If ever there was an automotive brand in desperate need of an icon, it's Pontiac. Even now, after various product re-skins and improvements, the updates that keep coming seem to ring hollow. Case in point: the 2006 Pontiac G6 coupe and convertible wound up strangers at their own ball when the 2006 Solstice roadster showed up and stole the show. Ah. There's your icon. It's not as if the assembled journalists were seeing the pretty metal-blue roadster for the first time. In fact, it may well be the most photographed concept car in the history of auto shows. Yet when the Solstice rolled on stage, all heads jerked to it, leaving the new versions of the G6 lonely and afraid. Pontiac is hoping -- nay, praying -- that the 2006 Pontiac G6 coupe will get some attention of their own when they start selling this summer. The release date of the convertible, originally pegged for winter of 2005, will likely be delayed thanks to the complexities of its retractable hard top.
Until then, the Solstice staring continues. Sadly for the Pontiac G6 coupe and convertible, while blessed with style and an athletic stance, it just can't seem to force that Solstice gaze toward them. Maybe similarities to the Toyota Camry Solara ring out too loudly. Or that retractable hard top -- won't the convertible wind up priced out of its league, thus dampening enthusiasm? General Motors Vice Chairman and car-guy extraordinaire Bob Lutz says no, that the price increase is only "marginal," but it's hard to see how that kind of technology in this type of vehicle could avoid ending up with either low volumes or with a significantly higher price. For the convertible, its very survival may likely depend on stealing sales from Brother Solstice -- priced at $19,995, the business case for a less-fun, more expensive 2+2 seems a bit flimsy.
As for the here and now, the G6 Coupe or Convertible is a nice, stylish and friendly car that will likely resonate strongly with twenty-something females. Young men pay heed: The Pontiac G6 convertible is the kind of car your girlfriend or wife will probably fall in love with, so buy one for them and get that Solstice for yourself. Highlights include a Karmann-designed retractable hardtop that Pontiac claims will take less than 30 seconds from up to down. Both the coupe and convertible deliver 2+2 seating suitable for four adults, thanks the G6's longer wheelbase, which stretches the wheels to the vehicles' corners and allows for increased rear-seat legroom. Built on GM's global Epsilon platform, the G6 Coupe and G6 Convertible will be available as GT and GTP models, the GT with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 200-horsepower and 220 ft-lbs of torque. The GTP bumps up to a 3.9-liter V6 that that generates 240-horsepower and 245 ft-lbs of torque.
Controlling the V6 power on the convertible is a standard four-speed automatic; a six-speed manual is standard in the G6 coupe. The four-speed automatic comes with a manual-shift mode.
Coupe and convertible get a sport-tuned independent suspension, four-link independent rear suspension, variable-assist electric power steering, ABS, traction control, and a choice between 17- and 18-inch wheels and tires. The Pontiac G6 convertible comes standard with 18-inch wheels. Like the G6 sedan, the interior is sporty and driver-oriented with a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, available adjustable pedals, body-hugging seats and a sound system that comes with an available in-dash six-CD changer. Coupe and convertible come with the typical array of safety features, including standard dual-stage airbags and available side-and head-curtain airbags. As with the sedan, GM also offers the exclusive factory-installed remote start -- for those cold weather climates.
A convertible with a cold weather remote start feature. Something is oddly funny about that.
The convertible's trunk has a double-hinged lid for stowing from the top. It opens like a conventional trunk for cargo storage, but is reverse-hinged to accept the folding hardtop. A hard tonneau cover automatically appears as part of the hardtop retraction process. When the top is stowed, the trunk provides 1.8 cubic feet of cargo space. With the top up, trunk capacity increases to 5.8 cubic feet. Though built on the same platform as the coupe, the 2006 Pontiac G6 convertible was strengthened to bolster vehicle rigidity. How that translates on the road -- as well as the weight of a roof that is apparently the world's largest retractable hardtop -- will tell much about whether the convertible maintains a performance reputation. Of course, it's not that big of a deal. Lurking out there, somewhere, is the car that will single-handedly transform Pontiac from the brand that huffs and puffs and tries hard to be exciting to one that actually gets the pulse on the giddy up. G6…what? Pardon, Mr. Lutz. When did you say that Solstice would arrive at dealerships?
Photos courtesy of General Motors