Remember Pontiac? A General Motors brand, the Pontiac badge graced legends such as the Trans Am and GTO. It was once one of the best-selling car brands in the United States. But it couldn’t stay afloat with declining sales, market changes, the 2008 financial crisis, and the brutal restructuring at GM at the time. The automaker shut down in 2009.
The Solstice was one of Pontiac’s casualties. But was GM too quick to scrap this promising sports car? Should the Solstice get another chance?
Could the Solstice be the next Corvette or Camaro?
According to HotCars, the Pontiac Solstice never really had a chance to evolve or grow. Produced between 2005 and 2009 model years, the Solstice shared the GM Kappa platform with the Saturn Sky. Under the hood, it had a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine, an Ecotec four-cylinder producing 177 hp or — on the GXP models — a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder harnessing 260 hp.
The Pontiac Solstice wasn’t nimble and light but heavier and potent. Yet for all its power, particularly the GXP models, the Solstice offered a solid driving experience not often seen in small sports cars of the time.
Why bring the Solstice back now?
Sports car debuts are big news. If GM decided to revive the Solstice, it could generate a ton of interest through prototypes and social media. That could give the automaker’s lineup a real boost.
With the SUV and truck market saturated, more competition in a less popular class would be a good thing. With a new Solstice GXP added to GM’s lineup, the automaker would give foreign competitors a run for their money. It could also invigorate sales at a difficult time during the coronavirus pandemic.
GM could bring back Pontiac as an on-road performance brand. An all-new Solstice could be the first of many new performance vehicles to wow sports car enthusiasts and other interested consumers. HotCars points out that GM makes many small-displacement turbocharged engines that could be formatted easily for smaller sports cars. If GM used a chassis setup like the latest Camaro ZL1, that would be even better.
Plus, GM has proven its interest in electric vehicles, as evidenced by the carmaker’s GMC Hummer EV reveal. So if it revived Solstice as an EV, it could be the first in a line of more affordable electric models. It could give Tesla some real competition in producing sporty, affordable EVs.
According to HotCars, neither of the Solstice’s lower-level engines was all that impressive. What could GM do with Solstice if it used the Chevy Bolt platform, made it a rear-wheel drive, and gave it an output range that offers high-performance all the way down to long-distance travel with low energy consumption?
Would consumers buy it?
If you revive it, will they come? The evidence suggests they might. A glance at the 2008 Pontiac Solstice’s consumer reviews on Cars.com reveals car fans’ enthusiasm at the time.
One used-Solstice buyer in 2015, thrilled at how much fun it was to drive, gave the 2008 model 5 out of 5 stars. He explained he liked the way it looked almost as much as the way it performed. It provided a “wonderful driving experience.”
A California buyer in 2008 called the Solstice a must-have. They loved its wealth of features, including XM Satellite Radio, OnStar service, and an easy-to-use manual convertible top. The reviewer found it to be a dynamic car at a reasonable price.
The 2008 Pontiac Solstice earned another 5 out of 5 stars from an owner in Colorado who bought it new. They loved its racy appearance and fun driving experience. And the “mean yellow” color that really turned heads.
Whether GM revived the Pontiac Solstice as an EV or a performance car — or both — this eye-catching sports car would generate positive buzz. Whether that happens remains to be seen.