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I got a rare opportunity today to get a test drive in a new Solstice at a local dealership, and thought I would share my thoughts on the car with the forum. I tried to break it down into a few categories to keep it organized.

Top appearance/operation: I have been a fairly big critic of the top, mostly for the waves in it, and a little for the operation. So I will start here. The waves in the buttresses on this car were far less noticeable than they were on the preproduction Sol's they had shipped around on the ride and drive (I saw them in person). I am not sure if that is because of a conscious effort on GM's part to make them less noticeable, or whether it was because of the weather. 46 degrees and damp. :( (Two days ago it was 80 and sunny, what lousy timing!)

Anyway, the overall fit and appearance of the top were pretty good. I was pleased to see that after the ride and drive cars, which I thought had tops that appeared a little sub standard. Operation was far quicker and easier than I would have thought too. Essentially, push a button (to open trunk, pop up buttresses), throw the header latch, fold it back, and your done. It was quick, and probably most importantly was that it is simple. It still would be nice not to have to walk around to fasten the buttresses, but that is not a big deal.

Trunk space: I bet with the top up, overall space is really close to what I have in my Fiero. The Fiero's trunk is deep, long and skinny so it may be shaped better, especially for something like a full size golf bag, but neither is going to be ideal for any home depot runs. I also felt it would be useable on a short roadtrip or weekend getaway with soft sided bags. The top would have to be up on the highway to use the space for luggage, but at least it wouldn't be impossible to take this car on the road.

The cockpit: Sitting in the car confirmed my impressions from a visual inspection at the ride and drive event that there is not as much room in the cockpit as my Fiero. The center tunnel and center stack impede more on legroom, and the overall space for your legs is a little more cramped. The dash also sits higher and closer to you. The roof when up (I did not drive it top down) sits low on the side windows, and made me feel like I had to consciously look down to see out them. The windshield header also seemed a little low, although it was still above my eye level so forward visibility was not impeded by it. I am 6'0". The steering wheel is awesome (I have driven other cars with this wheel, the G6, and Saturn Vue) and I love it! It is real meaty to hold and not very big in diameter making it feel very sporty. The shifter is in a great spot and at a great height.

On the road, cockpit impressions: The first thing I noticed was that the side mirrors seemed to be on the small side. I am very used to using only mirrors to check blind spots from driving the Fiero (you only see solid buttresses if you look over your shoulder in that car) and I would prefer a little larger mirror surface area in the Sol to give me more confidence when checking blind spots. Especially when the top is up. I also liked the appearance of the gauges, but I found it a little difficult to discern my exact speed with a quick glance. That might only be because they are white faced, and I am used to black face. The size of the gauge, numerals, and dial were certainly big enough to see. I think I would get used to it and it wouldn't be a problem. The outward visibility is a little different too, in that all the windows are short, the roof and windshield header low. With the top up it felt a little like I was looking out of a tank. However, I find a lot of new cars are like this. The HHR, G6, Charger/300/Magnum, etc.

I found the view out the front interesting too, because the high point of the hood seemed to be in the middle at the wheel arches. It was strange seeing the wheel arches out there. It made me feel like there was a TON of hood in front of me. Again, I think it is something that a few miles behind the wheel would cure, as it was just different. On the other hand, it would make it much easier to get a feel for the exact corners and width of the car for maneuvering in tight circumstances.

On the road, driving impressions. Saved the best for last! The salesman took me down a moderately twisty two laner for a couple miles with a 55 MPH speed limit so I could "open it up a little" (his words)
I must say, what fun! Acceleration IMO was very good. It is no Mustang GT, but it is quick on the road. Faster than my Fiero. The engine felt powerful throughout the rev range (I did not redline it, but I didn't baby it either). It gave a good seat of the pants kick under throttle. This also rewarded with a very nice engine note. I thought the engine note of the car sounded very good. It was certainly aggressive without being overly noisy. Under throttle, it had a good bark, and was quite while cruising. Under throttle, it was certainly louder than I suspected. I am also pleased with the tone which is more of a bigger engine bark than a smaller engine (4 cylinder) blat. My congrats to the engineers who worked on the exhaust! The shifter was very nice. Throws were short (we all knew that) and crisp. I did have a little trouble finding the point on the clutch pedal when the clutch engaged in first, and had not really mastered a start from a standing stop. I would either come close to stalling the car, or gave it a few more RPM's and slipped the clutch into it a little more. I chalk this up to most of my manual experience being with a Fiero, where the pickup point is always near the floor, and the pedal is those cars is rather stiff. I am sure I would get used to the clutch with a little more experience. The pedal pressure was nice, not too light, but not knee busting heavy either. I am also glad that they decided on a 5 speed and not a 6 speed. The engine seemed very responsive over enough of the RPM range that an extra gear would just be overkill, and make you shift when it wasn't really necessary or skip a gear.

