I'm what some folks might call a gearhead - I've owned dozens and dozens of cars from a wide variety of manufacturers over the years, but I have never owned a small sports car. Coupes, sedans, even a ...
I'm what some folks might call a gearhead - I've owned dozens and dozens of cars from a wide variety of manufacturers over the years, but I have never owned a small sports car. Coupes, sedans, even a '67 Cadillac limo, but never something tiny like a Solstice. I bought it for a change of pace... Here's what I can tell you:
The GXP is nutty fast. I've owned LOTS of turbocharged cars, including a Saab 9-3 which *essentially* shares the GXP's engine. The direct-injected Ecotec in the Solstice is fantastic. Tiny turbo lag followed by huge power all over the place. This engine is exactly why I chose the Solstice over other similar roadster-type cars.
I test drove an automatic and it was fine, but in a car like this you really need a manual. I ended up with the 5-speed, and I'm generally pleased by the clutch & shift action. It could be a little better, but it's a good combination of feel/performance between comfort and sportiness - and better than the T56 in my CTS-V by leaps and bounds.
It handles great, with surprising turn-in for a factory car. Mine has HORRIBLE MXV4 tires which are the opposite of sporty, and the car is still very responsive. Once spring rolls around I'll replace them, and I expect wonderful things. 245/45-18 tires all around on a 3000lb car = sticky, even when the tires are cheap! The chassis is fairly rigid - not new Miata or S2000 good, but above average for a convertible. The flex it does have shows up in creaks in the top and shake in the hood, maybe a little squirminess when the suspension is loaded up. Could be better, but it's fine - and probably addressed by the aftermarket.
The interior is, well, cheap. Cheap plastic bordered by cheap plastic and accented by cheap plastic. The "chrome" surrounds on the binnacle look nice, but catch street lights and stop lights as you drive by. The gauges are so deep and so blandly colored they can be hard to see in the shadows of the binnacle. Some switches are in what odd places. Nothing about the interior makes you think "expensive," but everything works, switchgear is all pretty positive, the seats/steering wheel/driving position are all very comfortable for me at 6' tall, and I will take the 260hp direct-injected turbo engine with dumb window switches and cheap dimmer control over a wheezy Miata or peaky S2000 pretty much any day. The Onstar-equipped rear view mirror is HUGE for a car of this size, and does a fine job of blocking out the entire passenger side of the windshield. That, I'd say, is my only actual annoyance with the interior!
The Monsoon stereo is fine - it's boomy like all Monsoons seem to be, but decent for a factory job. The fact that it plays MP3s from its 6-disc changer and has an aux-in port make it more than tolerable. The non-Monsoon stereos are not adequate for a drop-top I think (easily drowned out by wind noise!), so I'd look for a Monsoon-equipped car.
The car has zero storage - a glovebox that won't even fit the owner's manual, no door pockets, and just a small square box between the seats. The trunk is preposterous. The cupholders awkward. My advice to all drivers: YOU DON'T NEED TO TAKE YOUR LIVING ROOM WITH YOU WHEN YOU DRIVE SOMEWHERE. A driver's license, a credit card for gas, and the keys are about it. Leave the magazines, snacks, 44oz sodas, change of clothes, and all that other stuff at home!
Overall: The Solstice GXP trades some refinement and ergonomics for huge power, huge tires, and some out-there styling when compared to its contemporaries. That was a trade I was willing to make, and I haven't once regretted the purchase. The only similar car I drove and generally liked better was the BMW Z4, and I could not get over its general appearance inside & out or the stigma associated with being a modern BMW driver. :)