By Joe Wiesenfelder on Tue Mar 18 21:20:33 GMT-06:00 2008
More than six years after its concept debut alongside the Solstice roadster, the Solstice coupe is a real product. It looks pretty good in person. Even though the rear quarterpanels are the same as those on the roadster, the fastback roofline looks organic and well-integrated.
I removed the targa top, which attaches via two levers in front and one in the back. Though it's 31 pounds, it's a bit wide. I was able to handle it by myself, but some people will require a helper on the other side. They'll also require a garage to leave it in. Unfortunately, the roof panel doesn't fit into the cargo area as the Chevy Corvette's does, so you pretty much have to leave it at home and hope it doesn't rain. Pontiac's solution is an optional fabric roof panel that can be carried in the back, just in case. There wasn't one to play with, but the accessory should be available when the car goes on sale in January or February of 2009.
The roof panel isn't the only thing that won't fit in the cargo hatch; where the convertible has a famously cramped horseshoe-shaped depression under its trunklid (and that's only when the soft top is up), the coupe improves things only a little bit. Being a hatchback helps, but with the exception of some modest bins in the cargo floor, all the space is above the occupants' shoulder level. Technically, this isn't a safe way to carry cargo in case of a collision.
The coupe is slightly more aerodynamic than the roadster, but that's unlikely to improve gas mileage much. The car is only about 20 pounds heavier than the roadster, so Pontiac says to expect similar EPA figures. The base roadster gets 19 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. (Remarkably, the turbocharged GXP gets better mileage — 28 mpg on the highway.) Though the auto show coupe is a GXP, a base model will also be available. More photos below which we'll continue to update.
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe