The Pontiac Solstice is a new offering for the 2006 model year, so everything about it is brand new, and that especially applies to its racy two-seater roadster styling. Solstice gives Pontiac a car to compete with the likes of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and actually has a lower manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) than its sibling, the Saturn Sky.
Solstice was first shown as a concept at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Because the car was so well received, GM gave it the green light for production with the first cars rolling off the assembly line in two years. In keeping with the spirit of a pure sports car, Solstice is designed to feel like an extension of the driver's body. It is built on GM's new rear-wheel drive Kappa architecture and includes Bilstein brand coil-over monotube shocks at all corners, 18-inch all-season tires, four-wheel disc brakes, an available limited-slip differential, and short-throw shifter. Inspired by the pure driving experience offered by classic roadsters, the 2006 Pontiac Solstice was designed to provide invigorating driving thrills with performance from General Motors' four-cylinder Ecotec powertrain, and to deliver them in a curvaceous form that GM calls "seductive." Sports car features include rear-wheel drive, a four-wheel independent short-/long-arm suspension, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and a 177-hp, 2.4L engine that sends power to the rear wheels through a close-ratio, 5-speed manual transmission. A 5-speed automatic will become available later in the 2006 model year.
Although Solstice conveys a minimalist image, it is well equipped with the type of comfort and convenience items appreciated by enthusiastic drivers. The interior is roomy, allowing for a comfortable driving position for tall drivers. Standard equipment includes racing-inspired sport bucket seats with convenient seat cushion and seatback storage, a leather-wrapped manual shift knob, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, a rear window defogger, a rake-adjustable steering wheel, three cup holders, an easy-to-operate cloth convertible top with glass backlight, and dual frontal air bags. Additionally, several option packages are available. They include a Power Package with power locks/mirrors/windows, along with remote keyless entry; a Convenience Package with cruise control, a driver information center, and fog lamps; and a Premium Package with leather seating surfaces (Ebony or Steel/Sand two-tone), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and steering wheel radio controls. Other available equipment includes air conditioning, carpeted floor mats, an MP3-capable CD player radio, an MP3-capable radio with 6-disc in-dash CD player, Monsoon Premium seven-speaker system, OnStar and XM Satellite Radio.
The Pontiac Solstice competes against five other models in the Compact Sporty segment, where high-performance in a tight package is the challenge.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Scion tC led this segment in sales in 2005 with 74,415 units sold. Other models in this segment include the Subaru Impreza (33,637 sales in 2005), Mitsubishi Lancer (27,849), Hyundai Tiburon (20,600), and Mazda MX-5 Miata (9,602). The Pontiac Solstice sold 5,445 units in calendar year 2005. Volkswagen's new Eos convertible and Saturn's new Sky roadster join the field in calendar year 2006.