Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky | Purchaser’s Information | Articles


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The early 2000s had been tumultuous years for GM. Many of the corporate’s manufacturers had been in disarray, and consumers had been deserting by way of the 1000’s. The Camaro and Firebird had been lifeless, SUVs and vans dominated the product combine, and automobile line innovation was once sorely missing. GM management needed to do one thing, or proceed to fall at the back of Toyota within the American gross sales race.

GM had not too long ago introduced in head product man Bob Lutz to invigorate the corporate’s a large number of manufacturers. One of the most keys to extra gross sales was once extra enticing merchandise, and Lutz got down to streamline the selection of nameplates and fashions in order that extra construction cash might be spent on extra successful segments. One of the most corporate’s first strikes was once to place Oldsmobile out to pasture. 

Cadillac was once the primary to have the benefit of this technique with the release of the a success rear-wheel-drive CTS, reversing a development towards front-drive merchandise in each and every different department. Pontiac was once slated to develop into an fanatic department, with new rear-drive replacements for growing older merchandise and extra fun-to-drive merchandise usually. Effects incorporated the Holden-built GTO, at the side of various ideas displayed at auto presentations to pass judgement on shopper reactions.

The Solstice idea was once one of the crucial best-received, proven first in 2002. It was once a convertible two-seater that was once greater than a bit of harking back to the Mazda Miata, with small external dimensions, a four-cylinder engine, and a rear-wheel-drive powertrain. It had a extra competitive wheel-and-tire bundle than the Eastern providing–in addition to much less subtle styling. The internal appeared nice, and the entire bundle was once interesting on paper. 

All of the key design options from the concept that carried over into the 2004 unveiling of the manufacturing Solstice. The automobile was once constructed on an all-new compact rear platform, dubbed Kappa, however relied closely on portions borrowed from different GM automobiles to keep an eye on prices. The Cadillac CTS donated a differential and automated transmission, whilst different bits got here from the Hummer H3, Chevy Colorado, Cadillac XTS and Cobalt/G5. Even the GMC Envoy, Opel Corsa and Fiat Barchetta had been portions donors in keeping with GM, giving the Solstice backup lighting fixtures, seat frames and sideview mirrors, respectively.

Taking a look previous the entire price reducing, together with the fairly heavy-handed use of onerous inner plastics and “leatherette,” the Kappa platform was once extra similar to the Corvette than anything. It was once transparent the place engineers spent essentially the most money and time. The chassis featured a inflexible spine body, with a deep tunnel and hydroformed body rails that GM claimed gave it tension with out relying on a roof construction for power. All 4 corners featured a short-long-arms suspension with distinctive keep an eye on palms and uprights. It even had the respect of being the primary GM automobile with adjustable rear caster.

A fraternal dual was once proven in a while after the release of the Solstice at the 2006 auto display circuit. This was once the Saturn Sky roadster–principally the similar automobile because the Solstice, however with a special entrance and rear fascia and a somewhat other inner. The Sky shared its look with two different variants of the automobile–the only-in-Korea Daewoo G2X and the Ecu-market Opel GT.

The Sky and Solstice shared a not unusual engine: a 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower LE5 variant of the GM Ecotec very similar to the only used within the Cobalt and more than a few different GM automobiles on the time. It was once subsidized by way of both a five-speed handbook Aisin transmission or a five-speed automated. The usual differential was once an open unit, although a limited-slip differential was once to be had one by one or as a part of the Pontiac’s “Membership Game” bundle, which additionally incorporated four-wheel ABS and other suspension tuning.

Images Credit score: In step with Schroeder

True to its sports activities automobile roots, the bottom Solstice had few usual options. Air-con; energy home windows, mirrors and door locks; and far off access had been all not obligatory, as had been a four-wheel ABS and stepped forward sound deadening. The Saturn-branded Sky incorporated a majority of these as usual, however another way it was once nearly equivalent in spec. Each automobiles might be loaded up with OnStar, satellite tv for pc radio, upgraded audio and chrome wheels if the patron sought after. Leather-based seating was once a well-liked selection for each automobiles.

The Solstice and Sky had been twins beneath the outside, however they’d very other seems. The Pontiac was once curvaceous and muscular, whilst the Saturn was once razor sharp and edgy. The interiors had been no much less thrilling, with way more design than maximum GM merchandise in contemporary reminiscence. Each obtained very prime marks on their styling from reviewers and the general public. Indubitably, they’ll be famous as prime issues within the GM design language from the length.

From 2007 on, issues were given extra attention-grabbing with the addition of a direct-injection, turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec-based engine to the Solstice and Sky. The Solstice GXP and Sky Crimson Line, as they had been dubbed, made the ABS, game suspension tuning and limited-slip differential usual at the side of the brand new engine. With 260 horsepower on faucet, the turbo twins may rocket to 60 mph in round 5.5 seconds.

Despite the fact that the Kappa twins appeared nice, had some neat specifications on paper, and had been priced aggressively in comparison to the Miata and S2000, reviewers in comparison them unfavorably to their Eastern opposite numbers. The in the past said price reducing was once incessantly cited. The interiors appeared nice however featured extensive swathes of onerous plastic and deficient ergonomics. The cupholders had been at the back of the motive force’s elbow or down close to the passenger’s left knee, for instance. 

Any other oft-mentioned downside was once a peak that required a number of steps to fold in; in the meantime, competition had tops that folded merely or routinely. The highest additionally got rid of treasured trunk area–such a lot that even in a marketplace section identified for its miniscule boots, the Solstice/Sky stood out as being impractical. They couldn’t are compatible quite a lot of small baggage within the again. Golfers needed to both play solo or commute with the highest up.

