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This is my story of my Solstice interaction. I'm a dealer in northeast WI.

Enjoy! :)

Solstice and Torrent Event
By 1990 Turbo Grand Prix

Yesterday, July 21, 2005, was my first experience behind the wheel of the 2006 Pontiac Solstice and Torrent. Skeptical and excited were the feelings going into the event for the two new hot Pontiacs. After the training, I left impressed at the direction Pontiac is taking though there is still much that can and should be done.

First, the Torrent.

Let me start by saying that though the Torrent is a slightly restyled Equinox in physical appearance, the Torrent lives up to the hype as a “Driver’s SUV”. Now it must be said that with the 3.4 V6, it’s no rocket ship. But in comparison to its major competitors, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento, the power figure of 185hp means nothing as it’s far faster than those in its class. Period.

Now for the claim of “Driver’s SUV”, this comes in through the handling and road feel. Though I’ve never made remarks about the Equinox online, I do like it, but steering feel and road feel through the car felt disconnected to me. And the interior trim left much to be wanted. For the vast majority of people who have purchased one, it never is an issue. But to the enthusiast such as myself and many on this message board, it felt needing something. That’s where the new Torrent shines. Its electric power steering has been tuned in nearly perfect as can be, feeling hydraulic in its operation. Body roll and road feel are a near perfect balance between ride and handling. The new interior trim pieces and gauges along with the sharp new corporate three spoke steering wheel make a much better, higher quality look inside.

In all, its looks, road feel, and power steering adjustments make this more than a warmed over Equinox. Though I still would like to see a 3.9 V6 stuffed under the hood, the way it feels when you drive makes it a true Pontiac SUV.

The fact whether or not the vehicle should exist or not is still up in the air to me. Not because a Pontiac SUV is an oxymoron, but because rather than having two average selling SUV’s, why not make the already good selling Equinox better with the changes to the Torrent? Time will tell how good a decision this model is, but in the meantime, I know which one I’d own.

Now, the Solstice.

After all the reading and studying I’ve done on the Solstice, I could hardly wait to get myself behind the wheel of Pontiac’s “Sexy, Gorgeous two seat roadster”. Seeing the line up of fifteen or so Solstices, in all colors, immediately made my mouth water. I could barely sleep waiting for the road trip with the hot new roadster.

Being that this is no warmed over anything, I was curious as to how this car would ride and handle, in addition to its acceleration, of course. First, I’ll go on record of saying how tight these cars felt for being pre-production cars. Going down the road, the Solstice felt tight and surefooted and kept a straight line down the road. It’s handling was go-cart like in its ability to zig and zag around tight corners. Very fun indeed! Speaking of corners, it cornered flat as Nevada. Body roll wasn’t a problem in the Solstice, as it shouldn’t be.

For power, the 2.4 VVT Ecotec proves to be a quick motor in the Solstice so long as you keep it in its power band, which is quite higher up on the scale than my LS1 T/A (duh!) to which I couldn’t help but compare to. Clutch take up in our preproduction cars was a bit higher up than I like, acting much as the new 2005 C6 does. Its smoothness, like all manual transmissions, depends on how smooth you are, but wasn’t as even as the take up on my 2002 T/A. The shifter is snick-snick quick, and gear changes and smooth and sure.

When you start rolling along, its acceleration is adequate, but not neck snapping. I had to remind myself that this is a sporting car, and not a drag racer. A turboed Ecotec motor would do wonders for the Solstice. Again though, if you keep it in the higher RPM’s, you’ll have a blast, and the exhaust note’s not too bad either, kind of like an ornery hornet.

The looks are pure enjoyment. When you are in the driver’s seat, you are greeted with clear gauges and a hood-line to die for. Again, the three spoke steering wheel has an excellent feel in your hand with a direct feel to the road. Ergo wise, everything is placed where you would want it to be and well within reach. The standard sound system did a good job, but the up-level system with the sub behind the seat is better.

