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Thanks to the Auto Show In Motion at Alameda Point in Alameda, California, I finally got to drive a Solstice. FWIW, I never drove faster than 25mph. Keep that in mind...

There was no MX5 for comparison purposes, which would have been ideal for driving them back to back.

The Solstice consistently had the longest line to wait to drive - bar none.

They looked fantastic. Paint looked great. 2 of them had very small panel fit issues such as the trunk lid not being perfectly flush with with the rear fender.

I sat in it and the seat felt perfect. Very comfortable. Lots of room for my 5'-8" 240 lb body. I could not adjust the seat with the door open. Big deal - I'll only do this once. The seat fit me all over and while snug, it never felt confining or tight. A+, baby! I would say it is perfect for spirited driving and with no pressure points, may be good for hours of driving comfort if the seat cushions are not too soft. (Soft is great for short trips, but for long hours driving I like a high density foam.)

I still don't like the grey and tan 2-tone interior, but it is less hideous in person than in pictures. I'll order the blackish leather and have the inserts replaced with the color of my choice.

Getting in and out of the car was easy. Access is wonderful, considering the very low seating. I was a bit surprised to find the seating so low and really loved it once I was tucked in. Somebody did something right because the ergonomics for access are the best of any car this low I've ever experienced. I struggle to get in and out of a Honda Civic, but the Solstice was very easy to get in and out of. THAT is sweating the details! Nice job, Pontiac!

There is one thing I didn't like about the steering wheel, though it is good overall. It has a deep section to it, like a rectangular section with rounded corners. I would MUCH prefer a round section to the wheel, because the deep section was obtrusive and bulky in my hands. Thick is good, but keep it round. At least there were no finger grooves. And the detestable bulky Pontiac signature bulges at 11 and 1 never bothered me, thank goodness.

The steering wheel always obscures part of the guages no matter how you adjust the steering wheel. That is unacceptable. It is such an obvious defect, I can only assume GM decided they had to have guages that big to be readable, even knowing that parts would not be visible. I personally would prefer if the guages were small enough to be unobstructed.

I do not prefer the high beltline. I love the view over the hood though. I am so sick to death of fenders and hoods that fall away to nothing in the name of creating "good visibility" that it was an absolute joy to look out on those high, creased fenders out ahead of the windshield. A++ for the overhood view. The windshield frame was in my way a bit more than I expected (though NOTHING like the Miata), while the mirror was in my way a bit less. I still hate the little XM/Onstar fins on the rear deck, but then my chrome luggage rack will cover them nicely! :lol:

So on with the drive...

The power was underwhelming. I don't understand what I am missing here. Lutz has designed what he knows is the perfect car. Yet I feel like I need more power and especially more torque. What am I missing? I hate 4-bangers anyway, so this car is a compromise for me. The engine has "pep". Torque is acceptable, as I drove one lap of the course in 3rd gear and the engine never lugged below 15 miles per hour. But I can see why the magazines knock the engine for not wanting to rev and for not being a "sports car" engine. It doesn't have that magic feel. It feels like a good compact car engine, not a sports car motor.

I don't agree that the car exhaust sounds good. It sounds very four-bangerish to me. Better than many other 4-bangers but that doesn't get it done. Maybe the cat-back exhaust will give the motor a "big" sound. I am worried it will just make the sound louder.

Maybe my expectations are too high, but I can't help but be seduced by the sound of a small block Chevy. Every time I drove the GTO, that magical burble put a HUGE grin on my face and made me think "I should be buying a Goat, not a Solstice". In fact, if they made a convertible Goat, I would probably be in heaven! Because the power and sound of the silky LS2 simply captivated me in a way that left the Ecotec in the dust. By comparison, the Ecotec was soul-less.

Please don't respond to this point, as I am only too aware a 2.4L four will always pale in comparison to a 6.0L V8 in both power and sound. That is not my point. My point is twofold. First, the car would benefit from more power. The Solstice is an awesome car but the motor is not an awesome motor. Whoever buys a Mallet is going to have one of the ulitmate roadgoing cars made this millenium - bar none. Believe me, I began entertaining the thought and I have not completely dismissed it. Adding an LS2 would make this car the automotive equivalent of winning Powerball. The second point is, I may not be right for the car. As ALMOST PERFECT as the car is, I may be too addicted to the small block V8 to accept a car with a 4-banger. I may end up with a GTO or a Mustang GT convertible or a new Camaro. It's all up in the air...

So what is the point? I think the turbocharged motor is a must for me. I am going to need it. So I am very glad I didn' t buy a base Solstice and REALLY wish it was available with a nice HO 6-cylinder. FWIW, I think the 255 HP Cadillac motor would be PERFECT here! But then I might as well wish they were free, as long as I'm dreaming. (All JMHO.)

