The all-new 2006 Pontiac Solstice is here and gaining more favor everyday.
The Solstice is just what Pontiac and GM need more of, economical, well built, fun-to- drive cars. The Solstice competes against the all-new 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata, Honda S2000 and Toyota MR2. It holds its ground well, even surpassing in several instances.
The Solstice is the quintessential small, two seat sports roadster that Mazda reintroduced in 1990, re-igniting the passion for driving light, agile and affordable two seat roadsters.

The Solstice has a long hood, to cover the longitudinal mounted engine, and short deck architecture, accented with big 18in. wheels pushed out to the corners. There are minimal gaps between the tires and fenders plus the face of the tires matches the width of the fender edges, giving the Solstice a low, aggressive stance. The short overhangs are complemented by clean body sides and minimal front or rear protrusions, for a smooth uninterrupted sculpted form.
Up front, the dual-port grille, wide optional foglamps and five-spoke wheels are signature Pontiac styling cues. The headlamps are prominent and have a premium, jewel-like appearance as does the taillamps, which wraparound the side of the body, and have a unique reflector that creates the side marker lamps within the same housing. The sexy curves are drawn together with taut lines and a high beltline giving you a feeling of being in the Solstice rather than on it as you sit low to the ground.

Almost all of the curvaceous body panels are produced via sheet metal hydroforming-a first in the industry for a regular production car. Hydroforming is a new process using water pressure to help form the desired steel body shapes. Sheet metal hydroforming is used to create the car’s unique clamshell hood, outer door panels, rear deck lid and quarter panels. More precise than conventional body panel stamping, sheet metal hydroforming allows the much deep draw-or depth of the component-necessary for creating panels with complex curves. The process allows the body curves of the original Solstice concept to be reproduced on a mass production scale. Many of the Solstice body panels such as the clamshell hood and it compound curves, could not have been formed by conventional stamping methods. The only conventional stamped portion of the car’s exterior is a small flat panel between the front wheel well and door edge.

The Solstice’s presence gets even better as an integrated appearance is achieved whether the top is lowered or raised. When lowered, a body-color inset blends seamlessly between the interior and exterior. The top lowers behind the rear seats in a separate, fully enclosed compartment, and there is no visible convertible top ‘stack’. Integrated fairings behind the seat headrests further contribute to the sporty look. The top is manually raised. You do have to stop, park and release the rear compartment by clicking the key-fob, then be sure that it is securely re-attached. The glass rear window comes with a defogger, standard. To keep the inside extra quiet, the Solstice features an acoustic barrier and sound absorption package.
The inside is comfortable for two, 6ft. tall persons with 38.4in. of headroom, 52.4in. of shoulder room, and 42.7in. of legroom. The cabin emphasizes a back-to-basics, driver-focused theme. This is evident by the prominent motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster straight-ahead, as well as the overall cockpit layout with controls canted and wrapped around you. The instrument panel carries few controls, even the power windows/door locks are packaged with the ‘power’ optional trim level.

The all-new Solstice is not bare-boned and comes well equipped with race-inspired high-back bucket seats with extra side bolstering to firmly support you and your passenger during spirited cornering fun. The seats also feature clever storage pockets. Leather covered seats are optional. The tilting steering wheel is thick and the diameter is designed for performance driving. The stick shifter for the standard 5-speed manual transmission is leather-covered and was carefully calibrated to deliver smooth, precise and quick shifts. Engineers optimized the placement of the shifter, as well as the ‘just- right’ feel to the length of, and weight of, the gear throws.

Additional features include a standard AM-FM stereo with CD player and six speakers. A MP3-capable audio system, a premium Monsoon audio system, A/C, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, cruise-control, a driver information center and front fog lamps are optional.
Under the curvaceous skin lies pure roadster performance through a powertrain that drives the rear wheels. It consists of a 2.4 liter Ecotec engine with variable-valve timing, mated to a 5-speed close-ratio manual transmission.

The Ecotec 2.4 liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder, all-aluminum engine is rated at 177hp at 6,600rpm and 166lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm. That power is available throughout much of the rpm band, as approximately 90% of peak torque is available from 2,400rpm to 5,600rpm. With a base curb weight of just 2,860lbs. the Ecotec engine gives the Solstice a weight-to-horsepower ratio of nearly 16.2 to 1, and moves the Solstice to 60mph from a standstill in just 7sec. Other features include electronic throttle, chain-driven camshafts, coil-on-plug ignition, piston oil-cooling jets, integrated engine oil cooler, full-circle transmission mount to reduce noise and vibration, deeper water jackets for added cooling and improved cylinder bore roundness, plus enlarged cylinder block bulkheads for added strength. The camshafts have phasers that support the continuously variable intake and exhaust valve timing. They also have cam position sensors so that the electronic control module can accurately control valve timing. The crankshaft and camshaft position sensors are digital. The engine also has features for a smooth and quiet ride, such as polymer coating and skirt design for the pistons that reduces noise during cold starts and an automatic hydraulic tensioner to maintain optimal tension on the timing chain, further reducing unwanted noise and vibration.

