Bringing the popular concept car to life, GM announced production of the Pontiac Solstice roadster as a 2006 model. The vehicle is expected in dealer showrooms in fall 2005.
First shown as a concept at the 2002 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the Solstice immediately gained a huge following, both inside and outside of General Motors. Designed from the ground up in less than four months, the 2002 Solstice concept car promised thrilling, open-air driving freedom in the spirit of the great roadsters of the past.
Built on GM’s new Kappa architecture, the production model remains true to the original Solstice concept, including rear-wheel drive, two-passenger seating and a reverse hinged clamshell hood that opens to reveal a sophisticated double overhead cam variable-valve four-cylinder engine.
Strong response to the 2002 Solstice concept vehicle helped put the sports car on the fast track to production. But while the concept was designed with production-style elements, there was no compact rear-wheel-drive platform at GM on which to build it. Creating a production version of the concept vehicle required marrying the Solstice’s curvaceous design to an entirely new performance body-chassis architecture.
The robust Kappa architecture features state-of-the-art, full-length hydroformed frame rails and a stamped steel structural tunnel to provide a solid structure to enhance vehicle handling.
Solstice’s power is created by a new 2.4-liter variable-valve version of the Ecotec DOHC four-cylinder engine, producing about 170 horsepower. Its twin-cam, multi-valve design provides stirring, high-revving performance, while the engines lightweight, all-aluminum construction helps optimize the vehicles front-to-rear balance. At the start of production, Solstice will be offered with a close-ratio Aisin five-speed manual transmission.
Faithfulness to the concept can be seen in Solstices proportions, which are comparable in terms of overhangs, wheelbase and track width. Independent front and rear suspensions that feature independent SLA designs with forged aluminum upper and lower control arms contribute to responsive handling. Monotube shock absorbers and coil springs contribute to uncompromised handling response and sporty driving characteristics while the wheels-at-the-corners wide stance enhances handling. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires are standard, as are four-wheel disc brakes.
Designers worked carefully to transfer the clean lines and taut proportions of the concept vehicle to the production model. ‘Put them side by side and it’s very difficult to tell the production model from the concept,’ said Franz Von Holzhausen, design manager. ‘The front and rear fascias are slightly longer on the production model, but overall the car remains faithful to the concept – it’s a minimalist approach that emphasizes proportion.’
The Solstice’s proportions are accented with five-spoke wheels and a low, wide stance. A dual-port grille and expressive lighting at all corners instantly identifies the car as a Pontiac. Unexpected details include a body-color extension into the passenger compartment that gives the Solstice an integrated appearance when the top is down. In fact, the top folds flat into the rear clamshell opening, providing a smooth seamless appearance.
Creative leveraging of GM resources, as well as clever solutions to other needs, helped complete the Solstices design efficiently and economically. For example, the rear corner lamps are from the GMC Envoy, while door handles, fog lamps, seats, engine and transmission are shared with other GM vehicles.
However, some parts are all Solstice. The taillamps, for instance, were designed with special reflectors to eliminate the need for a separate side marker light. This not only contributes to the cars sleek design, but also eliminates the cost of a separate marker lens and bulb.
Interior design is equally purposeful and clever, with details like pedals placed for easy heel-and-toe driving and a cockpit-style instrument panel that sweeps around the driver. Designers also worked with chassis engineers to optimize the placement of the shifter. Manual shifter throws between gear changes were studied and shortened.
Story by General Motors Corp, edited by Supercars.net