Then again, maybe I should buy a base solstice, drive it until the motor blows and by then there may be a kit to drop the Cadillac motor in the Solstice. Because, like the chocolate & peanut butter of Reese's fame, these two just belong together, which also describes the Solstice's ride and handling.

The handling was outstanding. I kept pushing the car and not a squeek. Not a hair out of place. The thing just goes where you aim it whether or not you pick the right line. The tires hang on forever. The car turns in quickly and keeps turning as long as you want it to. When you think you are in trouble or you are out of turning ability, you turn the wheel a bit more and the car just tracks tighter with no drama whatsoever. On the course, I never could engage either lock on the steering wheel. Didn't need it.

Ride was exceptionally good. Thanks to the crappy location, we not only had the rubber potholes but we had genuine broken and bulging pavement, and a nice patch of gravel on the road as well. Nothing upset the car's ride or handling. The ride was stiff but absorbed everything on the coarse. The GTO was punishing by comparison. Body lean was non-existent at my low speeds. I think this car will be very comfortable for extended road trips.

The steering was just about ideal. At first it felt heavier than I expected and not quite the go-cart feel I was hoping for. But the weight and the feedback of the steering tell me that it will be communicative at higher speeds, when you need it. So the lack of an overassist while I crept around the course at 20-25 mph was forgivable and even desirable. It certainly had a very quick ratio. I didn't have to work hard at all in the chicanes, as the car quickly darted back and forth with some effort but not a lot of motion required by my hands. None of this, "hand over hand" stuff of family sedans and SUVs.

The brakes were just fine. The cluch was light. I never heard the 1-2 clunk, but then I was revving the motor up and my hearing is not very good anyway.

So what's the bottom line.

I can't explain it, but the car just feels like a high-dollar luxury car. Sitting in that car, I wouldn't be jealous of someone in a Corvette, an XK convertible or a 500SL convertible. The car just about sold me and while I still want one, the motor is just about the only thing giving me 2nd thoughts. The car has NO storage. When you think of what you do on a daily basis, this car is going to require a huge sacrifice of anyone who owns it. The non-existent trunk is the worst of it, as the lack of cabin storage will be merely annoying.

Did I say the car looks expensive? Up close and personal it looks fabulous, and sitting behind the dashboard it looks like a million? So sweet to see them float along in motion. This car has EVERYTHING! Well, everything except the small-block V8 experience. I guess you really can't have your cake and eat it to...
 

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JIm....nice job. Would you comment on adjustments to the stock tires and wheels. Is 17" summer onlys going in the right direction? What are your thoughts? Quickly processing your general posting truly leads me to believe that if you give in on the ponies and grunt, you'll always feel shortchanged or maybe unfulfilled with the current setup. It would be a pleasure to hear the note of that short block chevrolet emanating from the Sol.
 

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I still have to drive a Solstice before I am conclusively decide what to do. But your engine comments are a cause for concern, because everything the 2.4 Ecotech lacks, the 3.0 L BMW L6 has. With 225hp, 216lb-ft torque the silky smooth engine purrs around town, but when asked responds immediately with a purposeful growl. Not the rumble of a V-8 that you love, but that nice no nonsense jaguaresque L6 growl.

It has been down below freezing here the last two nights so the appeal of a roadster is definitely waning for '05. Plus I think I already have the car I have always wanted.

If you see a Steel Blue BMW driver smiling and giving you the Solstice wave don't be too surprised. ;)
 

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Nice review jimbo.

On issue with the fit by the trunk...if it was the trunk line along top then just reclose the trunk...many times it's off line a bit and needs a reclose with slam to get it to catch right.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
birdliver said:
JIm....nice job. Would you comment on adjustments to the stock tires and wheels. Is 17" summer onlys going in the right direction? What are your thoughts? Quickly processing your general posting truly leads me to believe that if you give in on the ponies and grunt, you'll always feel shortchanged or maybe unfulfilled with the current setup. It would be a pleasure to hear the note of that short block chevrolet emanating from the Sol.
I never drove the car over 25mph so it is difficult to say if the car needs summer tires. It is so over-tired as it is, I think the RS-As will give plenty of grip way above legal speeds. My desire is to reduce unsprung weight for better ride and handling, but the car as is has phenomenal ride and handling, and I don't know if I would bother with it now. My biggest concern is getting more low down torque from the 2.4. Supercharger, anyone?
 

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mceb said:
Nice review jimbo.

On issue with the fit by the trunk...if it was the trunk line along top then just reclose the trunk...many times it's off line a bit and needs a reclose with slam to get it to catch right.
The fit issue was the rear left corner where the rear fender meets the rear fascia. But it was very minor. It was just a tad lower than the rear fender. Noticeable, but not remarkable.

