Pontiac Solstice GXP Review

GM built a reputation over the years (especially the bad years) of introducing cars that weren't quite ready and then refining them during the production run so that the final few years of a model were pretty close to perfect.

Well, this wasn't supposed to be the end of the Solstice (or Pontiac, for that matter), but events have overtaken the once-mighty GM and this is in fact the end of the line for Pontiac.

And, wouldn't you know it...the last Solstice is way better than the first. Part of it certainly has to do with the fact that the Solstice I just drove for a week was the GXP...the one with the 260 horsepower turbocharged engine. Yep, it's quick.

Plus, there's been some attention to niggling little details...the reverse-hinged trunk actually shuts on the first try now...ending the frustration of jumping out of the car, closing it again, getting back in and finding the "trunk ajar" light still illuminating on start-up.

Base price is $28,460...quite a bit more than a Miata, but again, more powerful, too. The tester was loaded up with a Premium Package (leather, steering wheel audio cotrols and Bluetooth), air conditioning (yep, it's an option), 18-inch chrome wheels, the Monsoon audio system and a rear spoiler.

Bottom line: $32,125. Not a bargain, but not bad.

And...this is a huge surprise...I beat the EPA mileage estimates by a large margin. They say 19 city/28 highway and in my mix of city street and freeway driving I saw 32.5 for the week. I've beaten the government numbers before, but not by so much. I wonder what it would've done if a six-speed manual were available instead of the five-speed.

It's not my first choice for a 2-seat roadster (the Miata wins that one based on handling, build quality and sheer fun), but if you've never driven the Mazda and love the look of the Solstice (and a lot of people do), now's the time.