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Pontiac builds an exciting, new roadster that should draw lots of attention.

Two fairings that sweep up from the rear decklid behind the seats add a distinctive styling element; the top stows completely under the rear decklid.

The Solstice is fun to drive, powered by a 177-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec inline 4-cylinder driving the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission. A 5-speed automatic will be offered later in the 2006 model year.

Hydroformed steel panels form the curvy body that replicates the original Solstice concept car.

Solstice's stiff chassis allowed engineers to tune the suspension for a firm, sporty ride that is not too harsh over rough road surfaces.

From the driver's seat, Solstice feels nimble and light on tight, twisty two-lane roads, with quick response from both steering and throttle.

When the Solstice Concept debuted at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, our immediate reaction was that this car should be built—as soon as possible. A short time later General Motors announced the Solstice would be produced by its Pontiac division. Even though nearly four years have passed since the concept debuted, GM has created the groundbreaking Solstice in record time.

The resulting Solstice remains true to the striking, distinctive design of the concept car—which is an accomplishment in itself, since the initial passion of a concept can sometimes be lost when the project transforms from paper to production. With fluid lines, aggressive fenders housing standard 18-inch wheels and tires, a high decklid with sculpted fairings behind the seats and a completely stowed convertible top, Solstice looks like nothing else on the road. Passenger

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I read this artical this morning at work...My dad is looking into either this car, or the Saturn Sky (almost the same car) for a go to work car.

As I was reading this morning they said they took the tranny from the Colorado pickup...I have the colorado pickup...they should have thrown the 2.8 engine in the car!!!
An important car for Pontiac, the 2006 Solstice is the first car to be built on GM's all-new Kappa rear-wheel-drive platform. It delivers nearly the exact look of the concept car, but also a sporty, fun driving experience.

And perhaps even more important for consumers, Solstice hits the price target—under $20,000—set by car czar Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman of global product development. Solstice pricing starts at $19,995—including destination fee.

New Ecotec Engine, Solid Platform
The 2006 Pontiac Solstice is powered by the latest variation of the 2.4-liter Ecotec inline four-cylinder engine, delivering 177 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque in the first longitudinal application of the Ecotec for the rear-wheel-drive Solstice. The 2.4L Ecotec is mated to a close ratio Aisin 5-speed manual transmission, borrowed from the Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck—yes, from a pickup truck. Pontiac paid careful attention to the linkage so shifts are quick and smooth, and if they would have never told us the origin of the transmission, we would have never guessed.

Solstice benefits from a rock-solid platform which GM refers to as a lower-dominant tube structure. The center tunnel, which houses the transmission and driveshaft, is reinforced and enclosed at the bottom to enhance stiffness.

The chassis utilizes hydroformed frame rails, which run the full length of the vehicle, combined with additional stampings to form a rigid structure on which body panels are attached. The hydroforming process, which uses water pressure to form the desired shape of the component being created, is typically used in light-duty truck frames for strength and rigidity. Solstice is the only GM car other than the Chevrolet Corvette to use an entirely hydroformed chassis.

Hydroforming also produces most of Solstice's body panels—the first such extensive use of sheet metal hydroforming for a production vehicle. Formed panels include the hood, exterior door panels, rear decklid, and quarter panels, allowing the design to remain true to the original concept.

The suspension is independent short-arm/long-arm in both front and rear, with Bilstein coil-over mono-tube shocks at all corners. The rack-and-pinion steering has traditional hydraulic power assist, rather than electric power assist, which is used on other new GM vehicles. Eighteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 245/45R18 Goodyear Eagle RSA are standard, along with large four-wheel disc brakes from the GM Epsilon platform, on which the Saab 9-3 is based. (General Motors owns Swedish automaker Saab Automobile AB.)

Driving Impressions: It's All Good
The Solstice is downright fun to drive, both because it attracts a lot of attention with its great styling, and because it delivers the quick, nimble driving dynamics of a satisfying sports car.

Noticeable within the first few minutes of driving, Solstice's solid, stiff platform offers a smooth, controlled ride. There is no cowl shake, even over rough surfaces, and the suspension works well to control the car, soaking up whatever the road surface delivers.

The car feels balanced with a front-to-rear weight distribution of nearly 50/50, and the steering is very quick. There is no traditional 'steering feel' or direct feedback, but the steering response is very true and consistent, holding steady through the corner with no bump-steer on rough surfaces.

The smooth, precise clutch take-up makes it easy to get Solstice rolling from a standstill, and enables clean gear changes at speed. The direct, positive shift linkage has short throws between gears and provides definitive feedback when shifted to the next gear. It may take a little more effort than some competitors—the Honda S2000, for example—but the result is a very confident shifting experience.

The firm brake pedal needs little movement even for aggressive braking, which creates a solid platform for heel-and-toe downshifts—great for drivers who might employ this technique. The direct throttle response of the 2.4L Ecotec delivers enough power for spirited acceleration from a standstill and fun through the corners. Since no sports car enthusiast will ever argue against more power, undoubtedly there will be some drivers complaining that Solstice needs more horsepower to deliver on its promise.

At highway speeds it's tempting to leave Solstice in fourth gear for better throttle response, because in fifth gear it feels pretty flat at 60 to 70 mph, but that has big impact of fuel economy. The 2.4L Ectotec works well overall, delivering an estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

Only the 5-speed manual transmission is available at launch. Hard-core driving enthusiasts will argue that an automatic transmission isn't even necessary for this type of car; however true that might be, a 5-speed automatic will be offered later in the 2006 model year.

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This is GM's new (kappa?) platform. Expect it to be shared liberally. Pontiac and saturn already have it and i think the chevy nomad concept was built on it too. I like it and no doubt it will be doing SCCA auto cross events head to head with miatas soon. $20,000.... i might be able to swing it.
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