Who knows which cars these were, or how early they were produced. The top had the wrinkles in the morning but they almost disappeared later in the day. They were production cars based on the position of the GM badge on the fenders, but they could have been very early production. Fitment was extremely good overall and I saw no noteworthy fitment issue on any of the 6 cars I looked at (4 for driving, a spare, and the one out front for viewing and sitting in only.)

Sure hope everybody makes it to Alameda for a run in these cars! I went back this morning and drove them until the line was running to 25-30 people. I'll go again 1st thing tomorrow and drive them for an hour or so until the line is long again.

I really need to decide which way to go. The Solstice has EVERYTHING I am looking for, except solid low-RPM torque and accompanying sound. I know the Solstice is the best car to replace my motorcycle for short and long road-trips, but I really have fallen hard for the Goat. What a GREAT car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :willy: :grouphug: :yesnod: :cool: :cheers: :agree: :thumbs: :smash: :blush:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
birdliver said:
JIm.... Quickly processing your general posting truly leads me to believe that if you give in on the ponies and grunt, you'll always feel shortchanged or maybe unfulfilled with the current setup. It would be a pleasure to hear the note of that short block chevrolet emanating from the Sol.
I am really having a tough time deciding. If I were made of money, I could be a very very happy boy with a Solstice in the garage and a GTO in the driveway. They both are awesome cars, but different. The base Sol would be fine for me, because I would always have the Goat when I had to have that pulse-racing feeling of stump-pulling torque, and the music it comes with.

But I live in the real world. And as much as I HATE to admit it, I may be better off with a Mustang GT convertible that is topless, handles well and has a strong V8 motor (with good sound) in place of trying to buy a Solstice and a Goat. The problem here is, I am being spoiled and I don't want to compromise.

I know the Mustang GT convertible would be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. It won't pull, handle or ride as well as the IRS Goat. And it won't be anything as good of a topless experience as the Solstice. And it won't even look as good as a Mustang GT, since cutting the top off the Mustang ruins what fine looks it does have, because it is fairly ordinary looking beneath the beltline, save only for the somewhat classic mustang front end.

Mustang fastbacks have always looked much better than the verts.

Now I know why their is a market for cars like Jaguars and Aston Martins. They get the gorgeous looks, a fantastic topless experience and still have the V8 torque with the kind of exhaust note that stops your breating when you hear it and raises your pulse.

I'll stop whining now... :blush:

You know that life is good when your biggest problem is which fantastic road car to buy for a toy.

Life is good! :patriot:
 

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Jimbo, I wish I would have seen you out there. We could BS'd about the ride.

I have some different views. I brought my friends that drive foreign cars and they were not happy with the interior fit and finish at all. We all agreed that it struggled in for a 20k car. It wasn't that it was plastic, but the QUALITY of or texture of the plastic that made it unappealing.

I also told them to took for the 1 to 2 "clunk". Did that in the staging and returning lanes. Like clockwork, we all heard it. It is more than I would be willing to put up with.

I loved the way it drove though! I kept it in second the whole time, actually took the hard right way too wide and got a "warning" because I hit like 4 cones. I was hauling ass in that thing and I can't complain about its handling, acceleration, or suspension.

I wanted to believe they were preproduction cars because the fit and finish was so poor on all the ones we saw.

I'll be biding my time for the future cars once they get all the "wrinkles" out, pun intended.

Jimbo. The GTO is an awesome car, but apples and oranges. Tomorrow listen for the clunk, it is very noticeable. Keep it in second. ;)
 

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silversolstice said:
Tomorrow listen for the clunk, it is very noticeable. Keep it in second. ;)
Is this your experience from driving a lot of Sols, or just one? There are many here that say they don't hear a clunk in their cars. It would take more than a clunk to keep me away. ;)
 

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I was driving my wife around in the 330 yesterday, so I had to behave. At one point there was a right hand curve from one 40 mph road to another. I didn't downshift from fourth, so by the time I was starting to accelerate the rpm wasdown to 1500. But as soon as I depressed the accelerator the car pulled back up to 2000 rpm and 40 mph without hesitation.

You have to love torque. This is why I do not like the S2000. High rpm hp does not replace low-mid rpm torque, at least not for daily driving.
 

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Is this your experience from driving a lot of Sols, or just one? There are many here that say they don't hear a clunk in their cars.
2 out of 2.

I am not saying its not an awesome car. But I am waiting for the improvements. Its not an easy decision by any means. If I was in my 40's and had extra cash for a second car then I wouldn't hesitate. As it stands, I can't justify hefty car payment for a car that I will not be ABSOLUTELY happy with EVERYTIME I drive it.

I will be jealous everytime I see one drive by me on the road. It's like a gorgeous girl with daddy issues. Its fun the whole time, but there will be some things that drive you crazy.
 
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