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Not Your Father's Pontiac
2006 Pontiac Solstice
By Doug Plunkett

In short: A beautifully simple, yet striking roadster

The 2006 Pontiac Solstice—one of the corniest car monikers since the AMC Pacer first debuted—probably won’t win over any hearts based on the name alone. That is, until you see the car. The new automobile that Pontiac hopes will help put the Michigan-based company back on the playing field boasts 18-inch-thick wheels, bucket leather seats, a seven-speaker stereo system (with MP3 player capabilities), and a classic, retro-ish body that looks like a giant scrunched-up Corvette. And have we mentioned that this two-seater roadster is a convertible?

All this is convincing enough on the eyes to safely conclude that the Solstice is definitely not your father’s Pontiac. It’s not even your older brother’s Pontiac. But, perhaps more importantly, how does it feel behind the wheel?

Simply put, the car’s beauty belies its strength under the hood. The four-cylinder, 177-horse power engine doesn’t necessarily live up to the eye candy appearance of this sports car. But with a sticker price that’s less than $20,000, don’t expect to get a car that’ll go neck to neck with a Porsche (just because it looks as cool as one). Still, the Solstice handles well around turns. At 120 mph on the freeway, it runs smooth; with the top down, there’s surprisingly little wind.

The major drawback with a car like this is space. With the top up, there’s a small trunk space, but when the top is down (it lowers into the trunk), there’s exactly zero space for luggage or even a bag of groceries (if two people are riding in it). This won’t be a family car; nor will it even be a car for running quick errands. It’s best suited for someone who wants a weekend cruise—and to look very cool doing it. Our prediction: this car is going to inspire a lot of midlife crises.

Warranty/Service: Three years/36,000 mile limited vehicle warranty.

Base Price: $19,915 /As tested: $27,040

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door roadster convertible

Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4
Horsepower: 177 bhp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 166 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic (5-speed manual standard)

Curb weight: 2,860 lbs
Wheelbase: 95.1 in
157.2/71.3/50.1 in
Turning circle: 35 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
independent front and rear
optional limited slip differential

Safety: front air bags, OnStar

0-60 mph:
7.8 seconds (est.)

Top Speed: 123 mph

EPA City: 22 mpg
EPA Highway: 26 mpg

Check out other Pontiac models
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Photography: AlphaMedia

  (Updated 02/08/08 SCV)

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