Because summer can't last forever.
Can a top-drawer roadster also make it as a fixed-top touring car? The 2009 Solstice coupe should prove a popular variation on one of Pontiac’s more successful themes.
The terms convertible and sports car often go hand in hand. However, not everyone wants to flip their lid, preferring instead the relative security and sleek shape of an enclosed top. Pontiac has come up with an ideal solution to keep both camps happy with the new Solstice coupe that’s scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2009.
While technically not a pure fixed-roof hardtop, the coupe version of Pontiac’s popular roadster advances the Solstice lineup by offering a clear alternative to the convertible model that began it all three years ago.
From the Solstice’s show-car beginning back in 2002, General Motors had been broadly hinting that a fixed-roof version would eventually surface. But in a deft design move, the coupe has been furnished with a one-piece removable roof panel that retains the best features of a hard top, yet allows plenty of sun and fresh air to invade the cockpit when conditions warrant. The detachable covering is constructed from fiberglass sheet-molding attached to a magnesium frame. The new top adds only 22 pounds to the Solstice’s weight, once the convertible top and its clam-shell opening and related hardware have been removed.
It certainly alters the appearance of the Solstice, especially from the sides and a rear end that is now far more sleek and graceful than the roadster’s. Pontiac’s design team has done a masterful job integrating the roof with the rest of the body and making it appear as if it always belonged there in the first place. They also managed to carve out the inside of the roof panel to create maximum head room.
Of special note is the rear hinged glassgate that provides access to a small storage area. In this instance, “small” means there’s no room for golf clubs, a week’s worth of family groceries or a set of luggage. About all that will fit are one or two small overnight bags, a lap-top computer pouch and a few small baubles stowed in a number of compartments beneath the load shelf.
One key item that won’t fit anywhere except actually on the roof is the removable panel. Pontiac will sell you a special storage, but you’ll have to leave it at home when you go open-air cruising. An available folding canvas roof cover will keep the vehicle and its occupants protected from the elements.
The coupe body style will be offered with the 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine as well as the GXP Solstice that comes with a 260-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Interestingly, the turbo achieves a better fuel-economy rating — 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway—than the base motor that’s rated at 19/25 city/highway with the five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional with either engine.
Along with adding the coupe to the lineup, all Solstice models receive standard anti-lock brakes, limited slip differential and stability control for the 2009 model year, the latter feature designed to reduce the likelihood of a skid or spin. Other standard content includes a basic audio system and 18-inch silver-painted alloy wheels.
The GXP adds a performance suspension package, fog lamps, cruise control, remote keyless entry, polished aluminum wheels and power windows, locks and mirrors. Air conditioning, a leather interior and a seven-speaker Monsoon-brand sound system are available, as are chromed wheels and metal-trimmed pedals.
However its optioned, the Solstice coupe should appeal to anyone attracted to GT-style sports cars with knock-out looks and open-air possibilities.