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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Blazing acceleration from GXP model
Automatic transmission has no tangible acceleration penalty vs. the manual
The hot version is actually more frugal than the base model
Road and Track
Car and Driver
The 2009 Pontiac Solstice is a purebred sportscar, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that it offers thrills in spades.
The two trim levels of the Pontiac Solstice offer vastly different driving experiences, thanks to their vastly different engines. Edmunds reviewers state that "a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 177 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque powers the base Solstice, while the turbocharged four in the GXP models kicks the power output to 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque." The naturally aspirated variant of the engine is capable, and Edmunds reports that "it goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds," but the real thrills come from the turbocharged powerplant in the Pontiac Solstice GXP. ConsumerGuide says that the souped-up versions clock in at "less than 5.5 seconds 0-60," and Automobile Magazine is shocked to report that it boasts "a specific output exceeding that of every turbocharged engine on the market save Porsche's new 911 and Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution."
Sadly, the transmission options for the 2009 Pontiac Solstice can't live up to the fantastic engines that sit under the hood. ConsumerGuide reviewers are disappointed with the available five-speed manual, which they say "has notchy, imprecise shift action," though on the positive side, they note that "the automatic transmission has no tangible acceleration penalty vs. the manual."
Another performance aspect worth loving about the 2009 Pontiac Solstice is its respectable fuel economy ratings. According to the EPA, the turbocharged 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP actually returns better mileage, at 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway, while the base Solstice has a slight fuel economy penalty, at 19 mpg city and 25 on the highway.
Aside from a pair of capable, grin-inducing engines, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice offers impressive handling and ride characteristics. Car and Driver reviewers rave about the "sparkling handling," although they point out that the Pontiac Solstice is "too heavy to match the vivid immediacy ... of the Mazda MX-5." Edmunds says that the "2009 Pontiac Solstice exhibits little body roll and substantial cornering grip," which "makes the car enjoyable on a twisty road, but hard-core enthusiasts will notice that the heavy-handed steering lacks feedback." Edmunds remarks that "braking performance is respectable, with a stop from 60 mph coming in the 120-foot range."
If you're looking for an agile sportscar to brighten up the commute, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice might be for you.