It might seem late to post a Pontiac Solstice GXP review, but if you’re a bargain minded shopper looking for a two-seated roadster then you are a) a contradiction in terms, b) up for some good shopping as Pontiac falls prey to the current economic doldrums, c) just in time for a lovely run of weather.
There are of course certain inconsequentials you need to overlook, mainly the fact that you’ll be driving the most phallic object on the road, oil trucks included. Roof down, the Solstice presents a near perfect sex-toy profile. So really the first thing you’ll need to do after purchasing your Solstice from the big-three discount bin is cue up the Ambiguously Gay Duo soundtrack on the iPod.
Who the hell really cares, because the Solstice is composed of pure sex and not that poufy European stuff, but the go-down-hard US variety. It is smooth, sleek, and yet masculine from every angle, with muscles bulging under an over-tight shirt with just a hint of disguising body-fat sense of tension. Will it lick your inner thigh, or slap you upside the head?
You’ll cut yourself open on the gaps in the plastic interior, and drown in your own blood in the slunk-suicidally in the bathtub seating position. If you fit in the Solstice that is, at 6”2’ I found myself driving with the seat pressed against the rear bulkhead, giving me just barely enough room in the snug cockpit while the massive central tunnel ensures this is only a date car for contortionists. There are other issues too.
You’ll burn yourself with scalding coffee as your elbow dislodges the cup shifting into second. Removing the top you turn the header latch, open the trunk, get out, pull pleat the top into position behind the seats, and then SLAM the deck lid! That’s ok, at this point your friends in Miata’s are long since gone. After which you only have the trunk space left to store the nine Esses in the Solstice’s name, because you can’t drive though the West End or West Hollywood without some rake essing, “Nice Sssol-ssstisss!”
And that is where the whining ends really, because truly driving the GXP is great fun.
The GXP comes with a nearly lagless turbocharged 2.0-Liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine that makes 260 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque. While those numbers sound good, the engine really doesn’t, ticking like in need of a valve job. Put that aside and it’s entertaining, “rev me to the limit”, good time nature will grab you.
Coming off the line, you need to spin the plant up, with acceptable torque starting at 2000rpm and full-pull peaking by 5000, so it’s not joyful loafing around town. Out on the roads though the Solstice comes into its roadster own.
The Solstice GXP’s suspension is composed, well balanced and planted, and offers a ride without exhibiting the nervous spun-on-meth darting of the Mazda Miata. Should you be inclined, the GXP is an easy and relaxing drive, or not…
The Solstice runs on a shortened Corvette driveline, so there’s sporting pedigree here, and it’s more than willing to have a good back road fling. The turning is quick, the chassis holds flat with just enough roll for comfort, the balance neutral, the brakes good if a bit vague feeling, the 5-speed manual transmission is a bit notchy (though not horribly so) and there’s enough power and balance here to break the rear end loose and inform you why the drifting set quite likes this toy. All this can turn around and bite you just as quickly though as the car comes undone when pushed harder. More disturbing is that what’s good fun in the dry is a horror show in the wet.
Damp roads leave the GXP more than willing to rotate around its center if even vaguely pushed, so best leave it in the garage for safer and sunnier days. Truly though, the Solstice never aspired to practicality, so you can’t faults it for what it is – a roof down sunny day runabout.
In the end I found myself liking the Pontiac Solstice GXP, despite its impractical nature and slightly raw feel. True, it doesn’t invoke the manic drama of a sports car, instead the Solstice, even in GXP guise, is more relaxed, calm, and distinctly American – a throwback of a top down roadster. The Solstice GXP will still let you have a bit of a fling in the corners, but it’s not as hardcore as it makes itself out to be, there is that little bit of body fat under the tensed skin which means after a romp you can simply settle into a nice cruise of the highway. And you’ll be as relaxed as your car is good looking, even as you drive off into Pontiac’s long night.
Price Range (MSRP): $35,800 – $42,041
Price as tested: $40,020
Deals are to be had by the cagy buyer.