2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP Review

By Justin Pritchard
2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP Review

Summary Rating: 76%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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For performance buffs, nothing says summer has arrived like a low-slung, turbocharged drop-top--especially when said drop top is finished in bright yellow and wearing chrome wheels and dual-outlet exhausts. Pontiac is now offering drivers top-down cruising with a funky and instantly-recognizable roadster called the Solstice. They're also cutting Mazda's grass by entering a market formerly served almost entirely by their MX-5.

Instantly, the Solstice GXP stands out as the logical choice where power and attitude are concerned.

Unlike the MX-5, Solstice brings some visual aggressiveness and a potent attitude to the marketplace. It's far from cute, and it's available with a high-performance turbo engine that delivers 260 horsepower alongside upgraded handling and brakes. If that sort of stuff in such a little machine doesn't excite you, you may want to check for a pulse.

Inside, two occupants are treated to a set of comfortable leather seats and adequate room. Visibility is reasonable and most controls are easy to find and operate, though some feel dated.

On-board storage is at a hefty premium. The trunk is nearly useless when the roof is folded into it, and there's almost nowhere to put at-hand items like coffee change, a wallet or a cell phone.

In all, the interior doesn't feel as modern or everyday usable as the MX-5's, though it's got a bit of macho, old-school charm and style that's easy to appreciate. Completing the cabin is a surprisingly punchy and powerful Monsoon stereo system with XM satellite radio.

The Solstice GXP wins big points for its handling and dynamics, which see sharp reflexes delivered alongside a notably comfortable ride. The steering is quick and precise, and a touch of heaviness is dialed in to keep things from feeling too skittish.

The handling is a good match for the GXP's power, which puts a rich, thick band of torque on duty from about 2,500 RPM. A formidable surge of thrust is delivered whenever drivers call on the twin-scroll turbo to force-feed air into the direct injected, two-litre engine. Acceleration sucks two occupants into their seats, and leaves them there until the throttle pedal is released. Brakes are an adequate match for the engine as well, though the pedal lacks feel and precision.

Visibility is reasonable and most controls are easy to find and operate, though some feel dated.

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