An Aisin 5-speed manual transmission is standard. It features a 3.75:1 first gear, along with closely stepped higher gears that help keep the engine at the sweet spot in its power band during shifts. This gives you a sportier driving feel that extracts maximum performance from the engine. Shifter feel and throw length is optimized to deliver short, precise shifts. First and second gears feature triple-cone synchronizers for a smoother shift feel. The clutch pressure is just right for a small sports car. Later in ’06, the advanced Hydra-Matic 5L40-E 5-speed automatic will be offered as an option. The transmission channels torque to the rear that features a 3.91:1 axle ratio. The gears are housed in a rear axle derived from the Cadillac CTS, which was chosen for its excellent performance characteristics and high torque capability. A limited-slip rear differential is optional, and it uses a pre-loaded, friction clutch-type design that divides the power equally between both wheels during normal driving situations, but in low-traction conditions, the differential transfers torque to the wheel with better grip.

All great sports cars have a solid foundation and the all-new Solstice is no different. It is built on GM’s new global rear-wheel drive compact performance architecture, which uses a hydroformed chassis as the foundation of a strong structure. Independent short/long arm-type suspensions in the front and rear are mounted to the chassis and give Solstice a direct, road-gripping driving feel. The foundation for Solstice’s responsive suspension system is a lower-dominant tube structure for the chassis. Hydroformed frame rails, which run the full length of the Solstice, are the basis of the chassis, while additional stampings form a rigid structure onto which the body work is attached. The hydroformed tube structure, which runs from the front bumper, through the left-and-right-hand frame tubes, and all the way to the rear bumper, provides an extremely strong foundation. Hydroformed tube structures have typically been used in light-duty truck frames and in some front-wheel-drive vehicles, but the Solstice is only one of two vehicles to feature an entire hydroformed chassis-the other being the amazing Chevy C6 Corvette. A tunnel at the center of the chassis, which houses the transmission and driveshaft, is internally reinforced and enclosed at the bottom to enhance stiffness. This built-in strength reduces chassis flex and cowl-shake in a vehicle designed from the beginning to be a convertible. Solstice’s bending frequency is 20.9hz and torsional frequency is 18.8hz-figures that compare with competitors at the top of the segment.
The strength of Solstice’s lower-dominant architecture means the body doesn’t have to carry much of the vehicle’s strength allowing for more exterior design flexibility while also enabling precise suspension tuning.
The Solstice’s unique short/long arm, independent suspension is indeed sport-tuned giving you handling fun and excitement whether driving at speed on the highway, or attacking twisting turns on the back roads. When you reach the edge of adhesion, the rear end does move out but is easily brought back in line by easing off the throttle. The short/long arm suspension features forged aluminum upper and lower control arms that are strong and low in mass. The rear suspension also features a toe control link and the rear differential housing has an optimized three-point mounting design. Bilstein coil-over monotube shocks are used at each corner to provide immediate and controlled damping. The 27.2mm front, and 24.2mm rear stabilizer bars keep body-lean to a minimum when cornering. Enhancing performance even more is the near perfect 50/50 weight distribution providing a balanced, neutral feel.

The standard power-assisted rack & pinion steering system precisely guides you on your way with fast reaction to your inputs and a confident on-center feel for the road. It features a 16.4:1 ratio, and requires only 2.7 turns, lock-to-lock. Solstice’s responsive suspension is linked to the road via big 18X8in. aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with P245/45R18in. Goodyear Eagle RSA all-season tires. Quickly and safely slowing the Solstice down from speed are strong, 4-wheel disc brakes. Up front are 12in. vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 11in. rear solid discs clamped with single piston calipers. ABS and rear brake proportioning are optional.
To keep you safe the Solstice comes standard with dual front airbags, 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters, front/rear crush zones, energy absorbing steering column and steel beams in each door.
The all-new 2006 Pontiac Solstice is an excellent choice if you are looking for an economical priced sports car with bold, unique styling, a comfortable and ergonomic interior, that is fun and exciting to drive.

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