Through the twists I thought the car was excellent. The steering seemed very communicative. I was almost surprised at the level of feedback knowing it was a power assisted rack. I am not sure if this was intended, but the steering feel reminded me a little of my 88 Fiero. Not as harsh over bumps, but by no means numb at all. The car also begged to turn. It wanted to be thrown into turns. It felt nimble, without any significant body roll, and inspired confidence. I wasn't close to even 9/10's, but it certainly felt like it could handle it without problem. I also noticed no chassis flex or cowl shake at all. For a convertable, it felt absolutely rock of Gibralter solid! Very impressive! Yet it had a good ride too. Certainly not harsh over bumps.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with it! I now know I could certainly live with the cabin and trunk space of this car, and I am more than pleased with the performance. The buyer who craves straight line speed may not like it. It won’t plant you in the seat like a Mustang GT will, but IMO this car is still far more fun to drive considering the total package. (I am comparing to a 2003 Mustang GT I have driven).

If you have one on the way, I am sure you will be very pleased with it. It is just awesome! In fact, I was so impressed that I cannot even imagine how much fun the rumored GXP will be with more power, and hopefully braking and handling improvements along with the extra ponies! That car will be awesome, if I can hold out that long! The base car is calling my name!
 

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Good review, but you make it that much harder to wait. :( :D
 

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Good deal Ff88, glad you got a spin :thumbs:

Mirrors are small but you get used to them pretty quick. It does feel like the hood is really long from inside the car.

Clutch engages kind of high so I have my seat back so my leg is close to straight out, that works for me.

Car is totally different with the top down, visibility gets better on sides and back.
 

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Editguy said:
Good review, but you make it that much harder to wait. :( :D
Your telling me? I am not sure I can make it until the GXP bows. I am not even sure it is necessary I liked the N/A car so much. In fact, if he had not sold it to the Georgia dealer I may have bought it on the spot. It was basically loaded, which is how I wanted it, and although it wasn't my preferred color (it was Sly) but I would have easily lived with it.

If I order one soon, he is confident I could have it between March and May, most likely April. Just perfect for the spring/summer season. A GXP could be a whole year later before I actually have a chance to really enjoy it, and that is assuming I can get one of the first ones. The wait for that could be considerably longer. I am not sure I can wait that long. But as much fun as this car was, that one, if it is all that the rumors say it will be might be worth it!

I have been watching this car closely since Jan 2002, the wait is becoming unbearable!
 

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Fformula88 said:
I have been watching this car closely since Jan 2002, the wait is becoming unbearable!
I hear a voice saying "order one, order one... :lol: "

Really depends on how fast you want to go? You owned a Fiero which wasn't a speedster? GXP will be a blast if speed is your bag but higher cost up front, higher insurance, extra year wait makes you wonder.

Heck we need another mod on the waiting list soon because brentil will have his :lol:
 

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mceb said:
I hear a voice saying "order one, order one... :lol: "

Really depends on how fast you want to go? You owned a Fiero which wasn't a speedster? GXP will be a blast if speed is your bag but higher cost up front, higher insurance, extra year wait makes you wonder.

Heck we need another mod on the waiting list soon because brentil will have his :lol:
The Fiero is 140 HP, about 2750 lbs, the Sol 177, 2860. So the Sol certainly has a better power to weight ratio. I have never been one for straight line speed. Awesome handling is what makes a car fun for me, but power can be an important equation in handling too.

Yeah, that voice is talking to me. It is saying "Order one, and prey you don't regret not waiting", or "wait, and sit around for a year to two year hoping it is worth it" Decisions, decisions... :lol:
 

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Fformula88 said:
Your telling me? I am not sure I can make it until the GXP bows. I am not even sure it is necessary I liked the N/A car so much. In fact, if he had not sold it to the Georgia dealer I may have bought it on the spot. It was basically loaded, which is how I wanted it, and although it wasn't my preferred color (it was Sly) but I would have easily lived with it.

