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PONTIAC SOLSTICE,

Overview

The Pontiac Solstice is available as either a soft-top roadster or a coupe with a removable roof panel. Both body styles are available in base or GXP trim levels. Standard on both base models are 18-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, a tilting steering wheel, OnStar, a trip computer and an audio system with satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. Roadsters have a manual soft top with an acoustic headliner and a glass rear window with defogger.

Inside

The Solstice's insides are not as inspiring. The interior design would be attractive, save for an abundance of hard plastic -- a telltale sign of the Solstice's low price point. The stereo display is nearly impossible to see in bright sunlight, power window controls are difficult to reach and the car's minimal storage space can prove frustrating. Taller drivers will find adequate legroom and headroom, but hip room is a bit tight due to the car's wide transmission tunnel. On the roadster, raising and lowering the top is a laborious task that requires getting out of the car.

Driving

The Pontiac Solstice exhibits little body roll and substantial cornering grip. This makes the car enjoyable on a twisty road, but hard-core enthusiasts will notice that the heavy-handed steering lacks. The base 2.4-liter Solstice should be enough to appease the casual driver, but for those looking for a fair degree of excitement, the turbocharged Solstice GXP is the only choice. Braking performance is respectable, with a stop from 60 mph coming in the 120-foot range. The antilock system can sometimes be abrupt and jerky in action.

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