Ah summer: It always goes by way too fast. Once the end of August rolls around, I yearn for it to last just a bit longer. As if summer’s end isn’t dismal enough, this year it is magnified because I am marking major milestones; my youngest child heads to kindergarten, my oldest starts high school and in a few short months I am celebrating a very big birthday. So a bright red convertible is just the thing I need to bring me out of the late summer doldrums.
The timing of my test drive could not be more perfect for me and my 14-year-old son. I am able to drop him off and pick him up from school in this “suh-w-eeet” car for nearly the whole first week of high school. Not only does the “looking for a new car” crowd approach us, but so does the “looking for a new boyfriend” group, pretty groovy for a mom trying to score points with her teenage son.
The look of the Pontiac Solstice reminds me of an old-school muscle car, yet it also has the flair of a European roadster. It is a great looking car with styling that appeals to both men and women. The Pontiac Solstice draws stares from other envious drivers who have never seen this hottie before – a little attention is never a bad thing, right? The five-speed manual transmission is smooth and effortless. This little roadster provides tight road-hugging steering and a sporty ride even though its four-cylinder base engine doesn’t exactly pack a powerful punch. The engine is adequate, but really, who wants merely adequate when you are driving something that looks like it should regularly hit the century mark? C’mon, give me thrill… maybe even a sweet little turbo charger!
Of course this is not a family car – I would contend this is not even a car for a singleton, unless they have several other cars in their personal fleet. I realize the extreme size limitations of this car on the first day of my test drive. I plan to take my sister to the airport for a weeklong business trip. I push the “trunk” release button on the key-fob and discover that even her carry-on bag will not fit in the space. Don’t even get me started on her other bag, an ample suitcase; it wouldn’t even fit in the passenger seat. The Solstice trunk has enough room for a handbag when the top is up, but the trunk’s main purpose is to house the car’s soft top (ridiculously manual) when it is down. So the bottom line is, if you have a big purse or computer bag, don’t plan on bringing a passenger unless they are willing to ride with your stuff on their lap!
The ergonomics of this car are a big letdown. I cannot find a driving position that allows me good visibility because there is no height adjustment on the seat and the pedals do not move towards me. I have to pull the seat uncomfortably close to the steering wheel to reach the pedals. Once the seat is moved forward it is very difficult to find my seat belt without turning all the way around to find its origin. Another inconvenience is the lack of automatic door locks. The car’s doors lock as I drive, but there is no button to unlock them when I arrive at my destination. A simple pull of the handle does not pop the lock so I must turn around (again) to manually pull up the lock button. I think the last time I had to do that was when I had a crush on Matt Dillon and a mixed tape (yes, I mean a cassette) playing in my car!
Overall, the Pontiac Solstice is a very cool car, it looks awesome and driving a convertible is always fun. With that said, this car is not practical in any way. With a base price starting around 22k the Solstice will probably appeal to those who have a little cash to burn on a second or third set of wheels and light travelers with no luggage.
*For more information on the Pontiac Solstice and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 0
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 2
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not at all
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times