If I order one soon, he is confident I could have it between March and May, most likely April. Just perfect for the spring/summer season. A GXP could be a whole year later before I actually have a chance to really enjoy it, and that is assuming I can get one of the first ones. The wait for that could be considerably longer. I am not sure I can wait that long. But as much fun as this car was, that one, if it is all that the rumors say it will be might be worth it!

I have been watching this car closely since Jan 2002, the wait is becoming unbearable!
I've actually come to the conclusion (and told my dealer) that if they get one that someone refuses, I will take it regardless of the color, because I think it looks decent in all the colors. Options would be the only factor that might make me wait for my order, but even that might not be enough! :D
 

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FForm, What's your reasoning around not getting the n/a Sol now then moving up say in 18 months or so. You figure value will drop that much on a used '06 that you'll get killed?
 

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Fformula88 said:
I got a rare opportunity today to get a test drive in a new Solstice at a local dealership
I'm not really sure that I get it. Could you drive another one and give us an in depth review? :lol:

You make it really hard to sit here and wait, I find it hard to believe after this review that you want to wait for the GXP. You know the sooner you order the sooner you will have your own, assuming you follow advice in other threads and find a good dealer with allocation available. Any bets on how long he waits?
 

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Editguy said:
I've actually come to the conclusion (and told my dealer) that if they get one that someone refuses, I will take it regardless of the color, because I think it looks decent in all the colors. Options would be the only factor that might make me wait for my order, but even that might not be enough! :D
Patience young Skywalker. Be sure you get what you want. Not a problem if you really like all the colors, but if there is a color or a set of options you really want, get it! There is nothing worse than buyers regret, just because you were not patient! :)
 

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birdliver said:
FForm, What's your reasoning around not getting the n/a Sol now then moving up say in 18 months or so. You figure value will drop that much on a used '06 that you'll get killed?
That is part of it. Unfortunately for me, I am not independantly wealthy. If the demand for the Sol drops significantly with the intro of the GXP, the Sky, and simply the time it has been on the market, I could take a big hit on depreciation to trade for the GXP which will carry a big sticker to begin with. There is no way of knowing what the resale of the '06 will be, but it certainly is a risk if you plan on trading in that quick. ON most cars if you buy new, it is best (most cost effective) to keep them 4-5 years before trading them.
 

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I'm happy to hear you finally got a drive in one!!!!

Good review, thanks for sharing!!!

Don't forget to order mine while you're in ordering yours ;)

Did you get to hang your arm out the window, if so, what did you think of that factor?
 

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GO_DRVN said:
I'm not really sure that I get it. Could you drive another one and give us an in depth review? :lol:
I actually stopped at a second dealer that had a Sol, but it was sold and absolutely no test drives! :lol:

You make it really hard to sit here and wait, I find it hard to believe after this review that you want to wait for the GXP. You know the sooner you order the sooner you will have your own, assuming you follow advice in other threads and find a good dealer with allocation available. Any bets on how long he waits?
In a way don't want to wait, but as much as I liked this car, I cannot even imagine how much more fun the GXP will be. Take my review, add a car to it with more power and sharper acceleration! This drive really has me excited. If the GXP becomes everything that it appears it may, it will be second to none for it's prce. At least for me. :)
 

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RODEO said:
I'm happy to hear you finally got a drive in one!!!!

Good review, thanks for sharing!!!

Don't forget to order mine while you're in ordering yours ;)

Did you get to hang your arm out the window, if so, what did you think of that factor?
I did not. I was too busy enjoying the driving experience to even think about the window sill position. With the top up and windows closed, it didn't even cross my mind to be honest. In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit it since it is a very important factor for me. I guess I was having so caught up in the moment that it never crossed my mind.
 

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Fformula88 said:
I did not. I was too busy enjoying the driving experience to even think about the window sill position. With the top up and windows closed, it didn't even cross my mind to be honest. In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit it since it is a very important factor for me. I guess I was having so caught up in the moment that it never crossed my mind.
Yep, I know how that is, as much as I tried to take everything in when I drove my first one, you miss a whole lot.....That's why I'm still waiting for my next dozen test drives to make up my mind.

p.s. check out my post in that jeep commander thread......interesting....... :willy:

Again, I had looked forward to your review, glad you got a drive in one!
 