Raising and lowering the top is so simple and fun to watch, you may do it just for fun! The looks with the top up are sharp too. Rearward vision, though not great, is adequate. Trust me; you’ll only want to look forward at that hood anyways.

For gripes, one has to put into perspective the price and mission of this car. Anyone expecting a Corvette for $19,995 will be disappointed. Little things like the side mounted fixed-mast antennae, XM antennae on the trunk, lack of gut wrenching torque and dual outlet exhaust, were the only things that really made my list of things I’d change to this car as it sits now. But changing these items would raise the price and in the process, lower the appeal of the product.

But if you understand that you are buying one of America’s hottest roadsters for the dollar, this is your ticket.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Is that all?” Why, no, it’s not. On hand, they also had a 2006 Grand Prix GXP for display. Why do I bring this up? For those who gripe about the interior being stark and all black lacking any appeal, the refinements for 2006 bring out the GP’s interior in a new light. Chrome rings around vents and door latches, satin chrome on the door handles, perforation on the steering wheel and shift knob, amongst others help make the GP stand out over lesser Pontiacs. This V8 Pontiac may have to be my next driver.

Also on hand was a G6 GTP coupe, but those you can see at your local dealers now.
And lastly, when you thought this experience couldn’t be topped, it did. For me at least.

While the training was going on, an Oldsmobile collectors meeting was starting to gather. The most beautiful Oldsmobiles in the world were here to attend the show. Amazing 88’s, Rockets, convertibles, everything you can think of. But the kicker came when the GM trucks came in hauling in some of the most prized Oldsmobiles in GM’s collection.

Three that stick out were a 1911 Olds with; get this, a straight six with a displacement of 707 cubic inches! This Olds, we were told, could reach 100mph back in 1911, simply an amazing machine. The second of note was an Oldsmobile hot rod with a 700+hp 4.0 Aurora V8. And lastly, the final Oldsmobile produced, a 2004 Final 500 Oldsmobile Alero signed under the hood by all the GM workers involved.

From that point on, I made an oath to do what I can to ensure a future in Oldsmobile, no matter what. If you were there, you’d know what I mean.

Thanks for reading.

Lew
 

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Swinging Steak said:
Lew,

Thanks! Any pics you can share?

Steak
Sadly, all my pictures were taken with a disposable camera right before we took off. If I get a chance when they are developed, I'll have someone scan and email them to me so I can post them for everyone to see.

:)
 

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Thanks for the review. You made me very jealous - and happy. Especially about the go-cart handling and the "to die for" over hood view. I'm sick of all the sloped-hood cab-forward cars that have no overhood view but the road ahead. That's OK for a Porsche 911, but I prefer to see the hood out in front of me when I'm driving.

It sounds like you are happy with the car with so few changes you would make. I guess a 225 HP V6 is the only change I would want, but a 250 HP turbocharged 2.2L makes a great second choice! :thumbs:

Thanks.
 

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jimbo said:
It sounds like you are happy with the car with so few changes you would make. I guess a 225 HP V6 is the only change I would want, but a 250 HP turbocharged 2.2L makes a great second choice! :thumbs:
I have hopes set for 2007MY.
 

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Isn't this the first drive review we've seen since the mules a year ago. THis is what I've been waiting for, thanks a bunch. Can't wait to see more of these....and oh yeah....see a Solstice for the first time :lol:

just realized, there was no comment on the trunk, I can't believe a review of the Solstice didn't get one word of mention on the trunk, that will be a one and only time thing I'm sure.
 

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RODEO said:
Isn't this the first drive review we've seen since the mules a year ago.
Nope, there's been a bunch of people reporting on drives over last week or so. Getting lost in our 50,000 posts. Maybe I'll gather them all up somewhere.
 

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RODEO said:
Isn't this the first drive review we've seen since the mules a year ago. THis is what I've been waiting for, thanks a bunch. Can't wait to see more of these....and oh yeah....see a Solstice for the first time :lol:

just realized, there was no comment on the trunk, I can't believe a review of the Solstice didn't get one word of mention on the trunk, that will be a one and only time thing I'm sure.
You know, after I wrote it I said to my father, "I didn't mention the trunk space. Augh, they know it's tight."

