Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2009 Pontiac Solstice Overview
Pontiac has a long history of sporty machines, including the Firebird and Trans Am. Yet, other than the Fiero, that history has lacked two-seaters. That gap was filled by the launch of the rear-wheel-drive Solstice roadster, which was followed by the Solstice GXP, with 260 turbocharged horsepower from its direct-injection four-cylinder engine. For 2009, customers may have to wave extra dollars at dealers in an attempt to grab the newest addition to the Solstice lineup: The Solstice GXP hardtop coupe.
If you're searching for serious sports-car handling capabilities and frisky performance at an affordable price, the 2009 Solstice GXP just might fill the order for fewer dollars than the similar Saturn SKY Red Line – though the Pontiac is less fully equipped. Ready to plant itself firmly through tight curves, this two-seater delivers confident control and composure, though, in the upper gears, engine response is tamer than might be expected.
If you prefer sports cars that feel light on their feet and manual gearboxes that operate with a gentle flick of the wrist, the Solstice GXP is not the best choice. Compared to the easy one-handed operation demonstrated by the Mazda Miata MX-5, the Solstice's convertible top seems almost archaic.
New for 2009 is the Solstice Coupe, which features a removable roof panel and a glass hatchback.
Like its Saturn counterpart, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP suggests the feel of BMW's Z4 roadster, though neither rivals the BMW in refinement. A solid, somewhat heavy steering feel imparts confidence. Stable on straightaways, the GXP remains nearly flat and firmly planted through curves. Don't expect scintillating engine response at lower speeds in upper gears; the turbo demonstrates its force mainly at higher engine speeds. Despite the taut suspension, the ride is reasonably comfortable – at least, until you encounter rough pavement. But, even then, the GXP copes quite well.
Sinuously-Curved Body Profile
Both the Solstice and its Saturn SKY counterpart flaunt seriously sensuous curved lines. Not many General Motors products in recent times have been so visually enticing.
Turbocharged Direct-Injection Four-Cylinder Engine
Despite a smaller displacement than the base-model Solstice's engine, the 2.0-liter turbo manages not only to produce far more power, but to achieve better EPA fuel-economy estimates. Direct injection, which sends fuel straight into the combustion chambers, helps make that possible.
Serious sports-car seats, whether in standard cloth or available leather, are snugly but unobtrusively bolstered and accompanied by fine cushioning and support. Seats are GXP-embroidered, with grey or red accent stitching, and there are brushed aluminum sill plates and embroidered floor mats. On the Coupe, a set of carved-out inner contours within the removable roof panel increase headroom to 37.4 inches. Motorcycle-inspired gauges are more readable at night when red-lit, but less visible during the day because they're so deep-set. Apart from chrome gauge rings, there's very little brightwork inside the cockpit, so sun reflections are less troublesome. A short-throw shifter sits high atop the central console. With the roof raised there are serious blind spots to the rear.
Not many roadsters draw admiring glances as much as the Solstice. Color choices, including Mean Yellow, Aggressive Victory Red and Sly Dark Steel, highlight the Solstice contours to make it stand well apart from the pack. Front and rear fascia extensions add to the GXP's bold appearance and highly-polished stainless-steel dual exhaust outlets accent the rear. Cargo volume is 5.4 cubic feet with the top up, but trunk space isn't conventionally, or conveniently, shaped. With the top down, it dips to a minuscule 2.1 cubic feet. The Coupe features a fixed roof from the B-pillar back, complete with small side windows and a glass liftback. A one-piece removable panel exposes the cockpit to open-air driving.
Standard 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP equipment includes a limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes (ABS), OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, a Driver Information Center (DIC), fog lamps, cruise control, an engine immobilizer, CD player and turbo boost gauge. GM's StabiliTrak stability-control system also comes standard to help maintain control during sudden maneuvers or in low-traction conditions. Performance tires mount on polished aluminum-alloy 18-inch wheels, and the GXP gets a sport suspension. No spare tire is included because of limited trunk space, but at least you get a tire-repair kit.
A Premium Package adds leather-surfaced seat trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls. An automatic transmission adds about $900 to the GXP's sticker price, though many performance fans will prefer the manual-gearbox model to take full advantage of the turbocharged engine. Also optional: A rear spoiler, six-CD changer, Monsoon audio system, chrome wheels and premium paint colors. GM's OnStar system now includes the optional Turn-by-Turn Navigation guidance package and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.
In the rear-wheel-drive 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 260 horsepower and drives a five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic.
2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
260 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (manual), 19/27 (automatic)
In GXP form, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice Roadster's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $29,000 and tops out around $32,000 with all the option boxes checked. The New Car Blue Book Value, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is likely to be less than when the Solstice first hit the showrooms, so be sure to check it out before you buy. Given the Solstice GXP's exotic styling and potent performance, shoppers will likely compare a wide range of competitors, including the Saturn SKY Red Line and Mazda Miata MX-5. Some buyers may even compare it with the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Porsche Boxster or Nissan 350Z, all of which are priced significantly higher. In terms of resale value, Kelley Blue Book expects the 2009 Solstice GXP to hold its value extremely well over time.