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Thanks for this inspirational write up. Can't wait to drive one myself. I'm in for a real treat, especially once the car I am driving has a title owned by me.

Just can't wait. GXP here we come. Repeat after me... "Only ONE MORE YEAR!" I've certainly waited longer for less. I mean, heck, I waited through 9 years of college just to get my degree and look where THAT got me! :crazy:



:jester:
 

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Fformula88 said:
Patience young Skywalker. Be sure you get what you want. Not a problem if you really like all the colors, but if there is a color or a set of options you really want, get it! There is nothing worse than buyers regret, just because you were not patient! :)
Ooo, thanks, you made me young again! :D Actually after I saw all the colors in person, I don't think any would disappoint me. I think this car could look good in any color. Naturally I have a stronger like for some than others, but any would be acceptable. What wouldn't be acceptable is a stripped down car, so I was kidding about that part. It would have to have the options I want. I don't think I have to worry about it, because I will be surprised if anyone in my area backs out. But thanks for the reality check!
 

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Fformula88 said:
Patience young Skywalker. Be sure you get what you want. Not a problem if you really like all the colors, but if there is a color or a set of options you really want, get it! There is nothing worse than buyers regret, just because you were not patient! :)
:agree:

That was a nice detailed article and not a "homer" one like some try to write. :thumbs:

Lets hope the GXP and Redline come sooner, rather than later! ;)
 

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Now that I have some seat time in my 330, I should go to one of our local dealers who was smart enough to order a dealer car to demo. (I tried to buy that car, when I found out mine was not coming this year, but they wouldn't sell it.)

It will be interesting to compare the ride, handling and acceleration.
 

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Rodeo said:
Yep, I know how that is, as much as I tried to take everything in when I drove my first one, you miss a whole lot.....That's why I'm still waiting for my next dozen test drives to make up my mind.

p.s. check out my post in that jeep commander thread......interesting.......

Again, I had looked forward to your review, glad you got a drive in one!
I was really surprised when the dealer let me know he had one and I could drive it! Obviously most of the cars dealers are getting are sold to customers. However, it is common for a new car like this not to be handed out on test drives to anyone who doesn't hand over a down payment with intent to buy first. For instance, dealers around here wouldn't give test drives on new SRT-4's when they first came out.

You need to hang around Gravana's more and get lots of test drives in cars he has "massaged!" :lol:

Jimbo said:
Thanks for this inspirational write up. Can't wait to drive one myself. I'm in for a real treat, especially once the car I am driving has a title owned by me.

Just can't wait. GXP here we come. Repeat after me... "Only ONE MORE YEAR!" I've certainly waited longer for less. I mean, heck, I waited through 9 years of college just to get my degree and look where THAT got me!
Your degree must have gotten yourself somewhere that you are at least able to consider buying this awesome new car! :thumbs:

editguy said:
Ooo, thanks, you made me young again! Actually after I saw all the colors in person, I don't think any would disappoint me. I think this car could look good in any color. Naturally I have a stronger like for some than others, but any would be acceptable. What wouldn't be acceptable is a stripped down car, so I was kidding about that part. It would have to have the options I want. I don't think I have to worry about it, because I will be surprised if anyone in my area backs out. But thanks for the reality check!
I see where you are coming from. I am very much an impulse buyer when I shop for cars. I usually know what I want long before I buy, but once I hit the dealers I always end up taking something off the lot that is at best close to what I want with options colors. :lol:

I have seen all the colors in person except deep. My favorite is red, but that goes for just about all cars. All the colors look sharp. My least favorite is black, but not because of how it looks on the car. I just don't like the amount of cleaning that black takes to keep that beautiful deep shine. But if you do keep up with it, the car looks great in that color too! I don't think you can go wrong with any of these colors, unless your someone who is wishing they offered yellow!

MSG_McKee said:
:agree:

That was a nice detailed article and not a "homer" one like some try to write. :thumbs:

Lets hope the GXP and Redline come sooner, rather than later! ;)
Thanks! Maybe it is easier for me not to be a homer because I am not defending a car I bought like most people here who have driven one. I can't blame them. It is a really nice car, and for the money it is certainly a lot of sports car for the dollar.
 
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