2009 Pontiac Solstice Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Pontiac Solstice was new.
Though other roadsters offer sportier performance and handling dynamics, test drivers find the '09 Solstice satisfying. They especially like the GXP trim, which is snappier than the base trim.
- "If you covet fine four-wheeled automotive art and your idea of driving is a small, responsive and affordable two-seat sports car on a challenging two-lane road, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice is your dream come true." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Pontiac's first attempt at a two-seat roadster is mostly a success, as all the necessary ingredients are here: a powerful front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, a fully independent suspension, big wheels and tires and a close-to-perfect weight balance." -- Edmunds
- "The Pontiac Solstice has predictable handling, good reflexes, and an impressive amount of usable horsepower and torque. One of the notable positives about Solstice is its exceptionally solid, flex-free chassis; there's little of the windshield-frame flexing that's common on other convertibles." -- New Car Test Drive
- "A surprisingly pure roadster from an unlikely source." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
The Solstice's base trim comes equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 177 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. However, the Solstice GXP features a 2.0-liter Turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower and delivers 260 pound-feet of torque. While most reviewers find the base engine adequate, most agree that GXP's engine offers better performance. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on every Solstice, though a five-speed automatic is optional. According to the EPA, the GXP boasts better fuel mileage than the base-trim, with a city/highway fuel efficiency of 19/28 mpg. The base trim nets 19/25 mpg. Pontiac recommends premium gasoline for both.
- "The base model's performance falls short of the car's visual promise, due largely to the engine's lack of low-end torque. ... The GXP is a completely different experience, with lots of ready torque for either transmission type. This change transforms the car and its handling, and basically makes the gear count and other gripes disappear. It even gives better fuel economy." -- Cars.com
- "Straight-line performance is adequate with the base engine -- it goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds for manual-equipped cars. The GXP is much more thrilling; in our testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in a scant 5.8 seconds." -- Edmunds
- "Acceleration is strong up to about 60 miles per hour, but then drops off. If you're looking for more than just a comfortable touring car, the turbocharged GXP is the model you want." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "If you haven't tried a turbocharged engine in recent years, you'll be amazed at how evenly this one generates power. There is virtually no turbo lag (pause between flooring the gas pedal and surge from the engine). The GXP rolls its power on in such a smooth, linear fashion that some might be waiting for an obvious peak or kick." -- New Car Test Drive
- "The only transmission is a five-speed manual, with snick-snicks worthy of an MX-5, but with slightly longer throws." -- Motor Trend
Handling and Braking
Reviewers find the Solstice handles well and is entertaining to drive, but not as sporty as some of its competitors -- like the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
- "Handling is just right -- flat, confidence-building and fun." -- MarketWatch
- "When thrown into a corner, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice exhibits little body roll and substantial cornering grip. This makes the car enjoyable on a twisty road, but hard-core enthusiasts will notice that the heavy-handed steering lacks feedback and doesn't make the experience the joy it is in the perfectly sorted Miata." -- Edmunds
- "Base models are remarkably compliant and composed over most bumps -- for sports cars with 18-inch tires. ... The sport suspension of the GXP and Red Line versions is noticeably more taut, almost to the point of being overly harsh on broken pavement." -- Consumer Guide
- "More important to enthusiasts, the fixed roof will add rigidity -- even though the roadster is pretty darn rigid already -- which we expect to pay dividends in handling." -- Car and Driver
- "The firm brake pedal feels reassuring, but stopping distances are average for a fast sports car -- and more acceptable with the non-turbo Solstice." -- MSN