C/D Road Test - 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP Turbo

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Here’s a very good reason to skip going out to dinner once a month.

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    BY DAVE VANDERWERP, PHOTOGRAPHY BY MORGAN J. SEGAL
    October 2006

    Regularly driving cars that are so impossibly out of our price range makes it difficult to be as sensitive to the bottom line as someone signing the loan agreement. But once in a while, a car comes along with a price that absolutely screams at us. In this case, that number is $2710 — the amount that separates the 2007 260-hp Solstice GXP from last year’s 177-hp model.

    Well, Pontiac is charging five grand over the base Solstice price, or $25,995 in all, for a 47-percent increase in horsepower and 57-percent boost in torque with its new GXP. That’s already a good deal, but much of the optional gear on the base Solstice, such as a limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and power windows and locks — things you’d want — is standard on the GXP. So, really, it’s just an extra $2710. Spread out over a five-year loan, that works out to an extra 50 bucks a month. Skip going out to dinner once a month, and you’re there.

    This 2007 Solstice, and also the mechanically similar Saturn Sky Red Line, packs a punch of 260 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from a direct-injection turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter version of GM’s four-cylinder Ecotec. Yes, the stodgy General is introducing its first gasoline direct-injection turbo at the same time as BMW. Shocked?

    The Solstice has been a hit in its first year, selling 11,546 copies during the first six months of 2006, beating out the Mazda MX-5 Miata for roadster sales leader.

    When we first drove the $20,000 two-seat Solstice, we were won over by its double-take-inducing styling, unflappably rigid platform, and competent handling. However, the Solstice finished just shy of the Mazda MX-5 in a December 2005 comparison test, in part due to merely adequate power (177 horses) from its somewhat harsh and lazy-to-rev 2.4-liter four-cylinder.

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    Besides addressing that power complaint, the GXP adds a stiffer suspension, a taller axle ratio, and a shorter third-gear ratio in the same five-speed Aisin transmission. That new ratio eliminates the previously large gap between second and third gears, and the base Solstice gets this improvement as well. The stubby shifter falls to hand and engages positively but requires a little more effort than we’d like; a five-speed automatic is an $850 option. Stability control as standard is another GXP addition, and it’s not available on the base car. It can be turned off, but even when enabled, its intervention threshold is satisfyingly high.

    The GXP looks mostly the same as the standard Solstice, but a black honeycomb front grille, a small chin spoiler, and dual exhausts distinguish the two. The four-wheel disc brakes are unchanged, but added grillework around the fog lamps houses cooling ducts that direct air to the front rotors.

    There’s nothing like a big power boost to enliven an already capable chassis. Even though the GXP still likes to understeer at the limit, picking apart corners is much more entertaining now that the rear tires have a chance of breaking loose under power. In fact, this chassis so easily accommodates the added power that we hope Pontiac has plans to add at least another 50 horsepower, if not more. A big flaw that will keep drivers guessing, however, is nonlinear steering with effort that doesn’t seem to build appropriately.

    The engine is responsive, but it does take a second to wake up from idle, a penalty of the high-boost turbo. After a startlingly abrupt clutch engagement, the GXP pulls smartly through the first two gears, but by the top of third, it starts to taper off. The sound is now a constant moan as it oozes through the revs; it’s not invigorating, but gone is the harshness as well as offensive noise of the base Solstice. Interior sound is 5 dBA quieter at wide-open throttle.

    Our first acceleration times for the GXP were somewhat slower than Pontiac’s claims, and company officials suspected our car may have been delivered — and then tested — with regular fuel. After we retested with premium, the GXP redeemed itself, blasting to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.2 at 98 mph. Those times are big improvements of 1.1 and 1.2 seconds, respectively, over the base car. However, the GXP requires two time-consuming shifts to reach 60 mph, so it often feels quicker than the numbers show. It’s 0.1 second quicker than a Boxster through the quarter-mile, but it can’t quite keep up with the lighter Honda S2000.

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    Speaking of weight, the GXP gains 154 pounds in the power makeover, and the front tires are now burdened with an even greater percentage of its 3031 pounds. Maybe that’s why stopping distance — 170 feet from 70 mph — wasn’t appreciably better than in previous Solstices, despite adding higher-performance Goodyears in the same 18-inch size. The brake pedal is reassuringly firm initially but faded to almost nothing after just two hot laps at GingerMan Raceway.

    Another possible result of this less favorable weight distribution is reduced skidpad grip — 0.85 g compared with 0.91 g for the base car.

