New York Auto Show 2008 – 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe

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It’s All About the Look
Pontiac introduced a hardtop version of the extroverted Solstice at this year’s New York auto show, along with the G8 GXP and G8 ST. As cool as it looks, don’t rush to the dealer. Your Solstice coupe won’t be there until early 2009.

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The Solstice coupe looks great. With the same engines and suspension setup as the roadster, you can bet it’ll be just as fun on the road. But Pontiac built in compromises with a lift-off roof panel, liftglass (versus tailgate), and useless but nicely styled rear quarter windows. Yes, small coupes always offer less interior and cargo space and poor visibility compared with sedans and SUVs. Small, sporty coupes (or convertibles) are always compromised. But the compromises don’t need to be this obvious.
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The first Solstice concept was a coupe (photo here), and the production car is clearly related. There is an optional soft roof cover that stows in the trunk, so you can drive on and leave the metal roof in the garage. Smart, since the metal roof doesn’t fit in the cargo area.

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The removable roof panel is probably there because a conventional sunroof won’t fit, but leaves cutlines crossing an otherwise fast and sexy roofline and seems silly. These lines stood out in person much more dramatically than in these photos. Solstice is available with a full folding top, after all, and the coupe doesn’t look so good with a section of its roof missing, or even replaced by the soft cover. I’d just leave that roof panel in place.
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Watching the Solstice rotate on its stand, it was clear that rearward visibility is nonexistent. It was clear that the driver wouldn’t really be able to see anything out of the quarter windows. The liftglass opening looks too small to slip a good-size duffel bag or a typical carry-on suitcase through; apparently Pontiac is sure that buyers of small sports cars don’t take anything with them.
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The coupe has more cargo volume than roadster. Removing the mechanism and softtop leaves room for a storage tray behind front passengers, a flat cargo floor, covered storage bins, and even tie-down hooks. And for storing that 31-pound removable roof panel (easy for one person to manage, so says Pontiac), GM will offer optional accessories. The canvas roof cover fits in the cargo area, but not the metal roof.
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So, this coupe stays true to the Solstice personality: Terrific looks, but compromised (even for a small coupe) packaging. And these niggles aren’t even likely to hurt Solstice coupe sales, as it’ll be bought for the way it looks even more than for how it feels on the road.
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