2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP (photo by Chris Chase). Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Chris Chase
“You don’t need a trunk to haul ass.”
I found this insightful quote in a Pontiac Solstice forum while searching for information on this car and its sibling, the Saturn Sky. Sure, it’s glib, but apt all the same.
When the Solstice and Sky were introduced (the Pontiac version went on sale as a 2006 model, with the Sky arriving a year later), these roadsters were something of a sensation: great looks, decent performance (at least, with the turbocharged engine) and pricing that undercut that of the Mazda Miata.
The Solstice’s engineering, which showed serious signs of a rush job, meant that there were a few drawbacks, the most glaring being the almost complete lack of cargo space. So, if “ass” is all you needed to haul, well, this was your sports car. (Although, I always liked Jil McIntosh’s suggestion that a Solstice or Sky would carry a two-four of beer just fine, if you poured it in.)
2007 Saturn Sky Redline (top, photo by Laurance Yap); 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP (photo by Chris Chase). Click image to enlarge
If you’d been roadster shopping at a GM dealership in 2006, you would have seen only the Solstice; the Sky came to market for 2007. It was 2007 when both brands introduced high-performance versions of their respective models; both the Solstice GXP and Sky Red Line used a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 260 horsepower. It was preferable to the 2.4-litre four-cylinder that base models made do with.
Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual, and a five-speed automatic was the option.
The turbocharged engine was actually the more efficient choice, too, at least in cars with manual transmissions. Natural Resources Canada ratings for the two cars were 11.9/7.6 L/100 km (city/highway) for 2.4-litre models, and 10.8/7.0 for turbo cars.
Choose an automatic, and the 2.4 was slightly more efficient than the 2.0-litre, but only in city driving.
2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP (top, by Chris Chase); 2007 Saturn Sky Redline (by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge
A jerky automatic transmission could be caused by something as simple as a mass air flow sensor that needs cleaning, or a loose connector to that sensor. This seems more likely than an actual fault within the transmission; Consumer Reports doesn’t note the Solstice/Sky’s transmissions as a major source of trouble.
Leaky differential pinion seals are a problem; General Motors issued a recall for this issue in early 2008. Read more in this detailed thread at SolsticeForum.com.
This poll at SolsticeForum.com suggests that as many as half of all Solstice owners (and, presumably, Sky owners, too) have dealt with some sort of differential problem. While I haven’t been able to verify this for certain, the Solstice and Sky apparently share their differential and rear axle with the Cadillac CTS, another car that has had its share of rear-end problems.
Consumer Reports mentions engine problems in its data, which I suspect might be linked to Solstice/Sky forum posts about bad intercoolers in turbocharged cars. There’s not much evidence of this problem in Solstice and Sky forums.