First Drive in a Pontiac Solstice

After falling in love with the new Mazda MX-5 (Miata), I had really been looking forward to driving its closest competitor, the new Pontiac Solstice. Now that I’ve driven the Solstice, I don’t think Mazda has a lot to worry about.

 

OK, that may be a bit harsh, but I like a car that not only is fun to drive, but is actually usable on a day-to-day basis. I don’t think that could work with the Solstice.

 

When I got into the car last night, the first thing I noticed was that there was no place that I could find to put my cell phone. Typically there is space somewhere in the center console or door where you can store small items such as a phone, loose change or a piece of paper with directions. The only storage inside the Solstice is a small pocket in the front of the seat, the standard glove box and a small storage cubby between the seat backs.

 

The trunk is not much more usable. If you are going to drive with the top down, the top takes up most of the trunk. I was able to fit my computer bag in there, and that was it. This car could not be used to get groceries unless you put the bags on the passenger seat. And I don’t see any possible way a suitcase could fit in the trunk, even if the top was not down. No weekend trips with a friend in the Solstice unless you pack very light.

 

Contrary to this, the Miata has plenty of storage in the cabin, and the top does not take up any of the trunk space.

 

The top is relatively simple to operate, but you still have to get out of the car, pop the trunk, manually fold the top in and close the trunk lid. The Miata is much simpler – the top can be raised or lowered manually without ever getting out of the car.

 

But its not all bad. The Solstice looks great, especially in black. Its well balanced, fun to drive, and has a nice exhaust sound. The engine is not super powerful, but its good enough. Pontiac has already announced a more powerful GTP version will be available later this year. Transmission is a bit clunky, which is unfortunate.

 

Priced just under $20,000, this is a great little roadster. But if you want to haul more than a small briefcase, you might want to look at something more practical.

Perry Stern