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Solstice rag-top powerful fun on the road

first_imgPontiac used the GM Kappa platform for the Solstice, and it also supports the Saturn Sky and Opel GT. Other drivetrain and exterior parts come from a variety of GM products, including Cadillac (interior storage bin) and the GMC Envoy (backup lights.) And while it’s not the fastest sports car on the road, speed isn’t its main purpose. The Solstice is best suited as a cruiser that relishes gobbling up curves and sunshine. The cockpit is comfortable and surprisingly quiet with the top down. Passengers don’t have to shout at each other even while zipping up the 101 in convertible mode. And it’s a car a minimalist would love. Tuck away the top and a small duffle is all that will fit into the trunk. So if you take it on vacation, the top will probably have to remain up until you reach your destination. And be careful putting stuff in the trunk. I leaned over to put something at the middle of the rear and came away with tread marks on my pants, courtesy of those big wheels. A large, easy-to-read speedometer and tach dominate the dash with a small, almost shot-glass-size gas gauge tucked in between. The comfortable steering wheel includes controls for the cruise control and audio system. But there is no center console storage. The glove box accommodates the owner’s manual and not much else. A small storage bin is tucked in between the driver and passenger seats and is awkward to access, especially while driving. And the master controls that operate the automatic windows are a tad too far back on the driver’s door armrest for comfort. Those are minor annoyances, though. Overall, the Solstice cockpit is surprisingly comfortable (even for someone over 6 feet tall) and the seats present good driving and riding positions. The convertible top is a breeze to operate and can be folded back into the trunk with one hand. And the car is also surprisingly quiet with the top up. Overall, this is a nice ride, especially for sunny Southern California. Or, as my wife put it as we headed out for a short road trip with the top down on a recent sunny day, “Honey, we’re young again.” [email protected] (818) 713-3743 Pontiac Solstice TOP SPEED: 140 mph ENGINE: 2.4 liter DOCH Ecotec TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual SUSPENSION: 4-wheel independent with Bilstein monotube shocks BRAKES: 4-wheel disc FUEL ECONOMY: 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway PRICE: $20,395 base, $26,814 as tested TRIVIA: The Solstice was featured in a challenge on the third season of “The Apprentice.” Winner Kendra Todd developed a sales brochure for the car and Pontiac used her color descriptions (“aggressive” red, “cool” silver, etc. THE MANUAL SAYS: Your vehicle has a tire inflator kit. There is no spare tire, no tire-changing equipment and no place to store a tire. THE WIFE SAYS: “Honey, we’re young again.” Source: Daily News Research160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Top’s down, Ventura’s fading in the rearview mirror with Big Blue a placid presence on the left. An uncongested Highway 101 unwinds ahead of us. It’s a perfect setting to indulge the essence of Pontiac’s Solstice, a relatively new entry in the rag-top competition. Asphalt below, open sky above and wind whistling in our ears. It’s a car that almost demands you drive sans top. The curvy, sporty two-seater got lots of attention when it was introduced in concept form in 2004 and then as a production model at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. That eye-candy factor – think a character from “Cars,” the animated film from Pixar Animation Studios, sprung to life – shows no signs of waning. This roadster averages dozens of smiles per mile and its looks even impressed the owners of two new Mercedes models. That’s due to some aggressive styling at the General Motors Corp. design center in North Hollywood, and 18-inch chrome wheels that came on the test model. It’s a low-slung road hugger with a wide footprint, equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. It can negotiate two-lane canyon roads with gear changes and little use of the brakes. This model had a 2.4-liter dual overhead cam engine turning out 177 horsepower that had no problem zipping up to freeway speeds or keeping up with traffic. last_img read more

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