times. Like some significant others, the 2008 Pontiac Solstice can make you bust out in a foolish grin one moment and try your patience the next. Even now in its third year, the roadster with the curvaceous body still turns heads like it did while spinning on a turntable as a concept car.

Pontiac's first attempt at a two-seat roadster is mostly a success, as all the necessary ingredients are here: a powerful front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, a fully independent suspension, big wheels and tires and a close-to-perfect weight balance. The standard Solstice has a 177-horsepower inline-4 that provides decent performance, though it has the strange sensation of feeling slower than its sub-8-second 0-60-mph time would indicate, due mainly to the engine's slow-revving nature.

Last year's arrival of the turbocharged, 260-hp GXP variant took care of that gripe, as it satisfied those who required eyeball-flattening acceleration along with eye-catching good looks. But whether you choose the base 2008 Pontiac Solstice or the pumped-up GXP version, you're certain to have some fun behind the wheel. The Solstice is aces when the top is dropped, the tunes are up and you're unraveling a twisty road at a pace that's brisk but not all-out.

Still, there are some complaints endemic to both Solstice models, including a heavy-handed feel to the steering and gearshifter, a pitiful amount of interior storage, a fussy top operation and a barely usable trunk. These attributes might seem like minor things for a roadster, but they become considerably annoying during long-term ownership.

Mazda's MX-5 Miata is the Solstice's chief competitor in the $20,000-$30,000 roadster segment. The Solstice (as well as its twin, the Pontiac Sky) may have it over the Miata in the looks and straight-line performance areas, but the Mazda beats the Pontiac in day-to-day enjoyment thanks to its more athletic personality, quicker-revving engine, effortless drop top and more polished demeanor. The Mazda is also more practical, thanks to its larger trunk and useful interior storage areas. If we were looking at the base Solstice versus the Miata, we'd have to choose the latter. But as with sexy looks, a lot of power has a way of making one forgive shortcomings, so the doubly blessed Solstice GXP is much tougher to resist.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice comes in base and high-performance GXP trims. Standard on both are 18-inch wheels with 245/45 performance tires, a manual soft top (with an acoustic headliner and a glass rear window with defogger), a tilt steering wheel, OnStar telematics, a trip computer and an audio system with satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary input jack. The GXP adds a turbocharged engine, a limited-slip differential, dual exhaust outlets, foglamps, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Many of the GXP's convenience features are available on the base Solstice. Optional on both trims are air-conditioning, leather seating, upgraded audio with a six-disc CD changer, sport pedals and the Club Sport Package. The latter features firmer suspension calibrations for both trims as well as special wheels for the GXP and antilock brakes and a limited-slip differential for the base car.

Also available for the 2008 Solstice are the SCCA SSB Championship Edition (base model) and the SCCA T2 Championship Edition (GXP). These come with almost every feature as standard and have special exterior paint, though oddly, the Club Sport Package isn't available on either SCCA edition.

Powertrains and Performance

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 177 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque powers the base Solstice, while the musclebound GXP gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four that makes 260 hp and 260 lb-ft. A five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic is optional for either engine. Even with the base engine, performance is respectable, with a 0-60-mph time of 7.7 seconds for manual-equipped cars. The engine's slow-revving personality makes it feel somewhat lazy around town, however. The GXP provides thrilling performance; a manual-equipped version we tested did the 0-60-mph sprint in a scant 5.8 seconds. The manual transmission's heavy shifter feel and wide gear spacing, however, put a damper on driver enjoyment.

Safety

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 optional on the standard Solstice. Side airbags aren't offered, but in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the Solstice scored four stars (out of five) for both frontal- and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Cockpit accommodations are a mixed bag. Taller drivers will find adequate legroom and headroom, though hiproom will seem scant for many occupants due to the car's wide transmission tunnel. Other downsides include a stereo display that washes out in sunlight, difficult-to-reach power window controls, minimal storage space 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 is just as involved. And though sports cars aren't expected to be practical, the odd shape of the Solstice's small, 5-cubic-foot trunk challenges one's weekend-trip packing ability.

