2006 Pontiac Solstice Review
Sexy Solstice flaunts supermodel looks but does it face a future of nips and tucks to stay runway?
From the outside, the Pontiac Solstice is a looker, turning heads everywhere it’s driven and sporting a look of quality and refinement. The curvaceous bodylines are sensual, but the Solstice retains a serious sports car guise. In other words, it’s not considered to be a chick car. The attention you get driving the Solstice makes you feel like a celebrity, and the only thing missing is the red carpet treatment upon arrival and build quality to rival its competitors.
The Solstice handles as well as it looks, cutting corners tighter and tighter, staying flat and delivering excellent feedback while almost taunting you to push it past your own comfort zone. A 177-horsepower, four-cylinder engine propels the little two-seater with either a five-speed manual transmission aimed at the enthusiast crowd or a five-speed automatic for those that prefer a more relaxed driving experience. A turbocharged GXP version is also in the works, upping the horsepower and adding a sport suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and traction control. The sport suspension is also available on the standard Solstice as an option. From the start, the Pontiac Solstice (also sold as the Sky under the Saturn brand) was intended to be a comeback car for GM, an entry-level image car that would bring buyers back to the American market and boost GM’s sales and image. Our test car, with less than 3,000 miles on the odometer, suffered from bad air leaks from the side windows with the top up, squeaky brakes, a moaning automatic transmission when decelerating from 30 mph, and a plethora of design problems from the convertible top and the lack of a power door lock button to a missing passenger visor mirror and a radio screen that becomes illegible in the sunlight. Plus, we averaged just 18.7 mpg with the Solstice’s four-cylinder engine. This is disappointing from a car enjoying so much hype. In typical GM fashion, the company had a good thing going with the Solstice but substandard interior quality, frustrating design and build execution issues could ultimately slow sales of the Solstice faster than its own four-wheel-disc brakes.