It is compact, but enough for a short trip with a couple of duffel bags with the top down. Not spacious by any means.
 

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mceb said:
Nope, there's been a bunch of people reporting on drives over last week or so. Getting lost in our 50,000 posts. Maybe I'll gather them all up somewhere.
Good idea. I expected more response to my Driving Miss Aggressive because of the video, but I think it got a bit lost.
 

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mceb said:
Nope, there's been a bunch of people reporting on drives over last week or so. Getting lost in our 50,000 posts. Maybe I'll gather them all up somewhere.
Great Idea. I was virtually offline for a month until a week ago (due to DSL problem), and then on everyday since - and this was the first I saw. I'd like very much to see the other posts if you could do that, THANKS!
 

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Here's link to my posts about driving as well:
http://www.solsticeforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3426

We're seeing a lot of the same points being noted by separate drivers on the forum here. These should put a lot of concerns to rest, at least partially:

*Good Fit and Finish
*Strong 1st Gear, then it wants to rev.
*Outstanding grip and handling with no body roll.
*Great sound out of the Ecotec exhaust.
*Shifter is good, with short, if not microscopic throws.
*Clutch feels pretty good.
*We all want one so bad we can smell the Carnauba Wax....
 

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Thanks Remo, I just had a look at that thread and videos, very cool. I can't wait to test drive one, and match one against my MSM. More importantly, I can't wait to see how the FI version does in a year or so. FINALLY, some cool stuff happening in the Solstice World!
 

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Carnuba Wax

Remo,

You jogged my memory! I've been wanting to ask the question to this forum regarding waxing products for the solstice. On my Z3, I used to use a product heavily favored on the vette forum called Zaino Bros. However, I have heard alot of talk about the wax not being strong enough...any suggestions, I want this car to have ultra high gloss shine.
 

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I used zaino on my elise which was my daily driver, the zaino is a pain o initial application, but I found it to hold up extremely well if applied properly, ie several VERY thin coats allowed to dry 30 minutes between coats. This stuff is the best. I found the zaino to give exc. shine. It's far superior to the mail order zymol (not the storebought junk zymol, the obscenely expensive mail only stuff!)in terms of longevity.

Chris
 

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Hey Lew! I am just down the road between Oconto and Peshtigo. I assume your from Gustman's? Get up to the mall pretty often. I'll swing by with the Sol some time now that it looks like it should get here in August. :willy:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
injunnuity said:
1990 TGP where was your test drive with these cars? I live in Wisconsin would love to see one personally :cool:
We were in Oconomowoc. Nice place called the Olympia Resort.

PAS22 said:
Hey Lew! I am just down the road between Oconto and Peshtigo. I assume your from Gustman's? Get up to the mall pretty often. I'll swing by with the Sol some time now that it looks like it should get here in August.
You bet! Where you get your first 1000 order through?
 

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Way To Go 1990 GTP!

Thanks for the cool review. As far as somewhat unimpressive power is concerned, that's what you're going to get with only 177 ponies under the hood. For me, it's well worth the wait until the 2007 model year to get the real engine (hopefully around 250hp). Life's short, why settle? Speaking of "short", since the Solstice is a pure roadster (at least before the automatic is offered), why even question its trunk space. I've noticed lots of dudes in here concerned with this issue. If "trunk space" even once crosses one's mind as a matter of concern, you're really barking up the wrong tree with this car. That would be like checking out a hotter than hot stripper from Scores (nightclub in New York), and asking if she had a mind. Who cares? If yoy want a mind, date a librarian. If you want trunk space, buy a Town Car.
But that's just my opinion. Later!
 

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1990 TGP said:
You bet! Where you get your first 1000 order through?
Chris Augustine is a friend of mine, and I have been a steady customer for about fifteen years, so was able to get one of the first 1000 ordered through him. Did anyone order through Marinette? If they did they are keeping pretty quiet about it!
 
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