Driving Impressions

When thrown into a corner, the 2008 Pontiac Solstice exhibits little body roll and moderate understeer. It won't hang its tail out on command like the Miata, but for most drivers, the car's substantial cornering grip makes it enjoyable on a twisty road. Hard-core enthusiasts will notice that the heavy-handed steering lacks feedback and doesn't make the experience the joy it is in the perfectly sorted Miata. The suspension provides a firm but compliant ride over broken pavement. Braking performance is good, with a stop from 60 mph coming in the 120-foot range. The antilock system, however, can sometimes be abrupt and jerky in action.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



This is my favorite toy.

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

Ever since I first seen this car in a magazine, I thought that it was the most beautiful car that I had ever seen. Having to always have some kind of muscle car, I didn't buy a Solstice until they put the turbo in it. Then, I installed a K&N filter and finally, I had the GM turbo upgrade kit installed. Now my 2008 GXP will scream. Imagine 300 hp in a go cart. I love everything about it except, no spare, not console, no trunk space and the location of the electric windows. My Solstice is Blazen Oranage and I had tinted windows installed and that little touch really added to the beauty of this little screamer. Garage kept in winter. My every day car is a Toyota 2012 full loaded FJ.




2008 pontiac solstice

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

Honestly - I love this little car! I drove a 4-runner for 10 yrs - loved it! Traded for a 08 Cadillac CTS - felt like a grandma. didn't handle like I thought a $40+K car should. My little Solstice is perfect for downtown driving/parking. It handles well - I don't have a turbo - so have to wind the gears - but I'm cool w/that - and it doesn't seem to mind either. I scratch the tires - every time I get a chance! LOL




Excellent

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Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I have never had any problems. Always get the oil changed and car maintained at the given times. Fun car and I am sorry the car won't be made now in the following years. Good buy with fun results.




A wonderful car

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Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I'm proud to say that I have had my red GXP for almost 2 years and have had 29000 trouble free miles. I have the GMPP 290HP tune, a cold air intake, and Solo Performance catback exhaust and it makes for a VERY quick car (0-60 in 4.9sec) and it's a very sexy ride. Parked beside BMW, Porshe or Mercedes cars and it will ALWAYS generate more nice comments and turned- heads. Sad that 2010 ends the run of this little car. GM got it right at the end. Maybe someone else will continue the line. If you want a great- looking fun-to-drive car with the most bang for the buck, this is it.




Lovin' every minute of it!!!!!

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Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I love this car! 1 sexy machine with a huge "hey BABY" factor. I'm 50 and it makes me feel 16 again! Has every option available, wicked fast even with the auto tranny and I've shown a lot of STUNNED 'Stangs and BMWs tire smoke and tail lights (got the performance upgrade so it's hotter than the reg one) and I had to buy a radar detector because I'm a very bad girl!! Loved my Town Car but after driving TCs for a decade I wanted something HOT-smooth sexy curves and the adorable eager-to-run expression on it's little buck-toothed face makes me smile every time I see it. A real head-turner that folks swear must be an import and blazing speed to keep this old gal happy! I love him SO MUCH!!!!!!




Solstice gxp love affair.

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

This car is very well received at any local show and shines, and parades, that I have entered it in. I have never found that lowering the top is a problem. And, I routinely complete the task, in 15 seconds. Raising it is only slightly more time consuming, requiring 28-30 seconds. The power window switches could have been better placed. I would have preferred wind up windows, and side pockets. The cup holders, I really could care less. A bigger trunk, would be a great help for weekend touring. But with some creative packing, two can go on a weekend cruise. I also, do not require A/C in a roadster, and would have appreciated the weight savings, and possible extra horse power. Stereo 1st class!



Talk About The 2008 Solstice

2008 Pontiac Solstice Discussions See all Started By

bpgolfnut
bpgolfnut
12-17-2008
The Pontiac Solstice gained popularity after the 2007 blockbuster hit Transformers, where the Pontiac Solstice was the autobot form of Jazz. The sleek little sports car is as quick as it looks. So if ...


iamheatherette
iamheatherette
10-18-2007

CarMan@Edmunds
CarMan@Edmunds
02-01-2008
Hi sheepdog1. Given the fact that not that long ago dealers were selling the Solstice at full MSRP without any support from General Motors, the deals that are available on this car right now are amaz...



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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 19
  • cty
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  • 28
  • highway
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