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2006 Pontiac Solstice

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San Francisco:  It’s not everyday that a beautiful car comes out of the General Motors design studios. And we’re not just talking a Corvette that is expected to look great. We’re talking a drop-dead gorgeous convertible that looks good with the top up and exquisite with the top down. Say Hello to the new 2006 Pontiac Solstice Roadster.

Pontiac is the lucky division this year within GM. They got the edgy-lined G6, the masculine Torrent and now the Solstice. Not that the other divisions are lacking for new product, but it seems the General is finally getting serious about putting real excitement back into Pontiac.

The funny thing about us getting the Solstice when we did was that we were expecting a Cadillac STS. But, for the better, there was a scheduling snafu and we definitely got the sportier end of the deal. The only deal-breaker was the rainy weather during our week with the test car that made it difficult, although not impossible, to drive with the top down, which is highly recommended.

It’s also nice to know that the Bob Lutz era at GM has finally arrived. Finally, a car worthy of styling accolades has made it off the production line with no need for excuses or the old “we’ll fix that at when we freshen it up.”

The Solstice looks striking from almost every angle. It sits low, wide and has a masculine stance that belies its sporting intentions and makes the heart flutter with awe and appreciation, especially considering this is a GM vehicle and the product development team had to fight through reams of red tape and bureaucratic hoop jumping to get it out the door.

With short overhangs front and rear and an upturned tail with dual humps directly behind the cockpit, the Solstice is one gorgeous vehicle. Add to that a distinctive face, with prominent Pontiac emblem front and center, rounded lines throughout and classy everything and you seem to forget you’re looking at a Pontiac. One thing’s for sure … you won’t mistake a Pontiac Solstice for a Mazda Miata or Honda S2000.

Inside, the Solstice is not for the claustrophobic. Tight is a loose way of describing the cockpit and how it fits around you and hugs you with soft leather seats and well-positioned switchgear, and a great shifter connected to a short throw five-speed manual that seems to help the driver find the next gear. Talk about easy to drive. The dash layout is superb, with a dual binnacle gauge cluster with big tach and speedo, both of which are very easy to read.

There are auxiliary radio controls and cruise controls on the wheel spokes, a beautiful two-tone color scheme that mixes light brown and dark gray leather throughout the interior. Our only real complaint is the silly cupholder located at the rear of the center tunnel hump. Using the cupholder while driving is quite difficult because it interferes with your shifting action … mainly your elbow and the cupholder will become very close by the time your drive is over.

Power comes from GM’s newer engine family, the Ecotec. Displacing 2.4 liters, it is the only engine available until 2007 and it puts out 177 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque. Not ground splitting number by any stretch, but you can get the Solstice moving easily enough. (If you wait for a few months, you might be able to get your name on a 2007 with the new turbo Ecotec that will pump out 260 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.)

As for the driving experience, a movie line sums it up: The thing corners like it’s on rails. Bumps can sometimes be harsh but most are soaked up by the tight suspension.

Top actuation is a little weird if not totally cool. You hit the trunk button on the key fob to eject the spears that hold the flying buttresses in place, open the trunk clamshell, unlatch the top from the header, fold the top back and close the trunklid. Simple, right? Actually, we found it fun to open the trunk for people to see their reaction as the flying buttresses pop up.

Solstice is definitely a car that will take you places in style. However, due to the very nature of the roadster it is, you won’t be taking much with you; let alone anyone else. Sure, you could put a soft-sided bag or two in there but nothing else. Add to that the odd U shape and you have a good argument for a matching trailer like the one they made for the Plymouth Prowler.

Solstice has been on sale for a few months as of this writing and are quite surprised to see so many on the road. We of course give each other a big “thumbs up” when we saw one, but little did he know that we didn’t pay the $24K+ for ours. But that’s all right. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him … as the saying goes.

If you can get your name in, and don’t mind paying more than sticker for such a cool car, then the Solstice is for you. And if you think 177 horses aren’t enough to get your blood boiling, then just wait for the 2007 Solstice with the turbo option.  By James
E. Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Pontiac Home Page

Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: Hey Baby, Where Have You Been All My Life?
Topic: The 2006 Pontiac Solstice
Word Count: 957
Photo Caption:  The 2006 Pontiac Solstice
Photo Credits:  Pontiac Internet Media
Series #:   2006 - 39

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2006 Solstice

Download the Original Image File here:   2006 Solstice








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