    Thankfully, the GXP hasn’t given up any of the Solstice’s excellent cruising traits.
    It tracks exceptionally straight on the highway, the seats are comfortable, and it’s reasonably quiet and has an agreeable ride — no combination of bumps seems to upset the chassis or even cause a noticeable tremor. Headroom can be tight for people much over six feet, but legroom is ample as long as you don’t mind sitting upright. And the added horsepower makes the GXP much more usable in fifth gear, now able to accelerate from 30 to 50 mph in 10.4 seconds and from 50 to 70 in 7.9 (quicker by 3.1 and 5.6 seconds). Here’s a surprise: EPA fuel economy increases from 20 city and 28 highway to 22 and 31. We averaged 26 mpg at 80-mph highway speeds, but 18 overall.

    It’s unfortunate that all these excellent weekend road-trip credentials are hampered by the Solstice’s same flaws: a minuscule trunk that doesn’t hold much of anything, hard plastic that will numb the driver’s right elbow, and window switches and a center-mounted storage bin that are positioned for the double-jointed. And you’ve already heard our complaints about the multistep in-and-out process to operate the top.

    Pontiac credits the Solstice with a 20-percent increase in showroom traffic, and despite the negatives, the turbo version makes it an even bigger hit. The GXP’s small price increment negates any reason to purchase the base car, and it’s sure to be sold out for the foreseeable future. Pontiac says up to 40 percent of Solstice production, or 8000 cars, can be GXPs. It is on sale in September, and already more than 3000 orders have been placed. It’s an exceptional deal.

    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Wild styling, midrange turbo punch, Boxster performance, bargain price.

    Lows: Vague steering, tiny trunk and tight cockpit, brake fade at the racetrack.

    The Verdict: There’s no longer a reason to buy the base Solstice.


    COUNTERPOINT

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    TONY SWAN
    A heroic infusion of vitamin HP is not a panacea for this car’s many little demerits. For example, it doesn’t reduce the softtop’s hassle factor. It doesn’t increase the number of small-object storage spaces. Nor does it expand the capacity of what we laughingly call the trunk. But increasing engine output by 47 percent makes it much easier to ignore the irritations. And beyond that, it’s clear the Solstice’s chassis and suspension were designed to handle this much thrust with casual competence. Like all roadsters, the Solstice is a toy. But in GXP tune, it becomes a formidable toy, and arguably the most engaging entry at the affordable end of the sports-car spectrum.

    MARK GILLIES
    Now that it has the power to overcome its weight, the Solstice is a really nice sports car. On twisty back roads, it’s not as soulful as a Mazda MX-5 Miata, but it looks better and goes faster. It costs little more than a fully loaded MX-5, too, if you avoid frivolous options such as the chrome wheels and rear spoiler. But it still suffers a couple of serious flaws. First, the steering lacks linearity and feels artificial on center. And second, the lack of trunk space (and even oddment room in the cockpit) makes it little more than a short-distance toy. If you want to go anywhere for a weekend with the top down, plan on packing just underwear and a toothbrush.

    TONY QUIROGA
    The Solstice GXP occasionally feels a bit unfinished, as if GM had pulled its cookies out of the oven before the timer went off. The engine doesn’t quite pull like 260 horsepower, the gearbox requires too much effort to shift quickly, the clutch engages abruptly, the steering serves up a slow turn-in, and the seating position makes it feel as if you were sitting on the floor. You’d think these issues, along with the complete lack of luggage space and that awful top design, might land the GXP on our enemies’ list. But none of it really matters, because even when cookies are undercooked, they’re still cookies, and this is still an entertaining and affordable 260-hp roadster.

    2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP

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

    Price as tested: $29,904

    Price and option breakdown: base Pontiac Solstice GXP (includes $600 freight), $25,995; A/C, $960; chrome wheels, $795; Premium package (includes leather seats and steering wheel), $525; in-dash 6-CD changer, $495; Monsoon 7-speaker stereo, $395; rear spoiler, $275; XM satellite radio, $199; premium headliner, $150; sport metallic pedals, $115

    Major standard accessories: power windows and locks, remote locking, cruise control, tilting steering wheel, rear defroster

    Sound system: Pontiac AM-FM-satellite radio/CD changer, 7 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: turbocharged and intercooled inline-4, aluminum block and head
    Bore x stroke: 3.39 x 3.39 in, 86.0 x 86.0mm
    Displacement: 122 cu in, 1998cc
    Compression ratio: 9.2:1
    Fuel-delivery system: direct injection
    Turbocharger: BorgWarner K04
    Maximum boost pressure: 18.0 psi
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 260 bhp @ 5300 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 260 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
    Redline: 6300 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 3.73:1, limited slip