However by way of a long way the most important criticism fresh reviewers had with the GM roadsters was once their disengaged steerage really feel and lax throttle reaction. Whilst those had been intended to be competition of the Miata, S2000 and Boxster, they weren’t even in the similar ballpark in dealing with and steerage precision. The 260-horsepower variations had been glorious in a immediately line, however they lacked the finesse had to keep an eye on the engine’s powerband.

Any other main milestone for the Kappa platform seemed for the 2009 style 12 months: the addition of a targa-top coupe style to the Solstice line. The coupe was once even better-looking than the already-handsome convertible, with a useful tail spoiler and other back lights than its chop-top sibling. The internal was once roughly the similar because the convertible’s, and the engine and gear possible choices had been equivalent. Sadly, the coupe was once very short-lived, as the industrial disaster conspired to finish the Kappa style cycle early.

Each automobiles offered neatly for a couple of years, however it wasn’t sufficient. GM filed for chapter coverage early in 2009, atmosphere in movement a chain of ancient occasions that may outcome within the lack of various GM manufacturers with overlapping product strains. Sadly, Pontiac and Saturn had been at the “don’t resuscitate” record. 

For a quick length, it gave the impression of the automobiles would possibly continue to exist beneath a special GM nameplate. Alas, there was once no room for small, enjoyable automobiles within the New GM lineup. It was once a disgrace, too, since the little automobile may have been a contender with just a bit extra funding and any other style cycle or two.

Issues to Know

Solstice and Sky roadsters have depreciated to the purpose that there’s no longer a lot value distinction between the other fashions. Mileage and general situation can have a bigger have an effect on on value than style 12 months. GXP/Crimson Line fashions command a top rate, and most householders agree that the automobiles must have shipped on this trim from the start.

Those aren’t particularly not unusual automobiles. In keeping with GM numbers, round 34,000 Saturn Sky convertibles, 64,000 Solstice convertibles and 1200 Solstice Coupes had been produced.

The one automobile maximum GRM readers must imagine is a GXP/Crimson Line with a handbook transmission and a limited-slip differential, which narrows the sphere rather. The Saturn has extra usual apparatus however will likely be more difficult to search out. If you need a Coupe, get ready to do a little critical looking. Of the 1200 or so Coupes produced in 2009, the bulk (781 in keeping with GM) had been GXPs; alternatively, solely 226 had been delivered with the handbook transmission. Those are essentially the most fascinating of the entire Kappa variants and feature attracted some collector pastime. Time will inform if this will likely be a repeat of the Turbo Corvair or of the Shelby Cobra.

The Kappa platform in fact controlled to continue to exist as a V8-powered hotrod produced in Spain. A miniscule supercar producer referred to as Tauro purchased the Kappa tooling from GM in 2012 and designed a brand new Corvette-powered supercar round a face-lifted model of the chassis.


A number of TSBs had been issued for differential leaks, so a majority of these automobiles had been handled for this downside. Differential screw ups also are a not unusual factor.

The fundamental Kappa suspension and chassis are nice beginning issues for a contest automobile. The geometry accommodates few compromises, and there may be a lot of room for extra tire and a bigger engine. Rhys Millen and Gardella Racing each fielded Solstice glide automobiles, and the style was once a success in T2 and SSB whilst it was once in manufacturing.

Driveline clunks are a not unusual criticism with those automobiles.


The frame panels can also be fiddly to get proper after an twist of fate, so glance in moderation for misaligned panel edges, inconsistent gaps and different issues. 

Making an attempt to close the trunk with the highest in part down can lead to a tweaked lid, any other not unusual factor that may be addressed by way of a made up our minds proprietor or a excellent frame store. Convertible peak issues (leaks, deficient fitment and hard motion) are incessantly reported as neatly.

Coupes are typically no other from Solstice convertibles. Then again, there is not any position within the automobile to retailer the highest, so that you’ll want additional storage area if you need one with a roof.

Engine and Drivetrain

The Ecotec engine within the base Solstice/Sky isn’t any powerhouse, however it supplies affordable gasoline economic system. Supercharger kits are to be had to spice up energy from the manufacturing unit 140 wheel horsepower to round 220–about the similar as a inventory Crimson Line/GXP. This isn’t a foul deal, however beginning with a turbo 2.0-liter engine will go away extra space for additional energy will increase.

GM Efficiency Portions gives a equipment for the LNF turbo engine that reinforces energy to 290 horsepower and torque to 340 feet.-lbs. with not anything greater than a pair MAP sensors and an ECU reflash. The equipment might supply just a modest horsepower achieve, however it features a complete circle of relatives guaranty and will even be put in by way of a broker.

If that’s no longer sufficient for you, V8 swaps started as quickly because the Solstice/Sky twins landed on sellers’ rather a lot. A number of corporations be offering the portions to do the conversion, and whilst it’s simple, it’s a long way from a bolt-in switch. Any of the new LS-series V8s can also be swapped into the Solstice/Sky. For a length right through the automobiles’ manufacturing, an organization referred to as Mallet advertised LS-powered Solstice roadsters via GM with complete manufacturing unit warranties. Mallet nonetheless plays the conversion on buyer automobiles as wanted.


Because the automobiles have elderly, their vulnerable issues have most commonly involved the budget-priced inner portions. Rattles, scratches and damaged clips are common annoyances said at the message forums.


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