2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe Review

MPG-o-Matic Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe Review Summary: As a result of a short production run and GM’s bankruptcy, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP may have achieved instant collectible status. The Solstice GXP Coupe’s gorgeous design turns heads, while its high-output turbo four cylinder engine delivers a one-two punch of real-world performance and fuel economy. Although the spartan interior, almost non-existent luggage capacity, and drastically limited rearward visibility may dull the shine, there’s no getting over the fact that this is one beautiful, rare, torquey, and fuel-efficient bird.

The rear-wheel-drive Solstice GXP is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four cylinder engine, which produces a very generous 260 horsepower (HP) and 260 foot pounds of torque. (The 2.4-liter four banger in the standard Solstice produces 173 HP and 167 foot pounds of torque.) The Solstice GXP’s spark-ignition direct-injected (SIDI) turbo four can be mated to a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe are 19 city / 28 highway miles per gallon (MPG). It’s interesting to note that the less powerful, but higher displacement base Solstice is rated at 19 city 25 highway. But that doesn’t tell the whole story …

We rolled up over six hundred miles on the odometer of our automatic-equipped Wicked Ruby Red Metallic review unit and flew past the official mileage estimates with an average of 34.6 MPG on the Interstate highway and 26.3 MPG combined.

Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 34.2 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 35.0 MPG

Overall test period temperatures were in the seventies.
The Solstice GXP Coupe tourque-filled turbo four is a standout among domestic engines, as it delivers a stunning combination of performance and fuel-efficiency.

The Solstice GXP Coupe’s Driver’s Information Center provides engine temperature, tire pressure data, a boost gauge, two trip meters, average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, among other stats.

While we always recommend driving with the instant fuel economy display active, in order to achieve the best gas mileage with a light-footed driving technique, the little GXP provides plenty of temptation to punch up the boost gauge.

This is a Jeckle and Hyde car. When the Solstice GXP hooks up, 0-60 times land in the mid five second range. (And =if that’s not enough, a dealer-installed power upgrade kit is available to bump the engine up to 290 HP and 340 foot pounds of torque.)

While the Solstice GXP’s five-speed automatic transmission does well from a fuel economy standpoint, it falls short for those with sporting intensions. A proper sports car must be equipped with a manual transmission, or at the least, provide more driver control over gear selection.

Out on the open road, the GXP rides and handles well, but when things get twisty it feels heavier and less precise then the more nimble Honda S2000.

The Solstice cabin is a tight fit and seat adjustments are minimal. There is no lumbar support and heated seats are not available. Rearward visibility is limited at best. (An aftermarket rear view camera would be most welcome.) Storage and cargo space are at a premium, with a stated 5.4 cubic feet of cargo volume.

The removable targa top is held in place by three latches. While it’s possible for one person to remove and install the top, the task is made easier with assistance. There is no space to store the hard targa top inside the vehicle. A soft top is available, although pricey.

Our test unit had both an audio input jack and USB iPod port, and was equipped with the Monsoon premium 7-speaker system, which includes a subwoofer. There is only one 12-volt outlet.

OnStar and Bluetooth are included as standard equipment. The Premium option package includes leather covered buckets, steering wheel, and shift knob, along with steering wheel audio controls.

All-in-all, we found sadness, joy, and hope in our week with the Solstice GXP Coupe. Sadness that both Pontiac and the Solstice have come to the end of their run, Joy in the beauty of the Coupe’s gorgeous design and the engine’s thrilling performance, and hope that the efficient and powerful turbo four will find a spot beneath the hood of many GM cars to come.

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