    Gear: Ratio: Mph/1000 rpm Max test speed
    I 3.75 5.5 34 mph (6300 rpm)
    II 2.26 9.1 57 mph (6300 rpm)
    III 1.51 13.6 85 mph (6300 rpm)
    IV 1.00 20.5 129 mph (6300 rpm)
    V 0.73 28.0 142 mph (5050 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 95.1 in
    Track, front/rear: 60.7/61.4 in
    Length/width/height: 158.3/71.3/50.1 in
    Ground clearance: 3.6 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.45) x frontal area (21.1 sq ft): 9.5 sq ft
    Curb weight: 3031 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 54.4/45.6%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 11.7 lb
    Fuel capacity: 13.6 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 50 cu ft
    trunk, top up/down: 5/2 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind, unequal-length control arms with a toe-control link, coil springs, anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 16.4:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.7
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 34.8 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
    Front: 11.7 x 1.0-in vented disc
    Rear: 10.9 x 0.5-in disc


    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 GS2, P245/45R-18 96W
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 29/29 psi
    Spare: none

    C/D TEST RESULTS

    ACCELERATION Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph 1.9
    40 mph 3.0
    50 mph 4.2
    60 mph 5.6
    70 mph 7.3
    80 mph 9.2
    90 mph 11.9
    100 mph 14.9
    110 mph 18.1
    120 mph 22.4
    130 mph 31.0
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.7
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 10.4
    50-70 mph: 7.9
    Standing 1/4 mile: 14.2 sec@ 98 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 142 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 170 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.85 g
    Understeer: minimal


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 22 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 31 mpg
    C/D observed: 18 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 53 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 77 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 73 dBA

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'd play with one.
     
  3. ///M

    ///M New Member

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    i'd mandangle that shit.

    100k mile warranty now too rite?
     
  4. rebs

    rebs shares AIDS OT Supporter

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    i saw a black sky today


    HOT
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    That's right.
     
  6. Left

    Left Lakers Fan For Life!

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    I'd still rather have a Sky.
     
  7. bigphil

    bigphil New Member

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    5th gear - finally!
     
  8. gdubb

    gdubb Crockett & Tubbs

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    30k is still a little too much, but it is pretty cool


    ps.... sky looks better though
     
  9. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'm very curious to see how much potential these new engines have. They could be made into little monsters for the strip and stoplights with minimal effort.
     
  10. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    i fucking want one
     
  11. Boris Yurinov

    Boris Yurinov OT Supporter

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    That is sweet as hell!
     
  12. project2501

    project2501 New Member

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    fapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfap
     
  13. Dr.Smasher

    Dr.Smasher .

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    I'd rinde it.

    I've seen a couple Solstices (Solsticii?) and a Saturn Sky on the road, they look beautiful in motion.



    when were sports cars (I'm talking the standard 2 seat roadster) meant to be drag strip kings? That's meant for '70 Chevelle SSs and Vipers n shit. Leave the road and autocross courses to Miatas, Solstices, and S2ks.
     
  14. guru

    guru Active Member

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    but it can’t quite keep up with the lighter Honda S2000.


    BOOYA! :joshers:













    :o
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Nothing a better driver or a simple tune couldn't cure.
     
  16. MrRyan

    MrRyan Gary Johnson 2016 OT Supporter

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    Too bad GM pulled out of AAFES car sales...
     
  17. guru

    guru Active Member

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    Equal drivers is usually how I like to compare. Of course the gxp can just have the boost cranked up though, but that's still sad for a car to have more hp/tq to still be slower. It's also weird that it starts to go downhill in 4th. Why the hell is it 200lbs heavier when it's smaller than an s2k? wtf.
     
  18. Idea of Evil

    Idea of Evil Struggle

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    $30k? :ugh2:

    i knew they were going to overprice that car
     
  19. Durka Durka

    Durka Durka Guest

    25 base

    if you don't want all those queer chrome wheels and 7 speaker stereo options
     
  20. Dr.Smasher

    Dr.Smasher .

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    who cares? Japanese magazine writers seem to have a good opinion of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRARVVmpzTw
     
  21. guru

    guru Active Member

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    Who cares? How about someone that cares about performance? :hsugh:
     
  22. Durka Durka

    Durka Durka Guest

    3k lbs is seriously too heavy though. is it because of the hydroformed body panels or something?
     
  23. B_O_T

    B_O_T Calcio Italiano ftw

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    cool ifl
     
  24. guru

    guru Active Member

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    Does this mean the Sky Redline will have similar performance?
     
  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Materials, mostly steel. The car was engineered to hit it's $19k base price.
     

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