Inside Line test the Sonett, errrr, Solstice

The Pontiac Solstice is now trickling into customers’ hands. The Solstice is the Lutz hero-car, created on a newly designed platform for small RWD cars, the Kappa platform. Of interest to Saabists and fans of other GM marques, are the alternate applications for this platform.

There have been some rumours here and there about Saab developing a Sonett-inspired prototype for the future. Could this be the platform that launches a million Swedish silk scarves into the air?

If it is, then the bones certainly appear to be healthy. Edmunds has done a thousand-or-so mile drive in the Solstice from northern Oregon to Los Angeles and they’ve certainly got a lot of good things to say:

After 1,000 miles, we can safely say that GM’s sporty little roadster is a rolling grin machine. It’s like one of those quarter-operated mechanical spaceships in front of the supermarket, only for grownups……

…..The front suspension, which consists of unique short/long control arms and Bilstein coil-over shocks, is also exclusive to the Solstice, as is the steering system. The bulk of GM’s current crop of passenger cars uses electrically assisted steering, but engineers on the Solstice project decided to go with a Borg Warner hydraulic rack and pinion unit to maximize precision and road feel…..

…..Overall interior fit and finish is very good, with tight gaps and smooth seams. The climate control system is effective and easy to use with three big knobs, and the optional seven-speaker Monsoon stereo is outstanding, even with the top down at highway speeds……

…..The Solstice is going to be a very popular car, and we can understand why. It’s a sexy, affordable and truly American sports car. In other words, it’s just what most roadster buyers are looking for.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, but this is a very promising start for the model. The Kappa platform certainly looks like it’s got plenty to offer. Let’s hope they allow Saab’s engineers to play with it and bring an even bigger grin to drivers around the world.

The danger, of course, is pricing. i.e. they’ll have to be able to bring something to the marketplace that isn’t too similarly priced and doesn’t take away customers from the 9-3 convertible.

It’ll be a tricky path, but here’s hoping they can do it.

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  1. Regarding pricing: there’s a big gap in price between the 9-3 ‘vert and what the base Solstice is selling for. A basic 9-3 ‘vert starts at around US$38K here in the States whereas the Solstice starts under US$20K. I think there’s plenty of room to fit-in a Sonett.

    The current American edition of GQ magazine has a great multi-page review of the Solstice, and they get to borrow the only one on the European continent. The article reports different peoples’ reactions to the car in varying countries on the continent. Really a great article. I suggest you pick it up if possible. It’s the Sept. ’05 issue with Tom Brady on the cover. Page 202.

  2. Gripen, I see what you’re saying, but…the car they tested was at $25K and it was still underperforming compared to what a Saab-buyer would expect. With re-development costs and improved hardware over something like the solstice, it’s not hard to imagine it wantering into the low-$30’s. Perhaps that’s still a big enough gap.

    Hell, what do I know? I’m just a blogger with a Saab-fetish! It’d be great to see though.

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