We love dropping the top on a slick two-seater and blasting down back roads to automotive nirvana. So we were thrilled when Pontiac first tossed us the keys to their long-awaited solstice sports car. But typical of our type, we wanted more power, more handling, and more features. Well, Pontiac knows how to satisfy, and this turbocharged solstice GXP does it. But for this Solstice we’ve traded back roads for Roebling Road.
Pontiac raises the level of intensity with their new turbocharged 2007 Solstice GXP. This roadster on steroids now packs a serious punch, upping itself drastically over last year’s initial effort.
That punch comes from a new Ecotec 2.0-liter turbo 4 with 260 horsepower, that’s a whopping 47% gain, and 260 pound-feet of torque. Also, this is GM’s first direct-injected gas engine in the U.S.
GXP power feeds to the rear through either a standard five-speed manual or optional 5-speed automatic. Of course with all this new potential for speed, we just had to set the Solstice GXP down on a racetrack to see just how deep its boosted sports car performance goes.
The GXP instantly proved very much at home on the two-mile, ten-turn Roebling Road course. Its rigid platform mates perfectly with the GXP’s stiffer suspension and summer performance tires for a meaningful improvement in its already nimble nature. Bilstein coil-over monotube shocks reside at all four corners. On the GXP a limited slip differential is standard, as are ABS and StabiliTrak stability control. Of course, we turned StabiliTrak off to test the GXP at its limits.
On the straightaway, our GXP darted from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds, that’s a second a half quicker than our original Solstice test, and then through the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds at 97 miles-per-hour. Once the turbo spooled up, there was great power throughout the rev band, though it was most flexible in the mid-range.
Our car’s manual was a touch notchy, but counted with short, quick throws. The GXP’s rear end ratio is taller for better power management.
From the standpoint of controlling control, this little two-seater is both tossable and forgiving. It grants plenty of driver confidence through both corner entries and exits.
But we did notice that the GXP sans stability assist did like to slide around a bit. While it made it very entertaining, we think most owners will be happy to keep StabiliTrak active. Regardless, the GXP stayed nice and flat through the corners, with minimal body roll.
Brakes come as four-wheel anti-lock discs with dynamic rear proportioning. Our GXP halted solid and straight from 60 to 0 in 123 feet. The pedal, however, grew soft and somewhat spongy as the laps passed by.
Visually the GXP is virtually identical to the base Solstice. Its wide and bulging physique is that of a power lifter in full flex. It’s a more fitting match to the GXP’s souped-up abilities.
GXP details include extended front and rear fascias, bright 18-inch alloys, polished stainless steel dual exhausts, and of course, badging.
Though the new Latte-colored top gives this roadster a handsome finish, manually folding it under the fared trunk panel still tends to be a bit of a hassle. And, top up or down trunk space is still way too small.
The two-seater cockpit is as sporty as the exterior, though a little cramped. Still it is as driver-oriented as you can imagine, boasting a totally sensible control layout. The sport-infused dash houses a motorcycle-style gauge cluster, while pedals are arranged for heel-and-toe driving.
The racing-flavored bucket seats are embroidered with the GXP logo and are available in leather. The driver’s side has a standard two-way power adjust. Other standards include a tilt steering wheel and an AM/FM stereo with CD.
For a now fast, little roadster, the GXP is quite efficient. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22 city/31 highway for the manual, on premium gas. The GXP also has a strong Energy Impact Score of 13.7 barrels of oil per year. Thanks to direct-injection that’s better than the base Solstice.
Just as impressive is its pricing. The base GXP starts at $27,115. While that looks like a $5,000 premium over the base Solstice, the GXP includes ABS, Limited Slip, StabiliTrak, and a host of other desirable upgrades. The Saturn Sky Redline offers similar performance for about $1300 more.
The Solstice in any form is a pure sports car. But, the 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP is also an enthusiast’s car. A turbocharged roadster with racetrack prowess and middle-class affordability. And though it may have a few shortcomings, we think this little toy will fly off the shelves.
Engine: Ecotec 2.0-Liter Turbo 4
Torque: 260 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 5.8 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.4 Seconds @ 97 MPH
60-0 MPH: 123 Feet
EPA: 22 MPG City/ 31 MPG Highway