Let's face it-convertibles are fair-weather cars. They're great in the summer sun for top-down cruising, but in the rain or a cold and snowy winter, they can be a challenge to live with. Pontiac realized this and sought to do something about it for its Solstice line. The result of the Division's effort is the new Solstice coupe and Solstice GXP coupe that recently debuted at the New York Auto Show.
Now you may be thinking, "Don't people buy the Solstice because it's a convertible and, if so, who will want a coupe?" That's most likely true. If the retro sportscar styling doesn't completely sell you, then the promise of dropped-top cruising probably will.
However, you won't give up the ability to stargaze while seated in your Solstice coupe due to a solid roof because this car has a Targa top. That's right: There's a removable roof section right over your head with no crossbar to get in the way. Pontiac hopes buyers will realize that the coupe is not only very stylish with its fresh fastback lines, but it's also a practical driver in any weather, be it winter, when you want the improved window sealing and interior heat retention of the hardtop, or summer, when you pop out that panel and let the sun shine in. Jim Bunnell, Buick-Pontiac-GMC General Manager commented, "Today's Solstice is the top-selling roadster in the U.S., and we believe this new model has even broader appeal. The coupe has all the design cues and pleasing performance of the original roadster, and is an all-season alternative for people who enjoy open-air driving."
Pontiac described the roof's construction thusly, "The roof's structure was strengthened with additional support elements, including an aluminum roof bow attached with aluminum brackets. The bow and brackets are stiff, yet low in mass, a design feature that pervades the coupe's overall construction. The roof includes a lightweight sheet molding compound cover affixed to a rigid aluminum frame for additional lightweight support. A lightweight magnesium roof panel frame weighs just 31 pounds and can be removed by one person. The cover is also made of sheet molding compound." Pontiac will also offer an optional soft top that can be stowed in the cargo area. A home storage case for the hardtop will be sold as an accessory.
Storage space is improved thanks to the flip-up glass covered hatch area fitted with multiple storage bins and a flat cargo floor since the folding top mechanism is no longer there. More space can be found behind the seats and there's a pass-through from the passenger compartment to the rear storage area.
If you were impressed by the Solstice roadster's engine, drivetrain, suspension, and brakes in the past, then you needn't worry as Pontiac reports that all remain the same for the coupe. The reason is that the coupe doesn't weigh much more than the ragtop, so performance and economy in all areas promise little, if any, change.
If you're a sportscar enthusiast in a colder or wetter climate who desires year-round driving pleasure in a Solstice, the coupe may be the model you've been waiting for. Speaking of waiting, the Solstice coupe will hit dealer showrooms in early 2009.