• Jul 29th 2009 at 8:58AM
  • 36
Pontiac Solstice GXP - Click above for high-res image gallery

Old saying: The flame that burns twice as bright burns only half as long. Having driven our share of Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters, we can't honestly declare them to be brightly burning flames. Oh, they have their good points, but the market's worst folding top mechanism and rampant parts-sharing to keep costs in check have taken their toll on the promising droptops. What we can say, however, is that every Kappa platform vehicle is fabulous looking. Even the badge job Opel GT and Daewoo G2X.

Which is why, however small, there's a tiny tear in our eye because of the news that General Motors is shuttering its Boxwood Road plant in Delaware. It makes sense: the bankrupt automaker has euthanized Pontiac and is looking to sell Saturn. Furthermore, sales of the cramped, near-trunkless (or very odd) roadsters didn't exactly keep GM out of the red. Speaking of color, the boys over at Saturn Fans report that the last Kappa to roll off the line was a silver Solstice roadster. We just hope that "Good GM" doesn't look at the end of the Kappa platform as proof that small, sporty, rear-wheel drive convertibles are a dead end. Regardless, reach behind the seat and grab a cold one to pour out for a dead, albeit awkward, homie.

[Source: Saturn Fans]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      When GM had the test track off the Las Vegas strip, my wife test drove a 'Vette with an automatic and a Solstice with a stick. She liked the Solstice better, not only because of the manual tranny, but because it was smaller and easier to throw around the course.

      I'm in the process of trading in a '98 Olds Intrigue. I want to get a G8 GT, but she thinks I should get an Equinox or Terrain, so that she can trade in her Aztek a few years from now for a used Solstice.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's a shame. Both cars were beautifully styled, drove quite well, got great fuel economy, and were reasonably priced (despite the awful interiors and top mechanisms). I hate to see them go. :(
      • 6 Years Ago
      Like most GM cars, the Solstice and Sky make a great impression from a distance, but are sadly inferior quality vehicles when up close and personal.

      I will miss their unique visual design. But that's as far as most auto enthusiasts will go.

      "Shed a tear?" -- Um, no.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If it doesn't sell, what the hell?

      (would we keep building them for)

      A good choice by GM.
      • 6 Years Ago
      PV seems to suffer from the comment disappearing syndrome.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gah! My comment disappeared!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Awesome cars! GM was stupid to drop it. Highly recommend it to anyone. Besides the great looks (Solstice), the cars are very fun to drive and absolutely beg to be tossed around corners. Better yet, it also proves its worth on long trips with minimal wind noise and comfy seats. Would have loved to have seen updated model, but the Government had other ideas.

      As for Autoblog:
      "the market's worst top mechanism and rampant parts-sharing to keep costs in check have taken their toll on the promising droptops"

      That's just a cheap shot and untrue. The top is a cinch to operate. Does it require getting your fat a$$ out of the car? Yes. Is that really a negative? No. As for the parts sharing to keep costs down. That's proving to be the cars saving grace. People are starting to find out that they can hook up updated components from other GM cars with ease because the parts are shared. Some of the custom Mods are truly outstanding and many are DIY for the average owner.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agree, the top isn't even particularly difficult to put down. It is a tad annoying to put up as you have to go around to both sides of the car to fold down the buttresses.

        So yeah, compared to the best drop tops it's not as convenient, but at least for dropping it, it's average. So why all the hate?
      • 6 Years Ago
      So much promise, they just needed another generation to work out the quirks. A little bit of passion has left GM.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM has trouble with convertibles, this is known.

      Rampant part sharing is a bad thing? Toyota and other OEM's are famous for this and are applauded for dong it. Why when GM does it, suddenly it's a bad thing to do?

      As far as the Kappa's, I put over a thousand miles on a Sky with the top town the entire time. Other than wind-burn, no problems at all.

      I have also driven the Solstice coupes and convertibles in both regular and GXP versions. This car is a blast to drive, even for a "big" guy like me (300+ pounds, 6' tall).

      As far as historic value, the Solstice Coupe is the last "new" vehicle from Pontiac. Combine that with only about 1,200 coupes built total, this is a car that will hold it's value.

      I'd love to have a GXP Coupe in my garage.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Having driven a Soltice several times I gotta say it's shortfalls are the reason GM went bankrupt. From the outside it's a great design. Very well done, but that's where it ends. The fit and finish of this car, especially the interior, is absolutely horrid. The feel of the materials is aweful. It's like they didn't even try. I've been in and driven 2 and both had LOTS of misaligned pieces inside, huge gaps everywhere, etc.. The seats looked like they pulled some cheap cloth over a lawn chair.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not badge it as a Buick Reatta instead?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why should major profit be the primary concern for the model line though? If its breaking even it does serve to lift the brand portfolio as a whole. It also suggests a longer life with continual evolution could lead to a better car as newer engines for other cars are made available.

        Lotus has been running the Elise line for close to 15 years. When it started the car was unrefined, made with a fairly low-power Rover unit and had suspension issues. Now its universally regarded as one of the best sports cars of all time with decent reliability, a proven Toyota powerplant etc.

        Sports cars are about image as much as profit. If they aren't actually LOSING money, then why not keep them going via inexpensive and continual refinement?
        • 6 Years Ago
        As much as I would like to see a new Reatta/Sky/Solstice, the truth is that these cars were a mistake.

        Their aluminum hydroforming construction process is not only slow, but also labor intensive. As a result they are hardly profitable and in order to keep costs down, they received unrefined I4s, and bad interior trim.

        The result was a product that didn't beat its competitors or even turn sufficient profit. But i sure do agree, they look fantastic.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Does anyone know what's to become of the Kappa tooling?

        I want to buy it . . . and start a continuous improvement program for these gorgeous little cars. What they deserved in the first place.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Too expensive to build.
        Poor fuel economy.

        IMHO, they shoulda built a new Fiero. It would have been cheaper, roomier, and better on gas.

        And with the stability control mandate coming into effect, GM could have readily dealt with oversteer issues.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Great exterior styling
        Power and torque in the GXP
        Almost no turbo lag
        Excellent MPG in all models

        Horrible interior materials and design
        Awful cargo area design
        Awkward top mechanism
        Poorly suited transmission
        Mediocre handling when pushed
        GXP model expensive

        I tried to like this car enough to buy it but never could.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I own a Sky Redline and have participated in Kappa car clubs for two years. I recently upgraded my Sky using mostly General Motors Performance Parts that include a new ECU for acceleration and some other improvements for handling. The complaints that the story cites are not there. GM could have made these improvements with the car's introduction.

      I never understood complaints about the cup holder and the location of door handles and window controls. These points never made sense to me. The top is another matter.

      One thing that is undeniable is that the car gets an average 23 mpg, goes 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, and eats Miata's for any meal of the day. The numbers tell a different story.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I spent two hours in a Solstice GXP coupe yesterday and I must say that even as jaded as I am I was impressed. The coupe being basically identical to the convertible I was amazed at the structure of the car. There's no perceptible cowl shake and I normally hate convertibles for that single reason. Performance wise I was equally impressed. I have a 1995 Z28 and the Solstice is both more comfortable to sit in and equally fast - impressive for a car with a 2.0L engine. The Solstice and Sky retire at the top of their game and leave the segment to the Miata, a mediocre substitute. Sad all around.
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