For 2007, the Pontiac Solstice is joined by the Solstice GXP, which features a 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a 47 per cent power increase over the naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre roadster.

The GXP also features a sport-tuned suspension, high-polished stainless-steel dual exhaust outlets, front and rear fascia extensions, and cloth or leather seats in Ebony with red accent stitching.

Other changes for 2007 include 18-inch performance tires and StabiliTrak standard on GXP and available on Solstice, Latte cloth convertible top, two-way power driver’s seat height adjuster standard on both models, sport metallic pedals available on both models, and new exterior extra-cost Yellow colour. As well, the available OnStar system now features turn-by-turn navigation.

The Solstice is available as the base model, with 2.4-litre Ecotec engine, and the GXP with 2.0-litre Ecotec turbocharged version; both start with a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a five-speed automatic.

Standard features include sport bucket seats, leather-wrapped manual shifter knob, CD with six speakers, and glass rear window with defogger. Available options include air conditioning, limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, power windows, cruise control, fog lamps, leather seats, leather-wrapped wheel, six-CD/MP3 stereo, OnStar and XM Satellite Radio.

The Solstice features near 50/50 weight distribution, hydroformed frame rails, rack-and-pinion steering and short-throw shifter. The 2.4-litre works well in the Solstice, but the GXP is a welcome shot of adrenaline, and the new StabiliTrak stability control, available on the Solstice and standard on the GXP, is overdue, given the car’s tendency to oversteer on moist roads.

The Solstice is big and wide, but the steering is quick and nimble, and the chassis is very stiff; it’s more boulevard cruiser than sportscar, but it’s still very pleasant to drive. The base price is reasonable for this low-slung roadster, but Pontiac really does mean “base”, and most buyers will probably throw some options on top.

The styling is gorgeous, although many find its new Saturn Sky sibling even better-looking; still, both models suffer from two glaring deficiencies. The top is awkward and time-consuming to put up and down, requiring trips in and out of the vehicle to complete, and there’s simply no room to put anything. Interior storage is limited to a couple of small cubbies, while the fuel tank occupies almost the entire trunk, leaving only a shallow, narrow storage trench; overnight luggage is pretty much confined to a change of underwear and a toothbrush.

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